Devigner blog about development and design

Ingredients for a Distraction-Free Workspace

First and foremost, I’m not a fan of the dock. I think it’s very distracting and takes up too much real estate. I happened upon a tweet by Shaun Inman last week about Mail Unread Menu and how he’s using it so he can hide his dock. I’ve tried to adopt this practice in the past but was never really keen on the results. That is until now.

NNW Unread Menu.jpgI followed Shaun’s tweet over to loganrockmore.com and downloaded Mail Unread Menu which allows you to see how many unread mails you have waiting for you on your menu bar, switch to mail.app from the icon and has some nice configuration options. I played around with it and noticed the Logan also has an identical tool — NNW Unread Menu for Net News Wire users. Click. Download. Sweet. Since I am in a habit of looking at the dock to see how many new feeds I had, I can now look in the menu bar and not rely on the dock.

After a few hours of using Apple+Tab as an app switcher I was completely annoyed by the huge icons. Not able to find a way to make them smaller (speak up if you can), I downloaded Witch. Witch lets you customize the appearance and icon size of the app switcher which was just what I wanted.

Combining these three apps, I now have a nice dockless workspace and can max out my windows with the extra real estate I’ve gained.

Now for a completely distraction free experience, I added Isolator to the mix. Isolator will cover your desktop and all windows except for the application in focus. Mapped to a hotkey I can quickly turn it off. It’s currently in beta for Leopard users but seems to be very stable for me.

Mail Unread Menu
NNW Unread Menu
Hide your dock!

Note: All these apps are great apps so if you like them, consider donating to the developers.

I had an issue with using Mail Unread Menu’s switcher to jump to mail.app where it would fire off one of my FastScripts that was mapped to the keys Apple + 1. Logan tells me that command + 1 is the same key combo that Mail Unread Menu uses to switch to mail.app. I changed my FastScript key combo and all is good.