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dim your screenIf you work from a home computer, you probably know just how difficult it can be to stay on task and maintain your focus. The Internet is the busiest place on the planet. Every second, something is happening. It’s tough to pull yourself away from all of that and stay focused. I’ve personally experienced this same problem, and still today I struggle with finding the perfect solution.

We all know to shut down our IM clients 3 Revisited & 3 New Web-Based IM Clients for Chatting on the Go 3 Revisited & 3 New Web-Based IM Clients for Chatting on the Go As we jump into the world of mobiles, web-based clients are slowly becoming obsolete while everyone hoards apps onto their tablets and smartphones. That doesn't mean that we've all stopped bumming usage of our buddies'... Read More and get off of the social networks and other online communities, but there’s more you can do for yourself. One tip that I’ve used for months now is to use an application that actually forces me to focus on the task at hand. In this article, I’d like to show you how you can do the same.

Dim Your Screen With Clutter Cloak

Clutter Cloak is an application designed for users running Windows XP that will let you dim your screen in multiple different ways so that you can remain focused and get work done. I’m currently running Clutter Cloak on Windows 8 Pro, which comes with a few difficulties. I’d highly recommend using Clutter Cloak only on XP or other versions of Windows without obscuring visual effects (such as Aero).

Downloading and installing Clutter Cloak will immediately dock the application’s icon to your system tray. From here, the application is already fully functional.

dim your screen

The default hotkeys, which can be changed in the settings, are as follows:

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  • Normal: Ctrl + F11
  • Photo: Ctrl + Alt + F11
  • Blind: Ctrl + Shift + F11

dim my screen windows 7

The Normal hotkey will dim to the focused window. The Photo hotkey will dim to a selection. The Blind hotkey will dim the entire screen.

Overall, Clutter Cloak does what it’s supposed to and offers some interesting features.

Le Dimmer

Le Dimmer is definitely my favorite software of this kind (and it’s not because of its Reddit-born name).

dim my screen windows 7

Le Dimmer is incredibly easy to use and works on any version of Windows. There is no configuration and no confusion. You launch the application, which is completely portable, and Le Dimmer will dim everything on the screen other than your active window (or object, like your taskbar). There’s really nothing else to it.

Dropcloth

Dropcloth takes a pretty interesting approach to this problem. Coded by Lifehacker author Adam Pash after seeing the Mac-only Backdrop, Dropcloth acts as just that – a backdrop. Where other applications of this kind take the approach of dynamically dimming your screen, Dropcloth puts you in more control and requires more manual user interaction.

dim my screen windows 7

Like every other application here, you can see it achieves the dimming effect quite nicely. One major difference is, by default, Dropcloth docks to both your system tray Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray Manage And Tidy The Windows 7 System Tray Every Windows user has seen the Windows system tray (also known as the notification area) become cluttered over time. We’ve covered disabling distracting desktop notifications in the past, but what if the icons themselves are... Read More and taskbar. This means you can manually trigger your backdrop.

how to dim your screen

You’re also able to change the color at which it dims and the opacity. If you’re constantly dimming windows in different ways and want certain functionality that is difficult to find in other common alternatives, Dropcloth is a very interesting option.

Ghoster

Ghoster is a classic, long-time solution to screen dimming and I’ve covered it a bit in a previous article 5 Programs To Customize The Appearance of Windows & Toolbars [Windows] 5 Programs To Customize The Appearance of Windows & Toolbars [Windows] Even in the latest version of Windows, Microsoft manages to (probably intentionally) leave out many thoughtful customization preferences when it comes to personalizing your visual experience. I'm not the type of guy who goes nuts... Read More here on MUO. It’s a portable application made by Skrommel over at DonationCoder.com, which is easily one of my favorite places on the web to find gems such as this one.

dim your screen

The above screenshot shows both the dimming in effect and the application’s settings. Ghoster is portable and the settings are stored in an INI file. To modify them, you need to open the file in a text editor and change them manually.

You’re able to do things such as change the background color, make the background an image, change the transparency, apply dimming to multiple monitors, and much more. The only issue I’ve ever really had with using Ghoster is that it often leaves the taskbar undimmed when it isn’t focused. Some of you may even see this “bug” as an ideal feature, so that it’s easier to see what windows you have minimized. Either way, Ghoster gets the job done.

You’ve got four different ways to dim your screen and achieve the same thing. Now it’s on you to determine which is the most convenient and compatible for your system.

Which of these applications is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

  1. Abdul Kareem
    May 12, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I tested the last 3 in Windows 8 and found Ghoster the best as it also dims the taskbar

  2. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 23, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Similar utility is CinemaDrape. You might want to make in-depth comparison between all these.

  3. Joe Steiger
    April 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Do you know of any for Linux (Ubuntu)?

  4. Elanchezhiyan
    April 18, 2013 at 4:41 am

    Please tell which is the best among the four?

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      April 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      It's up to your preference, really. The best way to know is to download and try each until you find the one you like.

  5. Rodrigo Rodrigues
    April 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Sadly none of these apps can handle multiple monitors, I'm running windows 8 and tested all, it only dimmer the main monitor

  6. Chris Marcoe
    April 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with you that Le Dimmer looks best. Simply because it is the darkest of all. Is the dimness adjustable?

    The problem I see with this is: Am I the one who is responsible for starting it? I'm not really sure I would start it. there is, in fact, a large chance that I want to get distracted. Of course, that's not really going to help my grades much...

  7. willrun4fun
    April 16, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Dropcloth links are dead on their page.
    found a copy on softpedia:
    http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/Dropcloth-Download-77243.html

    • Rodrigo Rodrigues
      April 16, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      The softpedia link sent me back to the broken link

  8. akbar
    April 16, 2013 at 6:59 am

    I thought that this is applicable only to browsers but this is the first time i am going through this article and i am amazed.

  9. Nevzat A
    April 16, 2013 at 5:54 am

    I liked the idea and implementation, I'll tryy one of them. Many thanks for this useful article.

  10. Sazid Anik
    April 16, 2013 at 5:14 am

    been using Le Dimmer fo a while... good control, simple and productive

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