Every day, the sun rises, marches through the sky, and then sets. The world changes with it as people wake up, go about their business, and then rest. But your computer just sits there all day, only acknowledging the change in time by updating its clock. Your computer is the same at night as it is during the day, even though it would make sense to adjust some settings automatically.
There are a variety of third-party tools for Windows that can change the way your computer acts as the day goes on, from changing your screen’s color temperature to setting desktop wallpapers, tweaking sound levels, and blocking websites.
Color Temperature: f.lux
We all have a circadian rhythm — an internal clock that tells us when it’s time to stay awake and when it’s time to sleep. Staring at a bright, sun-like screen at night can interfere with our circadian rhythm, making our body think it’s time to stay awake when we should be getting tired. If you use the computer late at night and find yourself feeling awake when you should be getting tired, this may be why.
To adjust for this, f.lux “warms” the colors on your screen at night to imitate the lightning in your room instead of a bright, glaring sun. In other words, it automatically changes your display’s colors depending on the time of day.
Sound Profiles: Volume Concierge [No Longer Available]
Your computer doesn’t have common sense about its volume level. If you were listening to music at a loud volume earlier in the day and then turned on your computer in the middle of the night, its speakers would blast out any sound and possibly wake people up. This can be embarrassing for you and obnoxious for the sleeper.
To prevent this from happening, try Softorino’s Volume Concierge. It’s a simple application that allows you to create “volume rules.” These rules can automatically adjust your computer’s volume at certain times. For example, you could automatically mute the computer at night and then turn the volume back up again in the morning.
Desktop Backgrounds: Windows or BioniX Wallpaper
Windows has the ability to automatically change your desktop background, setting up a slideshow of images. You can select how often you want Windows to change the background. You could have your desktop background appear as a sunrise image in the morning, a sunny day during the day, a sunset in the evening, and a nighttime background at night. Find some great wallpapers and your computer’s background will change throughout the day along with the rest of the world.
To do this, you can use the tools built into Windows, but you’ll have to start the wallpaper-changing at a specific time. For example, if you want to enable a night background at 8pm and a day background at 8am, you’d have to set the night background and tell Windows to change your wallpaper every 12 hours. Windows will then change you wallpaper every 12 hours from the time you enabled this option — so you’d have to change these settings at exactly 8pm.
This is a bit inconvenient to set up with just the features included in Windows, so you may want to use a third-party wallpaper changer like BioniX Wallpaper instead. It allows you to automatically change wallpapers at specific times.
Power Plans: SetPower [No Longer Available]
Windows allows you to customize power plans that control your computer’s power settings. For example, there’s a Power Saver plan to squeeze every last bit of battery life out of your computer and a High Performance plan that does the opposite.
You generally have to switch these power plans manually, but third-party software can allow you to configure them on a schedule. If you want to do this, use SetPower. Read our overview of SetPower for information about the other things it can do, including waking your computer and putting it to sleep at specific times.
Block Websites: Router, StayFocusd for Chrome, or LeechBlock for Firefox [No Longer Available]
You may also want to block time-wasting websites during specific hours of the day. Maybe you work from home and don’t want to be distracted by Facebook during business hours or perhaps you have kids and want to ensure they can’t access their favorite time-wasting sites when they’re supposed to be doing their homework.
Many routers have support for blocking websites on a schedule, so you may be able to configure this on your router. You’ll find this option in your router’s web-based setup interface.
If you just want a tool to keep yourself honest and put up a road block when you try to access Facebook or Twitter while you should be working, try the StayFocusd extension for Chrome or LeechBlock add-on for Firefox [No Longer Available]. We’ve also covered other ways to block addictive websites during specific times.
Do you use any other tools to change the way your computer performs depending on the time of day? Leave a comment below and share them!
Image Credit: halfrain on Flickr