Some nights you will need to work (or play) on your Mac, and if it seems like those nights lead to more difficult mornings then the blue light from your screen may be having an effect on your circadian rhythms. Research has proven that particular hues will suppress chemicals that support healthy sleep patterns. F.lux and Apple’s Night Shift are two ways that you can ask your Mac to adjust its hues at night to promote more restful sleep when it’s time to close the lid on your Mac.
How to Use f.lux for Mac
Installing f.lux for Mac takes just a few clicks via MacUpdate Desktop. Simply open MacUpdate Desktop, search for “flux” (without the “.” dot), find the entry with the appropriate icon and select “Install Now”. Alternatively, you can select “Download” from the f.lux page on MacUpdate, open the downloaded file, and follow the steps to install f.lux on your Mac.
Using f.lux is easy if you know where to look. The first time you launch the app you will see the preferences window open. Once you close this window you will see that it is not available in your Dock. You will want to find the small f.lux icon on the menu bar at the top of the screen. Here, you will see more options and one-time color effects here, as well as an option to disable the app without shutting it down completely.
The app is ready to use without making any adjustments to the preferences, but specifying your own wake up time and location will ensure the best hue shifting. You can see in the preference that there are color settings for Daytime, Sunset, and Bedtime. If you wish to customize these then it is recommended you adjust these when it is that particular time of day. This will give you the best idea of what your screen will look like in each situation.
If you wish to use f.lux as your hue shifting tool then be sure to check the box at the bottom of the preferences page that is labeled “Start f.lux at login”. This ensures that it will always be running unless you manually quit the app.
Apple computers that are macOS 10.12.4 or later will include a “Night Shift” feature. This can be found in the “Display” settings in the System Preferences for your Mac. As with other built-in features, it is simple to set-up and offers only a few extra options. If you choose to use Night Shift and would like more customization then you can look to Shifty (free). This is another menu bar app that is designed to enhance the use of Apple’s Night Shift by allowing you to fine-tune the color or disable it for certain apps and time periods.
Other alternatives to f.lux include Iris and NightTone. Iris (free with optional paid features) is designed for changing your hues for particular activities like reading, watching a movie, or writing code. Enjoying these features does require a bit more manual control, and f.lux does also include dark and movie modes. NightTone ($2.99) is the only paid option I might recommend. It allows you to schedule the on/off time for color adjustments, and the optional color settings are a bit more involved if you want something other than the predefined colors.
Overall, neither Night Shift nor any of these other alternatives to f.lux offer a way to automatically distinguish between sunset and bedtime. Most of the features in the alternatives (except for the advanced color tuning in NightTone) are available in the free f.lux Mac app. Whether you install and try f.lux or just test out the Night Shift features in your settings, we recommend taking some kind of steps to reduce the blue hues you view as you near your bedtime because a well-rested person is the best person you can be.