It seems that one of my all time favourite apps Isolator has been abandoned. While it still works, it hasn't been updated in forever, could use some customization features and it isn't ready for Yosemite.

Does anyone know of a great replacement for it, one that will have Yosemite support and be maintained onward?

Isolator Webpage — Still active. http://willmore.eu/software/isolator/

I use this app every day, I've donated to the developer a few times and sent emails asking about it but to no avail, no responses or updates to the app. I wish they would just make it open source on github or something for someone else to pick it up if they don't want to continue with it.

  • Have you looked around ? does it have to be for free?
    – Ruskes
    Sep 23, 2014 at 19:48
  • Check the Similar Software section on Isolator's MU page.
    – user36018
    Sep 24, 2014 at 13:56
  • 1
    The Similar software section features apps that don't have the same functionality, also, at least one of them was last updated for OS 10.4. Hazeover is the closest but it doesn't work the same as Isolator — hazeover.com Sep 25, 2014 at 19:54
  • Actually, I also rely on Isolator but I don't plan to upgrade to Yosemite, at least in the near future. Good news is that I found the source code on GitHub (by another dev).
    – user36018
    Oct 17, 2014 at 17:23
  • Why not use Mission Control to create a new desktop with a black background and use it exclusively for a particular task? One can show/hide desktop icons with a script. Even auto hide the dock and (in El Capitan) the Menu bar. Free. I may have missed the point here too.
    – bjbk
    Oct 13, 2015 at 13:06

5 Answers 5


Edit: Only just saw this comment by the OP. I will leave this answer up in case anyone finds it useful.

Try HazeOver. It does what Isolator did: Puts a dimmable layer over the screen except for the current window (or all windows of the current app).

It is a paid app, available on the Mac App Store. It has been updated for El Capitan and works for me without issues. The developer is responsive and has implemented a feature I personally requested.

You can activate HazeOver via the menu bar, a keyboard shortcut or AppleScript. I personally use a simple Alfred workflow to set the dim intensity.

Here is what it looks like (bottom left is HazeOver's preference window):

enter image description here

  • Can HazeOver black out entirely? is the fade adjustable? Can it be turned on and off with hotkeys Oct 14, 2015 at 19:41
  • Thank you Arthur. @JamesKachan there's a keyboard shortcut and brightness is adjustable 10-90%. It's not 100% because it does not prevent mouse clicks and you should be able to see where you click.
    – pointum
    Oct 31, 2015 at 12:58
  • Thanks, however Isolator blacks out 100% and prevents mouse clicks for whatever is "under it". I suppose I will just continue to use Isolator until something comes along that does what it does. Isolator doesnt play nice with most fullscreen videos, so I have to disable it before doing so, which is annoying. Nov 1, 2015 at 16:19
  • HazeOver, at least for me, seems to be 100% what I needed. Thank you!
    – cbowns
    Jul 14, 2017 at 23:52
  • Mandatory app for multi monitor Mac users........
    – grettke
    Aug 7, 2018 at 22:14

The Concentrate is the closest to the Insulator.

It is not free but you can downland a 60 hour trial.

There is no guarantee, but since it i a paid app it is probably going to be compatible with Yosemite.

The Focus Time is probably better option since it requires OS 10.9 or later and it cost less.

Available true Apple Store.

  • 1
    Both of those apps are way more complex than Isolator and don't function the same way. Isolator simply "blacks out the screen behind the foreground app. Meaning if you have other stuff open it is hidden behind a wall of black so you dont get the the "windows on top of windows" look. It is essential for graphic programs like Photoshop where you have pallets - especially when using dual monitors. Every app I've looked to replace Isolator is some kind of timer based focus app, also they're all very expensive. Sep 25, 2014 at 19:50

Before I used Isolator, I used LiteSwitch X. It doesn't have an opacity filter but supports Single App Mode (hide all other apps when switching with Cmd+Tab) which is the reason I use one app or the other. It can also replace OS X's default application switcher.

LiteSwitch was abandonware but was recently updated to work on 10.9+. If you use a plain wallpaper (dark, single color), maybe Single App Mode would be sufficient. I might switch back to it since Isolator has a minor bug or two. Edit: Since I disabled App Nap in Isolator's bundle (Finder > Get Info), my system didn't freeze occasionally anymore, when switching between apps with Cmd + Tab, with the option to hide all other windows when switching apps, in Isolator's preferences.

Other suggestions: Hocus Focus, FocusMask or Focus.
Isolator source code is being hosted here.


DeskCover - Make your desktop less distracting

  • Hides items on your desktop behind a beautiful picture cover, system wallpaper or solid color
  • Highlights the active window … and help you focus on the task at hand


enter image description here

  • 1
    Why is this good - don't just cut and paste marketing
    – mmmmmm
    Sep 15, 2017 at 8:12
  • @Serge, while DeskCover works too, your answer needs a disclosure/disclaimer that the author of the above answer is also the author/developer of DeskCover. Nov 30, 2019 at 11:27

After many years, I have tried pretty much everything even closely related to this kind of use.

HazeOver.app wins! It's been updated, works beautifully, clearly gets updates from a passionate dev, and solves my problem.

I haven't jumped to Catalina yet, but I now feel much better about doing so since Isolator will die a 32bit death.

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