I've seen apps like Isolator which allow one to focus or concentrate on the frontmost window by blurring out the others; I'm looking to do the opposite: blur out the main window (or the entire monitor) and be able to easily toggle it on or off.

My goal: using this with digital art software such as Photoshop or Illustrator, to create the "squint" effect one does to get a different perspective on how your artwork is progressing. I'd like to be able to toggle this on so I can work in "squint" mode for a bit, then toggle it off. Would be great to be able to easily set the blur level as well.

Hoping it can be accessed and toggled via Core Image and AppleScript or similar.

  • Why not just do this in Photoshop? Mar 6, 2012 at 13:12
  • 1
    You could run something like Isolator and bring up a token front window (e.g. a TextEdit window, which can be made very small). That said, the fact that Isolator exists demonstrates that what you're looking for is possible. I don't know how to accomplish it.
    – Kevin Reid
    Mar 6, 2012 at 13:33
  • Isolator uses a desktop-sized window with specific properties: it will stay behind the "isolated" foreground window but above all other windows, it will be semi-transparent and it will blur its background. Maybe fooling around with window properties in XCode will reveal such settings?
    – fanaugen
    Mar 6, 2012 at 16:27
  • @bassplayer7 - I need to to be a live effect that affects anything underneath it.
    – George C
    Mar 8, 2012 at 3:08
  • @fanaugen I don't have much familiarity with Xcode. But some of the research I did kept mentioning "gaussian blur" with "CoreImage" so it seemed a good place to start. I would have contact the Isolator developer but there is no contact info in the site.
    – George C
    Mar 8, 2012 at 3:09

1 Answer 1


Warning: this is a workaround.

Terminal.app lets you set the exact settings of its window. If you set them correctly, you can get a transparent window with a gaussian blur. If you simply leave a window open in the background in Terminal while doing your work, then bring up Terminal when you want to, this should work great. You can even make the text transparent if you want. enter image description here enter image description here

  • This will do the trick as a workaround, thank you! Not sure if I should mark as answered or not, but for my needs this suffices.
    – George C
    Mar 20, 2012 at 18:16
  • @GeorgeC Of course I wouldn't mind if you accepted it, but considering that it's a workaround maybe it would be best to leave it as unanswered for the nonce.
    – Tuesday
    Mar 20, 2012 at 19:32

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