Version: 1.4 || Release Date: 2012-07-12 || License: GPL Developer: Steve Lambert | App Owner: harpastum

SelfControl allows you to blacklist specific domains (and IPs) for a given time, allowing you to remove the distractions that keep you from your actual work.

Is email a distraction? SelfControl is an OS X application which blocks access to incoming and/or outgoing mail servers and websites for a predetermined period of time. For example, you could block access to your email, facebook, and twitter for 90 minutes, but still have access to the rest of the web. Once started, it can not be undone by the application or by restarting the computer – you must wait for the timer to run out.

Created while at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology. Free Software under the GPL. Sourcecode on Github - feel free to make improvements, linux ports, etc. Thanks to Charlie Stigler for developing the application.

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5 Opinions

FYI: I recommend checking out the guy behind the concept of this app, Steve Lambert. Interesting fellow. For instance he's behind the NY Times "Special Edition" that came out just after Obama was elected. It's a fake New York Times 'special edition' issue that was handed out to people in NY, containing the breaking news that the US were to immediately drop out of Iraq. A stroke of genius, that. The story was covered in CNN and numerous other media outlets.


I don't think SelfControl can do this at all.

I believe the application basically modifies the /etc/hosts file. But this file does not support wildcards, which rules out the possibility to block subdomains, etc.

By the way, you can do what SelfControl does by firing up and by typing:

sudo pico /etc/hosts

You'll be prompted for your password and you can now edit the hosts file. Just add the following:

Now hit ^X and do not modify the file name. Just hit enter.

This will effectively block

Does anyone know of a solution that doesn't just block by domain?

For example, I want to block, but still want to be able to access other google services

This app just saves my life during my diploma thesis! And as it's not trivial to get past it, it really really works! Would be great to be able to add new sites to block, while it is still blocking. Maybe in future versions!
P.S: The version now is 1.1

I like this app a lot, but I spent a whole bunch of time seeing if I could get past its lock on my system, which kinda nullified the time-saving part. I wrote about the journey to the solution on my blog: