Reduce eyestrain with f.lux on your Apple Mac

Staring at the computer screen for hours on end can make your eyes tired and it is not pleasant. Turning down the brightness might help, but there is another solution and f.lux can make the screen easier on your eyes.

We do not notice it, or perhaps we notice it and never really think about it, but the quality of the light around us changes over the course of a day. It starts off dark, then the sun rises with a reddish orange colour, it is at its brightest and whitest at mid-day, it reddens as sunset approaches, and finally it goes dark again.

Both the brightness and the colour of the light changes from dawn till dusk. It also changes with the weather and the light on a dull overcast day with lots of cloud is different to that when the sky is clear and blue.

All of these factors affect how the computer screen looks and you might find yourself changing the brightness throughout the day to compensate. That is quite straightforward and there is a key on the keyboard to adjust it. It is not so easy to change the way colours are displayed though.

f.lux is a free utility for OS X that changes all that and it aims to make the Apple Mac’s screen more comfortable to look at by automatically changing the colour and brightness throughout the day.

When f.lux is run, it asks permission to get your location. This might at first seem odd, but it is actually so that it can tell when the sun rises and sets. It can then set the screen brightness and colour appropriately. It is fully automatic and it dims the screen, reduces the blue light eitted and increases the red at night when it is dark.

f.lux automatic screen colour adjustment

There are manual controls for those people that want to adjust the screen themselves and you can choose from Daytime, Sunset and Bedtime settings. There is a menu with Recommended colours, Custom Colours, Classic f.lux and Working late. There is also a slider for adjusting the colour temperature.

The app is actually a menu bar gadget and there is a small icon at the top of the screen. Clicking it displays a menu with Options, Color Effects and Disable.

f.lux automatic screen colour adjustment

The options are a bit strange and there are items like Sleep in on weekends, and Extra hour of sleep (ages 13-18). There are some odd Color Effects like Darkroom, which makes the screen red.

Most of the items on this menu are just for fun, although the OS X Dark Theme at sunset might be useful.

f.lux automatic screen colour adjustment

f.lux is most useful when you are word processing and doing similar tasks where the screen is mostly white. Because it changes the screen colour, it cannot be used when you are editing photos or performing similar tasks where colour is important. For reading though, it can be quite useful.

Download f.lux from here. This is not an app from the Apple Mac Store, so you need to go to System Preferences, Security & Privacy and select the General tab. Click the padlock and enter the administrator password. Now in the section labelled Allow apps downloaded from, select Anywhere.

According to the author, f.lux might conflict with the auto-brightness feature in OS X El Capitan. Go to System Preferences, Displays and clear the tick box if you have any problems.



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