How to use Screen Time limits on Mac to concentrate on your work

This guide helps you concentrate on your work by showing you how to use Screen Time limits on Mac. With this, you can limit unnecessary apps, focus on work apps, and be productive.

Man working on a MacBook

You may have set up Screen Time for your kids on iPhone or iPad to limit the apps they can use and when. But have you considered limiting your own usage with Screen Time?

This is a handy way to restrict the time you spend on your iPhone or iPad. However, with Screen Time on Mac, you can limit yourself, so you aren’t drawn to play instead of work.

If you work from a home office, staying focused on your work can be difficult. With temptations like social media, games, or emails, you can easily see a notification and be lured from what you’re doing. Before you know it, a few minutes of non-work can turn into hours of it.

Use Screen Time to identify your distractions

Not every app or website is as tempting to one person as another. So before you can set up Screen Time to eliminate those distractions, you have to figure out what they are.

This might be easy. You may know right off the bat that if you see a social media notification, you’ll jump over to Facebook or Twitter immediately. Or maybe you know that your lives are replenishing in your favorite game soon and will certainly go use them.

If you already know what takes your focus elsewhere, then you’re one step ahead. But if you’re not sure, take a look at the Screen Time reports. These will show you where you spend your time on Mac and when.

How to see Screen Time usage reports

We have a full tutorial that walks you through using the Screen Time reports, so be sure to check that out. But for a quick look at which apps you use most, open System Preferences and select Screen Time. Select your username from the top left (only if you use Family Sharing) and click App Usage. Choose a time frame to view at the top. Next to Show, pick Apps to see the specific apps you use and for how long. If you use Safari, you can also see which websites you visit and how many hours or minutes you spend on those.

Screen Time App Usage Apps Mac

You can also pick Categories instead of Apps to see how much time you spend using Entertainment or Social Networking apps.

The top of the App Usage section gives you a breakdown in a graphical form to show you the times of day that you use these apps and sites.

Screen Time App Usage Categories Mac

Along with App Usage, you can select the Notifications and Pickups reports. These show you how many notifications you get, from where, and when in addition to the number of times you “pick up” your device and the apps you use when you do.

Screen Time Notifications Mac

Take a little time to view the information in the Screen Time reports. It’s guaranteed to enlighten you and help you identify what limits you need to set.

How to set app limits on Mac

You can set up limits for yourself in two spots; from the App Usage report or the App Limits area.

Limit apps from App Usage

If you find that you really only need to limit yourself to one or two apps, doing this from App Usage is easy. Here’s how.

1) Inside Screen Time in System Preferences, click App Usage.

2) Under Apps, click to select an app.

3) Hover your pointer below the Limits column, and a tiny hourglass will show up. Click it.

Screen Time App Usage Telegram Mac

4) Next to Time, you can pick from Every Day or Custom. For Every Day, pick the number of hours and minutes you want to allow yourself to use the app. For Custom, click Edit and choose the hours and minutes by the day of the week.

5) Finally, click Done to set the app limit.

Screen Time Telegram Limit Mac

Limit apps from App Limits

If you have realized that you spend more time than you should on a variety of apps, then it might be easier to set up limits using the App Limits area. The steps are easy, as shown below.

1) Inside System Preferences > Screen Time, click App Limits.

2) Click Turn On from the top-right if it isn’t already.

3) Click the tiny plus sign (+).

4) You can check the entire categories like Social, Games, etc. Or, to pick a specific app, click the tiny arrow icon to expand that category and see all apps inside it. If you’re looking for a particular app, you can use the search box at the top to find it.

5) Next to Time, set your Every Day or Custom time limit.

6) Finally, click Done to set the app limit on Mac.

Screen Time App Limits Apps Mac

If you need to make changes to your limits later, head back to App Limits and click Edit Limit.

Screen Time Games Edit Limit Mac

If it’s certain websites that you visit that are the biggest distractions, check out our tutorial for restricting websites on Mac with Screen Time.

How to limit all Mac apps except a few

If you find that you use so many different apps that can be distracting during your workday and decide to choose All Apps & Categories as your limit (explained above), you can still access those apps you really need with the Always Allowed section.

Click Always Allowed on the left and then check the boxes for only those apps that you want to allow access to. This is another good way to make sure you only use what you need for work like Firefox, Mail, or Slack, while all other apps are restricted.

Screen Time Always Allowed Apps Mac

Concentrate on your work

You might be in a situation where you’re only working from home temporarily, or perhaps you’ve started a new full-time remote job. Either way, setting up restrictions for yourself only works if you put your mind to adhering to your own rules. So before you go back to Mac’s Screen Time and remove a limit to that enjoyable game or a busy chat app, keep that in mind.

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