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Time Out 2.3b1 released

I'm pleased to announce the first beta of an update to Time Out, my indispensable break reminder tool.

Version 2.3 focuses on enhancements to the postpone and skip options, including the ability to show the number of times each break has been postponed, skipped, and/or done (finished) today... and a much-requested feature, the ability to set daily limits on postponing and skipping. There's also a fun mini-pie-chart option.

Importantly, this update also includes a fix for an issue on High Sierra, where the label and break background colors can unexpectedly become white. I haven't noticed any other issues on macOS 10.13, but please let me know if you do find anything.

I recommend updating to this version if you'll be installing High Sierra.

Read the full release notes for details:

Optional postpone and skip display and limits

  • Added an option to the Break Appearance preferences page to enable displaying the number of times a break has been postponed, skipped, and/or done each day, so you know how "good" you're being today.
  • Also added options to enable limiting the number of times it can be postponed and/or skipped each day. Useful if you find those buttons too hard to resist, but still want them there sometimes.
  • These features are available as rewards for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use these features, or try for an hour at a time.
  • If both Postpone buttons and the Skip button are hidden, the control panel is now smaller.

Option to show break labels as mini pie chart

  • Added an option to the Break Name preferences page to show the break label as a miniture pie chart of today's postponed/skipped/done counts.
  • The pie has an outline of the label color, with the postpones wedge as a lighter label color, skips as gray, and the wedge for done is shown as the label color.
  • Added a tooltip on the label icon that displays the same text as above.
  • This feature is also available as a reward for current supporters.

Theme changes

  • Added a new Tropical Rain break theme, kindly contributed by Nick Kaijaks.
  • Updated the Muscles theme.
  • Removed the Emoji Zone theme, as the website that hosted it is no longer available.

Other improvements

  • Improved the accessibility prompt when starting the app for the first time, to not show the permissions alert until after the Setup Assistant has been closed, and only if the the suggestion of authorizing it wasn't done.
  • Fixed an issue with High Sierra, where the label and theme background colors could be unexpectedly changed to white. If affected, the colors will be reverted back to the defaults.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.3b1 now!

Time Out 2.2.1 released

I've just released a tiny update to Time Out, to fix a couple of issues.

Version 2.2.1 includes a fix for scheduling issue, where it was incorrectly adding the sleep duration to the due time after waking from sleep. It also includes a fix for breaks set to a frequency of daily (or longer) and with an Available time range set, where it was pushing the due time out by a day.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app once it has been approved (maybe later today or tomorrow).

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.2.1 now.

Time Out 2.2 released

I'm pleased to announce the general release of version 2.2 of Time Out, my popular break reminder tool.

The major new feature of version 2.2 is the new Activity page. It also includes new themes and theme features, a View menu for easier navigation, and several other improvements. Read on for details.

Optionally track breaks and/or app usage via a new Activity feature

  • Added an "Activity" item in the sidebar, that optionally shows a chart of activity, including breaks you've taken, apps you've used, and time away from the Mac.
  • Activity tracking is off by default, for privacy reasons. You can enable it via a button at the top of the Activity page, which displays a menu with options to Track Breaks, Track Apps, and clear the recorded activity.
  • On the right-hand side of the Activity page is a slider to zoom the scale; you can also pinch to zoom on a trackpad. The scale goes from 1 day to 1 minute, or even to individual activity items.
  • Each line of the activity chart shows the activity grouped together for the scale time period, arranged with breaks before apps, and the longest first. For example, if at a 15 minute scale, it might show 5 minutes of a break, 5 minutes of Safari usage, 3 minutes of Mail, 2 minutes of natural breaks (idle).
  • Hover over an activity in the chart to see a tooltip with the break or app name, how many times it occurred in this time period, and how long for.
  • Recorded activity lives on your Mac, and isn't shared with anyone else.
  • This feature is available as a reward for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use this feature. As with other supporter rewards, you can also try it for an hour at a time.

Activity page screenshot

More themes

  • Added a "Muscles" theme, contributed by "saltymouse", to show a random exercise (from a customizable list) with reps to do during breaks.
  • Added a "GiphyStretch" theme, contributed by Sean Carey of Giphy, to show a series of stretching GIFs.
  • Added a "GiphyPuppies" theme, also contributed by Sean Carey, to show a series of puppy GIFs.

Break theme improvements

  • Extended the break theme JavaScript to support a window.webkit.messageHandlers.getTimeOutConfig.postMessage('') message to get a JSON of the break configuration. It will call back to a timeOutConfig(json) function, passing the JSON. Properties include format (the JSON format, initially 1), identifier (the break's unique identifier), name (the break's name), durationSeconds (the break duration expressed in seconds), durationString (e.g. "10 minutes"), frequencySeconds (the frequency in seconds), frequencyString (e.g. "1 hour"), beginningSeconds (the fade-in time), endingSeconds (the fade-out time).
  • Also extended the JavaScript to support a window.webkit.messageHandlers.getTimeOutState.postMessage('') message, to get a JSON of the break state information. It will call back to a timeOutState(json) function, passing the JSON. Properties include format (e.g. 1), nextDue (e.g. an ISO date like "2016-09-29T23:27:51Z"), lastStarted, lastDone, lastDeferred (also dates), lastPhase (e.g. done, skipped, or postponed), and currentPhase (e.g. pending, starting, started, or finishing).
  • Let me know if you'd like any other properties for these to help drive your custom themes.
  • Fixed an issue where choosing None for the break theme would revert back to the default Icon theme, even for supporters (this is expected for non-supporters).

Break action improvements

  • On the Actions page, renamed After Finish to After Done, to be consistent with other uses ("finish" is when the break is expected to end, "done" is after it has actually successfully completed, as opposed to other ends of the break like "skip" or "postpone").

Added a View menu

  • Added a View menu to the menu bar, to enable easier navigation of the preference pages (the keyboard shortcuts can still be used when the menu bar is hidden).

Other improvements

  • Added an alert when turning on the option to automatically start Time Out, if the app isn't in the Applications folder.
  • When using a MacBook Pro with integrated and discrete GPUs, now attempts to remain using the integrated GPU, to save battery.
  • Now remembers the visibility state of the Preferences window. If you close it, it will remain closed when you next start the app, or if you leave it open, it will re-open. The window will always display when later switching to the app, when the Dock icon is shown.
  • Improved the scheduler's idle handling to cope with macOS calling the timer less frequently than requested (as a power-saving measure).
  • Added a separate Exclusions preference to skip breaks when the Mac display is asleep (in addition to the preference to skip during the screensaver).
  • Moved the Learn More button on the Support Time Out page, to make it more discoverable.

Get it now!

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.2 now.

Time Out 2: a year later

Today is the one-year anniversary of the general release of Time Out version 2.0.

One month after that release, I wrote a blog post that provided some stats on how the supporter model was going at the time.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to follow up on that.

A year after release, the supporter model is still working well. If you're not familiar, the basic idea is that someone can download Time Out and use it for free, but some features only work for an hour at a time, as often as they like. So they can try all of the functionality, at their own pace, and decide if the advanced features are useful to them. If so, they can become a supporter for three, six, or twelve months. This permanently unlocks all of the current features as a reward. Even when the supporter period expires, those features remain fully available. So they can choose to extend their supporter status, or just keep using the app without paying any more. Of course, I hope that people do renew, to help fund ongoing sustainable development.

At present, about 9% of people who download Time Out end up purchasing one of the supporter options... which is a reasonable "conversion rate", which can often average more like 5% for normal trial apps. I feel pretty comfortable with that. But I'm also happy that people who choose not to become a supporter can still use a great break reminder tool to help them get or stay healthy.

Looking at the edition of Time Out available on the Dejal website, over the past year almost half of people chose the 3-month supporter option, at 48%, while a good number, 35%, chose the 12-month option, with relatively few choosing the middle 6-month supporter option:

Compare that to the Mac App Store edition, almost two thirds chose the 3-month supporter option, but the 6-month one was almost the same, and only a quarter chose the 12-month option:

Looking at both editions combined, you can see that most of the purchases were through the Mac App Store, though the direct edition isn't too far behind:

That was the number of purchases (units). In terms of money, unsurprisingly the 12-month supporter option goes a lot further, at 61% for direct sales. The 3-month option still beats 6-month, due to the volume of purchases, but not by as big a margin:

For the Mac App Store, the picture is similar, but not quite so favorable for the 12-month option, at slightly less than half the income, and a bigger slice of the pie for 3-month:

Again, combining them into one chart, you can see that it's pretty much neck-and-neck for direct vs Mac App Store, due to the larger slice of the pie that Apple takes:

I hope this snapshot of one year of Time Out was interesting. Overall, I think the supporter model is going well. I'm pleased to see many people who purchased 3- or 6-month supporter options choosing to extend their support, just because they appreciate the help it provides them, or want to help support further development.

Time Out continues to improve; just today I released another beta of version 2.2, which includes a great new activity feature and more. The continuing support of people like you is what makes that possible.

Thank you.

Time Out 2.2b3 released

I've just released a third beta of version 2.2 of Time Out.

This update includes:

  • Added a View menu to the menu bar, to enable easier navigation of the preference pages (the keyboard shortcuts can still be used when the menu bar is hidden).
  • Added an alert when turning on the option to automatically start Time Out, if the app isn't in the Applications folder.
  • When using a MacBook Pro with integrated and discrete GPUs, now attempts to remain using the integrated GPU, to save battery.
  • Now remembers the visibility state of the Preferences window. If you close it, it will remain closed when you next start the app, or if you leave it open, it will re-open. The window will always display when later switching to the app, when the Dock icon is shown.

Again, the major new feature in version 2.2 is the Activity page, where you can see what breaks you've taken (and for how long), and what apps you've used, if you wish.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.2b3 now!

Time Out 2.2b2 released

Wouldn't ya know it, I managed to slip in a bug in the first beta of Time Out 2.2, which caused it to crash on macOS versions before 10.12.

Sorry about that! I've just released a fixed version.

Again, the major new feature in version 2.2 is the Activity page, where you can see what breaks you've taken (and for how long), and what apps you've used, if you wish.

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.2b2 now!

Time Out 2.2b1 released

I'm pleased to announce the first beta of an update to Time Out, my indispensable break reminder tool.

The major new feature in version 2.2 is the Activity page, where you can see what breaks you've taken (and for how long), and what apps you've used, if you wish.

Here are the full release notes:

Optionally track breaks and/or app usage via a new Activity feature

  • Added an "Activity" item in the sidebar, that optionally shows a chart of activity, including breaks you've taken, apps you've used, and time away from the Mac.
  • Activity tracking is off by default, for privacy reasons. You can enable it via a button at the top of the Activity page, which displays a menu with options to Track Breaks, Track Apps, and clear the recorded activity.
  • On the right-hand side of the Activity page is a slider to zoom the scale; you can also pinch to zoom on a trackpad. The scale goes from 1 day to 1 minute, or even to individual activity items.
  • Each line of the activity chart shows the activity grouped together for the scale time period, arranged with breaks before apps, and the longest first. For example, if at a 15 minute scale, it might show 5 minutes of a break, 5 minutes of Safari usage, 3 minutes of Mail, 2 minutes of natural breaks (idle).
  • Hover over an activity in the chart to see a tooltip with the break or app name, how many times it occurred in this time period, and how long for.
  • Recorded activity lives on your Mac, and isn't shared with anyone else.
  • This feature is available as a reward for current supporters. If you were a supporter in the past, but it has expired, you can extend your supporter status to use this feature.

More themes

  • Added a "Muscles" theme, contributed by "saltymouse", to show a random exercise (from a customizable list) with reps to do during breaks.
  • Added a "GiphyStretch" theme, contributed by Sean Carey of Giphy, to show a series of stretching GIFs.
  • Added a "GiphyPuppies" theme, also contributed by Sean Carey, to show a series of puppy GIFs.

Break theme improvements

  • Extended the break theme JavaScript to support a window.webkit.messageHandlers.getTimeOutConfig.postMessage('') message to get a JSON of the break configuration. It will call back to a timeOutConfig(json) function, passing the JSON. Properties include format (the JSON format, initially 1), identifier (the break's unique identifier), name (the break's name), durationSeconds (the break duration expressed in seconds), durationString (e.g. "10 minutes"), frequencySeconds (the frequency in seconds), frequencyString (e.g. "1 hour"), beginningSeconds (the fade-in time), endingSeconds (the fade-out time).
  • Also extended the JavaScript to support a window.webkit.messageHandlers.getTimeOutState.postMessage('') message, to get a JSON of the break state information. It will call back to a timeOutState(json) function, passing the JSON. Properties include format (e.g. 1), nextDue (e.g. an ISO date like "2016-09-29T23:27:51Z"), lastStarted, lastDone, lastDeferred (also dates), lastPhase (e.g. done, skipped, or postponed), and currentPhase (e.g. pending, starting, started, or finishing).
  • Let me know if you'd like any other properties for these to help drive your custom themes.

Break action improvements

  • On the Actions page, renamed After Finish to After Done, to be consistent with other uses ("finish" is when the break is expected to end, "done" is after it has actually successfully completed, as opposed to other ends of the break like "skip" or "postpone").

Other improvements

  • Improved the scheduler's idle handling to cope with macOS calling the timer less frequently than requested (as a power-saving measure).
  • Added a separate Exclusions preference to skip breaks when the Mac display is asleep (in addition to the preference to skip during the screensaver).
  • Moved the Learn More button on the Support Time Out page, to make it more discoverable.
  • Fixed an issue where choosing None for the break theme would revert back to the default Icon theme, even for supporters (this is expected for non-supporters).

Want to try it?

If you are using the direct edition, you can change your Updates preferences to include beta releases, then use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download 2.2b1 now!

Donations

I sometimes get asked if there's a way to pay more for Time Out or other apps. You might be surprised how many people think that $2.99 or even $9.99 is way too cheap for the benefits Time Out gives. That's always nice to hear!

If you want to donate more, to help contribute to development or just express your appreciation, you're certainly welcome to do so. You can purchase multiple 12-month supporter statuses for Time Out, which will extend your supporter status by a year for each one — there is no limit how long. Buy 20 years or more if you want!

Another way you can give back is to buy other Dejal apps. You might find one or more of them useful.

Contract work is available: if you want a custom feature enhancement to Simon, Time Out, or another app, or a whole new macOS or iOS app that you can sell, I can help you make it.

You could also just give a gift; take a look at my Amazon.com wish list and buy something nice.

Or buy Dejal merchandise for yourself, like T-shirts, mugs, bags, stickers, and more.

Finally, if you want to do something else, just get in touch!

There's no need to make an extra donation if you don't want to, but for those who do, it is very much appreciated. Thank you!

Time Out 2.1 released & Dejal 25th anniversary discount

Announcing the general release of Time Out version 2.1, an update to my popular break reminder tool.

Version 2.1 includes macOS Sierra compatibility, scheduling enhancements, status item improvements, new actions, and much more. Read below for details and screenshots.

Special discounts to celebrate Dejal 25th anniversary!

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of founding Dejal. Yes, I started the company way back on September 20, 1991, writing apps for classic Mac OS on my Mac Plus. (I've written a number of blog posts about the history if you want more details.)

To celebrate a quarter century of Mac development, and the release of Time Out 2.1 and macOS Sierra, I'm offering a special discount coupon code on all Mac apps sold directly from this site, or the supporter options within the direct edition of Time Out. Simply enter the coupon DEJAL25 at checkout to get half off! (Good until the end of this month.)

Already a supporter of Time Out? No problem; you can still use this coupon to extend your support by an additional 3, 6 or 12 months.

Here's my original Mac; if you look closely you can see some Dejal floppy disks to the left of the keyboard:

Better Schedule options

Time Out 2.1 includes many new features and enhancements, including:

  • Changed the way the scheduler handles the first break of the day, so the work time is now equal between each break. For example, a 10 minute break every hour will now start the break after 50 minutes of work time, and so on throughout the day.
  • Now displays the work time next to the frequency control.
  • Replaced the Reset After Duration natural break option with a checkbox to reset after a specified interval of idle, screensaver or sleep time, where you can choose the threshold interval. Off by default, and is a supporter reward, like the old option.
  • Added an option to reset the break after finishing a higher priority break. This is useful to keep lower priority breaks (e.g. Micro) aligned with higher priority ones (e.g. Normal). Off by default, and is also a supporter reward.

The Status item can now omit Micro breaks

  • Added an option on the General preferences page to only include long breaks in the status menu bar item. Off by default, so all breaks are included, but if you only want a countdown to the next lengthy break (of a minute or more), you can turn this on.

New menu commands to improve discoverability

  • Added an Edit Break command in the break Options menu, to make editing breaks more intuitive. This is equivalent to simply selecting the break in the sidebar, and will show an alert mentioning this.
  • Added a Start Next Break command in the File and action (cog) menus to manually begin the break that is next due. Especially useful as it can have a global keyboard shortcut assigned to it via the Shortcuts preferences.
  • Added a Reveal Data Folder command in those menus, to quickly and easily show the Time Out data folder in the Finder, as an easier way to add or edit sounds and themes, or send the data to Dejal for diagnostics.

Improved Play Sound action

  • Added a Reveal Sounds command to the sound pop-up menu in the Play Sound action, to show the Sounds folder in the Finder.
  • Added headings in the Play Sound menu, to indicate where each of the groups of sounds are located on disk.
  • Added some new built-in sounds: two different bells and a ticking clock. If you find any short public domain sound that others might like, let us know!

Added a Post Tweet action

  • Added a new Post Tweet action to post an update to Twitter. It is only available from macOS Sierra (10.12), due to a bug in previous OS versions that prevents authorizing accounts.
  • It includes an account popup to choose from which account to post. This could be fun for social peer pressure -- tweet when completing a break.

More actions

  • Added the Sleep Mac action (available via the Time Out Extras page) to the default set. This AppleScript simply puts the Mac to sleep. Useful if you want it to be asleep during a break or at the end of day.
  • Added the Start Screensaver action (also available there) to the default set. This AppleScript simply activates the screensaver. Useful if you want the screensaver on during a break.
  • Also added a new Stop Screensaver action. This AppleScript deactivates the screensaver if it's active. Useful as an action at the end of a break.

Setup Assistant assistance

  • Added a comment on the first page of the Setup Assistant to explain how to change the duration and frequency controls: "tab/arrow between components; arrow up/down or type to change values; click or spacebar to show a menu of options."
  • Updated the tooltips of those controls to give the same tips.
  • When returning to the Setup Assistant later in the app session, it now opens to the first page again, instead of whichever one was displayed when last closed.

Supporter improvements

  • After trying supporter rewards, the Support Time Out page is selected, to hopefully help clarify that the features reverting is not a bug.
  • For the Mac App Store edition, if a purchase hasn't been registered with the Dejal server, it will now ask you to do so when you next show the Support Time Out page, to avoid an issue that affects some people.

Other improvements

  • When launching the direct edition for the first time, if the Mac App Store edition has previously been used, the direct edtion will use the same data, to make migration easier.
  • Global shortcuts are now correctly removed after trying supporter rewards.
  • If not using the Event Monitor idle detector (as set on the Advanced preferences), no longer unnecessarily sets up the event monitors on launch.
  • Possible workaround for an Apple bug that causes the clipboard to stop working.
  • Fixed a crasher on macOS Sierra (10.12) when displaying the support info popovers.
  • Fixed a crasher when changing preference pages.
  • Updated the help book.

Get it now!

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, you can update via the App Store app.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.1 now.

And remember the coupon code DEJAL25 to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dejal!

Time Out 2.1b2 released

One last quick update before the general release. I'd appreciate it if you would try this update to make sure I didn't break anything. I want to do the general release on Monday, so it's available before the macOS Sierra release.

  • Fixed an issue with the previous beta where the status item could show an invalid countdown when the new Only include long breaks option is on and there are no long breaks.
  • Possible workaround for an Apple bug that causes the clipboard to stop working.
  • When launching the direct edition for the first time, if the Mac App Store edition has previously been used, the direct edtion will use the same data, to make migration easier.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, an update will be available after the beta cycle, or you can download the beta via the link below.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update; if it doesn't offer the beta, change your Updates preferences to include beta releases.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.1b2 now!

Time Out editions: direct vs Mac App Store differences

I just added a Time Out FAQ item on the differences between the direct and Mac App Store editions of Time Out, and thought it'd make a good blog post.

The direct edition (available from this site) and the Mac App Store edition are very similar, but there are a few minor differences:

Download
Installation
  • The direct edition will download to your Downloads folder, so simply drag it into your Applications folder to install.
  • The Mac App Store edition will be downloaded directly into the Applications folder.
Updates
  • The direct edition can be updated via an in-app updater.
  • The Mac App Store edition can be updated via the App Store app.
Beta releases
  • The direct edition supports beta releases to help test new updates.
  • The Mac App Store edition is not updated until the general release.
Purchase
  • The direct edition offers optional in-app purchases via FastSpring (or from this site).
  • The Mac App Store edition offers optional in-app purchases via your Apple ID (iTunes account).
Proceeds
  • The direct edition provides 91% of the purchase price to the developer (after FastSpring's cut).
  • The Mac App Store edition provides 70% of the purchase price to the developer (after Apple's cut).
Sandbox
  • The direct edition is not sandboxed, to enable updating, though acts with the same limitations as a sandboxed app.
  • The Mac App Store edition is sandboxed, requiring extra steps to approve keyboard usage detection and install action scripts.
Data location
  • The direct edition stores its data in the path "~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout/", where "~" means your home folder.
  • The Mac App Store edition stores its data in the path "~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout.free/", where "~" means your home folder.

That's about it. None of the differences are all that significant, so you are welcome to use whichever edition you prefer. Downloading and updating are about as easy for each, and purchasing is similar, it just depends on whether you want to buy with your credit card or PayPal account, or your Apple ID. Of course, purchasing is optional; you can use it for free if you don't want to become a supporter.

Time Out 2.1b1 released

Announcing the first beta release of an update to Time Out, my popular break reminder tool!

Version 2.1b1 includes macOS Sierra compatibility, scheduling enhancements, status item improvements, new actions, and much more.

Read on for the full release notes:

Better Schedule options

  • Changed the way the scheduler handles the first break of the day, so the work time is now equal between each break. For example, a 10 minute break every hour will now start the break after 50 minutes of work time, and so on throughout the day.
  • Now displays the work time next to the frequency control.
  • Replaced the Reset After Duration natural break option with a checkbox to reset after a specified interval of idle, screensaver or sleep time, where you can choose the threshold interval. Off by default, and is a supporter reward, like the old option.
  • Added an option to reset the break after finishing a higher priority break. This is useful to keep lower priority breaks (e.g. Micro) aligned with higher priority ones (e.g. Normal). Off by default, and is also a supporter reward.

The Status item can now omit Micro breaks

  • Added an option on the General preferences page to only include long breaks in the status menu bar item. Off by default, so all breaks are included, but if you only want a countdown to the next lengthy break (of a minute or more), you can turn this on.

New menu commands to improve discoverability

  • Added an Edit Break command in the break Options menu, to make editing breaks more intuitive. This is equivalent to simply selecting the break in the sidebar, and will show an alert mentioning this.
  • Added a Start Next Break command in the File and action (cog) menus to manually begin the break that is next due. Especially useful as it can have a global keyboard shortcut assigned to it via the Shortcuts preferences.
  • Added a Reveal Data Folder command in those menus, to quickly and easily show the Time Out data folder in the Finder, as an easier way to add or edit sounds and themes, or send the data to Dejal for diagnostics.

Improved Play Sound action

  • Added a Reveal Sounds command to the sound pop-up menu in the Play Sound action, to show the Sounds folder in the Finder.
  • Added headings in the Play Sound menu, to indicate where each of the groups of sounds are located on disk.
  • Added some new built-in sounds: two different bells and a ticking clock. If you find any short public domain sound that others might like, let us know!

Added a Post Tweet action

  • Added a new Post Tweet action to post an update to Twitter. It is only available from macOS Sierra (10.12), due to a bug in previous OS versions that prevents authorizing accounts.
  • It includes an account popup to choose from which account to post. This could be fun for social peer pressure -- tweet when completing a break.

More actions

  • Added the Sleep Mac action (available via the Time Out Extras page) to the default set. This AppleScript simply puts the Mac to sleep. Useful if you want it to be asleep during a break or at the end of day.
  • Added the Start Screensaver action (also available there) to the default set. This AppleScript simply activates the screensaver. Useful if you want the screensaver on during a break.
  • Also added a new Stop Screensaver action. This AppleScript deactivates the screensaver if it's active. Useful as an action at the end of a break.

Setup Assistant assistance

  • Added a comment on the first page of the Setup Assistant to explain how to change the duration and frequency controls: "tab/arrow between components; arrow up/down or type to change values; click or spacebar to show a menu of options."
  • Updated the tooltips of those controls to give the same tips.
  • When returning to the Setup Assistant later in the app session, it now opens to the first page again, instead of whichever one was displayed when last closed.

Supporter improvements

  • After trying supporter rewards, the Support Time Out page is selected, to hopefully help clarify that the features reverting is not a bug.
  • For the Mac App Store edition, if a purchase hasn't been registered with the Dejal server, it will now ask you to do so when you next show the Support Time Out page, to avoid an issue that affects some people.

Other improvements

  • Global shortcuts are now correctly removed after trying supporter rewards.
  • If not using the Event Monitor idle detector (as set on the Advanced preferences), no longer unnecessarily sets up the event monitors on launch.
  • Fixed a crasher on macOS Sierra (10.12) when displaying the support info popovers.
  • Fixed a crasher when changing preference pages.
  • Updated the help book.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition, an update will be available after the beta cycle, or you can download the beta via the link below.

If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update; if it doesn't offer the beta, change your Updates preferences to include beta releases.

Otherwise, download Time Out 2.1b1 now!

Time Out tip: adding sounds

A frequently asked question about Time Out 2 is how to add more sounds.

There is a FAQ answer on this, but I thought I'd expand on it as a blog topic.

Firstly, refer back to a previous blog post on accessing the sound actions in Time Out. That shows where the "Play Sound" feature has moved in version 2. It is now much more powerful than in version 1, with the ability to play sounds before, during or after a break, and even gently fade out long sounds like music. That post also includes a video demoing adding Play Sound and Fadeout Sound actions.

Time Out comes with a number of built-in sounds that you can play, plus it lists all sounds you have installed on your Mac, which includes system default ones, and any you have added to the standard sound folders.

It's worth noting that you can also have Time Out play any music from your iTunes library, too.

Find more sounds

To add more sounds, you first need to find and download them from a website.

There are many sites that offer sounds of varying length, quality, themes, etc. Some for free, some as paid offerings. Usually with previews so you can listen before downloading.

Here are a few I've found; note that I don't endorse or recommend any particular site; these are just ones I encountered in a brief search. If you're aware of or find a better site, please post in the Time Out forum to share with others.

Add the sounds

Once you have the new sounds, you can easily add them in one of the standard folders to make them available to all apps that can play sounds, or add them to the "Sounds" folder within the Time Out data folder to only make them available in Time Out.

The system sound folders you can add to are in the following paths (tip: you can paste these paths into the Finder's Go ▶ Go to Folder... command to reveal them; if the folders don't exist, you can create them):

  • /Library/Sounds — for sounds available to all users of your Mac.
  • ~/Library/Sounds — where "~" means your home folder.

(There is a third folder, at /System/Library/Sounds, but you shouldn't modify that.)

On the other hand, Time Out's sounds folder is at one of the following paths, depending on which edition of the app you have:

  • ~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout/Sounds — for the direct edition.
  • ~/Library/Group Containers/6Z7QW53WB6.com.dejal.timeout.free/Sounds — for the Mac App Store edition.

While you can use the Finder's Go to Folder... command to access those, an easier way is to choose Reveal Scripts from the Add Action drop-down menu. That will show the Scripts folder, which is adjacent to the Sounds folder. (I do want to make this even easier in the next update.)

I hope this has been helpful!

Time Out tip: adding to accessibility system preferences to enable idle detection

One of the features of Time Out is the ability to detect natural breaks, i.e. when your Mac is idle, not being used.

In version 1, this was detected via what I call the "Event Source" mechanism, but this can be unreliable for some people, as some apps can make it look like you are using the computer, when it's just an automated activity. So in version 2 I switched to a new approach, which I call "Event Monitor". This is generally more reliable, but has one downside: it requires a manual step by you to allow it, as discussed below. It can detect mouse or trackpad movement, but to detect keyboard activity you need to authorize it. Note that Time Out doesn't log or even watch what you type, it is just detecting any key press as a sign that you're actively using your computer.

Because not everyone wants idle detection at all, or would prefer the old approach, I added a preference on the Advanced Options page: "Natural break detection method". This pop-up menu includes options to disable idle detection altogether, or switch between the two approaches.

When you first launch Time Out, the second page of the Setup Assistant includes instructions on how to authorize idle detection. It's pretty simple, though a number of steps to navigate to the right place:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Go to the Security & Privacy pane.
  3. Go to the Accessibility page in the sidebar.
  4. Go to the Privacy tab.
  5. Click the lock to make changes, if needed, and enter an admin username and password.
  6. Click the + button below the list.
  7. Find and choose Time Out in the resulting open file sheet.
  8. Confirm that Time Out appears in the list, with its box checked.

Since that could seem overwhelming, here's a very brief video demo:

(Or watch on YouTube.)

Time Out 2: a month later

Note: this is a re-post, as my web host lost the original post in a server migration.

Time Out version 2.0 went into general release on 2016-03-03, about a month ago.

This was a momentous release, several years in the making. I started planning and prototyping a significantly improved break reminder tool way back in 2007, and worked on bits of it over the years, more intensely over the last couple of years, in between contract work and other apps.

After 33 alpha builds and 7 beta releases, 2.0 went into general release.

Now, a month later, I'm happy to report that the reception has been very positive. Although a few people are put off by the changes, the vast majority have nothing but favorable things to say about the new version and its numerous improvements.

Of course, one of the many changes is the new "supporter" model, which I've discussed previously. Briefly, instead of an optional donation as in version 1, version 2 offers optional payments that enable permanent access to advanced features (that can be tried for an hour at a time, as often as you like, before becoming a supporter).

I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some numbers about how the supporter model has gone so far.

Firstly, the distribution of downloads is interesting. Time Out is available both directly from the Dejal site, and via the Mac App Store. For the latter, version 2 uses the same product as version 1, so people who downloaded version 1 will be automatically offered version 2. The Mac App Store certainly has its problems, but getting people to update isn't one of them: the percentage of updates via that mechanism dwarfed even the substantial downloads by new customers, and direct downloads:

The distribution of purchases is a bit more even, however. Almost an even split between purchases of the direct edition (mostly via the in-app options) vs via the Mac App Store:

Next I thought I'd see how the 3-, 6-, and 12-month supporter options compared via the different editions.

For the direct edition, most people chose to purchase the 12-month supporter option (46%), with the 3-month option the second most popular, at 39%. The middle 6-month option was relatively unpopular, at 15%; that isn't too surprising, as the extremes are expected to be more popular. (This is for the in-app purchases, but the web store ones were similar proportions.)

Things were a bit different for the Mac App Store: there, most people preferred the 3-month option, at 53%, with the 12-month in second place at 29%, and again 6-month the least preferred, at 19%:

Why the difference? I can't be sure, but I'd guess that people who download directly from this site are more likely to be power users, comfortable downloading third-party software, whereas people who prefer the Mac App Store might be more used to the budget prices of the iOS App Store, so might like to spend the minimum to get the features. Perhaps something to think about when comparing the two approaches.

Units sold is definitely an interesting metric, but revenue is important too. Here's how that turned out for the direct edition:

Compared to the Mac App Store edition:

Clearly, I made more money from the 12-month option, even on the Mac App Store where it was a smaller proportion of the unit sales. I didn't include the actual revenue totals, but suffice to say that I had approximately even number of sales from both the direct and Mac App Store editions (slightly more from the latter), but the revenue was higher from the direct edition.

Of course, this is just a snapshot from the first month of version 2. No doubt things will change over time. I hope that downloads and sales will continue well, but they will probably follow the typical "long tail" of most apps. The supporter model may help with that — although there is no obligation to renew the support when it expires, I hope that many people will do so. This might provide some degree of recurring revenue to help pay for ongoing improvements to the app. Who knows, people who choose the 3-month option may end up paying more than the 12-month supporters, since they effectively get two months free.

Although having an income from the app is important to enable continued improvements, it certainly isn't all about money. I am gratified that so many people are pleased with the new version, after all the hard work I put into it. It's great that it can help lots of people to live healthier lives. That is the most important thing for me, which is why I provide the basic functionality for free, forever.

Time Out tip: sounds, scripts, and other actions

One of the frequently asked questions I've received about Time Out 2 is "where have the sounds gone?"

In version 1, there were separate tab pages for "Sounds" and "Scripts", each offering two options; the ability to play sounds or run scripts at the start and/or end of breaks.

Version 2 still has these features, but can do much more. So, instead of having numerous tab pages, it combines them into an "Actions" page:

[Actions page screenshot]

In addition to sounds and scripts, other actions include the ability to display a notification (with an optional sound), fade out the currently playing sound (useful at the end of the break), flash the screen a custom color, and speak some text with speech synthesis. Several scripts are provided, too.

To add an action, simply click the (+) button in the top-right corner of the window, to display a menu of available actions:

[Add action menu screenshot]

(When you first click this button, the scripts won't be there, and there will just be "More..." item at the end; choose this to install the scripts.)

The first bunch are the various actions, followed by scripts, which are like customizable actions. At the end of the menu are items to open the Scripts folder in the Finder, so you can edit or add scripts, and go to the Time Out Extras page to download more scripts.

Once you add an action, you'll see a header row with the name of the action and some other controls:

[Action header screenshot]

You can use the interval picker and pop-up menu to indicate when to use the action. The interval picker enables you to offset from the action stage by a number of seconds, minutes or even hours (click on the units to change them). Instead of just being able to play a sound at the start and/or end of a break, in version 2 you can choose from many more times, including before due, after skipping, and more:

[Action when menu screenshot]

After those controls is a Preview button, that will demonstrate the action. And a Remove button to remove the action.

Here is a brief video to demo the feature: adding a Play Sound action to play a long music track, and a Fadeout Sound action to make it fade out when the break successfully finishes. (You might instead want to have it fade out for any end, otherwise it'd keep playing till done if you skip.)

Time Out 2.0.2 released

Time Out version 2.0.2 is now available for direct customers. The Mac App Store edition will be available in a few days to a week, once it is through Apple's app review. Update: the Mac App Store edition is now available (a bit quicker than expected).

This update includes some scheduler improvements:

  • By popular request, increased the number of digits for the Break for duration and Every frequency on the Break Schedule page from 2 to 3, so you can enter 150 minutes to have a break every 2.5 hours, for example.

While I'm here, note that you can click on the amount or units in these interval pickers to edit them via typing, up/down arrows, the stepper buttons, or click again to reveal a menu:

  • Also added an option on the Exclusions page to automatically skip breaks that fall due while the screensaver is active, the display is asleep, another user is active, or the Mac is asleep. This defaults to on.
  • Tweaked the scheduler to avoid App Nap interfering with idle detection and starting breaks when the window is closed and no status item is shown.
  • Scheduler logging (in Advanced preferences) is now off by default for new users.

There is also a fix specific to the Mac App Store edition:

  • Fixed another issue that prevented purchases from working for some people with the Mac App Store edition.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition of Time Out, look for the update in the App Store in about a week now. If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. Otherwise, download Time Out 2.0.2 now!

Time Out 2: supporter options

Version 1 of Time Out was available completely free, with a suggested donation to help support development.

Version 2 uses an unusual pricing model: it is still free, but you can become a "supporter".

If you wish, you can download and use the basic features (roughly equivalent to version 1) at no cost, forever. You don't have to buy up-front, and the app won't stop working after 14 or 30 days like traditional apps (like Simon and Caboodle, for example). I want everyone to be able to have a great break reminder tool, even if you can't afford to pay anything.

But certain new features can only be tried for an hour at a time, then they revert. These features can be tried as often as you like, and are marked by a heart icon that animates in next to the control when you hover over it. You can click the icon to display a popover with more information.

When you use one of these features, the icon remains visible and red, and the popover automatically appears for the first one you use, to make it more intuitive that you can click the icon to find out about it. Also, the heart icon next to the "Support Time Out" item in the sidebar starts to "beat", and a countdown message appears below it, indicating how long until the features revert.

To keep these features available permanently, you can become a supporter. This is a small payment that helps fund development of the app, and shows your appreciation of how it makes your life better. The advanced features will remain available as a reward for your support.

There are three supporter options available: 3 months, 6 months and 12 months; basically one dollar per month, with one month free for 6-month supporters, or two months free for 12-month supporters.

Although there is a time limit, this is not a subscription, and the features won't stop working when it expires. These are one-time payments, and they do not automatically renew. When the supporter period expires, you can continue using all of the features you had as a supporter, without paying anything more. But if you are still finding Time Out useful, you are welcome and encouraged to renew your support.

Thank you very much to everyone who has become a supporter in the couple of weeks since 2.0 was released. It's very gratifying to have so much positive feedback and encouragement. This pricing model is very much an experiment, but so far it is working very well, with a large proportion of people opting for the 12-month supporter level as a way to show how much they appreciate the app and the improvements in version 2. I'll follow up later about how it's going, and compare the direct and Mac App Store editions.

If you have any questions about this, please feel most welcome to post in the Time Out forum, or contact me privately.

Time Out 2.0.1 released

Time Out 2.0.1 is now available.

This quick update includes some tweaks to address points of confusion from the initial 2.0 release, and fixes for the purchasing issues in the Mac App Store edition.

The changes include:

Added Dejus YouTube themes

  • Added a couple of themes that play videos from the author's Dejus YouTube channel: Dejus Chickens (videos of David's chickens) and Dejus Water Features (David's ponds and fish).
  • If you enjoy the videos, check out the channel for others, and like the videos and subscribe to the channel!
  • The theme HTML isn't the best; if anyone can improve the video player to play the playlist in random order (while retaining looping when all videos played), and/or adapt the video size to the screen, please get in touch.
  • These aren't included in the Mac App Store edition, but can be downloaded from the Time Out Extras page.

Made some things more intuitive

  • On first launch, now selects the Break Schedule page by default, instead of General, to make it more obvious that the break items can be selected to edit the breaks.
  • When trying a supporter reward, the heart icon button next to the control now remains visible and red, to indicate that it is being tried.
  • Also, when first trying a supporter reward, the information popover now automatically appears, since some people didn't discover this.

Mac App Store fixes

  • Fixed an issue that prevented purchases from working for some people with the Mac App Store edition.
  • After successful purchase, now asks you to create or update your supporter account, so your supporter status can be restored.
  • Changed the Restore Previous Purchases feature to use the supporter account, since the StoreKit restoration approach isn't available for non-renewing subscriptions.

If you are using the Mac App Store edition of Time Out, look for the update in the App Store. If you are using the direct edition, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. Otherwise, download Time Out 2.0.1 now!

Time Out 2.0 released

Announcing the general release of Time Out version 2.0!

Version 2 is a modern redesign of the popular break app, with many much-requested enhancements, including:

  • Optionally show a countdown to the next break in the menu bar.
  • Optionally hide the icon in the Dock.
  • Add additional breaks.
  • Customizable themes during breaks.
  • Fixed-time breaks.
  • Support for natural breaks.
  • Global keyboard shortcuts to defer and start breaks.
  • More actions to notify of impending breaks.
  • And much more!

Please also note that Time Out 2 requires Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or later, as it leverages recent technologies. If you're still using an older OS version, you can remain on version 1 until you upgrade your OS version.

If you are already using Time Out, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. Otherwise, download Time Out 2.0 now!

Read on for more information (this is basically the same as the Time Out What's New page, if you've already read that).

Customizable break themes

Version 2 offers multiple themes during breaks. Themes can be as simple as a static image or text, or full web apps. They are powered by web standards like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and can be hosted locally or on remote websites. In fact, some themes are effectively bookmarks for websites.

Time Out comes with a number of themes, and if you are comfortable with HTML, you can modify them or add your own.

Learn more via the help book.

[Break theme]

Optional status item

A status item can be displayed at the right of the menu bar. It can display a color label indicating what kind of break is coming up next (or the app icon if you prefer), and a countdown to the next break, or the time it is due, or other options.

When the Dock icon is shown, clicking the status item quickly displays the Time Out preferences. When it's hidden, a popover will appear, so the app can work in the background. This popover looks basically the same as the sidebar of the preferences window, enabling quick access to the breaks and options.

[Status popover]

Better break scheduling and natural breaks

The preferences window includes a sidebar listing the breaks, and other options, plus quick-access buttons along the top to add a break, pause all breaks, postpone or skip the next break, get help, and other functions.

The breaks in the sidebar include a color label that appears in the status item, the break name (which can be changed), when the break is next due, when it was last done, and a couple of buttons that appear when hovering over the item (as seen above) to manually start the break or other options including postponing, skipping, disabling or deleting the break. If a global keyboard shortcut is assigned to starting the break, it is displayed too.

On the right side of the window are pages detailing the breaks and options. Below you can see the Schedule page for the Micro Break.

Here you can set how long the breaks take, and how often, using innovative new controls that work similar to date pickers, but for time intervals, and support popping up menus for the amount and units.

Other new options include the ability to only have the breaks during certain hours, manually adjusting the next due date and time, and various options to support natural breaks, when the Mac isn't being used.

Learn more.

[Break Schedule page]

Theme selection and appearance

The next page is the Appearance of the break. Here you can choose the theme to display during the break, get information about it, and set background colors and controls.

This is similar to version 1, other than the addition of the Theme pop-up menu and info button. It now also includes a button to quickly Preview the break, and refined color controls.

Learn more.

[Break Appearance page]

Get notified before, during or after the breaks

Version 1 had separate pages for Sounds and Scripts, but version 2 combines these into one Actions page, and adds other kinds of actions, including displaying a notification, fading out a long-playing sound, flashing the screen, and speaking text with voice synthesis.

What's more, these actions can be performed at more times: some interval before the break is due, after it starts or fades in, before fading out or finishing, after finishing or deferring. So you could have combinations like in the screenshot below, displaying a notification 15 seconds before a break is due, playing a meditation sound during the break, and fading it out 10 seconds after the end.

Learn more.

[Break Actions page]

Hide the Dock icon and customize the status item

The General Options includes one of the most-requested additions in version 2: the ability to hide the Dock icon, and make the app work in the background.

It also includes the ability to enable or disable the above-mentioned status item, and customize its appearance. And other options.

Learn more.

[General Preferences page]

Become a Supporter!

Time Out 2 is still free; you can use it for as long as you like without paying anything. But people who contribute to ongoing development by becoming supporters get the advanced features as a reward. You can become a supporter for 3, 6 or 12 months; these one-time payments do not auto-renew, but you can extend your support if you wish. The features will remain available permanently. You can become a supporter in the app, or via the Dejal Store.

Want more details?

Time Out 2 has hundreds of improvements; too many to cover here! See the full release notes for details.

I hope you enjoy the many improvements in Time Out 2!

If you are already using Time Out, you can use the Check for Updates feature in the app to update. Otherwise, download Time Out 2.0 now!

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