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Work smart with Focus for Mac, iPhone and iPad

Focus for the Mac ($19.99) and iPhone/iPad ($4.99, universal with Apple Watch support) is a productivity timer with several thoughtful little touches. It fits nicely with how I like to work, and I believe several of you will like it, too.

Many years ago I came across a productivity practice called The Pomodoro Technique. In a nutshell, it’s this:

  • Work for 25 minutes without pause
  • Take a five-minute break
  • Start another 25-minute work session
  • Every fourth time, extend the break to 20 minutes, then start over

There is no shortage of Pomodoro timer apps, including the very nice, browser-based Focus Booster. The analog among you can even buy a physical tomato timer if you like (“pomodoro” is Italian for tomato). So why choose Focus? There are some niceties here that make it stand out.

Getting started

On the Mac, Focus looks great. It offers both a light and dark theme (I prefer the dark), and information is clearly presented: Tasks on the left, timer next to that and, optionally, a history of your work activity on the far right. You can sort tasks by completed/outstanding, and adjust the length of a timer on the fly. You’ll also find buttons that let you pause, restart or skip right to the end of a session.

There’s a menu bar item that I like as well, which can optionally display a countdown timer, a pie chart that is gradually filled or both. I find the ever-changing numbers distracting, but that’s me. It provides almost all of the information found in the app’s main screen.

The development of Focus has been a family affair, as Jan explained to me:

“My brothers share very much of my passion for productivity and design. My youngest brother Malte is 17 and started to code with 15. He is very talented and contributed a lot to Focus for iOS. Niels is 21 and he currently studies computer science and business. He is responsible for a lot of the administrative stuff. Working as a team is a lot of fun since we share a lot of interests. But it is also quite challenging because you sometimes have to separate between work and family. For example, a family birthday is not a Focus team meeting!”


This is a very nice app that fits beautifully into my work day. It looks great, is legible and clean, is intuitive and the Handoff support puts it over the top for me. Yes, there are many productivity timer apps out there. Focus is one you should definitely use.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!