With our work and social lives now being so intrinsically linked to the always-connected world of social media, smart devices and the world wide web, we’re spending more time than ever before reading on our phone and computer screens. As you’ll most likely know, however, if you’ve ever spent time reading books or other longform media on your Mac, it’s not always the most comfortable of experiences.
Reducing eye strain and taking up the correct posture go a long way towards making your reading easier, but there are also a number of software applications, which, when used in conjunction with some of the physical solutions, can go even further to make your experience an easier and more comfortable one. Today, we’re taking a look at the top (free) apps that every avid Mac user and reader should download.
If you’ve ever found yourself turning on your Mac in the middle of the night to catch up on some reading or work, you’ve likely been dazzled by its bright blue glow at one stage or another. Open-source application f.lux offers the solution to this issue and takes it one step further, automatically adjusting your display’s color temperature according to the time of day. In theory, reading from a warmer display at night should both reduce your eye strain – making reading more comfortable – but also help you get to sleep easier.
If you’re not a fan of f.lux’s orange night-time tones, however, there are other options out there as well. Lumens is a free app that automatically adjusts your Mac display’s brightness rather than its color temperature, softening the brighter backgrounds to make them easier on your eyes. As 888poker points out, brightness can have an impact not only on your eyes but your mood in general. In its study, the company used the specific example of home poker players being suggested to dim their lights in order to encourage riskier bluffs from their opponents.
If you happen to use Apple’s Safari browser on either your Mac or iPhone, you’ll probably already be accustomed to its nifty built-in accessibility feature: Safari Reader. The tool goes along way to make your online reading experience a more comfortable one. By clicking on the Reader button, which appears on the left of the address bar, the browser presents you with the current page you’re on in a format suitable for easy reading: with a suitably large font, the removal of all images and ads, and the ability to set the text against a white, gray or sepia background.
Thankfully, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome users aren’t left without a comparable option. Various extensions for each browser, including the likes of EasyReader for Chrome and Reader for Firefox, allow users to transform webpages in a similar way to Safari Reader – although they also come with the bonus options of being able to customize their background and font colors with a greater variety of options, as well as being able to select only certain parts of a page to display in the reader.
Of course, we’ve only started to scratch the surface with our suggestion of apps here. There are even more ways to improve your reading experience on your Mac – but hopefully downloading one of the above apps will be your first step towards reducing eye strain and allowing you to read longer articles, for longer, on your computer display.