StayFocusd is an excellent productivity extension for Google Chrome to block certain websites on your computer temporarily.
However, there are a few essential things you need to know before you use this productivity tool.
Imagine you installed the StayFocusd website blocker to increase your willpower and minimize time spent reading about dietary habits of Roman emperors in Caesar’s time, or the detailed differences between yellow and red tulips in the Netherlands around 1637.
Unfortunately, you choose the wrong settings you are not able to visit any site. Even worse, the browser settings page won't open, and thus you cannot remove the site blocker.
Worst of all you set the nuclear option to be 9999 hours. And because you have a lot of bookmarks and other settings stored in chrome reinstalling the browser is not an option either.
All you want is to disable StayFocusd without the extension page because you blocked that, too.
Your time is your most valuable asset, and there is nothing more frustrating than accidentally using the nuclear option when you need a certain website for research.
So, let's dive in and have a look at the most important question first (or if you are pressured for time scroll down to discover a simple trick to disable StayFocusd):
Is StayFocusd Safe?
If you want to install StayFocusd and the site blocker warns you that it will have access to your data on all websites.
A lot of people find this quite scary as they would like to keep their data secure.
Is it safe to install the StayFocusd? What are the potential risks?
At this point of writing StayFocusd has more than 800,000 users. Extensions are an amazing way to customize your Chrome experience.
While some of them ask for a lot of data for no apparent reason but for the most part, even extensions that request access to all your data on web sites are safe to use. You should know that Chrome doesn't allow more specific permissions that the developer could use.
The developer cannot steal any privacy information from you. For example, your passwords, email addresses, the websites you visited, etc.
All your privacy information is safely stored on your computer. Just apply the same reasoning that you used when you installed Chrome. The fact that it is an extension for Chrome is irrelevant and last but not least. Of course, the extension does not contain any virus.
How Does StayFocusd Work?
StayFocusd restricts the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites and temporarily block websites in your chrome browser. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.
The chrome site blocker is highly configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire websites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages and even specific in-page content like videos, games, images, forms, etc.
How to Block Websites on Google Chrome?
A common question a lot of people ask is. ‘Where do I set up StayFocusd in chrome?”
- Download StayFocusd from the Chrome Web Store
- Click “Add to Chrome”
- Confirm the installation by clicking “Add extension”
- Click on Settings to add a list of the websites you want to block.
How Do I Edit My StayFocusd Settings?
StayFocusd adds an icon to your browser, to the right of the address bar. Clicking it will display a popup window with one primary option:
How to Start StayFocusd And Block Certain Websites?
- Block this entire site: This will block you from browsing any page on the current domain and subdomains once the timer runs out. For example, if you block reddit.com, it will block all pages on reddit.com, https://www.reddit.com/r/getdisciplined/, https://old.reddit.com/, https://old.reddit.com/user/Martin_Boeddeker/, etc.
You can also click Advanced Options to expose more specific options to set up StayFocusd in chrome.
Let's use old.reddit.com/ as an example:
- Allow this entire site: This will allow you to browse every page on Reddit, even after time runs out.
- Only block pages https://old.reddit.com/: This will prevent you from browsing only pages on this subdomain. If you block old.reddit.com/, you will still be allowed to browse reddit.com.
- NOTE: If you only block reddit.com, you will still be able to access old.reddit.com... which kind of defeats the purpose of blocking the site. This option should only be used to block subdomains other than www.
- Only allow pages on reddit.com/r/productivity/: This will allow you to browse pages on the current subdomain, even if the rest of the domain is blocked. For example, you may want to restrict yourself from accessing the entire website reddit.com except for reddit.com/r/nosurf.
- Enter a custom URL: This will allow you to block or allow any specific page, URL, or query. For example, you may want to block yourself from the subreddit r/funny, at reddit.com/r/funny Entering this custom URL and clicking "Block custom URL" will block your access to reddit.com/r/funny without preventing you from accessing any other Reddit URL for search, email, docs, etc.
Likewise, you can use the custom URL to allow only a specific path while preventing access to the rest of a domain. For example, you may choose to block the entire Youtube site at youtube.com. However, if you want to use youtube to bookmark a specific video like "Quit social media from Cal Newport that you want to watch, you'll need to allow access to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E7hkPZ-HTk&list=PLZUxlO4KqFHnhudxZZyXxYoAqpKzowDrb&index=3. Entering https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E7hkPZ-HTk&list=PLZUxlO4KqFHnhudxZZyXxYoAqpKzowDrb&index=3 into the custom URL field and clicking "Allow custom URL" will let you use Youtube for watching certain videos while still blocking other youtube videos.
How to Use StayFocusd In Incognito Mode?
To start StayFocusd in Chrome's incognito mode click the icon at the top right and below the close button and select Tools > Extensions. Look for the StayFocusd extension, and check the "Allow in incognito" checkbox.
The Nuclear Option
The Nuclear Option is a way to restrict Internet access completely, but you can exclude your Allowed Sites.
It can block entire sites, or just selected content: multimedia, forms, logins, and/or images and you can set this option to start once you have exceeded your Max Time Allowed or whenever you want and choose whether you want to start at a scheduled time today, every weekday, or every single day.
The most obvious use is to help you stay focused on studying or at work when you have a deadline approaching or to prevent yourself from staying up way too late.
How to Deactivate Nuclear Option?
It is important to know that you cannot disable the nuclear option in StayFocusd. That's the reason why the developer called it the Nuclear Option. You cannot get rid of this restriction. That means you have to wait until the hours you entered expire or switch to another browser or use the user-friendly quick and easy uninstallation trick a few paragraphs below.
How to Add Allowed Sites?
You can change the settings to make the Nuclear Option more restrictive, but you'll have to wait until the timer runs out before removing blocked websites.
It’s important to be aware of the fact that this option is completely unrelated to the other settings this internet blocking app.
You should use it for anything you want to specify outside your normal day-to-day workflow.
How to Set Password on StayFocusd?
StayFocusd has the option to prevent yourself from changing the settings. It’s not a real password but meant to give yourself more time to evaluate your decision.
You can use the challenge to block easy access to the settings.
When Require Challenge is turned on, you will be required to type a short paragraph into a text box without making any mistakes. You cannot use the backspace or delete button or cut-and-paste. If you make any mistake, the challenge restarts, and you have to start over.
There's no way to disable this option without completing it successfully.
Suggested Blocked Sites List
StayFocusd comes with some recommended websites that you could block. If that list is not enough for you here is a list with more than 9000 other distracting sites, you can add to the chrome productivity blocker.
How to Pause StayFocusd?
To pause the blocking software, unselect the days during which StayFocusd will restrict your browsing activity or visit the options page and click on the sites you want to remove if you want to unblock a website. Keep in mind that if your time has run out for the day, you'll have to wait until the next day.
If StayFocusd does not block a website, you might have the wrong settings, or you are merely using Internet Explorer. Just kidding.
Why Does StayFocusd Not Block Sites?
If you double checked everything and StayFocusd is not blocking your websites submit a support request on the chrome web store. Fortunately, the developer Warren Benedetto is still very responsive.
How to Uninstall and Disable StayFocusd?
There are two uncomplicated ways to get rid of the productivity addon on a Mac & Windows.
To remove StayFocusd from a Windows computer go to System Preferences, and set the system time forward by a couple of days (or years).
Another way to uninstall StayFocusd on Mac is to go to Chrome's Tools > Task manager, find StayFocusd and select End process. Then you can uninstall the internet blocker on the extensions page.
There are many alternative websites blocking extensions to StayFocusd that offer similar features.
- Leechblock - an extension for the Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers designed to block those time-wasting sites
- WasteNoTime - a browser extension which is designed to help you manage your time spent on the Internet more efficiently.
- BlockSite - Block Site allows you to block any website for any period of time. Remove distractions, block adult content, customize your browsing environment.
- Site Blocker – another Chrome Extension to easily block any unwanted websites
- Website Blocker – a useful free internet blocking software when you want to concentrate on work.
- Go Fucking Work - A procrastination helper to redirect unproductive sites to (explicit) motivational messages.
Why The Best Alternative Is Not a Chrome Extension
In my experience, if you use website blocking extensions to block websites in Chrome and other browsers it is to simple to switch to another browser and stay distracted.
That's why I would recommend using native apps like SelfControl or FindFocus.
In fact, FindFocus was built for that very reason. You cannot only block websites but also distracting software like Outlook or your email client or your Steam Account.
Because it works on the system level, you cannot disable it as easily as StayFocusd. For example, we made sure that the trick with changing your system preferences does not work or if you force quit FindFocus the website blocker will automatically restart.
What makes FindFocus the best alternative to Stay Focused is its flexibility.
We found that most website blockers like Freedom are either too strict (for example for research) or to easily to uninstall like browser extensions.
Please have a look at our homepage to see how it compares to Warren Benedetto’s StayFocusd and if it offers the features you are looking for.
If you want to create the perfect online habits, FindFocus is by far the best solution on the market because it combines the best features from native website blockers like Self-Control and Website Blocking Extensions like StayFocusd.