Limiting a single OSX Application's use?
June 23, 2013 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Does an OSX app exist which will limit the use of a single application? Nothing in the parental controls seems to be able to limit time spent in a given application.

I want to let my son use $APPLICATION for no more than an hour or so per day. Since getting him off this app has historically been a struggle, I'd like to implement something a little more restrictive until he has a better handle of working within his limits.

I searched around for apps but couldn't find anything. I also checked out the parental controls but didn't see an option to limit time spent per application.
posted by neilkod to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your past questions suggest you have some Python programming experience. It would probably take fewer than 50 lines to create a startup item that loops through the list of running process IDs, looks for the application in question, records/compares how much it has been seen that day, and either sleeps or kills where appropriate. You might need psutil (psutil.get_pid_list() and pid.cmdline)--I dunno. Just killing the app might be harsh, so maybe give a grace period, but he can avoid the hard termination if he watches the clock a little and learns to track the passage of time while using the app.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:09 PM on June 23, 2013

Response by poster: @monsieur Caution - good point - I could always DIY but I figured something would exist.

I don't want to just terminate the process abruptly - I'd want to give him some graceful notice.
posted by neilkod at 5:20 PM on June 23, 2013

This can be done using the existing OS X Parental Controls, but it's a little awkward. Create a new user account for your computer that, via Parental Controls, is limited to using the computer only an hour a day. Move the application into that account's user folder so that it can only be accessed by that user. Anytime your son wants to use the application he will have log out of his account and into the special account.
posted by RichardP at 5:25 PM on June 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

You could do this really easily with Concentrate, although it would also be easy to turn it off. But maybe check that out? Since they haven't updated it in a long time, it's free now. I use it with the kids I take care of to make sure they stay focused on their homework when they're using our computers for research, and it works great for our purposes. You can also block distraction websites, such as facebook, twitter, etc.
posted by ferdinandcc at 8:27 PM on June 23, 2013

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