HOW TO: Enable The Hidden Single-Application Mode in macOS Sierra


Back in 1999, Steve Jobs showed off the new Finder in Mac OS X. It ran in single-application mode, meaning that when you switch from one app to another the first app would be automatically minimized.

Almost 18 years later, this feature is still pretty useful, especially if you want/need to maximize productivity while working in a specific app and quickly remove all distractions.

You don’t need to install any third party apps because the feature is still built-in, but it’s not activated.

Jump over the break to learn how to enable single-application mode in macOS Sierra.

1. Open Terminal

2. Type in: defaults write single-app -bool true;killall Dock

3. Press return ( enter )

Reverse the process

1. Open terminal

2. Type in: defaults write single-app -bool no;killall Dock

3. Press return ( enter )

For advanced users: you can kinda automate this process with AppleScript. Here’s a basic layout of how to do it with AppleScript.

1. Create a new folder on your desktop called “Single App” ( or whatever you want )

2. Open AppleScript Editor

3. Go to preferences and check “Show Script menu in menu bar” and uncheck “Show Computer script”


4. Open an AppleScript file and type in:

tell application “Terminal”

do script “defaults write single-app -bool true;killall Dock”

end tell


4.1 Save the file as “single-app-ON.scpt” in the folder created at step 1.

5. Open a new blank AppleScript file and type in:

tell application “Terminal”

do script “defaults write single-app -bool no;killall Dock”

end tell


5.1 Save file as “single-app-OFF.scpt”  in the folder created at step 1.

6. Move the folder with the two script files from your Desktop to /Users/YourUser/Library/Scripts/

7. Now you can turn this feature On/Off on demand from your Menu Bar





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