Comparing the two popular website blockers Focus and Freedom. Focus offers more advanced features and Freedom is better for cross-platform use.

Focus vs Freedom App — Comparing website blockers

Focus logo   and   Freedom logo

Focus and Freedom are two of the most popular distraction blockers. If you're distracted by Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, these apps can block the website to help keep you productive.

Full-disclosure—we run Focus, so we're a bit biased. But because we're experts, we know what we do best and what Freedom does best.

In short: If you need a cross-platform blocker, go with Freedom. If you're on a Mac, go with Focus.

  • Focus has a powerful website blocker, which means you can slice and dice to get precisely what you need and has advanced platform-specific features, but it is Mac-only.

  • Freedom offers Windows, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android options, which is great, but means their features need to fit on all platforms, which limits what you can do.

A big way Focus and Freedom apps differ is Freedom blocks by domain name—so you have to block all of Facebook or all of Reddit.

Focus, on the other hand, blocks by URL—so you can block all of Facebook, except for your work page. Or block all of Reddit, except for the few subreddits that are productive.

Focus blocking urls with exceptions
Creating exceptions in Focus is easy, just add a plus ("+") before the website you want to allow

This ability makes Focus extremely powerful.

This difference in the way Focus and Freedom block ends up allowing, even more features in Focus, like complex URL blocking (to block by wildcard) and the ability to show motivational quotes.

Focus blocking urls with quotes
Focus can block distracting websites and replace them with a motivational quote to keep you productive

The most significant difference between Freedom and Focus is Focus has a more powerful website blocking engine, while Freedom works across multiple devices.

However, there are still lots of differences when it comes to how other features work like lock mode, schedules, timers and more!

Blocking distracting websites

The core of both Focus and Freedom is blocking distracting websites, and as mentioned above, Freedom blocks differently from Focus. Freedom blocks at a network layer, which may be valuable when trying to block network communications like email or connections from RSS readers.

This blocking method also has a benefit of not ever needing a browser add-on to block websites.

However, sometimes network blocking has caching issues which can be challenging to resolve, and network blocking can't read website URLs—it can only read domain names. Because of this restriction, you can't block parts of websites, like some Facebook or Reddit pages.


Focus on the other hand, blocks directly through browsers—which allows it to block websites by their URL. This method of blocking ends up being more powerful—like being able to block the entire Internet except for a few websites—or blocking all of Facebook except for a single page you need.

Also because Focus has access to the browser URL, we can show motivational images and quotes instead of the distracting website—this ends up being a great way to stay on task when you start getting distracted.

This method does have tradeoffs, like some browsers (like Firefox) may need browser extensions to full blocking.

Blocking distracting apps

Freedom offers the ability to block network access from apps on a pre-selected list, which is useful on mobile for some apps, but not games and not on the desktop.


Focus offers the ability to block any app on your Mac, including browsers, games and more!

Focus blocking apps

Schedules

Freedom and Focus both can set up schedules, which is an effective way to build a discipline around your productivity.

Focus has the ability to set schedules

Freedom has multiple block lists, and you can select which devices you want to schedule.

Freedom has the ability to set schedules

Locked Mode

Both apps offer a handy feature for locking schedules and timers once they start, which ends up being an important feature when trying to break digital addictions to social media, gambling, porn or just procrastination.

By engaging lock mode, schedules and timers are forced to finish—with no workaround. Be careful when using this mode!

Focus hardcore mode
When hardcore mode is enabled, Focus cannot easily be stopped

Password Mode

Focus has a unique feature where the preferences lock with a password. This is useful when you need an extra push, perhaps by letting a friend or family member set a password. In this mode, preferences are locked once a password is input and can only change once the password is reentered.

Focus password mode
Focus preferences are locked while the password has not been entered

A cool way to add blocked websites even in this mode (or in hardcore mode) is with drag and drop.

Drag and drop URL to block
Drag and drop URLs to the Focus icon to quickly block them

Statistics

Focus has another unique feature that shows the time you've used the app so you can track your productivity.

Focus statistics

Scripting

Focus has one hidden superpower called scripting. With it—Focus can do almost anything. It can integrate with Slack, change your Skype status, play a Spotify playlist and a lot more.

You can also control Focus from other apps to make it a critical piece of your productivity stack!

Focus Scripting
Focus can block Facebook or Reddit but allow specific sub-pages with advanced url blocking

Learn more at scripting.

Price

Freedom is a subscription service that charges $6.99/month or $29/year. They also have a $129 unlimited option to access Freedom forever.

Focus is a one-time $39 purchase.

Verdict

We'll summarize the same way we started. Freedom is a great cross-platform app to block distractions. To use Freedom you can grab it from the Apple or Google App Store.

We think Focus is the best Mac app distraction blocker. We aim to make Focus simple and powerful—a powerful ally in your pursuit of productivity.

Get started using Focus with a free 7-day trial!



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Posted on February 18, 2019


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