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How to automatically optimize your computer's display for time of day

Face it--your monitor just doesn't look right after the sun goes down, even if you're in a windowless room. Our brains are wired for certain kinds of light at certain times of day, and the awesome, free, cross-platform f.lux app changes settings automatically to optimize your viewing at any time of day.

Your computer is optimized for daytime use. Even if you're a mile away from a window, your brain still knows what time it is, and as the sun sinks below the horizon (wherever that may be), you need softer, cooler light. That's part of the reason it can be so hard to sleep after intense bouts of World of Warcraft or late-night coding; your brain is confused by mixed signals. Enter f.lux, a sweet, small, free app that works on all major platforms to automatically adjust the brightness and tone of your monitor based on time of day. Here's how to use it:

  1. Download and install f.lux here (for Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, and Cydia). 
  2. It automatically runs and hangs out in the background, but you may want to tinker under the hood a bit first. Click "Your location" near the bottom left to improve f.lux's sense of place, which helps it figure out when the sun goes down. 
    Step 2: f.lux location finder.
    Step 2: f.lux location finder.
  3. Click "Change settings" in the top right to tell f.lux about your lighting situation at home or at work, manually enter your location info, and switch between fast and slow transitions. 
    Step 3: f.lux Settings.
    Step 3: f.lux Settings.
  4. Finally, if you're working on something that requires true color, it's easy to turn off the adjustment for an hour in the bottom of the main window. 

That's all there is to it. It may or may not change your life, but for those of us who use our computers at night, it's quite nice.