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How to control Lifx bulbs with your Mac

Stop reaching for your phone to change the lights, control them with your Mac using Lifxstyle.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

The Lifx line of bulbs have only gotten better with time. Dozens of features have been added to the mix and the companion applications for Android and iOS have dramatically improved in reliability and user friendliness.

However, one thing hasn't changed: if you're sitting at a desk, you still have to reach for your phone just to change the lights.

Fortunately, if you own a Mac and some Lifx bulbs, there is an unofficial app that does a great job of filling this gap. It's called Lifxstyle and while it's rather steep at $8, it also comes with a free 30-day trial so you can give it a spin before diving in headfirst.

While it requires a bit of manual setup, it is definitely a must-have app.

Installing Lifxstyle

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Taylor Martin/CNET

If you haven't already setup your Lifx bulbs with the Android or iOS app, you will have to do that first before Lifxstyle will work. That said, after the initial setup, you will no longer need the phone present to control the lights.

The setup process with Lifxstyle is almost entirely frictionless. First, download the application from PeacockMedia and double-click the DMG file. Drag the app icon into your applications folder and launch the app.

Lifxstyle should immediately recognize any Lifx bulbs on the same network as your Mac.

Setup

Lifxstyle doesn't actually connect to your Lifx account and only controls the bulbs locally. This means that some features from the official Lifx mobile apps will be missing, and none of your existing settings will synch or be accessible. But it isn't as bad as it sounds, I promise.

Groups

For example, your preset groups will not carry over to Lifxstyle, but you can create groups very easily. Click on the Lights option in the upper right menu bar and select Make group. Check the boxes below the lights you want to add to a group, give the group a name and click OK.

Schedules

Any Schedules you have setup won't carry over either.

If you have schedules in both the Lifx app and Lifxstyle, you will run into some conflicts. It's also important to note that the official Lifx app will perform schedules via the cloud, meaning you don't have to be present for the schedule to continue working. With Lifxstyle, the Mac will have to be powered on for the schedules to run.

I would recommend leaving the scheduling to the official app.

Presets

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Taylor Martin/CNET

You're almost certainly going to want to use presets with Lifxstyle. They're very simple to setup. Simply use the sliders to determine the brightness, whiteness and warmth for each light. To choose the same color for each light, use color picker on one bulb and click and drag the color to the color indicator for all desired bulbs.

To adjust all the bulbs at the same time, simply adjust the settings for the desired group. If a group for all bulbs does not appear, make sure the option is checked in settings under the General tab.

Once all the bulbs are properly set, click the plus sign icon in the upper left corner of the Lifxstyle manual control panel and give the preset a name.

Hotkeys

Once you have a few presets setup, you can begin assigning hotkeys to turn the lights on, off or to activate a specific preset. Click the Settings icon in the upper right corner of the app and select the Hotkeys tab. Choose a modifier (alt, command, control or shift), if needed, and select the action for each F key in the dropdown menu.

How to control the lights

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Now you should be able to fully control your Lifx bulbs with your Mac, and there should be at least three different ways to do so.

The easiest and fastest way to switch the lights is by using the hotkeys. Holding the function key and pressing one of the designated F keys will toggle the lights on, off or activate one of the preset scenes.

Opening the application and using the Lifxstyle manual control panel will offer the most control over the lights, allowing you to control the individual brightness and color of lights or groups.

However, you can also click on the Lifxstyle menu bar icon to quickly control the lights or activate a preset.

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