I knew I would get around to the Catalina Screen Time feature/App at some point. I have not been in a rush, because it is not a compelling activity for me. However, I can see why some people may really like or need it, especially if they have kids and want to monitor what Apps they are using. I think that especially applies to anyone who is doing Gaming. Lets take a look at the Screen Time Preference Pane in MacOS Catalina
Screen Time Overview
I will make two overall observations before getting into the details. First, I just do not think I will ever use this feature. I have not been using this feature on my iOS devices and I do not think I will use it on my Mac. My activity is pretty diversified, I really do not need this. However, I know it will be useful to some people. Second, the macOS version of Screen Time is designed to sync with the iOS version. They are designed to work together.
Having said all that, I am going to divide this into two parts. First, we will take a look at the overall functionality of the App. Then, we will look at the last setting area of Content & Privacy in a future article.
You access the Screen Time feature in the Preferences area:
When you click on it you get this window:
The various functions are listed in the left sidebar. Tracked Apps are in the lower portion of the window and the time per App in the upper area.
You can track Categories of Apps or Activity by clicking on the Categories Tab. This is kind of interesting, it tracks different types of activities not just App usage.
When you move down the list to Notifications you get this screen:
The idea here is you get a weekly report on your Activities.
Not having used Screen Time on iOS I had to look up “Pickups”. Here is what “Pickups” means:
Pickups in the Screen Time report is nothing but the count of how many times you have picked up your device. Apple uses various indicators to find out the number of times you have interacted with your iPhone and shows that in the Pickups section.
I don’t pickup my iMac too much. This is obviously for iOS devices.
The next item of the list, Downtime, is self-explanatory:
This is similar to the Notifications settings. You can set a “Do Not Disturb” parameter for Screen Time.
This is an interesting setting. You can set usage limits on App categories as well as Apps themselves. I guess people could self-monitor an App for themselves, but I can see this feature for limiting kiddos on a certain App or activity on a Mac.
The Always Allowed section is next on the sidebar list:
The Always Allowed section involves the Apps and Contacts that are available during downtime. You can select the Apps that you want to allow to get through.
The last section I want to cover here is Communication:
This is the opposite of Always Allowed above. This section is for setting who can get through during normal operating times. It is fairly self-explanatory. Folks, some of this stuff is pretty common sense, but I hope it is helpful just to see how you can set up this functionality.
Here is the deal, if you need Screen Time for whatever reason, then by all means use it. There is nothing wrong with doing that, in fact it might be wise under certain conditions to use this feature. However, if you are like me with no kids at home you may just wish to ignore this App, whatever works for you.