If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, watching your favorite blog, or enjoying a video game instead of working or being productive in general – you’ve been tricked into procrastination – and it happens to the best of us.
With the Cold Turkey web filter (opens in new tab), you can block all those distracting websites, games and applications and take back control of your time. The official site states that Cold Turkey has “built in a dose of discipline” and that it is a higher dose than we expected.
Cold Turkey is a really hardcore site/URL blocking app that not only stops all distractions but also shuts down apps and even the entire internet. Once you’ve set the timer, there’s no turning back – you can go back to work or stare blankly at the blank screen.
This makes Cold Turkey seem quite strict compared to most web filters on the market. However, this is just the surface of Cold Turkey’s many features and functionalities – we’ll get into the details in more detail later in this review.
Unfortunately, Cold Turkey doesn’t currently offer a blog (although it appears there have been attempts to start one with “Cold Turkey Notes” abandoned in 2019) and the official Twitter account has been gathering dust since last year.
Subscriptions and Prices
Cold Turkey lets you choose between three paid plans: “Blocker”, “Micromanager” and “Writer” – and the name of each implies its primary purpose.
The most pocket-friendly of the three is “Writer” – it costs you a one-time payment of $9.00 and blocks everything but the writing app so that the users can enjoy the benefits of distraction-free writing.
“Micromanager” costs $19.00 and focuses on whitelisting, time blocks, and pauses that allow users to micromanage their time.
As the name suggests, “Blocker” is there to block just about anything, including sites, apps, and your own computer. To get it, you need to make a one-time payment of $39.00, which is an attractive price.
All three plans also come in a freemium edition, meaning you can use them for free if you don’t mind saying goodbye to some nifty features. However, if you would like to try any of the paid plans before purchasing it, there is a 7-day trial with a full set of features.
All paid plans come with a pretty standard 30-day money-back guarantee.
In terms of payment methods, you can choose between all major credit cards and PayPal.
Features and functionality
Cold Turkey promises that your future self will thank you for choosing them and they can deliver on that promise through their web filtering software made for Windows and Mac. The app works great in all browsers (opens in new tab) including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, Opera and Safari. At one point, Cold Turkey offered apps for Android and iOS, but they are no longer updated due to system limitations.
To block sites, you can use Cold Turkey’s default distraction list, import existing categories of sites, or create your own block lists from scratch. There is also no limit to the number of sites you can add to your block list.
You can block sites in a number of ways: by blocking domains, by blocking specific URLs (not the entire domain), by blocking specific keywords with wildcards, and by blocking the entire Internet.
Both premium and freemium plans share a similar set of features, including unlimited site blocking or exceptions, unlimited block duration, locked mode, virtual private network (VPN) compatibility (opens in new tab)), ability to block specific web pages, block the entire internet, and start blocks from the system tray.
All plans also include statistics and motivational quotes on your blocked pages to remind you that you are supposed to be at work and not waste your time procrastinating – it’s a nice perk. Premium plans allow you to customize block pages yourself.
We should also note that a few useful features are excluded from the free version, such as scheduled blocks, application passwords and pause timer.
Interface and ease of use
To download a fermium subscription, you need to go to “Products”, choose the product you want to try out or download for free (“Writer”, “Micromanager” or “Blocker”) and scroll down until you see download buttons, one of which is for a free plan.
We are going to test the “Blocker”, so the following text will be written with it in mind. So the subscription was downloaded automatically and we were given brief instructions on the steps to take, including installing the desktop app and browser extension.
Everything was ready in minutes, so we could start creating new block lists, name them and add the sites we wanted to block – just copy the URL of the site into the field and tap “Enter” – and that’s all, the site is blocked.
There you will also see an option called “Frozen Turkey” and this continuous block completely blocks you from using your computer, so beware. There’s also a “Settings” section that you’ll want to check right away.
Since Cold Turkey doesn’t provide a step-by-step video guide that all less experienced users would greatly appreciate, the apps can seem a bit complicated at first – so forget about hand-holding. However, thanks to Cold Turkey’s clear and easy-to-use interface, the learning curve shouldn’t be too steep.
Visiting the “Support” page on Cold Turkey’s official site will take you to an FAQ section that contains basic information on various questions and concerns and links to more in-depth guides. Most are in the “User’s Guide” section and it can be a chore to get the one you need.
But to be fair, most of them are easy to understand and supported by appropriate screenshots that will help you figure it all out.
If you don’t find any of these support options helpful enough, you can also contact the developer of Cold Turkey via email.
BlockSite is surprisingly easy to use, packed with excellent features and offers a freemium subscription. While we found BlockSite to be easier to set up and use than Cold Turkey, the free plan is bare-bones compared to the plan that Cold Turkey offers. Plus, since Cold Turkey’s plans come with a “pay once – own forever” pricing policy, they’re more pocket-friendly in the long run.
FocusMe is another popular “all-in-one” anti-procrastination app and site blocker made for Windows, Mac, and Android. While it offers a 14-day free trial, is generally good value for money, and has an excellent track record, there is no freemium edition like Cold Turkey or BlockSite.
Like BlockSite, Forest is a Chrome extension created to help users stay focused and avoid being distracted by various sites on the web. However, unlike BlockSite, it is completely free and will be free forever.
Unlike most web filters (opens in new tab) who occasionally turn a blind eye to your productivity-sabotaged ways, Cold Turkey proposes a much stricter approach. Once you’ve locked yourself out of specific sites, apps, or your own computer and set a timer, there’s no turning back.
Cold Turkey is also easy enough to understand and use and if you’re not sure if it’s the right choice for you, try one of their freemium plans or go straight for a 7-day free trial.