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The 20 Best Time-Tracking Apps

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy / July 27, 2015

Whether you work for a company or run your own business, your time is on the top of your mind. It's what dictates how early you wake up, how long you spend at lunch, when you eat dinner and how late you go to sleep. It's what helps determine your salary or pay rate, and limits just how much you can get done in one day.

To schedule your time, you rely on a calendar app and meeting scheduler tool. But to look back at how you've spent your time, you're in search of a tool—what you need is a time tracking app. An app that will help you tag projects, create reports and export to an invoicing tool.

To help you identify the best time tracking app for you, we test drove over 25 such tools. We then grouped them into two categories—apps for freelancers and apps for teams. So whether you're looking for an app to track time on the go or one that automatically tracks how much time you spend looking at cats on YouTube, we have you covered.



Time Trackers for Freelancers and Personal Use

If you’re a freelancer that works on your own, you don’t need the bells and whistles offered by robust time tracking apps for teams. What you need is a great time tracker built for you and your projects. Something that stays out of your way, but easily tracks time.

Or, for a more personal use, sometimes you just want to know how much time you spent watching TV, walking the dog, or doing chores. We live in a world of data and if you're a self-tracking enthusiast, then you'll find the following time trackers are built just for you, too.

Icon:  App Best for: Price Platform
Toggl Toggl Powerful time tracking with integrations Free; $10/mo per user (Pro) Web, Desktop, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux
hours Hours Simple, free iOS time tracking Free iOS, Apple Watch
everhour Everhour A single input to track time Free; $4/mo per additional user Web
paydirt Paydirt All-in-one time tracker that helps those who forget their timers From $8/mo Web
timely Timely Turning your calendar into a time tracker Free; Paid plans from $14/mo Web, iOS, Apple Watch

Toggl

For powerful time-tracking with integrations

toggl

Toggl has quickly become a popular choice for time tracking—and for good reason. With it's easy-to-use and sleek design, deep list of integrations, and companion apps (mobile and desktop)—it really does seem to have everything you could want.

Like you'll discover with other time tracking apps, you can tag time entries in order to group activities, such as writing, across multiple projects or clients. If you upgrade to the $5/month Pro plan, too, you can indicate whether a task is billable or not. For reports, Toggl gives you a variety of report types, filters, and the ability to bookmark reports (Pro feature) or export them to CSV, PDF, or Excel. The reports provided by Toggl are some of the nicest reports we saw among the list of apps.

Where Toggl gets really powerful though, is when you use the desktop app. While the web and mobile apps are great for tracking your time, you still need to manually start the timer. On iOS, though, you can add the Toggl widget to the Today view to make accessing your timers painless.

With the desktop app, you get the ability to have the timer monitor your program and website activity, use keywords to autotrack time, detect your idle times from the computer, and even use reminders. When you take advantage of all the features, tracking time almost becomes automatic—which is great for someone like me who constantly forgets to turn on or switch a timer between tasks.

If you're looking for a time tracking option, give Toggl a try. They have a 30-day free Pro trial so you can try all the features. They are also integrated with Zapier, opening up even more possibilities for automation.

Toggl Pricing: Free (up to 5 users); from $10/mo per user Pro account.

Hours

For simple, free iOS time tracking

hours

For those looking for a simpler time tracker without too many features, Hours is one to check out. Since Tapity launched the app little more than a year ago, Hours has received nothing but an outpouring of support for the app from users and tech reviewers. Forbes even called it "the perfect iPhone time tracking app".

Featuring a visual timeline, smart reminders, and beautiful reports (which can be exported to PDF or CSV), Hours makes time tracking actually enjoyable. It includes a Today view widget and an intuitive timeline that helps you see what you’ve worked on and the time gaps you missed. You can also include notes and turn on time rounding rules. Hours doesn’t include many integrations, but just recently announced a partnership and update that allows you to integrate and easily export your time with FreshBooks.

Hours is a simpler app than many on this list, but what it does, it does really well. The only downsides being that it doesn’t have a web app or Chrome extension. But we all work at our computer with our phone on hand, right? It’s also only available for iOS (sorry Android folks).

If you want to try it out, act fast as the normally $6.99 app is free for a limited time to celebrate their Apple Watch version.

Hours Pricing: $6.99 Free (limited time)

Everhour

For a single input to track time

everhour

Everhour is a web-based time tracking app designed with developers and teams in mind. While having a stellar set of team-focused features, it is a great option for freelancers looking for a time tracking solution they can grow with.

What makes Everhour different is the way you create a time entry. It's taken a page from popular apps like Fantastical and others who use a single line and natural language detection to create entries in a rather streamlined way. Using the input bar, you use an "@" to indicate projects and "#" to tag it. For example, I could type "@myproject Writing blog post on productivity #writing #blog", and it would automatically start a timer for MyProject and I'd be on my way. Cool, right? Everhour even has a nice little Chrome extension that works in very much the same way so you never need to leave the page you're working on.

Reporting in Everhour gives you a bunch of filtering options to really dive deep into where you spend your time. What's even better is that it comes with a handful of great integrations like Xero and Freshbooks so you can easily invoice your time and projects.

With Everhour's free personal plan (and only $4/month per user after that), it's a great choice to get started with and gives you the room to grow into when you're ready to bring on more help.

Everhour Pricing: Free for personal use; $4/month per user for additional team members

Paydirt

For all-in-one time tracker that helps those who forget their timers

paydirt

Paydirt is an innovative web-based solution to time tracking complete with built-in quote builder and invoicing. It sports a clean interface and a really handy Chrome extension. With the Chrome extension installed, the app constantly parses websites as you visit them for keywords (that you set-up in advance). When it recognizes a keyword while you're working, the app will pop-up on the side of the browser to ask you if you want to start a timer. It even helps by populating the timer with the project and displaying all the available tasks for you to select.

Paydirt is a great solution for the freelancer looking for an all-in-one solution or who constantly forgets to turn on their timers. It is also the most expensive time tracking solution for freelancers with no free option (beyond the free trial). The basic plan starts at $8/month but is limited to only three active clients. Most freelancers will probably need to use $16/month plan.

Paydirt Pricing: Free 30-day trial; From $8-16/mo for single users; From $29/mo for teams.

Timely

For turning your calendar into a time tracker

timely

Timely is another beautiful app but one that takes a slightly different approach to time tracking. What makes Timely different is that is combines scheduling and time tracking all in one place. As a freelancer, you likely use a calendar app like Google Calendar to block out different times of your day to work on different projects. Then you open up your time tracker, pick a project, start the timer for a task, and then start working.

With Timely, your schedule is your timer. You simply plan out your days and are able to start logging your time simultaneously. If you need to move things around, the drag and drop feature allows you to move time blocks effortlessly. As your timers run for each time block, you can clearly see how much time (and money) you've logged versus what you planned.

Timely also includes integrations to all your favorite calendars so all your meetings and planned events are automatically imported. It even has apps for iOS and the Apple Watch when you're on the go. Reporting in Timely is just as beautifully designed as the rest of the app and offers filtering options and the ability to export to Excel or PDF.

Timely Pricing: Free (up to 5 projects); From $14/mo for single user; From $49/mo for teams

Alternative Time Trackers for Freelancers

Icon:  App Best for: Price Platform
Tyme Tyme Tyme is a clean and very well thought out time tracking app with a refreshing (and colorful) design. The app is very easy to get started with and the attention to detail makes it a joy to use. The iOS version has a great set of gesture controls while the desktop app utilizes keyboard shortcuts to make time tracking easier. On the reporting side, you get a detailed set of stats and tagging to help you organize and dig in further. Plus, since it's a downloaded app, you're not tied to any monthly plans. $4.99 (iOS); $9.99 (OS X) iOS, OS X
ATracker ATracker If you need a personal time tracker to track everything you do in a day, ATracker is a great solution. Whether it's a freelance project, walking the dog, or cleaning the house, ATracker has hundreds of icons and customizability options to help you organize tasks. It also includes clear reporting for easily understanding how you spend your days. Free (Lite); $4.99 (Full) iOS
Eternity Time Eternity Time A simple time tracker that provides a fair bit of customization and flexibility. Great if you need a simple timer and reporting solution to track your day. Free (Lite); $4.99 (Full) iOS
My Minutes My Minutes Great for the person who wants to track their time against personal goals, such as "Do at least 30 minutes of exercise." My Minutes is easy to use and motivates you to better manage your daily routine. $2.99 iOS
Now Then Now Then An easy-to-use time tracker that utilizes it's two views, "Now" and "Then", to help you track and understand how you spend your time. If you're looking for a simple time tracker that allows you to switch tasks quickly and provides nice reporting, give Now Then a try. Free (Lite); $2.99 (Full) iOS
aTimeLogger aTimeLogger A personal time tracker that has everything you need for time tracking. This app provides you customization and reporting options to track your projects or extend your time tracking into your personal daily tasks. Free (Android); $2.99 (iOS) iOS, Android
Timesheet Timesheet A simple Android only time tracker for managing your project tasks. One of the unique features is its location tracking. Free Android
Sometime Sometime Sometime is a simple but great looking time tracker for iOS with some unique features. It uses an intuitive timeline visual to help you view and add time where you need. It also allows you to set-up geofences for location information to help know when you arrive at and leave locations—great for people on the go. iOS $0.99
default clocks Default Timers Sometimes you just need a basic stopwatch timer to track your time. Well, for those, look no further than the clock and timer apps that come with your phones. Whether you're on an Android, iOS, or Windows phone, they all have timers that work just great for the minimalist approach to time tracking.

If you have a Pebble, check out Timer+ as a beautiful timer for the watch interface.
Free iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Pebble

Time Trackers for Teams

If you work with a team and need to manage time across different people or departments then a more robust time tracking tool is what you need. Whether it's for the collaboration, advanced reporting, timesheet approvals, or project management features, we found some great time tracking apps to try in your office.

Keep in mind, many of these time trackers are also great for the solo freelancer. But what makes them shine is how well they work within a team environment. Just be aware that many of them have multiple price points. Most are based on the number of users, but others are based on features or projects. So make sure you review what is best for your company and work style.

Icon:  App Best for: Price Platform
Harvest Harvest All-in-one solution great for teams and solo freelancers alike Free (1 user, 4 clients); From $12/mo (unlimited clients) Web, Desktop (OS X only), iOS, Android
Paymo Paymo Complete team project management with time tracking $4.95/mo per user Web, Desktop, iOS, Android
TimeCamp TimeCamp Timesheet focused time tracking with powerful reporting Free (1 user); From $6/mo per user Web, Desktop, iOS, Android
ClickTime ClickTime Budgeting your team's time From $10/month per user Web, Desktop, iOS, Android

Harvest

For an all-in-one solution great for teams and solo freelancers alike

harvest

Harvest is one of the most popular time tracking apps for freelancers and teams. It's been around since 2006, and has since been adored for its well-designed interface, ease of use, and long list of integrations. If there is a gold standard to time tracking apps, Harvest could be it.

Harvest gives you all the standard features of a great time tracking app but it is it's creator's attention to detail that makes it a pleasure to use. Project managers will love it for their ability to open up the projects dashboard and clearly see the status of their projects or dive deeper if they choose. Reports and graphs are stunning and well thought out with multiple export options.

In teams, everyone has their own way of tracking time and Harvest gives you a number of options including web, mobile, and desktop apps. Their time entries are also smart and recognize different time formats, such as 2.5 and 2:30 as both being 2.5hrs. Best of all, you can have Harvest automatically remind your team to submit their timesheets (you're welcome, project managers!).

If you work in a team (or even on your own), Harvest is a solid choice for a tool to track your time and projects.

Harvest Pricing: Free 30-day trial; Free (single user, up to 4 clients); Paid plans starting at $12/month

Paymo

For complete team project management with time tracking

paymo

Paymo is a well designed project management app that offers everything to help you with project management, invoicing, team management, reporting, collaboration, and most importantly, time tracking.

While working in the web app and looking at any page, you always have your timer visible and ready to go. There is nothing complex about it. Simply select the project, the task, add a note, and hit start. Pretty standard for a timer. However, Paymo has taken a lot of time to design their app in order to make it clean and elegant, not to mention easy to use.

The app includes a couple companions in the form of their desktop, mobile, and PaymoPlus apps. Its desktop and mobile apps are great for the rest of your team who probably don't want to be stuck in the web-based dashboard to track their time—the only downside is that the desktop time doesn't seem to start/sync when you start the mobile timer, and vice-versa (although, it will show the logged time entries). PaymoPlus is an automatic time tracking app that runs in the background of your computer and monitors what you're doing. It's ideal for heavy multitaskers who hate switching timers on and off. At the end of the day, you simply go through the list of things you were doing and assign them to the appropriate projects.

Reporting is also robust with Paymo, giving you lots of filters and abilities to customize your timesheet reports just the way you want. For only $4/month per user, Paymo is a great contender for small teams looking for a powerful all around solution.

Paymo Pricing: $4.95/month per user, plus $9.95/month for invoicing

TimeCamp

For timesheet focused time tracking with powerful reporting

timecamp

TimeCamp is specifically designed for time tracking in teams. It offers all the features you'd expect in a time tracking solution and includes a handful of great integrations. TimeCamp differs from others by focusing on the core of every company that bills out—timesheets. Tracking time is as easy as starting a timer or logging the time manually using the streamlined interface. The input even helps you by providing a grouped list of all your projects and tasks, displaying the most recently used ones to the top.

For managers that need to keep an eye on employees and projects, TimeCamp offers reporting tools and timesheet approvals. The list of reports you can create is quite good and should answer any question you need to know about how your team is performing.

For the multitaskers on your team, TimeCamp has a to-do list feature built-in where you and your team can list out tasks and prioritize or schedule accordingly. To make things easier for multitaskers, there is a desktop app that not only lets you track time from your desktop, but also includes an automatic mode. If you hate timers altogether, let the desktop app track all your activities in the day and assign them to the right projects at the end of the day before you go home. Even better, if you set up keywords, TimeCamp auto-assigns your activities to the appropriate projects. A mobile app is also available for those on the go.

TimeCamp Pricing: Free (1 user); From $6/month per user

ClickTime

For budgeting your team's time

ClickTime

Tracking time for your entire team—then using that data to figure out who has time to take on your next projects—is difficult at best. ClickTime helps you make sense of it, with tools to track time and expenses on all of your team's devices and import tools to bring in data from your other time tracking apps.

Then, you can use its reports to see the entire team's data in one place, and use its Projects Insights to see the total cost and profit margin of your projects after you count your team's time investment. You can then plan future projects based on time tracked in the past, so you can see how close to capacity you are and how much potential time you could dedicate to new projects.

ClickTime Pricing: From $10/month per user Basic plan for core features

Alternative Time Trackers for Teams

Icon:  App Best for: Price Platform
Active Collab Active Collab Active Collab is web-based project management tool for teams with time tracking built-in. Team members can log their time on projects and you can even include different billing rates per project. If you're looking to bring the whole app in-house, they offer a self-hosted option for a one-time price.
Free 1-month trial; From $25/mo (5 users); From $499 for self-hosted Web, iOS, Desktop (coming soon)
Freckle Freckle Fully featured from time tracking to invoicing, Freckle is great tool for small teams. Entering time is easy and reporting is great. For Apple users, there are also mobile and desktop apps to make tracking your time more convenient.
Free 14-day trial; $19/mo (1 user) + $14/mo per additional user; From $49/mo (5 users) + $10/mo per additional user Web, Desktop (OS X only), iOS
Tick Tick Tick is a simpler time tracking solution but includes a nice interface that's easy to use, integrates with Basecamp, Quickbooks, and FreshBooks, and has good reporting. Tick also includes a Chrome extension and apps for mobile, desktop, and Apple Watch. What makes Tick ideal for teams is pricing is based on the number of projects rather than the number of users—great for big teams with few projects.
Free (1 project, unlimited users); From $19/mo for additional projects Web, Desktop, iOS, Android, Apple Watch
clockspot Clockspot Need to track work shifts? Clockspot makes it easy to track time worked in each shift, with codes to track specific jobs and a reports tool to write what you accomplished in that time. You can turn those into audit reports complete with times and locations worked to see where your team's time goes. From $5/month per user for full features Web

Beyond Traditional Time Trackers

All of the above time trackers help you answer the traditional question, "How much time did that project take me?" As mentioned at the beginning though, time is precious. Another question you should be asking is, "How productive was I during that time?" This isn't a question to help you bill your clients but more to improve your efficiency and become better at your work. We all want that, right?

One of our favorite time tracking tools didn't really fit into the above categories but we couldn't write this article without sharing it. That tool is RescueTime.

RescueTime

For automatic time tracking to improve productivity

rescuetime

We've all forgotten to turn on a timer at some point. No matter how easy a time tracker is to use, the one main problem with all time trackers is that if you don't turn it on, it just doesn't work. That's where RescueTime is unlike anything else. It uses automatic time tracking by running in the background of your computer to track everything you do—from programs to websites.

It gives you control to manage the settings on what category an app or website belongs to and whether it is rated as distracting or productive. Once set up, all you need to do is go about your day.

As RescueTime collects your activity, you can then view reports to better understand how productive you really are. It's amazing how a minute here and a minute there really add up to hours of social media distractions every week.

Upgrading to the premium account even gives you the ability to increase your focus by blocking out specific websites during certain times or if you've spent too much time on them already. Premium also unlocks the ability to log your offline time when you're not at the computer to get a more well-rounded view of how you spend your time everyday.

RescueTime Pricing: Free or $9/mo (Premium)

Bonus: Optimizing Your Time Tracking

Since we all have limited hours in the day, there is no reason to spend more time to track your time. Instead, connect your favorite time tracker with Zapier and automate your time tracking process.

Since most of these tools are simply just timers, Zapier helps you connect them with your invoicing software, project management tools, and more. For example, every time you save a time entry you could automatically have it added to the project invoice. Or, have that time entry automatically get posted in Slack or iDoneThis.

Here are some great ways to optimize your time tracking:

Bill Clients from Time Entries

Do Work Automatically from Time Entries

Get Notified on New Time Entries

Create Time Entries from Tasks in Other Apps

Track Your Time Goals

Picking the Best Time Tracker for You

There are a lot of different time trackers out there, each with their own benefits and best features. These apps are some of the best we've seen, but the app that's the best for you will depend on your workflow and how you plan to use it.

You might even want to use multiple time trackers—perhaps one to track your larger projects, another to see how you spend your time at the desk, along with a basic timer to remind you to move around every so often. The best time tracking app is the one you'll actually use, so be sure to experiment with these and others and find one that fits your needs perfectly.

And once you've found a time tracking app you love, let us know about it in the comments below!

Image Credits: Timer photo by Nicolas Will via Flickr.

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