The 10 Best Time Tracker Apps in 2019

Jill Duffy
Jill Duffy / Published September 17, 2018

People who track time spent working often do so because they need to create invoices for clients and get paid. Others track their time to have an accounting of how long different tasks take or to make sure that a flat-rate project doesn't cost more money to complete than it brings in. Regardless of why you record your time, running a time tracking app while your tasks are in progress is the most accurate way to do it.

After considering more than 40 apps, we found the 10 best time trackers for freelancers and small businesses—although you can also use these for personal time tracking as well. Here's a summary, with more information below about how we picked them and details about what makes each app shine.

What Makes a Great Time Tracking App?

Tracking time as you work results in more accurate invoices than estimating time worked after the fact. Having a higher degree of accuracy creates trust for your clients, too, but it also benefits the business. When you know how you spend your time with high accuracy, you can analyze it and make smarter business decisions as a result. There are several excellent apps that can help you get started.

Nearly all time tracking apps let you record time on task in real time, meaning they give you a running clock that you launch when you start a task, and you can pause or stop the app when you finish. The best apps, however, also let you correct time tracked after the fact, such as if you accidentally leave a timer running while you take off for lunch. You should be able to edit the time entry to subtract however many minutes you weren't working.

You also want an app that lets you enter a block of time post hoc in case you forget to launch a timer at all. For example, if your phone rings and you jump into a 20-minute consulting call, you might not have the presence of mind to start a timer, but you do want to log and bill for those hours worked.

Not every business charges by the hour, of course. If you charge a flat rate for projects, you likely need a time tracking app that can warn you before you spend too much time on a task and its value decreases. There's a difference between wrapping up a $1,500 project in 30 hours versus 60.

Some of the best time tracking apps for freelancers and small businesses are designed with solo entrepreneurs in mind, although many have functionality for tracking time across small teams, too. Does everyone of your colleagues charge the same hourly rate? How will you manage an invoice that lists multiple workers? A few of the best time tracking apps have plenty of options to help guide you through these questions and others.

Time tracking apps can have more functionality, too. Some are adept at handling multiple currencies, for example. Others have billing and invoicing tools built right into the app. Some offer expense tracking in addition to time tracking, letting you easily note supplies you buy, miles you drive, and other reimbursable expenses. Not every freelancer or small business needs all these features, however. You don't want to end up paying for features you don't use. That's why it's important to consider what each app has to offer and find the right fit for your business.

Not Included in This Roundup

Here, we focus specifically on time tracking apps for freelancers and small businesses. We don't consider employee monitoring software, which often includes some kind of time tracking. Employee monitoring tools are better suited for organizations that need to keep a close eye on when employees clock in and out and whether they are working the whole time they say they are. That's generally beyond the scope of a freelancer or small business.

Additionally, we don't include project management apps that come with an add-on or built-in time tracker. While time tracking clocks can be extremely advantageous inside a project management app, we assume that if that's what you need, you're likely shopping for a project management app, not a standalone time tracking app.

But for those freelancers and small business owners who need help tracking time, here are the best time tracking apps, listed alphabetically.

The 10 Best Time Tracking Apps

Everhour (web app, browser extension, and in other web apps via integration)

Best time tracker for viewing and managing team availability

EverHour time tracking app

Everhour is an online-only time tracker and lightweight scheduling app that syncs with productivity apps you may already use. When you connect Everhour to a supported app, such as Asana, all the projects you've created in Asana show up as projects in Everhour. In that way, the work of setting up Everhour to reflect all your projects gets done for you automatically. You can get to recording your time on task much faster.

The syncing aspect goes one step further to add a timer button inside the web-based app of your choice, allowing you to start and stop recording time from within the app. For example, in Asana, you'll see a new button with options to Start Time, Add Time, Edit Time, and Add Estimate. In addition to Asana, Everhour also syncs with Basecamp, BitBucket, GitHub, Teamwork Projects, Trello, and a few other apps. While having a timer button sync from the app of your choice an excellent feature, it's not unique to Everhour. Toggl, FreshBooks, and a few other apps offer it, too.

When used collaboratively, Everhour can track employee availability. For each team member, including yourself, you can enter a maximum number of hours per day or week to work on a particular project. Everhour also has an option to log scheduled time off. You can then look at the team's schedule, and you'll see available hours (by day) in green, time off as gray, and sessions that went overtime in red.

Everhour does not have any mobile apps, and the web timer doesn't work offline, making it difficult to track time in certain circumstances. And while Everhour has an included invoicing system, it's fairly lightweight. If you choose Everhour and have invoicing needs, you'll want to explore its integration with more robust accounting apps, namely FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Xero.

Price: $96/year for Solo account; $7/month per person for Team account with a minimum charge of $35/month

FreshBooks (Android, iOS, web, and browser extension, and in other web apps via integration)

Best time tracker for managing your business, while also tracking time

FreshBooks time tracking and accounting software

FreshBooks is better known as accounting software, but every tier of service it sells comes with a time tracking app. This time-tracking app is full-featured software—not some afterthought—with the ability to add details to sessions tracked and generate reports that show how you spend your working hours. FreshBooks also includes thorough support for collaborative team use.

When you start a task, you have a few options for how to track time spent on it. You can use FreshBooks' web interface, a Chrome extension, buttons integrated into other web-based productivity apps (Asana, Boomr, Basecamp, Daycast, Intervals, Teamwork Projects, and Trello), or the FreshBooks mobile app (for iOS and Android). Having a range of options gives you flexibility. For example, if you have a meeting where it might be rude to open your laptop, say a luncheon, you can still track time with the client politely using the mobile app. If you use the web app, the running clock follows you from page to page, but it's collapsible so that it doesn't get in the way.

While FreshBooks lets you connect to plenty of other apps, you can create even more FreshBooks integrations via Zapier.

Expense tracking and integrated invoicing are two more reasons to choose FreshBooks. When you tell the app to automatically add up the hours you've worked and create invoices, you can have FreshBooks tack on any expenses you've incurred, too. When your clients receive their bills, they can opt to pay you via FreshBooks easily and simply. If they do, FreshBooks will track that income as well, giving you more insight into the financial health of your business.

Pick FreshBooks as your time tracking app if you're also in need of software to help you run your business. Or, if you already use FreshBooks, give the time tracking tools a try.

Price: Plans from $162/year for billing up to 5 clients

Harvest (Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, web, browser extension, and in other web apps via integration)

Best time tracker for teams that need invoicing and expense tracking

Harvest time tracking and invoicing app

Among the best time tracking apps, Harvest is a top option for teams. Don't get me wrong. It's a stellar option for solo entrepreneurs, too. But it's built to handle a collaborative workload in a way that's clear and easy to understand. If tracking and organizing a team's time isn't your strong suit, then Harvest is a great app to help you get the job done.

Everyone on your team can install and use as many instances of Harvest as they like, including the desktop app, mobile app, and browser extension. The apps work offline, allowing you and your teammates to record time on task no matter where you are. As team members run their personal timekeeping clocks, all the information flows into the administrator's Harvest account, where it's presented in both summary and detail. Harvest can automatically remind team members to submit their timesheets if you like, and the business owner always has the capability to edit, review, and approve team timesheets.

Additionally, Harvest integrates with a long list of apps. Some of the supported apps let you track your working hours directly from them (Asana, Basecamp, Slack, Trello, to name a few) and send the results to Harvest. Others are for invoicing and accounting, in case you choose not to use Harvest's own invoicing tools. Harvest also has its own employee scheduling app called Forecast (sold separately) that tightly integrates with the core app. If you need to connect Harvest to a tool that isn't supported natively, you can make your own Harvest integrations using Zapier.

If you need to manage a team's hours worked but you also need to run your business and focus on tasks where you excel, Harvest is an ideal time tracking app. It doesn't require any special knowledge to get started; the app makes tracking your team's time simple.

Price: $12/month per person

HourStack (Android, iOS, web)

Best time tracker for visualizing time differently

HourStack time tracking app

HourStack is a collaborative time tracking tool that looks different from many other time tracking apps. It shows time in blocks, as if the time it takes you to work on a task were an event on your calendar. It's not the only app that lays out your time in this fashion (Timeneye does it, too), but it does emphasize planning your time before you start working more than other apps. For example, you can allocate blocks of time on your calendar for tasks you intend to work on later in the week. You can indicate that you think the task will take one hour, or that you want to spend no more than an hour on it. Once you launch the timer, HourStack will keep an eye on the clock for you to help you stay within the expectations you set.

As with other time tracking apps, HourStack lets you create projects and tasks, which you can visualize using color-coding. Additionally, you can add labels to tasks to differentiate between types of tasks, such as business development and communication, and you can color-code them well. (The color options for labels are the same as for projects, however, which can get confusing.) Another helpful feature is a time limit that you can set for each day. Let's say you only want to work seven hours on Friday. HourStack can warn you when you go into overtime by showing your total time worked for the day in red at the bottom of the screen, and via notification from the mobile app.

HourStack integrates with several productivity tools, but you don't get the option to start a timer from these other apps. Rather, you can sync tasks or calendar entries from one app into HourStack, or export and import datasets, and so forth. Integration options include Asana, BitBucket, GitHub, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Hubspot, Microsoft Office 365, Slack, Todoist, and Trello. If you need to connect to an app that isn't supported natively, you can likely get to it via Zapier, which lets you create HourStack integrations with a wide variety of apps and services.

HourStack doesn't include invoicing, although it does offer decent reports, and you can export data to Excel, CSV, and PDF format. The price is in line with what other time tracking apps charge. It's best suited for people who get value out of seeing their time spent on tasks laid out graphically.

Price: Plans from $7/month

OfficeTime (iOS, macOS, Windows)

Best time tracker for fully offline use and a one-time fee

OfficeTime downloadable time tracking software

You can skip the subscription payments with OfficeTime. This downloadable software for macOS, Windows, and iOS costs a flat $49, and because the software is installed locally, you're reassured it will always work offline. The app does include syncing functionality, but it's optional. If you need to keep your time tracking details offline for security or any other reason, OfficeTime is the best app you can buy.

OfficeTime has everything you'd expect in time tracking software. It shows a running timer while you work, and lets you categorize time tracked by client and project. An idle detection feature helps you subtract time from your recordings when you weren't actually working, such as when you're pulled away from the task at hand unexpectedly by a call, a colleague, or a cat (you know who you are). You can add details to your timed sessions as well, including the type of work you're doing and its hourly rate. If you didn't track time spent on a task while you were actively doing it, you can always add it manually later.

OfficeTime also provides expense tracking, reporting, and basic invoicing options as well. There aren't as many settings in the invoicing section compared to what you get with Harvest or FreshBooks, but the options are more than adequate for small businesses with uncomplicated needs, such as billing in one currency.

OfficeTime is likely the best time-tracking software for you if you don't want to get caught up in recurring subscription fees and you prefer offline apps to web-based apps.

Price: $49 per license

PayDirt (web, browser extension)

Best time tracker for forgetful freelancers who need help with invoicing

PayDirt time tracking and invoicing app

Paydirt is an online time tracking app that's similar to Harvest in that it includes full invoicing and expensing functionality. It differs from Harvest in a few ways, however. For one, it costs less, starting at just $8 per month or $80 per year. Second, Paydirt doesn't have any mobile apps or offline capabilities, while Harvest does. That makes Paydirt suitable for people who work exclusively on a computer while connected to the internet. Third, Harvest offers integration with a long list of other apps and services, but Paydirt only has a few.

Paydirt does have some notable features. My favorite is one you'll love if you're forgetful. It's a button in the timer tool that lets you jump back in time. Let's say you begin working on a task but forget to launch your timer. Most other apps would require you to create a separate manual time entry for those few minutes you neglected to include. Paydirt instead lets you simply backup the timer to start a few minutes in the past. Another unique feature that I've never seen in any other time tracking app is that you can enter some keywords about your clients, and the browser extension will alert you whenever it spots them on a page and ask you if you should be timing the current work session. Paydirt also makes it easy for your clients to pay you by offering connectivity to Stripe and PayPal. When you use those integrations, clients can pay you by clicking an option directly from your digital invoice.

Paydirt supports collaboration among small teams, although those plans cost a bit more, starting at $29 per month for a group of three. The collaborative tiers of service are priced fairly compared with other similar apps, while the solo plans are more of a bargain. For freelancers and solo entrepreneurs who are a bit forgetful in tracking their time and don't need offline functionality, Paydirt is a wonderful time tracker and invoicing system.

Price: Solo plans from $80/year; team plans starting at $290/year

Timely (Android, iOS, macOS, web, Windows)

Best time tracker for using your calendar while tracking time

Timely time tracking and time management app

Some business owners use a calendar to carve out blocks of time to work on different projects. If that's how you like to work, then Timely might be the ideal time tracker for you. Timely combines scheduling and time tracking into one app, similar to HourStack and Timeneye, giving you a calendar-like view of time spent on tasks. You can log a manual entry, run a timer, and plan in advance how much time you expect to work on different projects.

The app has drag-and-drop capabilities, letting you move around the dedicated blocks of time on your calendar. At the bottom of each day, you can see your total time worked. At the top of the screen, Timely shows you how much you've earned, based on hourly rates you plug in for different tasks, and your projected earnings if you stick to the weekly plan you've created. Timely integrates with most calendars, so all your meetings and planned events automatically appear on the calendar layout. It also supports collaboration, meaning everyone on a small team can track their time and all the logs will sync to the central admin account for consolidation. One value-add feature, called Memory Tracker, is a downloadable desktop app (macOS, Windows) that automatically watches which programs you use and for how long to generate a true timeline of how you spend your computing time. This additional app and its features are included in the price of all Timely subscriptions.

While the app offers reports, it doesn't have any invoicing tools or expense-tracking features. The app can also be a little fickle with its input mechanism. In my testing, a tiny finger movement on my mouse would push a three-hour time block to suddenly max out at 24 hours. It's still a great service for people who like to visually plan out their time and don't need invoicing or expensing tools.

Price: plans from $8/month or $84/year

Timeneye (Android, iOS, web, and in other web apps via integration)

Best time tracker with light project management tools

Timeneye time tracking app

Timeneye works well for small teams that are more concerned with tracking time spent on projects than with invoicing and accounting management. This time tracking app uses a calendar layout, similar to HourStack and Timely, and includes light project management features. It doesn't offer invoicing or expensing, however.

Timeneye has more options than many other time tracking apps for categorizing and organizing your work. You can create clients, projects, and tasks, as per usual, as well as project phases, such as initial consultation, ideation, development, execution, and delivery.

Reports in Timeneye let you see how much time was spent working on different projects, in different project phases, or how many hours each team member logged. You can also view a report of billable hours recorded, which you can export to a PDF, although you cannot generate an invoice directly from the app. A companion Android app, called Timeneye Call, suggests that you run a timer whenever you have a phone call, helping make sure you never forget to bill for consultation time.

A feature called Suggestions, which you can optionally turn off, allows the app to suggest tasks you might record next based on your history as well as other data found in connected apps. Timeneye connects to productivity apps such as Asana, Basecamp, some G Suite apps, Outlook Calendar, Pivotal Tracker, Todoist, Trello, and others. When you're logged into Timeneye and you browse the list of integration options, Timeneye tells you explicitly what you can get out of the connectivity, such as whether you'll see a browser widget for tracking time in the app or suggestions for time blocks coming from Google Calendar. This transparency goes a long way toward helping you know what to expect.

Timeneye is ideal for teams working on project schedules who need to track time but not necessarily bill for it.

Price: free for one person; Pro accounts from $7/month per person.

TMetric (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, and web)

Best inexpensive time tracker with lightweight invoicing

TMetric time tracking app

TMetric is low-cost a time tracking app that lets you track time via a web app, desktop apps, and mobile apps. It includes reports and lightweight invoicing tools, and it supports collaboration. It's best suited for freelancers and small businesses that need to track time spent on tasks but don't have rigorous invoicing needs.

When you use TMetric to track your time, you can account for every minute of the day by logging not only the time you work, but also your breaks. A linear timeline for the day fills in with color as you progress, with break times appearing as white.

As mentioned, lightweight invoicing tools are included, but only for paying members. You can generate an invoice for a client from your time logs, and you can customize what shows up as line items. You can also mark invoices as sent, but you can't actually send the invoice from the app. You have to export it and send it some other way.

TMetric offers a wide range of integrations with other services, such as Asana, Basecamp, Bitbucket, Freshdesk, GitHub, Pipedrive, Taiga, Teamwork Projects, Todoist, Trello, Wrike, and several others. You can also use Zapier to create other TMetric integrations if you need to connect to another app that's not supported natively.

TMetric has a good free plan that supports teams of up to five people. It includes time tracking, reports, and the ability to create integrations, but it doesn't include billable rates, invoicing, or task management tools. Paid plans add invoicing, billable rates, task management, and at higher tiers of service, additional features. If you're a freelancer or small business on a budget and with only simple invoicing needs, TMetric is a great option.

Price: free for teams of 5; paid plans from $48/year

Toggl (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, web and browser extension)

Best free time tracker that's easy to use

Toggl time tracking app

If you need a time tracking app and but can't pay for one, you should use Toggl. The time tracking tool has a generous free tier of service that gives you access to all its apps (Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, web and browser extension) and includes all the core functionality you'd expect in a time-tracking app. Free account members can't collaborate with other team members, however, and they get minimal reporting tools. Those limitations aside, if you need to track your time across different projects easily, simply, reliably, and for free, Toggl is the app to use.

One reason Toggl works effortlessly is it doesn't ask much of you when you start timing a task. With many time tracking apps, you have to have a client, project, and task entered into your account before the app will let you track time. If you don't, you have to set your task aside for the time being and enter them. Toggl doesn't play by the same rules. With Toggl, you can track your time now and worry about the details later. Additionally, when you use Toggl via the browser extension, a Toggl timer button shows up in just about every web app you could imagine, from Google Docs and other G Suite apps to Help Scout. Because you always see a little red Toggl button while you're working, you have a continual reminder to track your time. Plus, when you create Toggle integrations using Zapier, you can connect Toggl to hundreds of other online apps and services.

Toggl has some of the most detailed options I've seen in a time tracking app. For example, in the Toggl Chrome extension, you can set a time of day when Toggl should automatically stop recording time on task, effectively making sure you never accidentally keep a timer running overnight. It also has excellent idle detection, which helps you maintain high accuracy across your records. When the app detects your computer has been idle but a timer is still running, it offers ways to correct the recorded block of time. That way, if you're interrupted while working and get sucked into a 20-minute conversation, Toggl can knock out those 20 minutes from your record. Toggl even has a Pomodoro Technique setting, so that you can work for a set amount of time on a project that requires your focus and then take a short break, all with simple stopwatch-like reminders.

Toggl is one of the best time-tracking apps because it's so easy to use, comes packed with excellent features, and has a generous free tier of service.

Price: free with limitations; paid plans from $108/year

What are the major considerations when choosing the right time tracking tool? Most freelancers and small businesses should ask the following questions:

  • Am I working alone or with a team of people whose time I also need to track?
  • Will I be tracking time worked offline?
  • How likely am I to forget I have a timer running? Do I want a time tracking app with idle detection, or one that makes a running timer visible no matter which app or website I'm using?
  • Do I need thorough invoicing and expense-tracking tools included? Will I use a separate invoicing system, and if so, which time-tracking apps integrate with it?
  • Can I get by with a free time-tracking tool or do I need to pay for a more thorough feature set, and if so, what's my budget?

By answering these questions and reading the descriptions of the best time tracking apps above, you should be able to at least narrow down your options to two or so apps that will meet your needs.

Image Credits: Timer photo by Nicolas Will via Flickr.

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