Everyone has a different way of managing projects. Some people like to use their inbox to keep track of tasks. Others prefer to visualize work on a Kanban board or in a calendar view, while some even prefer the old pen and paper system.
That's fine on an individual level, but when you collaborate on projects as a team, you need a flexible and capable project management tool that works for everyone. And with so many teams still working remotely, there's an even more pressing need for a task management app that can help track projects, collaborate, and keep everyone in the loop.
As a freelance writer, I've worked inside tons of different project management setups across my clients—I've seen how each app approaches the standard features, the potential of great, streamlined collaboration, and the consequences of poor project management.
The good news: free project management software can give you the flexibility you need to manage tasks, communicate with stakeholders, and maintain project visibility—without paying a cent. This year, I considered nearly 60 free project management tools, and after extensive testing, I've settled on my top eight picks.
The 8 best free project management tools
Trello for visually managing projects
Asana for teams
ClickUp for customized task views
Wrike for spreadsheet-like features
ActiveCollab for freelancers and small agency teams
Airtable for building a customized project management app
GoodDay for multiple project management methodologies
Jira for developers
What makes the best free project management tool?
How we evaluate and test apps
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To narrow down the list of the best free project management online tools, I looked for apps that met the following criteria:
Free for unlimited projects. All the project tracking software I chose lets you manage an unlimited number of projects for free (and include at least 10 users for free).
Hosted. There are a lot of great, free, self-hosted project management applications, but they take longer to set up and manage. I was looking at task management software that's hosted by the companies that provide the tools. If you're interested in free, self-hosted project management software, I'd recommend checking out Taiga, Lavagna, and Redmine.
Collaboration and sharing features. The free project management apps included here make it quick and easy to add team members to your project management setup and control user types and permissions.
Flexibility. The best project managers are flexible enough to handle multiple teams, project types, and organization styles, so I looked for apps that support a number of different views and project management methodologies.
Integrations. A great project tracker should fit seamlessly into the rest of your stack, so I've only included apps that integrate with other popular software like email and Slack, calendars, document storage, and more.
After filtering for those criteria, I ran each remaining contender through a similar testing protocol that included:
Going through the signup process and any onboarding provided
Creating a new project and choosing a primary methodology (Kanban, Scrum, Gantt, etc.) or view (list, table, calendar, etc.) for it
Creating a number of new tasks and adding various details, like due dates, links and attachments, user assignments, and more
Toggling between view options and testing out any additional methodologies offered
Inviting new users and setting permissions
Toggling between team-wide and individual views
Testing out any unique features like time tracking or client views
After running each app through that workflow, I landed on the top eight free online project manager tools you see below.
Note: I selected tools that offer web apps (though many offer synchronized web, mobile, and desktop apps). If it's not important to you that your project planner is accessible online, you may also want to consider ProjectLibre and GanttProject in addition to the apps listed below. Both of these tools are powerful desktop-only apps that are designed to be alternatives to Microsoft Project.
Need more features and have a bit more flexibility in your budget? Check out our recommendations for the best project management software for small business.
Best free project management software for visually managing projects
Trello (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android)
Super customizable boards with unlimited Power-Ups
Most visual UI of any of the apps I tested
Tons of templates to get you started
Free users are limited to Kanban
User/team management features require an upgrade
Trello is simple project management software that gives you a way to organize your projects with Kanban boards. And with a generous free plan that allows for 10 boards and unlimited users, it's a tool that anyone can use. Freelancers can use Trello to plan their assignments on a personal board, and teams can use Trello to build a complete project workflow with visibility at every stage.
Start by creating a new board from scratch or choosing a template from dozens of options across marketing, sales, design, team management, and more. Add a handful of lists for your tasks (each list is a column), and customize those lists with the steps in your workflow (e.g., to-do, doing, and done) or as separate parts of your project (e.g., development, design, and distribution). Next, add your tasks as visual cards in each column—with labels, due dates, members, checklists, images, attachments, and comments to keep everything in one place.
As you start completing tasks, simply drag the cards to the appropriate list. You can keep track of all comments and tasks that mention you—or that you're watching—from the activity menu.
For more features, Trello's Power-Up options (now unlimited even on the free plan) let you view tasks on a calendar, add voting options on tasks, fade away old tasks automatically, and much more. And you can make Trello boards for everything—personal and work tasks alike—to get your work done in a way that best fits your needs.
Create new Trello cards from new Google Calendar events
Trello price: The free plan includes unlimited cards and members, 10 boards per workspace, unlimited Power-Ups, and 250 automated commands each month; upgrade for $5/user/month (billed annually) to the Standard plan that includes unlimited boards, custom fields, advanced checklists, up to 1,000 automated commands per month, and more.
Best free project management software for teams
Asana (Web, iOS, Android)
Flexible with project management methodologies between projects and users
Great, focused My Tasks view
To-do list style made better with team features
Most expensive upgrade on this list
Your to-do list isn't bad—you just need a few more features to manage your team projects. Asana offers just that. It's a project management tool that lets you break projects down into sections and sub-lists, along with dashboards to see how much of the project has been completed already. You'll add, rearrange, and complete tasks the same way you would in a to-do list app, but with the collaboration and organization features you need to work as a team.
For your personal tasks—or the things at work that don't fit into a precise project—you can make extra lists in Asana that are only shared with specific people. Your own assigned tasks will also show up in your My Tasks view for a quick way to see the things you need to take care of.
Whether you're working solo or with a team, you can automate Asana with Asana's Zapier integrations, letting you connect project information to other apps. Try one of the workflows below, or get inspiration from these automations from real users.
Create Google Calendar events from new Asana tasks
Create Asana tasks from new Google Forms responses
Asana price: The free Basic plan includes unlimited projects, tasks, and storage; up to 15 users; and list, board, and calendar views. Upgrade for $10.99/user/month (billed annually) to the Premium plan that includes project timelines, custom fields, task dependencies, and more.
Best free project management software for customized task views
ClickUp (Web, iOS, Android)
11 different task views and 4 page views to choose from
Super generous free plan
More involved set-up process
Potential for some lag during testing
Most project management apps let you choose from only a handful of task views, like a list, calendar, or Kanban view. Additional views, especially Gantt charts, are usually a premium feature. ClickUp is different.
It's a simple and free project management app that lets you choose from 11 different task views, including Gantt charts and mind maps. There are also four different page views: Chat (which displays conversations alongside your tasks), Doc (which lets you create docs, wikis, and knowledge bases), Embed (to add apps and websites next to your tasks), and Form (to add a form next to your tasks to gather, organize, and collect data).
ClickUp's dashboards are just as customizable, letting you choose from more than 20 different widgets, so you can only highlight the most important project information.
There's a lot to parse when you're first getting started with ClickUp. The onboarding process won't be as simple as Trello, for example, but the extra customization is worth it—especially when it's completely free. Plus, the company has done a great job with guided in-app onboarding to get you started.
Create Google Calendar events from new ClickUp tasks
Add starred Gmail emails as tasks in ClickUp [Business Gmail Accounts Only]
ClickUp price: The free plan includes unlimited tasks and users, up to 100MB of storage, and up to 100 uses of Gantt charts, mind maps, dashboards, and timeline views. Upgrade to the Unlimited plan for $5/user/month for unlimited list, board, calendar, and Gantt views, unlimited dashboards, and guests and permissions.
Tip: If you're a HubSpot user, you can create new tickets from ClickUp, and then use contact or customer information to launch personalized marketing campaigns.
Best free project management software for freelancers and small agency teams
ActiveCollab (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android)
Built-in features for time tracking, billing, and expenses
Capable user permissions
Less flexible for use cases beyond client management
Free plan and Plus plans limited to 3 users
If you're looking to manage client projects and other details like invoicing and time tracking in one place, ActiveCollab is a great option.
Built for agencies and freelancers, the app includes thoughtful details to streamline client management. You can estimate and track time for each task, set the task as billable (or not), and manage expenses right from the task details screen.
Even the free plan includes capable user permissions that make it easy to let clients into your process without exposing anything you don't want to. Simply check the Hidden from clients box to hide any task from client users, or add the Client+ add-on to enable a more collaborative user role for more hands-on clients. Select Workload from the left-hand menu to manage assignments and team bandwidth, and click on Reports to get a pulse on client invoices and payments, projects and tasks across the team, and track time and expenses.
With ActiveCollab, you can quickly create and send professional-looking estimates and invoices and integrate with your payment processing or accounting software to streamline billing. You can also connect ActiveCollab with Zapier to automate task creation, notifications and updates, and more.
Create tasks in Active Collab from new labeled Gmail emails [Business Gmail Accounts Only]
ActiveCollab price: The free plan includes unlimited projects and tasks for up to 3 members, with task dependencies, and list and Kanban views. Upgrade to the Plus plan for $9.50/month (for 3 members) to add Gantt and calendar views, project templates and recurring tasks, and more.
Best free project management software for spreadsheet-like features
Wrike (Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)
Best-in-class project tracking features
More limited free plan than most
If it were up to you, would you manage your projects in a spreadsheet? If so, you might like Wrike. Wrike offers the same flexibility of a spreadsheet—with columns for every bit of info you want to track about tasks. (If you like spreadsheets but need even more customization, head down to our review of Airtable.)
Wrike lets your team update the status of tasks at various intervals—in-progress, on hold, canceled, or completed. Additionally, you can set the status of projects to green, yellow, red, on hold, or canceled, making it easy to create your weekly project status reports.
While you can do a lot with Wrike's free plan, its best features—including time tracking, Gantt charts, and custom dashboards—do require a premium plan. If you're running a small operation now but planning to scale in the future, Wrike grows alongside you, giving you all of the tools you need to run both a single small project and many concurrent large ones.
If you're interested in the free plan, Wrike's Zapier integrations can help you do more with the project management app, like automatically creating tasks in Wrike from other tools.
Wrike price: The free plan includes unlimited projects for unlimited users; upgrade for $9.80/user/month (billed annually) to the Professional plan that includes Gantt charts, shareable dashboards, and more.
Best free project management software for building a customized app
Airtable (Web, iOS, Android)
The most customizable app on this list
Lots of templates to help with initial setup
More involved setup process
Less familiar interface than most
If you've tried other project management software and haven't found the one, Airtable will let you build it. The app is ready out-of-the-box with a default view similar to a spreadsheet, and it suggests a handful of templated projects based on your team within the company. You can start from one of the suggested templates, browse the rest, or build your own project (called a "base") from scratch.
But the real power of Airtable happens when you customize it. It will take some upfront effort to tailor Airtable to be exactly what you need—but if you're willing to spend the time, the sky's the limit. You can customize everything from the methodology and view type to column headers, field types, data validation, and more.
Head over to the Marketplace to choose from over 80 apps that help you integrate, analyze, and enrich your projects, or build your own custom apps. Airtable also integrates with Zapier, so you can do things like automatically track important information in Airtable, get notifications for activity in your Airtable base, and more.
Create detailed events in Google Calendar from new Airtable records in views
Airtable price: The free plan includes unlimited bases, up to 5 users, 1,200 records per base, and five view options, including grid, calendar, and Kanban; upgrade for $10/user/month to the Plus plan for 5,000 records per base, 5GB of attachments, 3 extensions per base, and more.
Best free project management app for working with multiple methodologies
Focused My Work view to track your own stuff
Modules to add on time tracking, client portals, and more
Limited integrations available
Advanced views require an upgrade
GoodDay is flexible enough to satisfy a team with diverse project management needs. The app supports a number of methodologies and views, including Gantt, Agile, Scrum, Kanban, and waterfall. All are available to use on the free plan, making it the most generous and flexible free plan we tested.
Every project you create can take a different approach, and you can add additional views of the project at any time. Beyond those views, each project has a Summary tab with an overview of tasks, events, users, and burn down. I also love the My Work view, which rolls up work, tasks, calendar, and individual projects assigned to you.
When you first set up your GoodDay account, you can choose from a number of different modules, like time tracking, client portals, and billing to make the app do even more for you. For example, the Clients & Customer Portal module includes an extra project type called client projects, while the HR module includes a custom Vacations calendar view.
Take GoodDay.work's free plan to another level with its Zapier integration, so you can connect it to the other apps you use most.
GoodDay price: The free plan includes unlimited projects and tasks, custom workflows, and up to 15 users; upgrade to the Professional plan for $4/user/month for advanced views (like Gantt), up to 250 users, a customer portal, user roles customizations, and more.
Best free project management software for Agile software development teams
Jira (Web, iOS, Android)
Purpose-built for developers and engineers
Prominent issue tracker
Over 1,000 integrations
Limited free plan
Not flexible for use across diverse teams
While the app also offers a Kanban view, Jira is built for Scrum and Agile workflows. When you first sign up, the onboarding flow asks a few questions about your team's projects, level of experience with different methodologies, and deadlines—then it recommends a methodology and project template for you.
For Scrum projects, you'll add epics to the Roadmap page. Then you can add issues to your backlog individually, filling in details and assigning them to sprints. Project tracking happens on a Scrum board, the homepage for each project—you can customize column headers and edit task details and status.
Jira's catering to developers and engineering teams doesn't stop there: the app also integrates with other development tools like GitHub, GitLab, Sentry, and Jenkins to make quick work of updating and tracking your backlog. And while you can't control user access on the free plan, it does include up to 10 users, so it's ideal for self-contained or smaller dev teams.
You can get more out of the free plan by using Jira's Zapier integrations to automatically create new issues in Jira based on Slack messages or GitHub issues. Try these Zaps and check out more ways to automate Jira.
Create Jira Software Cloud issues from new messages posted to a Slack channel
Generate Jira Software issues from new GitHub issues
Jira price: The free plan includes unlimited projects on one site, up to 10 users, and both Scrum and Kanban boards; upgrade to the Standard plan for $7.50/user/month for more granular user permissions, 250 GB of file storage, and more.
What's the best free project planning software?
Honestly, online project management tools are a dime a dozen. And a lot of them will advertise "free" plans that aren't really free—meaning you can't actually manage all your projects without upgrading. The best free task management software will let you do what you need to do without spending a dime. And, as your needs change, they'll support you with more robust features at higher tiers.
The good news: free project planning software is...free. So you can test your options, see what you like (and what you don't), and then decide. Here are more tips on how to choose online project management software.
Originally published in May 2017 by Matthew Guay, this post has had contributions from Jessica Greene, Maria Myre, and Emily Esposito. The most recent update was in September 2022.