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The best free project management software in 2020

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9 min read

The best free project management software in 2020

Trello, Asana, ClickUp, and more

By Emily Esposito · September 29, 2020
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Everyone has a different way of managing projects. Some people like to use their inbox to keep track of tasks, while others prefer to visualize work on a kanban board or in a calendar view. When you combine all these disparate workflows, you can find yourself duplicating work, missing deadlines, and even losing revenue.

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. We considered dozens of tools, and after extensive testing, we've settled on our choices for the best free tools for project management.

So whether you're working solo, with a small group, or on a Scrum team, here are the seven best free project management apps.

Want to automatically create tasks in your project management app based on actions you take in other apps? Here are 4 ways project management automation makes your job easier.

The 7 best free project management apps

  • Trello for visually managing projects

  • Asana for teams

  • ClickUp for customized task views

  • Freedcamp for customizing project dashboards

  • Wrike for spreadsheet-like features

  • Paymo for freelancers

  • Yodiz for Agile and Scrum teams

What makes great free project management software?

To narrow down our list of the best free project management software, we looked for tools that met the following criteria:

  • Free for unlimited projects. The apps we chose let you manage an unlimited number of projects for free.

  • Pure project management apps. There are many software options that include project or task management as a small subset of features, but for this article, we only considered apps that were primarily focused on project management.

  • Hosted. There are a lot of great, free, self-hosted project management tools, but they take longer to set up and manage. We're featuring project management apps that are hosted by the companies that provide the tools. If you're interested in free, self-hosted project management software, we recommend Taiga, Lavagna, and Redmine.

We 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 management app 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 apps.

Best free project management software for visually managing projects

Trello (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android)

Trello interface

Trello is a simple way to organize your projects with kanban boards. And with a free plan that allows for unlimited boards and 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 (you get one with 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.

For even more flexibility, use Trello's Zapier integrations to connect Trello with your favorite apps, like Gmail and Slack. Or check out these 6 ways to automate Trello.

Trello Price: The free plan includes unlimited boards and users, 10 team boards, one Power-Up per board, and attachments up to 10MB in size; upgrade for $9.99/user/month (billed annually) to the Business Class plan that includes unlimited team boards and Power-Ups, attachments up to 250MB in size, and more granular permissions controls.

Want to use Trello as a team? Learn how Trello uses Trello for its own project management needs. Want to use it as a personal to-do list? Here's how to use Trello for GTD.

Best free project management software for teams

Asana (Web, iOS, Android)

Asana interface

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. And with the ability to collaborate with up to 15 users, Asana's free plan is one of the most generous.

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.

Asana Price: The free plan includes unlimited projects, tasks, and storage, up to 15 users, and basic search features; upgrade for $10.99/user/month (billed annually) to the Premium plan that includes project timelines, advanced search, and task dependencies.

Learn more about how to use Asana for GTD and how to take advantage of Asana's hidden features.

Best free project management software for customized task views

ClickUp (Web, iOS, Android)

Mind maps from ClickUp

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 eight different task views, including Gantt charts and mind maps. There are also three different page views: Chat (which displays conversations alongside your tasks), Doc (which lets you create docs, wikis, and knowledge bases), and Embed (to add apps and websites next to your tasks).

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.

With ClickUp's Zapier integrations, you can connect ClickUp with your favorite apps. Try one of the automations below, or read about why ClickUp users love Zapier.

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, and calendar views, unlimited dashboards, and guests and permissions.

Best free project management software for customizing project dashboards

Freedcamp (Web, iOS, Android)

Freedcamp interface

For a more full-featured project management tool, Freedcamp gives you a place to manage tasks along with calendar and milestone tools to plan your project's schedule. Tasks can be organized in a standard to-do list or a kanban board, while your most important dates can be split between milestones or the calendar to help with short- and long-term planning.

Freedcamp can easily be your project hub, holding everything you need to get work done. And with the Widgets Board, you have complete flexibility over how to surface project information. Think of the Widgets Board like a customizable dashboard: you can choose from 12 different widgets—like Calendar, My Tasks, My History, or Milestones—and select from which project(s) you want to pull data. You can then drag and drop the widgets on the page to organize and customize your layout, getting an at-a-glance view of all your projects at once.

You can do even more with Freedcamp by using Freedcamp's Zapier integrations: get task notifications via Slack, create new tasks directly from your inbox, and more.

Freedcamp Price: The free plan includes unlimited projects, tasks, users, and storage; upgrade for $1.49/user/month (billed annually) to the Minimalist plan that includes native integrations with Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive and support for recurring tasks.

Best free project management software for freelancers

Paymo (Web, Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android)

Paymo interface

Paymo is a project management app and time tracker with a free plan that makes it easy for freelancers to plan, prioritize, and keep track of their work for multiple clients and projects.

Work is bucketed into three categories: clients, projects, and tasks. For each task, you can assign due dates, set priorities, and add descriptions and attachments. You also have two options for how to view your tasks—as a list or in a kanban board—or use Paymo's filter to sort all of your tasks for every client and project by status, due dates, priorities, and more.

When you're ready to start working on a specific task, just select that task in Paymo's time tracker and click the play button to start tracking your time. When you stop the timer, it adds the time to your timesheet and attributes it to the right task, client, and project.

When it's time to bill your clients, use Paymo's time reports to pull the exact data you need. Export, print, or share the report with your clients in a detailed list view or as a pie graph or bar chart, or take the data and use it to create a branded invoice directly in Paymo. You can even set up your invoices to allow for online payments through Stripe, PayPal, and more.

You can also use Paymo's Zapier integration to connect your freelance projects with other workflows, connecting Paymo to other task management apps or your calendar.

Paymo Price: The free plan includes one user, unlimited projects, 1GB of storage, and up to three invoices; upgrade for $8.95/user/month for the Small Office plan that includes unlimited invoices, 50GB of storage, and project templates.

Looking for more apps to simplify your administrative tasks as a freelancer? Here are our recommendations for the best time tracking apps and the best accounting apps for freelancers.

Best free project management software for spreadsheet-like features

Wrike (Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)

Wrike interface

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.

Wrike lets your team update the status of tasks at various intervals—in-progress, on hold, canceled, or completed—letting you track the status of all project tasks in detail. 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, activity streams, 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 and tasks for up to five users; upgrade for $9.80/user/month (billed annually) to the Professional plan that includes Gantt charts and shareable dashboards for five, 10, or 15 users.

Best free project management software for Agile and Scrum teams

Yodiz (Web, iOS, Android)

Yodiz interface

Yodiz offers a surprisingly powerful free tool for teams that use Agile and Scrum methods. It lets you do everything you need to plan your projects, releases, and sprints: create user stories, nest user stories within epics, create sprints and set sprint dates, add estimates in both story points and hours, and view sprint progress on a sprint board.

Unlike a lot of free project management apps that claim they're for Scrum but are really just kanban boards with the ability to add estimates, Yodiz is truly a Scrum tool designed specifically for Scrum teams. It's as powerful as most of the big names in Scrum software—comparable to tools like VersionOne and CA Agile Central—and it's completely free for teams of up to three.

Want to do even more with Yodiz? Yodiz's Zapier integrations let you automate your work and connect with apps like GitHub and Slack.

Yodiz Price: Free for the Starter plan that includes unlimited projects for up to three users; for more than three users, upgrade to the Issue Tracker plan for $3/user/month.

Originally published in May 2017 by Matthew Guay, this post has had contributions from Jessica Greene and Maria Myre.

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Emily Esposito picture

Emily Esposito

Emily has written for some of the top tech companies, specializing in tech, productivity, and design. When she's not writing, she's traveling the world, brewing kombucha, and biking through the Pacific Northwest.

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