The 10 best time tracking apps of 2020

The 10 best time tracking apps of 2020

March 7, 2020

People often track their work hours because they need to create invoices for clients and get paid. Others track their time to see 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—they’ll also work for personal time tracking. Click a link below to see why we picked it, or keep reading to find out more about time tracker apps.

The best time tracking apps

What makes great time tracking software?

Tracking time as you work lets you invoice more accurately 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, you can analyze it and make smarter business decisions as a result.

Nearly all time tracking apps let you track in real time, meaning they give you a running clock that you launch when you start a task, and that you can pause or stop when you finish. The best apps 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 log 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 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 every one 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. Fortunately, some apps provide multiple tiers that you can choose from, allowing you to upgrade as your business and needs grow.

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 type 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’re working when 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 very helpful inside a project management app, we assume if that’s what you need, you’re likely shopping for a project management app instead.

Best free time tracking app

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

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. With Toggl, you can track your time now and worry about the details later.

Additionally, when you use Toggl through 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, 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.

Toggle Pricing:
Free plan: Yes
Paid plan: From $10/user/month for the Starter package

Automate Toggl with Toggl’s Zapier Integrations.

Best time tracking app for teams

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

Harvest time tracking and invoicing app

Among the best time tracking apps overall, Harvest is a top option for teams. 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 tasks even when you’re not online. 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 can always 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.

Harvest Pricing:
Free plan: Yes.
Paid plan: $12/month per person

Automate Harvest with Harvest’s Zapier Integrations.

Best time tracking app for viewing and managing team availability

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

A weekly view within the Everhour 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 is 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 relatively lightweight. If you choose Everhour need invoicing functionality, you’ll want to explore its integration with more robust accounting apps, namely FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Xero.

Everhour Pricing:
Free plan: Yes
Paid plan: $11.81/month for Solo account (billed annually), $10.34/month per person for Team account

Best time tracking app within business software

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

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 (not some afterthought) with the ability to add details to tracked sessions and generate reports on 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 the 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, you can still politely track your time 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.

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.

Freshbooks Pricing:
Free plan: No
Paid plan: From $15/month for billing up to 5 clients

Automate FreshBooks with FreshBooks’ Zapier Integrations.

Best time tracking app with a calendar view

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

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, 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. 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.

Timely Pricing:
Free plan: No
Paid plan: Individual plans from $7/month, team plans from $99/year

Best time tracking app for visualizing time differently

HourStack (Android, iOS, web)

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 types of tasks to differentiate between them, such as business development and communication. You can color-code these, too. (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 through notifications 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. Instead, you can sync tasks or calendar entries from one app into HourStack, or export and import datasets, etc. 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 use 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 info 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.

HourStack Pricing:
Free plan: No
Paid plan: From $7/month

Automate HourStack with HourStack’s Zapier Integrations.

Best automatic time tracking app for Mac users

Timing (macOS)

EverHour time tracking app

If you’re a Mac user looking for a standalone, pay-once time tracking app that works offline, then Timing might be just what you’re looking for. The app tracks your software and website usage on a timeline, which can then be automatically grouped and logged as part of an ongoing project. This makes it easy to discover how long you’ve spent working on various projects, even when those projects include using multiple websites and apps. You can create child projects within larger projects, and even create rules for identifying app and website usage as they pertain to your workday.

Timing isn’t just for logging computer-based activity. You can manually add offline events (provided you opt for the Professional tier) and even start manual tasks with a timer. At the end of the day, when you’re reviewing the logs, you can simply drag and drop projects onto the timeline to quickly categorize whole blocks of activity.

Everything about the app is simple and straightforward. There’s an optional web app and online sync (which requires ongoing upgrade costs to use), but Timing can be a wholly offline experience if you want it to be. Having a responsive, modern, and clean app that runs natively on macOS is appreciated when so many time tracking apps rely on a one-size-fits-all web app.

Timing does away with ongoing subscriptions by instead providing three tiers for three different types of users. The Productivity bundle costs $39 and is perfect for anyone who wants to know more about where their time goes while they use their computer. The Professional package is available for $69 and includes manual tracking for offline tasks, timers, report templates, and richer data export options. Finally, the Expert package costs $99 and includes API and Zapier integration, a plugin for automatic invoicing, fully customizable reports, calendar integration, and priority support.

Timing Pricing:
Free plan: No
Paid plan: From $39 for the base package (14-day free trial available)

Automate Timing with Timing’s Zapier Integrations.

Best set-and-forget time tracking app

RescueTime (macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Brave)

RescueTime time tracking app

RescueTime is an automatic time-tracking app with a version for just about every platform you could want. To start using RescueTime, first install a small monitoring app on your computer. This software works in the background to observe your computer usage, which is then sent to RescueTime’s servers and presented to you in the web-based dashboard.

Since RescueTime knows which apps you’re using and for how long, there’s no need to manually log your hours (though the app still provides this option if you need it). The app will then attempt to categorize your habits based on a set of rules. For example, it classifies Facebook as “very distracting,” and Evernote as “very productive.” There are all sorts of variables, with categories for logging various business activities, communication tasks, and aspects of software development. There are also categories like “Shopping” and “Entertainment” for isolating your less productive habits. The app becomes most useful once you train it to recognize your particular habits properly. If you’re a social media manager who spends a lot of time on Facebook, you can tell RescueTime to log Facebook usage during work hours as a business activity.

RescueTime also includes a website blocker called FocusTime, which allows you to block distracting websites when you need to get some work done. You can set your own custom work hours to separate business hours and leisure time, with alerts to notify you that you might be working too much. Think of it as burnout protection. If you have specific goals you want to hit, RescueTime can help you meet them by delivering timely alerts and tracking your goals on weekly reports.

RescueTime is designed for individual and team use, with a free plan that limits you to automatically tracking software and website usage (with three months of historical data), setting goals, and receiving a weekly email report. You can upgrade to Premium for richer reports, distraction blocking, alerts, and unlimited historical data.

RescueTime Pricing:
Free plan: Yes
Paid plan: From $6/month (14-day free trial available) or $6/month/user for teams

Automate RescueTime with RescueTime’s Zapier Integrations.

Best time tracking app with light project management tools

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

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. You can also create 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 can’t generate an invoice directly from the app. A companion Android app, 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.

An optional feature called “Suggestions,” lets the app 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.

Timeneye Pricing:
Free plan: Yes
Paid plan: $7/month/person for Pro

Automate Timeneye with Timeneye’s Zapier Integrations.

Best time tracking app with lightweight invoicing

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

TMetric time tracking app

TMetric is low-cost a time tracking app that lets you track time through 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 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.

TMetric Price:
Free plan: Yes, for teams of 5
Paid plan: From $48/year

Automate TMetric with TMetric’s Zapier Integrations.


Leave a Reply

Related Stories

April 27, 2020

Is a website really important?

Look closely and consider the many businesses that are operating widely in the world today, one can agree that some portions of them do not have a website especially in Malawi. In this modern age most consumers search online for information that will help them make smarter purchasing decisions. In fact, according to the e-commerce Foundation, 88% of consumers will research product information before they make a purchase online or in the store.