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Last modified date

Apr 29, 2024

100% Free Time Tracking Apps to Track Time Wherever You Are

author image

Andrei Țiț

Blog average read time

22 min

Last modified date

April 29, 2024


Do you know how much time you’re wasting daily? Or how much time do you spend working on trivial tasks compared to important ones? As pesky as they might seem, time tracking apps are your best ally in finding out how you spend your time day in and day out.

At the end of this article, you can choose the best time tracking app for your particular case—whether you’re a small business owner or an employee.

We’ll start with a review of 13 free time tracking apps (and one affordable alternative) with screenshots, a breakdown of top features, and a takeaway about the mobile version.

Read till the end for a few reasons why time-keeping apps are beneficial for project managers and teams.

Time tracking apps

1. Paymo

best native time tracking app with automatic capabilities

Pricing: Average

90

of 100

Pros
pros-image

native time tracking, both manual and automatic

pros-image

dedicated 3-in-1 desktop app, ‘Paymo Track’

pros-image

Pomodoro timer

pros-image

timesheet and bulk time entries

pros-image

idle time detection

pros-image

seamlessly integrated project management software

Cons
cons-image

no timesheet lock or approval yet

cons-image

fewer integrations than competitors

2. TimeCamp

best for easy attendance and time tracking

Pricing: Low

88

of 100

Pros
pros-image

easy attendance tracking

pros-image

time off and overtime tracking

pros-image

time-tracking with automatic keywords

pros-image

timeline and activities

Cons
cons-image

intrusive employee monitoring, e.g.,

cons-image

unintuitive UX/UI

3. Timely

best for time tracking with AI features

Pricing: High

86

of 100

Pros
pros-image

automatic time tracking

pros-image

overtime time management, plus team hours and capacity

pros-image

time tracking reminders

Cons
cons-image

lack of flexibility when it comes to time entries

cons-image

can sometimes be laggy

cons-image

expensive paid plans

4. Clockify

best for employee monitoring

Pricing: Average

85

of 100

Pros
pros-image

web stopwatch, Pomodoro timer

pros-image

timesheet approval and reminders, lockable time entries

pros-image

attendance and overtime tracking

Cons
cons-image

GPS tracking and screenshots

cons-image

inaccurate reporting

cons-image

slow and unresponsive app

5. Toggl Track

best for time tracking insights and reports

Pricing: High

83

of 100

Pros
pros-image

visual timeline

pros-image

user-friendly interface

pros-image

straightforward reporting

Cons
cons-image

unreliable time tracker

cons-image

tasks and time entries can be mixed up due to beta AI

6. Harvest

best for time tracking with simple project delivery

Pricing: Average

82

of 100

Pros
pros-image

timesheet approval

pros-image

useful mobile app

pros-image

time tracking reminders

Cons
cons-image

granular time tracking is lacking

cons-image

clunky web timer (stopwatch)

7. Hubstaff

best for up-close employee monitoring

Pricing: Average

82

of 100

Pros
pros-image

web timer

pros-image

scheduler and shift planning

pros-image

attendance tracker

pros-image

team dashboard

Cons
cons-image

random screenshots

cons-image

app & URL tracking

cons-image

location tracking

cons-image

mouse and keyboard (stroke) tracking

cons-image

by all means micromanaging

8. Everhour

best for integrating with other PM tools

Pricing: High

80

of 100

Pros
pros-image

real-time dashboard

pros-image

time clock

pros-image

active timers

pros-image

timesheet and time logs

Cons
cons-image

monitoring through screenshots

cons-image

unintuitive dashboard

cons-image

glitchy web timer

9. MyHours

best for time tracking with light project management

Pricing: Average

79

of 100

Pros
pros-image

web stopwatch

pros-image

time-tracking done at a timesheet level

pros-image

time analytics and cost tracking

pros-image

timesheet approval

Cons
cons-image

slow loading speed

cons-image

limited mobile app in comparison to the desktop version

cons-image

it needs more customizable options and enhancements

10. RescueTime

best for productivity-minded users

Pricing: High

78

of 100

Pros
pros-image

productivity and mood tracker

pros-image

website blocking

pros-image

automatic time tracking

pros-image

simplicity and ease of use

Cons
cons-image

limited mobile functionality

cons-image

occasional bugs and glitches

cons-image

slow loading times

cons-image

lacks some advanced time tracking abilities

11. connecteam

best for job scheduling and geofencing

Pricing: Very Low

77

of 100

Pros
pros-image

time tracking for distributed teams over 30

pros-image

affordable option

Cons
cons-image

geofencing & GPS location tracking

cons-image

not suitable for teams under 30

cons-image

limited features compared to other apps

12. DeskTime

best for intrusive employee monitoring

Pricing: Average

74

of 100

Pros
pros-image

automatic and manual time tracking

pros-image

shift scheduling

pros-image

project tracking

pros-image

productivity calculator

pros-image

“Private time” for digital timeout

Cons
cons-image

inaccurate time tracking and discrepancies in time entries

cons-image

idle time detection can be glitchy

cons-image

privacy concerns

cons-image

invasive employee monitoring, URL tracking and screenshots

13. TrackingTime

best for attendance tracking with time cards

Pricing: Average

75

of 100

Pros
pros-image

data imports from other apps

pros-image

time off management

pros-image

attendance tracking

pros-image

weekly overviews

Cons
cons-image

no idle detection

cons-image

time tracking inaccuracies

cons-image

glitches and bugs, failure to track time

cons-image

limited functionality for small businesses

14. homebase

best for employee scheduling and time clocking

Pricing: Low

72

of 100

Pros
pros-image

time clocks for tracking time, breaks, and overtime

pros-image

cloud scheduling

pros-image

it integrates with payroll apps

pros-image

team communication

Cons
cons-image

occasional glitches and bugs

cons-image

not a project management tool

Why are time-tracking apps important?

Time tracking is seen as a necessary evil. Yet, we’ve been using clocks for ages—and most recently, time-tracking apps—to shine a light on our habits, progress, and operations in every aspect possible. The lack of time-tracking habits leads to frustration and resource waste.

While these benefits might be obvious for business owners and project managers, it can seem like employees have drawn the shorter stick. In my experience and humble opinion, there is nothing further from the truth. So, I’ll treat them separately for more clarity.

Benefits for business owners & project managers

  • Get paid fairly. How are you supposed to bill clients when you don’t even clock in your efforts in the first place? Time tracking helps you understand how long your work takes so you don’t sell yourself short. No monitoring means you’re either undercharging or overcharging your services, making you lose clients in the long run.
  • Make accurate estimates. Guesstimates can create a lot of frustration. On the one hand, your team might overestimate the time it takes to finish a project. On the other hand, your clients might not be willing to pay for certain hours if you’ve gone over the initial estimations. You’re relying on a record that helps you price your services much closer to reality by tracking your time. This is especially helpful if you’re starting with a few projects under your belt.
  • Improve profitability. If you charge by the hour, your primary work unit is the billable hour. It doesn’t matter if you’re a creative agency, web development shop, or architecture firm – you’re selling hours against money. Yet you wouldn’t start a project if the costs of completing it exceeded what your client pays you, right? This is an aspect of profitability tracking. Time tracking can give you an accurate picture of your progress and prevent scope creep if you spend too many hours midway through a project. It’s especially geared towards engineering practitioners or field professionals working by the hour.

Benefits for employees

  • Improve productivity. Tracking work hours can help you identify ‘dead time’ and keep detractors at bay so that you can do deep work without interruptions. If you work for 40 minutes straight, then a colleague interrupts you with a sudden request—do you record 1 hour of work or just 40 minutes? Distractions trick us into thinking we’ve been productive when we were just busy.
  • Prioritize tasks. With too many tasks on your hands, anxiety and a sense of helplessness can soon creep in. A good time-tracking app should tell you how long tasks take on average. In return, you’ll be in a better position to juggle between tasks if you’re waiting for someone else’s input to move forward and don’t know what to tackle next.
  • Enforce a healthier work culture. Scheduling an entire team is a stressful process that usually results in over-allocation and burnout on the team’s behalf. Make your project manager’s life easier through time tracking. You’ll know when to go all in and when to give yourself some slack. At the same time, they’ll gain more transparency into your habits, which can spark conversations about improvements or, who knows, even a salary raise.

Benefits for consultants and knowledge workers

  • Better time management. Time tracking helps create precise time estimates for projects, maintain budgetary requirements, and stay organized and focused on tasks. It allows for better prioritization, gaining more experience, and completing more work in less time for the modern consultant.
  • Accountability in project management. Time tracking promotes accountability among team members, reduces the likelihood of scope creep, and facilitates project completion within set deadlines. It also offers transparency for evaluating job performance and project progress, making project management much easier.
  • Informed decision-making and efficiency. Consistent time tracking enables consultants to make more informed business decisions, come up with accurate estimates, budgets, and deadlines, and identify tasks that may consume significant time. This, in turn, allows for the optimization of work processes and the elimination of inefficiencies.

Criteria for choosing a time-tracking app

Time-tracking software and apps come in different forms and flavors. Most of them include a timer to clock in and out of work in real-time, so you don’t need to remember what you’ve worked on in the morning. Undoubtedly, mistakes will happen, so consider time-recording apps that allow you to:

  • Edit time entries: Can I correct time entries that I’ve added accidentally or timers that have been left running overnight? Bonus points if you can do this from multiple platforms, not just the web version.
  • Add time in bulk. Although tracking time as we work is desirable, it’s not always achievable. Can I still add time, even after I forgot to start the timer in the first place? I was able to log hours after a long meeting or phone call can be relieving, indeed.
  • Mobile app. Is adding my time on the road or in a client meeting easy? Mobile time-tracking apps are the way to go when you want to be professional yet discreet simultaneously.
  • Time reports. Can I drill down on data to make better business decisions? Ideally, you should be able to set up granular reports, round up time entries to specific increments, and read data that’s easy to grasp visually.

Now, in my experience, these would be the main criteria. But work time tracking apps can serve different purposes and be part of more inclusive, all-in-one apps, like popular project management software. So, depending on your goals, you might want to review and consider those that come with:

  • Invoicing and expense tracking. Can I turn timesheet data into an invoice and account for my travel, gas, and overall expenses? These are two great additions if you charge by the hour and don’t want to pay extra for another billing software.
  • Automatic time tracker. Does the work timer app register time automatically on my behalf? Useful if you’re a multitasker or want to focus entirely on your work without the inherent time-tracking hassle.
  • Pomodoro tracker. Can I track time in increments of 25 minutes, with a 5-minute break in between? Few apps integrate the Pomodoro technique natively; most do it via third-party apps.
  • Project estimates and alerts. Can I get a heads-up before the project approaches its hourly budget? Agencies and freelancers who run multiple projects in parallel could be keener to this feature than those who only monitor their productivity.

Time is money, so paying for time-tracking features you don’t use or save time would be a bit ironic. Sift through pricing plans; extra features come at higher tiers, so you can pay for them once your business grows.

Note: This rundown included one or two employee time tracking software. For a dedicated list of software with monitoring features and advanced timesheets, click the link in this note.

Andrei Țiț

Author

Andrei Țiț is a product marketer at Ahrefs. He has been involved in product marketing at various SaaS companies for over six years, specializing in content marketing and short-form video. In his free time, he enjoys cooking and traveling.

Alexandra Martin

Editor

Drawing from a background in cognitive linguistics and armed with 10+ years of content writing experience, Alexandra Martin combines her expertise with a newfound interest in productivity and project management. In her spare time, she dabbles in all things creative.

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