As pesky as they might seem, time tracking apps are your best ally for knowing how you spend your time day in and day out. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best time tracking apps to help you be more productive and get paid fairly - no matter if you’re a small business owner or a freelancer.

We’ll start with a review of each tool, along with screenshots, mobile time tracking features (yes, it’s 2020!), key takeaways, and a dead-simple comparison chart. Plus, a few reasons why time keeping apps are beneficial not only for project managers, but also team members.

Time tracking apps

paymo

Timesheet with timer in Paymo

Paymo, now a project management platform, has initially started out as a simple time tracking app for freelancers just 10 years ago. And for good reasons.

The time tracking core has kept its freshness over time, allowing you to track time in various ways: manually, in bulk for one week, or via the web timer - which got an interesting upgrade. You can now switch tasks midway and see which ones you’ve tracked for today and the past days. Time records get registered automatically under a common timesheet, so you receive all the necessary insights to run a team. Or bill clients, thanks to Paymo’s native invoicing module, which turns timesheet data into an invoice at a click of a button.

The tool also comes with two desktop based apps (Windows and MacOS). The first one, Paymo Widget, includes a visual burndown graph to compare work hours vs. breaks vs. overtime, as well as an idle time detection function in the form of a kawaii cat, which asks you whether you want to discard or keep the idle time. Bonus: it also docks into any Adobe product, so designers, be on the watchout!

The second one, PaymoPlus, is an automatic tracker that tracks everything on your desktop. Your job is to pair them up - manually or via rules - with their corresponding tasks at the end of the day. The idle time detection function is present here too.

You can also create live time reports for a specific project, client, or time period that update themselves whenever someone access them. Choose from 20+ parameters, then share them with your clients to agree upon future benchmarks, either as a text, pie chart, or bar chart. Or with your team to discuss their performance. You decide which one of them is the owner, who can change, or only view the time reports.

Mobile time tracking app

paymo

Paymo mobile time tracking app

Paymo’s mobile app is designed for individual time tracking [Team release: COMING SOON!!!], which means that you’ll only be able to see and sort your own tasks. Back to time tracking, you can start the timer and decide whether to keep it in full focus or leave it in the background. There’s also the option to add time in bulk, in case you forgot to add it in the first place. Where this phone app stands out though is the possibility to toggle between tasks according to their due date, priority, and task status - so you know which ones to work on first.

Key features

  • Web timer + add bulk time function
  • Idle time detection
  • Automatic time tracking
  • Timesheets with multiple views
  • Customizable time reports
  • Adobe plug-in
  • Project and task time budget alerts
  • Invoicing and expenses module

Pricing

  • Free - 1 user
  • Small Office - $11.95/user/month
  • Business - $18.95/user/month

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • iOS
  • Android
toggl-track

Timer in Toggl Track

Toggl has recently rebranded itself as Toggl Track. Despite the change, the time tracking app still keeps its simplicity. Out of all the work time tracker apps out there, this one is the most straightforward. Simply tap the one one-click timer and that’s it - no need to fill in the client, project, tag or billing status right on the spot.

I dare to say they've polished their design even further with the addition of the timer mode (for tracking time in the moment) and manual mode (for adding time intervals), that you can toggle between from the top right corner. Same goes for time entries, which can be viewed either in a list or calendar format. Be aware though that only the list allows you to edit time entries in bulk.

Moving on to the desktop app, the tool has an interesting timeline feature, that auto-tracks each activity that takes longer than 10 seconds, then adds it as a time entry.

In terms of user permissions, Toggl Track accommodates both project managers and team members alike. The former can set mandatory fields to keep accurate timesheets, as well as lock them to prevent the team from adjusting their time entries during the invoicing of clients. While the latter can benefit from a built-in Pomodoro timer that will nudge them to take a break after the pomodoro interval is over (via the versatile Toggl Button, dockable in many apps).

Reports are also diverse, not as granular as Paymo’s. Where they stand out though is the recency factor. You can schedule reports to show up on regular time intervals into your inbox, without signing into Toggl Track. I’ve also noticed that the app shows you the time spent on a project budget, a premium feature that I couldn’t test, so I’ll believe their marketing copy for now.

Mobile time tracking app

toggl-track

Toggl Track mobile time tracking app

Design is consistent at smartphone level too. All time entries show up grouped under their corresponding day, with the ability to slide over an entry with the finger to continue registering time. You can even turn existing events from your calendar into actual time entries, as long as you provide Toggl Track permission to do so. I also like the fact that they’ve included time reports, the billable vs. non-billable chart must be a life saver for all those who charge by the hour and need a quick glance over their rentability.

Key features

  • Web timer + bulk time editing
  • Idle time detection
  • Automatic time tracking
  • Lockable time entries
  • Time tracking reminders
  • Customizable time reports
  • Pomodoro timer
  • Project and task time budget alerts

Pricing

  • Free - Up to 5 users
  • Small Office - $10/user/month
  • Business - $20/user/month
  • Enterprise - Custom pricing

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chrome Extension
harvest

Timesheet in Harvest

One of the veteran time tracking apps out there, Harvest comes on the third spot in this rundown because it’s more suited as a time tracking app for employers.

This is due in part to the automatic reminders that nudge team members to clock in certain hours/week up until a certain date. But also due to the timesheets that can be submitted for approval, in case project managers want to review them before setting them in stone. Leaving this aside, Harvest continues to ace the time tracking part. On the web app, you can start the timer under the daily view for a given project and task, then see how each of your efforts line up on a day to day basis. The week view on the other hand, allows you to add time in bulk on a weekly timesheet - quite relieving if you’re used to filling it every Friday and want to do it without too much hassle.

Like most of its kind, the desktop app is dockable into the computer task bar, displaying a running timer for the task at hand. Where it shines though are the hot key actions. With a couple of key combinations, you can start the timer, hide your timesheet, or view a summary of your daily/weekly/monthly time entries. It also comes with idle time detection, so you can remove the AFK time whenever needed.

Similar to Toggl Track, there’s a Chrome extension that docks the timer into a wide range of platforms, no need to switch context because you’re using different software. Sadly, no pomodoro feature is available.

Harvest also includes a native invoicing module, which makes it easy to turn billable hours into an invoice and customize it to your own liking. There are even retainer invoices, where you can run a monthly retainer with a fixed sum for a single project, as opposed to the regular invoices where you can add items from multiple projects. And since it’s mandatory to track time at a project and task level, you also get a project overview in terms of the remaining budget and internal costs. So you could say Harvest is more of a project time tracking app after all.

Mobile time tracking app

harvest

Harvest mobile time tracking app

The phone time tracking features are up to par with the web app. I can hit the plus button to start the timer and see all my logs for the whole week, even favorite those time entries that are recurrent in nature. Invoices and expenses show up as well, with the possibility to snap a receipt and attach it to an expense - something useful for those of you who do a lot of client meetings. The focus of the mobile app is still on individual time tracking, although there is a feature called Team Status that shows you how much time has each person spent on the latest projects.

Key features

  • Web timer + bulk time editing
  • Idle time detection
  • Timesheet approval
  • Time tracking reminders
  • Customizable time reports
  • Invoicing and expense module
  • Retainer invoices
  • Project and task time budget alerts

Pricing

  • Free - Up to 1 person, 2 projects
  • Pro - $12/user/month

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chrome Extension
clockify

Time tracker in Clockify

Clockify dubbs themselves as the most popular of the free time tracking apps out there. The statement is a bit over the board, paid features do exist - and they’re essential time tracking features if you ask me - while the pricing on their homepage is a bit hidden.

However, the tool meets the best out of Toggl Track and Harvest. The time tracker has a ribbon like design where you can just type in the task that you’re working on, hit play, and fill in the details later. The only difference here is that the project is mandatory, compared to Toggl Track where it’s not. Time entries get displayed one after another in a list format, but you can also view them in a weekly timesheet similar to Harvest’s to add time in bulk.

The desktop widget comes with the possibility to clock in time or add it afterwards, although I don’t understand why you’re allowed to start the timer in the first place if you have to confirm the project right before stopping it. Other than this, I’m impressed by the reminders to track time, which can be activated between a certain time interval and for certain days. There’s also a Pomodoro timer where you can set the duration of your pomodoros and breaks, as well as an autotracker for tracking apps that are active for longer than a number of seconds.

Besides the standard Chrome extension, there’s also one available for Firefox where editing time entries, adding tags, and changing their billing status is possible. I also like that you can change workspaces from it, so it’s much easier to switch context when tracking personal vs. work-related tasks.

Back to the web app, reports are pretty much the same as in Toggl Track (Summary/Detailed/Weekly), with an extra category for the Shared ones. I actually like it that you can lock time entries before sharing a report, either publicly or privately. Clockify is also available on-premise. In this case, the pricing will change from a flat fee to a per user basis.

Mobile time tracking app

clockify

Clockify mobile time tracking app

The time tracking app is similar to the desktop app, including also a projects tab to access the full list or mark one as default. I was looking forward to the dashboard, which gives you a statistic of your time expenditure and billability. But the moment I tapped it, it redirected me to the web app - so I guess a few usability improvements are due here.

Key features

  • Web timer + bulk time editing
  • Automatic time tracking
  • Lockable time entries
  • Time tracking reminders
  • Customizable time reports
  • Pomodoro timer
  • Project and task time budget alerts
  • On premise availability

Pricing

  • Free - Unlimited users and projects
  • Plus - $9.99 (flat)
  • Premium - $29.99 (flat)
  • Enterprise - $9.99/user/month

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chrome Extension
  • Firefox Extension
timely

Memories timeline in Timely

Starting from the premise that you weren’t hired to track time in the first place (and that’s absolutely true), Timely is on the quest of purging manual time trackers and notes altogether.

This is possible thanks to Memory, a desktop app, which automatically tracks all time spent in different work apps and turns it into accurate time records - so you can focus on your work with little to no interruptions. Memory also comes with a built-in AI that over time learns your time tracking habits and proposes a tentative timesheet for you to approve. Didn’t arrive at that point during my tests, but I’m impressed by how accurate the time entry logs are on the timeline.

Apart from this, the web app is great for those who prefer to schedule time on projects in a calendar format. You can, of course, add a new entry manually or via a hidden web timer. Although in this latter case, you’ll have to start the timer first, then submit it (a bit redundant if you ask me). What’s beneficial is that the money value of your logs is displayed next to them on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the hours view chosen.

Time entries are accompanied by tags, with two predefined sets: phases and tasks. Categorize them according to your own workflow, then filter after the preferred one in a report. Speaking of reports, Timely offers 4 ready-available ones to gauge your logged hours across projects, workspaces, users, and unbilled hours. With the possibility to create your own templates.

Project wise, you can see a breakdown of how much time your team has spent on each tag or individually, by themselves. Even compare the logged entries against the planned ones, since the software has recently introduced a scheduling feature.

Mobile time tracking app

timely

Timely mobile time tracking app

The minimalist design is also kept at a mobile app level, where you’re able to see your logs in a calendar format for a single day, which you can choose from a weekly ribbon on top or the date picker. Memory is embedded as well in the form of memories (automated time logs), plus there’s also a location tracker in case you’re on the go or want to know where your employees are. Projects are included too, along with their budget spending and tagged activities.

Key features

  • Automatic time tracking with timeline
  • Time tracking reminders
  • GPS location tracking
  • Billable vs. non-billable hours breakdown
  • Customizable time reports
  • Customizable tags
  • Attendance tracking
  • Project and task time budget alerts

Pricing

Individuals

  • Moonlight - $7/month
  • Freelancer - $14/month
  • Professional - $23/month

Teams

  • Small - $49/month (2 seats included, add more $25)
  • Medium - $199/month (10 seats included, add more for $20)
  • Large - $499/month (30 seats included, add more for $15)

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • iOS
  • Android
timecamp

Timer in TimeCamp

Among the apps for tracking your time, TimeCamp has come a long way throughout the years in terms of their design and features.

The moment you sign in, you’re greeted by a timesheet where you can toggle between a daily and weekly view. Under the daily one, type in the task that you’re working on, select the project, and start the timer. As for the weekly view, this one expands once you click on a day, so you can add time entries manually more easily.

Like Timely, TimeCamp aims to help you cut down on manual time tracking and be more productive. It does so in various ways. To start with, the efficiency tab lets you know how much time you spend on each of the apps that you use. You can then set up goals - say 1h spent on non-productive apps - to implement much healthier work habits. But perhaps the strongest feature of them all is the desktop auto tracker, which tracks time automatically on your behalf based on the keywords that you specify. I’ll be honest though: it seems quite unintuitive (on Mac at least). I was expecting it to recognize what tabs/apps I’m using, but only after 10 minutes in I realized that first, I need to select a task, then the agent will do its job.

When it comes to reporting, there’s a bunch of ready-available reports for you to choose from, including attendance and project budget ones. What I like seeing again is the possibility to email these reports to myself on a regular basis, even at specific hourly intervals, say every Monday at 10am - as well as view the full history of a time entry - something I didn’t notice at the other tested time tracking apps.

TimeCamp also comes with a light invoicing module available under the paid plan. Turn your timesheet data into an invoice, add your own tax rates to reflect your country or state taxes, and submit them for approval.

Mobile time tracking app

timecamp

TimeCamp mobile time tracking app

The mobile version follows the same timesheet structure as the web app. Plus an extra start/stop button for the timer in the bottom right corner. I found it a bit hard to change a time entry’s corresponding task, but apart from this, all other parameters are straightforward. Reports are also a bit more visual than on the web app, showing you how much time you’ve spent for each project.

Key features

  • Web timer + bulk time editing
  • Automatic time tracking
  • Computer time monitoring
  • GPS location tracking (beta)
  • Time entry history
  • Customizable time reports
  • Attendance tracking
  • Invoicing module

Pricing

  • Solo - Free
  • Basic - $7/user/month
  • Pro - $10/user/month
  • Enterprise - Minimum $10/user/month

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chrome Extension
tsheets

Time clock in TSheets

Coming from the founders of QuickBooks, TSheets focuses on timesheets and attendance monitoring.

The time registering features are quite versatile though. You can clock in time spent on projects via the in-app time clock, which remembers the last timesheet selection. Or add it in bulk either on a weekly time card (manually) or time slider (click and drag), for when you also know the hours at which you started and ended work. Once added, time entries show up under a timesheet where you can view their logs, timezone, and any edits on your manager’s behalf.

The desktop app is pretty simple. Select a project to start the timer, then clock out when done. I’m kind of annoyed that it sticks on the main screen (at least on Mac), but oh well, I can live with that. Where TSheets stands out though is the punch clock on tablets. Facial recognition and the quick clock-in make it easy for everyone who’s working in a physical location - say a large facility - to speed up the time tracking process.

Attendance wise, managers can also monitor who’s using the time clocks in parallel, even on a map, thanks to the built-in geofencing feature. Then sort after daily totals, locations, and customers to compare their actual efforts. Another useful feature is the ability to set different hourly rates to account for leave days and overtime, so shift workers can be aware of how much they earn at any time. Yes, shifts are an integral part of TSheets, with the ability to create them and remind employees to clock in whenever their shift is due.

As you’ve probably guessed, the time reports are also geared towards payroll and attendance. You can filter by their pay period, wage, employee costs, paid vs. unpaid breaks, which really gives you an edge over your finances. They’re not that user-friendly though, so you’ll have to put up with that.

Mobile time tracking app

tsheets

TSheets mobile time tracking app

Hands down, this is the best and most pleasant of them all mobile time tracking apps. At a glance, I can see my daily, weekly, and pay period total under a graphical dashboard. Together with the most recent projects and any shifts for today. The time clock is much more intuitive than the one on the web app, while the timesheets don’t allow me to add time in the future - something that makes the time tracking process less prone to errors. I also enjoy that I can review employee timesheets and approve days off directly from it.

Key features

  • Web timer + bulk time editing
  • Shift planning
  • GPS location tracking
  • Attendance monitoring
  • Facial recognition
  • Timesheet approval
  • Payroll
  • Customizable time reports

Pricing

  • Premium - $8/user/month + $20 base fee/month
  • Elite - $10/user/month + $40 base fee/month
  • Enterprise (50+ users) - Custom pricing

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • iOS & iPad
  • Android
  • Time Clock Kiosk
  • Chrome Extension
hubstaff

Time dashboard in Hubstaff

If you’ve been looking for time tracking apps for small businesses, you’re bound to stumble upon Hubstaff.

The tool is primarily geared towards keeping an eye on your team’s timesheets and productivity. For one, you can customize random screenshots to be taken several times a day for each user, so you don’t have to ask them about what they’re working on. Recording activities goes one step further with logs for the time spent on certain apps and URLs, in parallel with the web timer. Speaking of it, this is a simple start/stop timer. If you want to add time in bulk, you’ll have to do it under the timesheets area. Although I find it a bit weird to have a mandatory field for the time entry notes (perhaps for monitoring purposes?).

This field is not mandatory though once you use the desktop app, which feels like it replicates the web app - at least on the time tracking part. To-dos show up under their corresponding project, while the timesheet gives you a full picture of your efforts. It comes with idle time detection and monitoring features too, which are a bit more advanced, in the sense that you can compare the percentage of time spent using the keyboard vs. mouse.

Given the huge emphasis on team monitoring, Hubstaff allows you to schedule your workforce in shifts and see the job site where they are going to work next. Pair this up with the geofencing feature and you’ve got an accurate map of your team’s itinerary, without having to check with them in person.

Hubstaff also includes a light invoicing module, in case you want to turn time entries into an invoice and attach expenses to it. This feature is doubled by a built-in payroll, handy for making one-time payments to temporary contractors, or regular ones based on the approved timesheets for full-time employees.

Mobile time tracking app

hubstaff

Hubstaff mobile time tracking app

Looking at the mobile app, you’ll need to select a task in order to start the timer for it. Only then you’ll be able to add a time entry note as well. The dashboard is pretty useful, offering a total of the time spent for today and the whole week either for myself or the whole team. Out of all the apps tested, reports are the most dense, with two types available: weekly ones for drilling on the team’s performance and revenue earned, and activity based ones for attendance monitoring.

Key features

  • Web timer
  • Random screenshots
  • GPS location tracking
  • Attendance monitoring
  • Timesheet approval
  • Shift planning
  • Payroll
  • Invoicing and expenses module

Pricing

  • Free - 1 user
  • Basic - $14/month (2 seats included, add more for $7)
  • Pro - $20/month (2 seats included, add more for $10)
  • Enterprise - $40/month (2 seats included, add more for $20)

Platforms

  • Web
  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Chromebook
  • Chrome Extension

Top time tracking apps comparison

So many time tracking apps, just for the sake of clocking in your efforts? We’ve actually just narrowed down our selection to only those who offer mobile apps too, given the emphasis on remote work. To help you with your decision, here’s a comparison chart:

paymo-scheduler

Top 8 Time Tracking Apps for 2020

Why are time tracking apps important?

Time tracking has been regarded by many as a necessary evil. Yet, we’ve been using clocks since ages - and most recently, time tracking apps - to shine a light over our habits, progress, and operations in every aspect possible.

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

Benefits for business owners & project managers

  • Get paid accurately How are you supposed to bill your clients when you don’t even clock in your efforts in the first place? No monitoring means you’re either undercharging or overcharging your services, which will make you lose clients in the long run. Time tracking helps you understand how long your work takes, so you don’t end up selling yourself short.
  • Make accurate estimates Guesstimates can create a lot of frustration. On one hand, your team might overestimate the amount of time it takes to finish a project. On the other hand, your clients might not be willing to pay certain hours if you’ve gone over the initial estimations. By tracking your time, you’re already relying on a past record of projects to price your services much closer to reality. Especially if you’re just starting out with a few projects under your belt.
  • Improve profitability When charging by the hour, your primary work unit is the billable hour. 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? Time tracking can give you an accurate picture of your progress and prevent scope creep, in case you’re spending too many hours midway project.

Benefits for employees

  • Improve productivity If, say, you work for 40 minutes straight, then a colleague interrupts you with an urgent request, and you check your smartphone - do you register 1 hour of work or just 40 minutes? Distractions trick us into thinking we’ve been productive, when in fact we were just busy. Tracking work hours can help you identify “dead” time and keep detractors at bay, so you can do deep work without interruptions.
  • Prioritize tasks With too many tasks on your hands, anxiety and a sense of helplessness can soon creep in. Good time tracking apps allow you to know how long tasks take on average. In return, you’ll be in a better position to juggle between them in case 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-allocations 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. While they’ll gain more transparency into your habits, which can spark conversations about improvements or, who knows, even a salary raise.

Criteria for choosing a time tracking app

Time tracking apps come in different forms and flavors. Most of them include a basic 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. Mistakes will happen though, 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: Can I still add time, even after I forgot to start the timer in the first place? Although tracking time as we work is desirable, it’s not always achievable. Being able to log hours after a long meeting or phone call can be relieving, indeed.
  • Mobile app: Is it easy to add my time when I’m on the road or in a client meeting? Mobile time tracking apps are the way to go when you want to be professional, yet discreet at the same time.
  • 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 certain increments, and view data in a visual way that’s easy to grasp.

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

  • Invoicing and expense tracking: 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.
  • Automatic time tracker: Does the work timer app register time automatically on my behalf? Useful in case you’re a multitasker or want to fully focus on your work, without the inherent time tracking hassle.
  • Pomodoro tracker: Can I track time in increments of 25 minutes, with a 5 minutes break in between? There are few apps who integrate the Pomodoro technique natively, the majority are doing 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 more keen to this feature as opposed to those who only monitor their productivity.

Time is money though, so it would be a bit ironic to pay for time tracking features that you don’t actually use, nor save you time. Sift through pricing plans, extra features come at higher tiers, so you can pay for them once your business grows.

NOTE: We didn’t include employee time tracking software in this rundown, as these entail more monitoring features so to say to check whether or not people are actually filling their timesheets.