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desktop-time-tracking-tool When I first started out being a freelancer and software developer, the one thing that is giving me a lot of headache is to estimate the project timeline and give a proper quotation. There are times when I quoted too less for an intensive project and end up receiving much less than the amount of time I have put in. There are also times where I over-quoted and resulted in an angry, dissatisfied customer.

Over the years, I have learnt my lesson. Now, before the start of any projects, I will tell my clients that I charge by hours and give them an estimate of the time needed to complete the project. I will then use a desktop time tracking software to track the amount of time I have spent in the project and then charge my clients accordingly.

If you are like me who provide your services on the hourly rate, here are some free and useful desktop time tracking tools that you can use to track the time you have spent on any projects.

Baralga

desktop time tracker

Baralga is a simple and lightweight application that allows you to track the time you have spent on your project. On the home page is a big Start/Stop button where you can click to start the timer as you start on the project. There is also options for you to enter manually the total time you have spent on the projects. Best of all, it allows you to export your data to Microsoft Excel, CSV or even as a data backup.

Baralga is developed in Java and works in multiple OS.

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Rachota Timetracker

rachota-screenshot

Rachota looks slightly complicated than Baralga, but it is in fact a simple to use application with several useful functions. It allows you to define your working hours/day and give you a notification when your working hours are not reached/exceeded. It also allows you to define regular tasks (with priority) so that you can access to them easily on the front page.

While doing your projects, there will be times when you need to take a coffee break. Rather than stopping the timer, there is a Relax button where you can use to pause the timer. Once you are done with your break, simply click the Work button again to start the timer.

Rachota comes with an Analytics tool where you can use to compare the amount of time and work done that you have completed.

Rachota is developed in Java and in available for all platforms (that support Java)

Klok

klok-screenshot

Even though Klok is still in beta, it is surprisingly an useful and comprehensive time tracking application. For each project, you can further split it into smaller sub projects and manage it like any other projects. You can also create templates to be used for new creation of projects.

Once a project is completed, you can drag and drop to the Archive button (located at the bottom left corner) to archive it. At any point of time, you can also access the archive to unarhived any old projects. While Klok allows you to export your data to Excel spreadsheet, there is no ways for you to import any data. This might be a problem if you need to work on multiple computers.

Klok works in all platforms and requires Adobe Air to be installed in your system before you can use it.

actiTime Basic

actitime-basic

actiTime Basic is a free, yet powerful timesheet optimized for your basic time tracking needs. Once installed, you can run ActiTime from your browser. Features include creating new users, setting up customers record and project details, enter the time spent for each projects, allocate your work schedule and best of all, generate an invoice for the time you have spent on the projects.

actiTime uses Microsoft Access or MySQL to store your data. Data collected by actiTIME can be exported to qbXML file and then imported by actiTIME Invoice Importer to QuickBooks® for invoice generation.

Time Tracker

time-tracker

Time Tracker is a Windows-based application. One thing that I like about this application is its user-interface. It allows you to see everything in one glance. The projects, tasks and links to reports/charts are located on the left pane and allow you to switch between each project easily and quickly. The main panel that track the time you have spent on your project is of a spreadsheet format so you don’t have to spend a lot of time getting used to it.

The reports section comes with three different type of visual report: text, chart and grid. Depending on your preferences, you can choose the one you like.

Time tracker also supports plugins. However there are only few and limited plugins that you can use currently.

Time Tracking Tool

time-tracking-tool

Time-Tracking-Tool is really what I call a lightweight application. Weighing at only 1.3 MB, it is by-far the smallest applications among these 6 time tracking software. Even though it is small, it still comes with the complete set of tools to track your time effectively. You can create new tasks and add sub-tasks to it, activate the timer as you work on the project, view the report with bar chart. One thing that is lacking from this application is the ability to export/import data.

Time-Tracking-Tool is developed in Java and works in all platforms.

What other time desktop time tracking software do you use to track your time?

Image credit: John-Morgan

  1. Frank Tzanabetis
    July 11, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Here's one that I wrote a few years back and have used ever since. It's a Windows desktop app and just recently decided to share it with anyone who's interested.

    http://plasticcheese.com/TinyTracker

    It's free, really small, quick to use and makes it really easy to fill out your timesheets.

  2. Bruce
    February 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Psoda-lite is a free online time tracking system. You can have multiple users and run timesheet reports across your whole team.

  3. John
    July 24, 2009 at 3:36 am

    We've been using psoda.com for a couple of months now and we are stoked! We are saving about 20 hours per user per month compared to before we started using Psoda, a return of more than 2000%!!!!

  4. dennis hoff
    July 3, 2009 at 10:22 am

    You also might want to look @ Premember.
    It's a time tracking tool that allows you to look back into time.
    It's saves screenshots during the day so you easily fill in your hours at the end of the day or week.
    It's really intuitive and easy to use.
    There is a and a version available.

    • Damien Oh
      July 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm

      thanks for recommending. I will give it a try

  5. Andrew
    June 29, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Hi Damien,

    You should also check Fanurio: fanuriotimetracking.com

    Fanurio is a desktop application designed to help freelancers manage their work and be paid for it. With Fanurio you can customize invoice templates using your own layouts and export them to HTML or PDF. It also has idle time detection and it can be used on Windows, Mac and Linux.

  6. Dmitry
    May 18, 2009 at 10:42 am

    It's not a time tracking software. Just a (xnotestopwatch.com) stopwatch and timer but with multiple instances and save/load actions can be used as a simple time tracking tool.

  7. Lisa
    May 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I found a bunch of time tracking tools here: web-based-software.com/time/

    All these tools are web-based (accessible through a browser)

  8. Peter
    May 11, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Also have a look at psoda.com.

    • John
      June 19, 2009 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks Peter, Psoda is absolutely brilliant!

  9. Max
    May 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I'm using Paymo Time Tracker . So far so good :)

  10. Amit | Web Design
    May 7, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Hi
    I'm doing lots of outsource work and I'm using ManicTime to record all my actions. For me it's THE tool for the job.
    I rate ManicTime with 5 stars ;)

    I recommend to give this software a try!
    Amit.

  11. torahwriter
    May 6, 2009 at 2:55 am

    I do not know how to open a .jar file. Can anyone share this info?

  12. torahwriter
    May 5, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I enjoyed this information and tested several of these programs. manictime is great but it prevents gmail from uploading properly.

  13. sirfes
    May 2, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Damien, thanks a lot for your post!

    I've been underestimating the benefits of time tracking, mainly because of the lack of a powerful and friendly app (or was it the laziness to look for it properly?).

    Rachota is a really nice app and I could easily stick to it, even though I'm having a hard time trying to delete a task. The "Remove" button is either hidden or grayed-out. Is it a tricky thing to do or it is just me? :(

    Baralga wouldn't run on my iMac: "The jar file couldn't be launched. Check the console for possible error messages".

    After reading all the comments above, now I'm able to summarize what to expect from these time tracking apps (either free or not):

    * Intuitive (pleeeease!)
    * Reliable (no sudden crashes and losses!)
    * Low memory comsumption (no leading roles!)
    * Cross-platform (at least Mac/WIN)
    * Capable of importing and exporting data, so that you can update your hours between your laptop and your desktop.

    This is why the other 4 apps in your list didn't catch my eye.

    And, should you report or keep your tracking collaboratively, online services provide 2 additional features to look for:

    * Share data with multiple users
    * Access data from anywhere

    TIMETREK (free) could also make your list. It isn't as powerful as some other, but it is the only one which is giving me no trouble at the moment:

    http://www.gieson.com/Library/projects/utilities/timetrek/index.html

    Free will always be nice and sweet. I just wonder whether it is worthy to suffer the limitations of a single-platform (and maybe not-so-powerful) free app.

    Is there any other one left?

  14. WM
    April 30, 2009 at 12:16 am

    We are using TimeLive in our organization and it is awasome. One good thing about TimeLive is that it offers free 5 users hosted account. It means, you are not required to setup any application locally.

    • Damien Oh
      April 30, 2009 at 12:52 am

      Yes, TimeLive is a great web app for online collaboration. I used that when I were back in the past too, but no longer have use for that now.

  15. Abd Allah Diab
    April 29, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for the list.
    I was working on a small project to track my time, it shows up every while (you can set the interval of course) and asks you about what you are doing, and at the end of the day you'll have your report ready for you, so my boss won't be angry the next day when he opens his email :D
    I'll try Baralga and Time Tracker, but I don't think any one of these has this feature of asking you every while ;)

    • Damien Oh
      April 30, 2009 at 12:50 am

      That seems like an interesting feature, though I feel that it might be a little bit annoying. Will you be releasing it to the public?

  16. Thien Rong
    April 28, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Thanks for the list, I never seen any of them besides Klok which I didn't installed because I didn't want Adobe AIR.

    I tried all and seems to love Rachota for the idle time tracking, that should help stopping proscrination. However, the lack of import/export to other tools can be an issue.

  17. Dnyanesh
    April 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I use ManicTime from http://www.manictime.com. The application is awesome. Checkout the demos on the website.

  18. VirginTech
    April 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Quite a nice list of Apps.. Thanks for sharing Damien:-)

  19. Paul
    April 27, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    There is one that I use a bit, it's called manictime.com.
    It will track every program you use, even down to what file your working on in Photoshop.

    Thanks
    Paul

    • Damien Oh
      April 28, 2009 at 1:01 am

      It seems like a great app. I will check it out.

  20. Claw
    April 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    And Damien, what do you use? :P I'll check it Baralga :)

    Regards! Excellent blog

    • Damien Oh
      April 28, 2009 at 1:03 am

      Personally, I use Rachota. It may not be the best, but it comes with some configuration options that are really useful.

    • Claw
      May 3, 2009 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks Damien, I'll give it a try :P

  21. David
    April 27, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for adding actiTIME to this list. We have been using this time tracking tool in our organization for managing our projects and couldn't be happier. This is a very good product for the following reasons:
    - Easy installation and upgrade
    - User-friendly interface
    - Good access management
    - Clear reporting
    - Data export in CSV file
    I really appreciate Actimind team offer such product on free-to-use terms.

  22. John
    April 27, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    While I'm actually quite fond of Rachota (I used it at a previous job and would absolutely recommend it), I would be remiss in my duties of crass capitalism if I didn't at least mention my web-based counterpart at http://www.emanagr.com .

    It's partly a work in progress as we add new features, but like most of the rest, it lets you break a project down to tasks and subtasks. We also track the deviation from estimates over time, so you can adjust future estimates properly. You can also start and stop the clock either on the web page or by e-mail, in case you're away from your browser (we're investigating SMS).

    (There's also some social-like networking and priority-based scheduling, plus features still in development, but that's less not remotely related to the article.)

  23. Dan Gebhardt
    April 27, 2009 at 11:23 am

    If you need to share your time tracking data with multiple users, or you'd like to access it from anywhere, you may want to consider an online time tracking service like LiveTimer.com.

    You can run web-based time tracking services as desktop applications by using a site-specific browser such as Fluid for Mac OSX or Google Chrome for Windows. For instance, I created a video demonstrating usage of LiveTimer with Fluid, in which you can see how the running timer can be displayed in the Mac's Dock.

    • Damien Oh
      April 28, 2009 at 1:00 am

      Great tip!

  24. Jon Pero
    April 27, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I really like TimeSnapper

    • Damien Oh
      April 28, 2009 at 12:59 am

      Interesting app. It takes screenshots of your desktop rather than just record the time. Cool! I wonder how the memory consumption is like?

  25. Harsh Agrawal
    April 27, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Thanks for the useful list. I never used any of these software. Probably using time tracker will increase my productivity.

    • Damien Oh
      April 28, 2009 at 12:56 am

      I am sure it will definitely increase your productivity. It is like someone keeping a close watch on you now, forcing you to double your workrate.

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