Where does the time go? Find out with these Mac time trackers.
Whether you’re trying to work out how much time you waste online or just want a way to track projects so you can bill clients, there’s a Mac timer out there for you. Here are some of the best ones out there, broken down by category.
For Finding Where Your Time Went: Rescuetime (Free or $9/month)
Does your time ever just disappear? RescueTime is a cross-platform app that monitors everything you do on your computer, then reports back to you. If you want to know exactly what it is you’ve been doing on your Mac in order to find out which distractions to avoid and which projects are taking up too much time, this is the app to install.
We called this system web based time management for geeks way back in 2007, and more recently noted that it’s a great way to accurately keep track of what you do you on your computer. It’s been around a long time, and is much loved for its in-depth reporting.
You can spend a lot of time tweaking, letting Rescuetime know which sites or apps are and are not distracting for you. This really can vary: your boss might not love it if you spend all day on MakeUseOf, but for me it’s literally my job.
RescueTime is well regarded, but there’s at least one alternative:
- Time Track Pro ($9) is a Mac-only alternative with a native interface, if you really dislike web apps.
For Tracking Projects: Toggl (Free or $5/user/month)
If you’re a freelancer, you need to keep track of how much time you’re spending on various projects for billing purposes. If you want a no-nonsense tool for doing that with all kinds of reporting features, I recommend checking out Toggl first.
The Mac app stays out of your way: just tell it what you’re working on, and which project that’s related to it, and it’ll do its job. You can check out full reports over at the Toggl website. You’ll need an account to get started, but it doesn’t take long.
Of course, there are a number of alternative apps worth checking out; here are a few:
- Aeon Timer is a free Mac-only app with lots of project management features.
- TimeTracker Mac is an open source alternative.
- Harvest for Mac is, like Toggl, tied to a web service that offers a premium version.
- Klok is a similar system built on Adobe Air. So it’s not native, but many users love the features.
If your favourite business-oriented time tracker isn’t here, fill me in using the comments at the end of the article!
For The Pomodoro Method: Pomodoro One (Free)
The Pomodoro Method is one of those tricks that takes the stress out of productivity. Basically, you work 25 minutes uninterrupted, then take a 5 minute break. There are a plethora of different Mac Pomodoro timers out there, but the first one you should check out is Pomodoro One.
This free tool is both attractive and functional – just click “Play” when you’re ready to get started. The app lets you know when your five minute break has started, then starts counting automatically – it’s not going to wait for you. This is good: putting off your break (or your working period) defeats the point of the Pomodoro Method.
Just in case you disagree on that point, there are so many alternative Pomodoro timers out there:
- Focus ($20) is an app that blocks distracting websites and also features a built-in Pomodoro timer.
- Pomodoro Time: is similar to Pomodoro One, but includes a to-do list. Ideal if you’re not already using some other todo list.
- Tomatoes is an even more elaborate Pomodoro timer, if you’re looking for more features.
There are a lot of Pomodoro apps out there and everyone has a favorite, so let fellow readers know about your favorites in the comments below.
Also: as longtime Pomodoro fan, here’s a tip: use Lego to track your time better. Seriously.
For Quick Countdowns: Menubar Countdown (Free)
When I want a simple countdown, I prefer Menubar Countdown – a timer that talks to you. Yes, using the speech is a gimmick, but it’s such a fun one – your computer can remind you, out loud, what you intended to do later in the day.
There are other apps out there, of course:
- Thyme is an open source app.
- TeaTimer is cool if you still use the Dashboard: it’s a simple widget you can use to make countdowns.
- Timer for Mac ($25) is a combination stopwatch, timer and alarm that you can program to do just about anything when time runs out.
- Speaking of programing timers to do things: you can also use timers to schedule system shutdowns.
What Are Your Favorite Mac Timers?
I’ve tried out a lot of different Mac timers over the years; the above are my favorites. But you might — as a Mac user — be know to think differently.
So I’m asking: which timers did we miss? Add your favourites in the comments below, because I’m always excited to learn about new apps.