I am a freelance graphic designer and need to track the time spent on projects so I can bill my clients accordingly. There are a ton of services and applications out there but somehow none of them really fits.

Here's what I am looking for:

  • A stable desktop app. I don't want to do my time tracking in the browser.
  • Stop recording when screensaver or sleep mode starts.
  • A product I can buy, not a subscription service. I feel more comfortable and in control if I pay $100 upfront than pay $10 a month
  • An easy-to-use UI that tracks time by client, project and task.
  • Billing support is a bonus, but not necessary.

Here is what I don't need, so if the solution contains it, at least is shouldn't interfere with a simple workflow and efficiency:

  • Not necessary: Smartphone app, team collaboration, cloud.

All I want is a pay-once, stand-alone, well-supported and nicely designed time-tracking app. Do products exist in this space for OSX?

  • Welcome to the site. You could list out the potential candidates in as an answer rather than clouding the question. The question states the problem, the answer is for potential candidates and discussion how they do or do not fit the criteria.
    – bmike
    Mar 7 '14 at 11:50
  • 1
    I like Billings. Mar 7 '14 at 18:47
  • 1
    Billings is subscription-only ($5 at least).
    – bootsmaat
    Mar 7 '14 at 22:18
  • You can find 8 best time tracker apps for Mac and iPhone here May 19 '17 at 12:51

11 Answers 11


I am listing the apps I have looked at so far. I must emphasize that none of them really solves the problem stated above perfectly.

Here's what I have looked at so far based on my google doc list

  • On the Job looks great, but the developer seems to have abandoned it. At least he does not really fix bugs and is very slow to respond to his user base.
  • Timings light-weight but the UI to create clients, projects and tasks can be confusing. I am testing it right now. A friend uses it and says it crashes sometimes though it has not happended to me yet.
  • Harvest looks good, it does have a desktop client itself and an API that is used by lots of apps. But it is subscription-only which is a no-go for me and costs at least $12 per month.
  • The same goes for Toggl: looks good, but is subscription-based and costs $5 per month
  • iBiz and timeEdition have been discontinued
  • Klok is an Adobe Air app. The UI feels weird. Small typography, limited support for keyboard shortcuts and complex interface.
  • OfficeTime feels like the best match so far but the UI is very cluttered (see this screenshot of the Generate Bill dialog as an example). It feels a bit like a Windows app that has been ported to Mac but I am not sure if that's true.
  • Timecop is a very minimal approach. There is no way to test it without paying the $6.99 price. Has not been updated for 9 months, twitter account has been inactive for 5 months.
  • Tictoc seems very similar to Timecop. No way to test without buying either.
  • 3
    Thank you for compiling the list. I am amazed at how this area of software seems almost completely lacking. Harvest is likely the best, but at ~$144/year it is expensive. Mar 7 '14 at 15:29
  • I used klok2 for a while, but I don't really like it any more. Timings looks best for me, but I hate those cloud servives.
    – rwenz3l
    Jun 24 '14 at 14:31
  • I've got good experiences with On the Job. Never tried to contact the developer though.
    – Volsk
    Aug 15 '14 at 13:27
  • Hi bootsmaat, My app Timing (timingapp.com) might fit your needs perfectly. Please have a look at my answer below (apple.stackexchange.com/a/220216/1534) and add the app to your list if you like it.
    – MrMage
    Dec 19 '15 at 16:26

I haven't found the one I like and I created it myself, Qbserve.

It fits most of your requirements:

  • native stand-alone macOS app
  • detects idle time
  • comes for a flat fee ($40)
  • supports projects and tracks time for them automatically (based on opened documents and web pages) but it's also possible to assign time manually
  • generates invoices from the tracked time

It also automatically recognizes productivity for sites, apps, and chats (you can assign Skype chats and Slack teams to different categories).

Plus all the tracked information is stored locally on your machine in an SQLite database.

Qbserve dashboard

  • 1
    This looks like a good productivity app, but it is not a time-tracker that tells me how much time I spent on one project. I may spend time in one application, say Sketch, on multiple projects and need to reflect this.
    – bootsmaat
    May 14 '16 at 11:36
  • @bootsmaat you can create a custom category like "Clientname" for Sketch windows (named as filenames) related to this client. This way you will see time spent on each project in the list of categories.
    – Ivan Mir
    May 14 '16 at 17:16
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    Jeez. I just spent 40 mins typing up an email to the Timing.app guy explaining why this approach doesn't work. Short answer: if you hop around a lot, you wind up having to spend hours every day herding cats trying to get everything from one real-life project categorized into one project into the app. Bootsmaat is right, this isn't a time-tracker. And what's with the 1-hr blocks? Am I the only one who needs see when I actually started a task or doc? Also, JSON export only? For what? Why include it at all? Beautiful interface, though. Great-looking productivity tracker, clean design.
    – John Smith
    Oct 8 '16 at 19:38
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    @MichaelKupietz Project tracking is coming along with billing and "timeline" view of your activities. Please give us some time. :) On JSON: many users asked for some kind of export to analyze the data in their own way and to compare it between team members.
    – Ivan Mir
    Oct 9 '16 at 1:10
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    Thanks for the update. At this point I've settled into a routine around using Time Sink – including investing the time to build a database tool to analyze its .csv logs – but these features sound interesting, I'll definitely give Qbserve another look.
    – John Smith
    May 4 '17 at 14:28

Been using Tyme for quite a while and pretty happy about it. Available for OSX ($9.99) and iOS($3.99).


I'd like to recommend my own app Timing, an automated time tracker (see the screenshot below). It automatically tracks which documents you edit and which websites you visit, so that you can later review what exactly you have done. You can also manually add offline activities so that they don't get lost.

Let's see how it fares with regard to your requirements:

  • A stable desktop app: Timing runs on your Mac and stores all your data locally. No internet connection required!
  • A product I can buy, not a subscription service: It's $24.99 one-time (currently reduced to $19.99).
  • An easy-to-use UI that tracks time by client, project and task: Timing records each activity individually, and you can then drag it onto a project. For clients, you could create a parent "project" that all subprojects are a part of.
  • Billing support is a bonus, but not necessary: Sorry, Timing does not support billing. But you can export your tracking data as CSV or JSON to be used by your billing app of choice.
  • Regularly updated: I'm updating the app all the time, as the release notes show.

Screenshot of Timing for Mac

  • 1
    Nice, no subscription fees and no confidential data transferred over the wire, exactly what I was looking for. Also looks like data can be extracted on the command line via direct sqlite access to the CoreData store.
    – Jan Berkel
    Jan 30 '16 at 0:32
  • That's great to hear! I would recommend to use the built-in AppleScriptable export though: timingapp.com/faq.php#export
    – MrMage
    Feb 1 '16 at 11:28

I've started looking at TimeLime. It's a paid app available on the Mac App Store. I've heard a lot of good things about it from other users I've chatted with.

  • This looks promising. Unfortunately, by now I have purchased On the Job and it works fine so far. Since there is no free trial for TimeLime ($ 14.99) I won't try it out for now.
    – bootsmaat
    Jun 24 '14 at 19:09

You should have a look at Caato Time Tracker. http://www.caato.de/timetracker


I've personally been using RescueTimefor a long time now. The Premium version is based on a subscription (monthly or annually), so it may not fit your need, but there is also a free version, which is enough in my case. The data is collected automatically from a Desktop application, the dashboard and settings are web-based.

I used TimeSink which is a Mac application available on the Mac App Store. It is a "buy once" application, cheap, light, but does not have so many features. I like the way activity is displayed: every application has its own timeline, so you can really keep track of your day.

I also used Time Track Pro for some time. I like the way data is displayed with vertical stacks. The Application is cheap, light, and available on the AppStore, but it hasn't been updated in a while.

Finally there is Timing, also available on the M.A.S.


I use TimeThis (http://timethis.merryfools.com/). I'm a lawyer, so I use it all day everyday. It's $30 flat fee. The primary use case seems to be integration with various services (for me, it's the old basecamp with time tracking). It has a built-in feature that recognizes inactivity, but I'm not sure it's tied to screensaver/sleep at all. The killer feature for me was that it pulls Project/list/task info from Basecamp so I don't have to type my entry each time.

I previously used Klok (http://www.getklok.com/features.html), which is similar. It's been a while, so I'm not certain if they cleaned up the spreadsheet export feature that was just clunky in the past. The visual metaphor helps identify untracked time as it happens, which is very helpful.

  • TimeThis looks nice but it cannot be used without a subscription-based web app. Two of these services, Paymo and Project Bubble, offer decent free accounts with an unlimited number of clients and projects but are actually project management tools for teams. Seems like a lot of overhead when all I want is a stable desktop app.
    – bootsmaat
    Mar 7 '14 at 22:35

I'm an author of Litt time tracker application - maybe you will find it useful for you. Application website is http://satorilight.com currently. It has features that you mentioned - ability to stop tracking on idle intervals. Although it is not tied directly to screensaver stop/start events. Application is freeware and in beta stage now - but I use for few months already. Application is not signed yet - Gatekeeper will warn on it.


I feel you, none of the apps out there fit me either, so i built my own. It works by taking timestamps when an event happens, like git commits, looking in the browser and computer sleeps. It can read the calendar as well. At the end of the day it will calculate how long did you spent on your tasks. Then it can save the report to Jira. http://www.jirassic.com For now is a free time tracking mac app.


I would suggest you to go with the advanced version of apps, the cloud based app which could help keep track of the time in an hourly format and the lost of data which might be a risk in desktop app will be quite less.

But still if you are looking for some desktop app then

would be good choices.

  • 1
    These are all subscription based. Please read the list of requirements in the original post.
    – bootsmaat
    Jun 24 '14 at 19:07

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