I'm not after time tracking for the purpose of invoicing. I'm not even interested in which apps I use. I just want to know how much time I spend each day at my computer. One big pitfall I see is that many apps will suspend tracking when the user is watching a longer video or reading a long article. Are there any apps that work around this successfully, maybe by using the FaceTime camera as an additional source of data?
I've used RescueTime for years and it's been an informative little app.
They present your time consumption on a nice dashboard and you can categorize it and rate the productivity of your activities from "Very distractive" to "Very productive", set goals, etc.
If you wish they can send you a weekly digest email.
From what I've read on their forums –I don't watch movies on my computer– YMMV with movies; VLC seems to have problems being captured after the defined idle time, which is 5 minutes and other similar activities may have the same problem. Hangouts appeared as problematic while searching for "movies" on their site to answer this.
This is what they say regarding idle time:
When RescueTime detects that your computer is idle (no keyboard or mouse activity), it begins a 5 minute timer. At the end of five full minutes of inactivity, RescueTime will close the most recent record and subtract 5 minutes of time from that record.
If you are willing to pay, they offer a premium subscription that allows you to edit your idle time:
If you are a Premium user and have offline time enabled, you will get a pop up after becoming active again that will allow you to enter what you were doing when away from the computer, unless this time exceeds 4 hours. If your time away is greater than 4 hours, you can enter time manually on the Offline Time Entry page
It works on OS X and Windows.
I'm using ActivityWatch for about half a month and it really like it. So I recommend you try it :)
ActivityWatch is an open-source automated time tracker that’s cross-platform, extensible, and privacy-first.
We started building it years ago because we wanted highly detailed automated time tracking without having to run a proprietary app (that might not work on all platforms) or worse, sending it off to some company server.
- Tracking – Tracks active application and window title out of the box, more with watchers.
- Categories – Get a better overview of your usage by breaking it down into categories.
- Browser extensions – Track the active tab using the extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
- Editor plugins – Track how you spend time writing code with editor watchers.
- Privacy – Data is stored locally and doesn't leave your device, we put local and privacy first.
- Cross-platform – Runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android.
Originaly posted by Erik Bjäreholt on Quora
By the way, it also monitors your computer usage when you're idle and computer isn't sleeping or turned off ;)
Another option is to use the built-in Screen Time app, which is however only available in macOS Catalina or later...