Update 5/8/2017: After a year of investigating the best free time tracking software, we’ve updated this list to include product updates, expanded reviews, and new selection of great free tools.
At my first job, I worked as a research underling for a small HR consulting company. As tends to be the case with consulting, we billed clients on an hourly basis.
Of course, this was my first job, and I had no idea how to accurately track my time. I was used to campus hourly work, where you got compensated based on whether you showed up, not based on the amount of time you spent working on a specific project.
Getting used to time tracking was tough for me. In my creative process, I tend to have tabs upon tabs open. This is my screen right now in preparation for this article.
Meta, I know.
As someone who is chronically struggling with the battle between ADD, creativity, and getting things done on time; as someone who flips between Facebook, Hangouts, work email, and expense reports; and as someone whose attention span fluctuates (often forgetting to stop or start the time tracking button), calculating my hours was an optimistic dream at best.
Then again, we were relying on tools that didn’t facilitate the time tracking process well. We used Trello to track our projects and wrote in our hours worked on the kanban cards. That meant that we used another free online application with simple “start” and “stop” buttons and that we had to record each time we worked on a project. For me, that meant hunting through tabs and remembering to comply with time tracking altogether.
It was, in short, a disaster.
Since entering the project management software world a few years ago, I realized that my old job was suffering from a lack of quality business tools. Yes, what they were using was free, but there is also free time tracking software that’s better than the system we had.
Best free time tracking software
So I went on a hunt. I looked through the time tracking apps that:
- Offer a freemium version (not a trial or time bound in any way)
- Provide at least one free integration with a popular tool
- Provide project management functionality
- Integrate with or provide a billing system
- Offer a mobile solution for on-site visits
- Have that “wow” factor
After filtering through 500 or so time tracking applications in Capterra’s directory, these eight stood out in the areas that I was examining. Not every business will fit every solution offered here, though. Take the time to compare features and pricing, and let me know in the comments if I missed any big winners!
These time tracking apps are sorted alphabetically, as their features vary enough that there isn’t a clear “best” or “worst.”
Reviewers have praised AccountSight for its reasonable pricing, functionality, and customer service.
For example, one reviewer was thrilled that he could use “the system in about 10 minutes!”, while another wrote, “Overall the software is the perfect online solution for project cost tracking. The cost is extremely reasonable and the customer service is second to none. I highly recommend this software.”
In fact, most reviews commented on AccountSight’s customer service.
Their time tracking processes stand out too, for businesses and consultants alike. Users can submit their timesheets in bulk via Excel, or simply track their time online. Managers can approve or reject timesheets straight from the app. Forgot to track your time? AccountSight regularly sends you messages that nudge you to turn your clock on. If only I had that at my first job!
Notable free integration(s): Paypal, QuickBooks, eSign Genie for eSignatures
Accounting features: Users rely on AccountSight to manage receivables, payables, and company cash. AccountSight also integrates with QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online.
Price: Free for one user, two client, two projects, and unlimited invoicing and unlimited T&E. For the more robust version (unlimited clients and projects), AccountSight jumps to $10 per person for groups under five. If your group is larger than that, discounts are available.
Used AccountSight? Leave a review!
If you’re a freelancer looking for a free invoicing system with timekeeping features, check out Due.com.
Due.com is a relatively new tool (it was only founded in 2015), and it’s uninhibited by old-world thinking about working only on a single task per clock in or clock out. Users can work on multiple projects with Due.com running in the background, working to track everything you do and filtering that information to your invoices. The tool offers customized quotes, estimates, and invoices that can be sent online via email.
The free version is fairly comprehensive; users can access all timing features, work in multiple currencies, and apply multiple tax structures to their invoices. User be warned, however: Due.com is only free as long as you don’t process payments through their invoicing system.
There is also no mobile app. If you are looking for a free invoicing software, check out our list of invoicing tools.
Notable free integration(s): Basecamp
Accounting features: Customizable quotes, estimates, and invoices.
Price: Free to use unless you use their payment processing features. The lowest processing fee starts at 2.8%, with no monthly or annual fee.
Used Due.com? Leave a review!
Out of 41 reviews, Hubstaff has almost a perfect rating on Capterra. Users praise its random screenshotting feature (which managers and clients can use to make sure work is getting done when the team says it is), time clock system, and reporting features. Hubstaff bills itself as “most accurate desktop timer,” and works hard to keep up that reputation.
The free system is best for a single user who needs to provide transparency for multiple stakeholders; small teams can easily use this app’s full functionality for free. Teams usually upgrade when managing that small team’s information gets unwieldy. Hubstaff doesn’t limit its functionality otherwise, which opens users up to its 30+ free integrations.
In addition to its free integrations and unlimited use for one user, Hubstaff’s timesheet templates and task-specific reporting features are what set it apart from other free time tracking tools. If you’re a small business or freelancer, Hubstaff will likely fit your needs.
Accounting features: Timesheets, payroll, and advanced reporting, along with integrations.
Price: Free for one user. Upgrades start at $5 a month.
Used Hubstaff? Leave a review!
Calling all consultants, contractors, lawyers, and small business owners: Ronin may be the time clock app for you.
The emphasis here is that it works best for one person. The free app won’t take you very far—it only allows for two clients (with one contact person per client) with one seat—but, like some of the other options listed above, Ronin provides basic functionality for its free users otherwise. Users typically upgrade to access more staff, clients, payment integration, and custom domains.
But if the basic version of Ronin, which encompasses a Zapier integration, project management tool, estimates, invoices, and payment statuses, fulfills all your needs, there will never be a reason to upgrade. And if you do have to pay for more of its features, it only costs $15 a month—about the price of a can of canned unicorn meat. (Really.)
Notable free integration(s): Zapier
Accounting features: Invoices, estimates, expenses, recurring invoices, and multiple currencies.
Price: Free; upgrades start at $15 a month
Used Ronin? Leave a review!
Have an unusually big project coming up and don’t want to use an expensive project management tool for the one-off? That’s where Tick comes in—and you’ll love it enough to use it again.
If you’ve ever used a timer before, you can figure out how to use Tick. One of its coolest features is that it will automatically update users of budget changes with each time card. That means no more budget tracking in a cumbersome, useless spreadsheet.
In addition, Tick has an adoring userbase. It has over 900 reviews on Capterra and enjoys 4.5 stars in ease of use, customer service, and for its overall functionality. As one reviewer recently exclaimed, “It takes the guesswork out of the job and lets me focus on the task at hand!”
Who wouldn’t want an app that lets you get back to what matters?
Notable free integration(s): Asana, Basecamp, FreshBooks QuickBooks, Trello, and Zapier
Accounting features: Budget tracking on the task and project level, time reporting by client or person, and lots of accounting software integrations.
Price: Free; upgrades start at $19 a month for ten projects
Used Tick? Leave a review!
todo.vu not only specializes in time tracking, but it’s also a complete task, project management, CRM, and billing tool (upon upgrading). Unlike many of the other options available here, todo.vu does not rely on integrations to be a complete system.
The free version is impressive; one user gets access to 100MB of storage, time tracking that can be assigned to individual tasks, and CRM features such as client tracking and the ability to receive tasks from third parties.
Freelancers and small businesses will definitely enjoy todo.vu’s free project management and CRM features, but will have to use a third party for billing features. With that said, todo.vu’s strongest asset is its reporting feature—largely time management analytics—which is largely worth paying for in the upgrade.
For now, the free version on integrates with FreshBooks on a limited basis.
Notable free integration(s): FreshBooks
Accounting features: FreshBooks integration and client tracking; most accounting features require an upgrade.
Price: Free; upgrades start at $5 per user per month
Used todo.vu? Leave a review!
Like Tick, Toggl is also a huge hit with reviewers. It boasts a 4.5 out of five-star rating on Capterra with over 200 reviews to its name.
Amanda Gibbs gives insight into the user experience in her February 2017 review:
I’ve used Toggl for the past few years as a quick and inexpensive way to track my time between multiple projects and report the ratio of time spent between them. The software boasts plenty of features for the base/free version (which is the version I use) along with basic reporting. The design is attractive and minimal while the time-tracking pages are easy to use and view. I would recommend this product to others looking for a basic time tracking software.
Toggl works on Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, and almost every browser. You can track your time directly in Toggl and then export your time with its multitudinous integrations (including, but certainly not limited to, Asana, Atlassian Jira, Basecamp, FreshBooks, Github, Google Docs, Open Project, Quickbooks, Salesforce, Slack, Teamwork, and Trello).
Users can also log their time offline and sync their data after it’s recorded. And Toggl’s security? It backs up every 24 hours to several different physical locations, and keeps all of its information on Rackspace, making it ISO 27002, ISO 27001, SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC 3, CPS, Safe Harbor, and SSAE16 compliant.
Most users who upgrade do so for task management (projects don’t break down into tasks). Additionally, the basic version doesn’t allow users to tweak billable rates nor create a team greater than five users.
Notable free integration(s): Asana, Atlassian Jira, Basecamp, Drive, Evernote, FreshDesk, Podio, QuickBooks, Salesforce, Slack, Trello, Wrike, Xero, Zapier, Zendesk, Zoho, and 85+ more integrations with the Toggl Chrome extension
Accounting features: FreshBooks integration and client tracking; most accounting features require an upgrade.
Price: Free; upgrades start at $5 per user per month.
Used Toggl? Leave a review!
Do not confuse Trigger’s placement on this alphabetical list for being “last place”; it’s an incredibly easy-to-use app that is rising as a powerful Trello and Asana alternative—and unlike those two powerful project management software options, Trigger comes with time tracking.
And it’s all free.
That doesn’t even get to Trigger’s free CRM functionality. The sales team can keep track of their communications with clients and the app ties that information to related projects. Tasks can be zoomed in on at the granular level, and all time reports—even in the free version—can be allocated to specific tasks instead of a disorganized spreadsheet. That means businesses can use Trigger to figure out which clients are best for their business, and which ones they’re overservicing.
The app also provides templates and storage so project managers don’t need to start from scratch at the beginning of every project.
Trigger also offers timesheets, automated invoices, and online reports, and all that information syncs with Xero, Freshbooks, and Zapier. Like with other apps on this list, its time tracking solution works with just the click of a button (or can be logged manually), and all that information gets filtered into invoices, timesheets, and reports.
Notable free integration(s): Basecamp, FreshBooks, Drive, Dropbox, Slack, Xero, Zapier
Accounting features: FreshBooks, Saasu, and Xero integrations; invoicing features available with an upgrade.
Price: Free for three team members, five active projects, five clients, and basic reporting. Upgrades start at $15 AU (or about $11 USD) per user per month.
Used Trigger? Leave a review!
There are plenty other free time tracking tools for project managers, small teams, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, and plenty of other software you should check out. Consider these options:
- 6 Outstanding Skype Alternatives for Aspiring Communication Rock Stars
- 16 Underground Free Project Management Tools
- The 6 Best To-Do Apps For Busy Entrepreneurs and Freelancers
Which tool do you use? Do you agree that these eight options are the best time tracking software available? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.