How long will this task take? What’s the level of effort for this activity?
If you aren’t using time tracking software, it’s difficult to accurately answer those questions. And estimating incorrectly can cost you valuable time and money. Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to find a solution.
If you have a small team, are on a tight budget, and are willing to compromise on some premium features, then a free or freemium time tracking product may be right for you.
Note: (Freemium products are free versions of paid software that offer limited functionality, user seats, or both.)
Because we’re looking at free time tracking software for project managers, these products must also be free for more than just one or two users, considering that project managers typically work with teams. So no free time trackers for freelancers or solopreneurs will be included here.
Use this list to determine:
- If free software is the right solution for your organization
- Which free system is best for your needs
What does “top-rated” mean? Each of the six tools included in this piece have an above-average overall user rating compared to other products in the category and have a high number of reviews from project managers, specifically. You can find our full methodology here.
- Free plan: Cerebro’s free version allows up to five users and 10 GB of storage. It’s available as a mobile app or through a web browser, but only paid versions include the offline, desktop option. Users have access to all paid features for the first 60 days.
- Paid plans: Cerebro offers multiple paid plans from $6/user/month all the way up to $59/user/month. The paid plans include additional users, expanded storage, support, and more.
Cerebro is a project management tool designed for marketing, architecture, construction, visual effects, and animation teams. It includes planning, collaboration, and time management features, among others. The time tracking feature in Cerebro is a little complex, as users will have to plan a project to use it through a Gantt chart, as seen in the video below. If you’re looking for a new project planning tool as well, this could be useful, but if you just want a simple, straightforward time tracker, you’ll probably want to continue looking.
Time management in Cerebro (Source)
- Free plan: ClickUp’s free version includes unlimited tasks for five user workspaces, 100 MB of storage, and other monthly limitations.
- Paid plans: ClickUp’s paid plans start at $5/user/month and remove the limitations on user workspaces, file storage, and many other features.
ClickUp aims to be an all-in-one work management app with features for everything from project management to collaboration to CRM and more, including time tracking. Users can access the time tracking feature multiple ways in ClickUp, including a simple fan-out button in the bottom right of the main interface, as seen in the video below. This makes ClickUp an attractive option for small teams who want a simple way to track time while also being able to expand into more complex features if needed.
Time tracking in ClickUp (Source)
- Free plan: The Connecteam free plan allows up to 200 users on a single time clock with multiple limitations.
- Paid plans: Connecteam’s paid plans start at $29/month for up to 200 users, and add many additional features, from time sheet archives to absence management to automated reports and more.
Connecteam is an all-in-one workflow management app built around employee engagement with tools to manage everything from human resources to field service management, and many important aspects in between. As you can see in the video below, the time tracking feature in Connecteam is simple and easily accessible. However, the additional quality-of-life features that the paid plans unlock—from viewing archived time sheets, to automated reports, to bulk assignment actions—might make it difficult to live with the free or basic plans.
Tracking time in Connecteam (Source)
- Free plan: The free plan allows up to 15 users and includes all the modules, features, collaboration, and planning and reporting capabilities of the paid plans. There are limits on storage (1 GB), support, and integrations.
- Paid plans: GoodDay’s paid plans start at $4/user/month and offer unlimited storage, additional users, advanced integrations, 24/7 customer support, and more.
GoodDay is a team management platform designed to handle all of your project management needs, from planning to bug tracking. GoodDay allows two primary routes for time tracking: The first through the individual task view, and the second through a dedicated time management feature via the main interface. Check out the tutorial video below for a quick overview of each method to see how they work.
Two methods for time tracking in GoodDay (Source)
- Free plan: Jibble’s free plan accommodates unlimited users and teams, automated timesheets, geolocation, reports and analytics, and online support. There’s even a facial recognition feature in the free version that allows users to clock in with a selfie.
- Paid plans: If you really like Jibble and want to upgrade, Jibble offers paid plans starting at $2/user/month which add features such as activity tracking, additional administrator seats and capabilities, unlimited archives, priority customer support, and more.
Unlike some of the other tools on this list, which are task or project management solutions with time tracking features built-in, Jibble focuses on time tracking. This might be a real asset if you’re just looking for a straightforward time tracking tool without a lot of other features tacked on. It could also be a detriment if you want something that can also help with your team’s collaboration, project planning, and resource management, for example. Check out the video below to see Jibble time tracking in action.
Introduction to Jibble activity tracking (Source)
- Free plan: Toggl Track’s free plan allows up to five users, and includes time tracking, an autotracker that starts automatically when you start a specific task, imports and exports, and more than 100 integrations.
- Paid plans: Toggl Track’s upgraded plans start at $10/user/month and expand your team size and add many additional features, from task management and templates to scheduled reports and dashboards.
Similar to Jibble, Toggl Track cuts out a lot of the project management features that other tools on this list include to focus on being a time tracking app (though Toggl does have separate apps for planning and hiring). Since the time tracking app is the focus, it’s easy to get straight to it in Toggl Track. In other words, while you might have to click around a bit to start time tracking in other tools, in Toggl Track, the time tracking is the main interface, as you can see in the video below.
Introduction to Toggl Track (Source)
Check out our time tracking software buyers guide if you want answers to basic questions about this software category.
How to choose the right free time tracking software for your team
Keeping the following considerations in mind when choosing a free time tracking tool will make the search a little easier.
- How many team members will need to track their time? A free time tracking tool is great as long as it can accommodate your team. If the free tool only allows for five users, and you need to track time for eight, it’s not very useful. You’re better off paying the monthly fee to expand your tool or finding something else that gives your team the room to grow.
- Will you be using the tool for payroll? Time tracking is useful to see how long different tasks take so that you can plan more accurately. However, if you’re also using time tracking for compensation purposes, you’ll want to make sure your free tool has a solid time clock/time sheets feature built-in with manager approval, time off, and other necessary features.
- How comfortable is your team with time tracking? You can find the perfect, free time tracking tool, but if your team doesn’t use it then you’re back where you started. It may help to test drive a couple of these free tools to see which one your team is most comfortable using before committing to one.
Common questions to ask while selecting a free time tracking tool
You’ll probably have many questions when selecting free time tracking software, and it’s important to get answers from software providers and/or their sales representatives. Here are a few key questions to consider asking:
- What are the limitations of the free version? Typically, when a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider offers a free version of their software, the goal is for free users to eventually upgrade to a paid plan. This could be because the user’s team grows beyond the limitations of the free version, or they require features that are locked behind a paywall. Check with your vendor to make sure you can work with the limitations of the free version rather than take an unexpected hit to your budget.
- How does the time tracking feature work? Before committing to a tool (even if it appears to be a perfect fit), make sure to get a walkthrough of how the time tracking feature works in a real-world scenario. Even if a solution checks all the boxes when it comes to features, user capacity, and price, it might be a poor fit if the time tracking feature takes six clicks to initiate.
- Do other project managers use this time tracking tool? If you’re looking for a time tracking tool to use for project management, it’s good to ask potential providers if other project managers use their tool. While providers might not be able to give you the specific names of their users, they should be able to tell you the types of teams that use their tool.
How we rate
This article was updated in March of 2021. Products considered for this article had to:
- Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
- This is our time tracking software market definition: Time tracking software helps individuals, teams, and organizations across industries keep track of employee time spent on work efforts, i.e., the time spent on tasks/projects, job sites, shift work, client work, etc. These tools provide insight into level of effort, profitability, and employee habits ultimately helping improve user productivity as well as workload and job planning.
Software that met the market definition also needed a minimum of 20 user-submitted reviews published between March 10, 2019 – March 10, 2021 and have an above average overall user rating compared to other products in the category.
Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users does not represent the views of Capterra.