9 Best Time Tracking Apps for Freelancers (Including Free Options)

9 Best Time Tracking Apps for Freelancers (Including Free Options)

There are only 1,440 minutes in a day. Where is your time going? Are you being productive with your time?

The rise of freelancing and a focus on productivity has increased the interest in time tracking systems. Whether you are a freelancer, full-time employee, manager, or business owner, it is essential to efficiently manage your work time. Time tracking can be the difference between increased profits and missed opportunities.

However, there are hundreds of time tracking options on the market, and not all of them are created equal. We’ve done the research for you and found tracking apps and software for different types of freelance workers. Below, you can check out our list of the nine best time tracking apps for freelancers to use, along with an easy reference chart and a detailed breakdown of each tool.

Why freelancers use time tracking apps and software

To get paid as a freelancer, recording your time for projects, contracts, and invoices is often necessary. But, the benefits of time tracking don’t stop there. Freelancers and companies can enjoy the benefits of time-management systems in the following ways:

  • Ensuring worker productivity
  • Saving time on invoicing, billing, and reporting
  • Gaining a better understanding of how people are spending their time
  • Building trust with clients through accurate and transparent billing
  • Identifying opportunities to be more efficient in real-time

Before we get to the detailed breakdown of the best apps and software, it is worthwhile to cover the common features included in the top time tracking systems.

Important features of freelancer time tracking systems

The core functionality of any time tracking system is usually pretty consistent across the board. Time tracking apps let you record your time with a running clock that you can start and stop. You are also able to make minor manual edits to time logs—this allows you to update your time entries when you forget to start or stop the timer. The next level of time tracking systems will automatically exclude times when your computer idles or is inactive for a set amount of time.

The best time tracking apps have more functionality and specialized features that make your work easier to manage. Below are some of the features that are important to consider when identifying the best app for your needs.

  • Cost: Find a system that fits your budget, even if that budget restricts you to free apps. There is no reason to pay for extra functionality that you do not need and will not use. Plus, many of the systems on this list offer a free option or a free trial period.

  • Ease of use and quick to learn: If you are new to time tracking, it is crucial to find a system that is intuitive to use and easy to learn.  
  • Billing and accounting: The most common reason for a freelancer to track work hours is to create invoices for clients and get paid. Tracking time as you work lets you invoice clients accurately for the amount of time spent on their projects. Some time tracking systems offer accounting-related features, such as expense tracking.
  • Data, reporting, and tracking: When you know how your time is spent, you can analyze your habits to make smarter business decisions. Plus, when tracking time you can accurately bill projects, and in the future, you know the amount of time required for similar projects. Some systems offer detailed monitoring that allows you to breakdown the hourly billing with time-stamped screen captures and advanced application usage tracking.
  • Flexibility: Some of the systems are internet-based only, while others provide software for desktop and mobile devices. Regardless of the platform, the flexibility of your system should match your needs. You need to be able to track your time even if that means working from different devices.
  • Project management: Efficiently managing projects and tracking time go hand-in-hand. Which is why some systems allow you to manage your projects within the time tracking application. Some even have the ability to integrate with third-party project management systems.
  • Team collaboration and communication: Do you need to share work within a team? Do you need to collaborate with other individuals for projects? How do you incorporate client reviews and receive feedback throughout your work process? These are factors to consider when deciding which time tracking software will be the most effective for your business.
  • Managing multiple workers, clients, and contracts: Time tracking apps can help you identify where teams are spending their time to see if there is an unnecessary bottleneck or overlap. If you have many active contracts or multiple clients, you may need a system that can categorize your time. The system should also associate it with the right project by default.


Best time tracking apps comparison chart

This chart represents some of the top time tracking apps and software. Continue to scroll down for a breakdown of each of these tools.

Name of Time Tracking App Best For… Rating (# of reviews) Free Version (Limited functionality/features) Monthly Price
Toggl Most flexible free option 4.6 /5.0 (1,010 reviews) Yes $9
Freshbooks Freelancers 4.5 /5.0 (3,290 reviews) Yes US$15
RescueTime Individual productivity 4.6 /5.0 (110 reviews) Yes $9
Harvest Billable hours, invoicing, and expense tracking 4.5 /5.0 (395 reviews) Yes US$12
Timely by Memory Overall recording and reporting 4.7 /5.0 (630 reviews) Yes $7
Timing Mac users 4.8 /5.0 (139 reviews) No $5
Everhour Managing teams 4.7 /5.0 (254 reviews) Yes $5
Timeneye Freelancer Project Management 4.8 /5.0 (104 reviews) Yes $7
TMetric Small to Medium Teams 4.5 /5.0 (235 reviews) Yes $5

To remain unbiased, we have excluded Upwork’s native time tracking platform from this list. But, it is worth mentioning that our system’s advanced time tracking capabilities create a win-win for freelancers and clients. Our time tracking system provides an easy to use desktop application with additional web-based project management options.

Upwork offers a payment protection to freelancers when they track their hours for a project on our platform. We also provide client side businesses with screenshots of the work the freelancers produced while on the clock. This happens every ten minutes. With that said, we understand that not all freelancer projects will use Upwork’s feature. That is why we created this list of the best time tracking systems.

Best time tracking apps & software in 2024

As you review the recommendations below, consider what each system has to offer and use this research as a guide to finding the right one for your needs. Freelancers and small businesses rarely use every feature that is available on the market. As a result, here are recommendations for nine unique options when it comes to time tracking functionality.

Most flexible free option: Toggl

Price: Toggl offers a free plan with limited features/functionality. There is also a free trial available for its higher-tier packages, which start at $9.00 per user/month.

Capterra Rating: 4.6/5.0 (1,018 reviews)

Description: Toggl is a leading time tracking software and is one of the most flexible and best free option. Using Toggl is intuitive and easy to pick up. The platform has a simple, user-friendly layout that easily allows you to start tracking time. The software is cloud-hosted with multi-device options across almost all browsers, operating systems, and devices. Toggl provides integration options for various other services, making it flexible to fit into your existing processes and systems. The free version of the app offers robust functionality, and its reports will meet most freelancers’ basic needs.

Features:

  • Exportable and saved reports
  • 100+ third-party app integrations
  • Visual reporting and team dashboards
  • Team and role management
  • Time audits and billable rate customization

Platforms/Extensions: Toggl has a web-based application, installed desktop programs that work on Windows/Mac/Linux operating systems, and native iOS and Android apps.

Best for freelancers operating their business: Freshbooks

Price: FreshBooks offers a free version with limited features/functionality. Freshbooks also provides a free trial for its full packages with ongoing pricing starting at $15.00 per month.

Capterra Rating: 4.5/5.0 (3,290 reviews)

Description: Freshbooks is intended explicitly for freelancers with features designed to make accounting and tracking easier for the self-employed. The company has been around since 2004 and has over 3,000 reviews on Capterra—making it the most reviewed time tracking app or software on this list. The cloud-based system is structured for detailed tracking, capturing expenses, and sending invoices. Freshbooks leans more towards the accounting and financial aspects of managing freelance work than the other apps on this list. It does lack some productivity features such as workflow monitoring and application usage. But Freshbooks provides all of the necessary pieces to operate a successful freelancing business.

Features:

  • Customizable invoices and payment reminders
  • Tax calculations and categorization of expenses
  • Review and create project estimates
  • Collaboration and file sharing
  • Automatic payment recording

Platforms/Extensions: Freshbooks has a cloud-based web application and offers downloadable apps for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Best for individual productivity: RescueTime

Price: RescueTime offers a limited free version. Individuals can get a free trial and upgrade their plan for access to complete functionality starting at $9.00 per month.

Capterra Rating: 4.6/5.0 (110 reviews)

Description: RescueTime is as much of a time-management and productivity tool for individuals as it is a time tracking tool. There is never enough time in the day, but RescueTime helps you stop wasting the time that you do have. RescueTime keeps you focused on your tasks and limits distractions. This web-based app runs in the background to track all of your computer usage. The software then categorizes and ranks your productivity for the time spent on specific applications and websites. It also offers the option to block distracting websites, like Facebook, and provides a timely pop-up alert if you have been on a website for a while. One limitation of RescueTime is that it lacks an easy way to send real-time reports to managers or clients. This limitation positions the app primarily for individuals to improve their productivity through self-reflection..

Features:

  • Automatic recording and reporting
  • Productivity rankings by activity
  • Block access to distracting websites
  • Historical and trend reporting
  • Notifications and alerts

Platforms/Extensions: RescueTime is a universal web-based application that runs in the background to track time through its “FocusTime” feature.

Related: See other ways to stay productive while remote working

Best for billable hours and expenses: Harvest

Price: Harvest offers a free version with limited features/functionality. Freelancers and teams can upgrade to the complete suite of features with ongoing pricing starting at $12.00 per user/month.

Capterra Rating: 4.5/5.0 (395 reviews)

Description: Harvest is one of the best applications for invoicing, billing, and taking payments. Harvest is great for individual freelancers that split their billable time across many clients or projects. You can use the time tracking system for multiple projects simultaneously, even if you bill the clients at different hourly rates. The software offers built-in invoicing, expense tracking, and an easy to use option to accept payments online with PayPal or Stripe. Managers can monitor what their teams are working on, and have reporting alerts that can catch projects before they go over budget. Harvest’s paid platform also includes a resource planning and forecasting tool to help schedule future projects.

Features:

  • Detailed tracking and reporting for time and costs
  • Multiple billing rates
  • Integration with numerous third-party apps
  • Automated invoice creation
  • Online invoice payment processing functionality

Platforms/Extensions: Harvest offers a downloadable application for Mac computers, iPhones, iPads, and Android mobile devices. Other desktop operating systems can use Harvest’s web-based time tracking app.

Best for overall recording and reporting: Timely by Memory

Price: Timely offers a free 14-day trial as well as monthly or yearly packages with pricing starting at $7.00 per month.

Capterra Rating: 4.7/5.0 (630 reviews)

Description: Timely is a universal time tracking software designed around a calendar user interface. The app uses an extension called Memory to automatically record your time across apps to create a complete timeline of your daily activity. Timely displays this information in a visual calendar and uses AI to organize time into different categories. As you continue to use the system, it learns your behavior and quickly sorts your time automatically. The calendar interface allows users to schedule staff with resource planning and project budgets. Timely allows you to export your reports to analyze the breakdown of time spent across your entire client portfolio.

Features:

  • AI tracked activity categorization and tagging
  • Project and team planning
  • Extensive app integrations
  • Project and team time management reporting
  • Real-time dashboards and synchronized team scheduling

Platforms/Extensions: Timely’s software is compatible with most operating systems, including desktop software installations on Mac and Windows, iOS mobile devices, and Android mobile devices. There is also a web-based application for Timely and its activity monitoring browser extension, Memory.

Best for Macs: Timing

Price: Timing offers a free trial for Mac users with ongoing pricing starting at $5.00 per month.

Capterra Rating: 4.8/5.0 (139 reviews)

Description: While most of the applications listed in this guide operate on a Mac, some users prefer a time tracking system specifically designed for the macOS. That is where Timing comes in. Timing lets freelancers focus on working, without having to remember to start and stop timers. As an alternative, the app automatically records a detailed log of the apps you use on your Mac, which websites you visit, and the documents that you edit. When it makes sense for your schedule, you can then categorize your usage data manually or speed up the process with Timing’s smart suggestions. If you need to track time not spent on your mac, such as meetings or phone calls, you will need to add the time entries manually. Timing includes a comprehensive reporting dashboard that you can export for invoicing and manual reporting.

Features:

  • Document-based tracking
  • Calendar integration
  • Productivity tracking
  • Automated category suggestions
  • Daily timeline view

Platforms/Extensions: Timing is a native Mac time tracker application specifically designed for the macOS. Timing also offers limited features through its web-based platform for tracking time not spent on your mac computer.  

Best for managing teams: Everhour

Pricing: Everhour has a free version with limited capabilities. Pricing for Everhour’s complete system starts at $5.00 per user/month. A free trial is available for new users.

Capterra Rating: 4.7/5.0 (254 reviews)

Description: Everhour is one of the best time tracking apps for managing teams. The app allows teams to track global project budgets, schedule team alerts, and collaborate with detailed comments on specific tasks. The software includes the ability to visualize team output and resource usage across several projects. Managers can then customize reports and send professional invoices to clients with a breakdown of their project. Everhour also has a staff planning section that highlights your team members that have work bandwidth. This makes it easier to onboard new clients and improve individual productivity.

Features:

  • Budget and cost management
  • Team dashboards and reporting
  • Invoice creation
  • Billable and non-billable team hour management
  • Team and user management functionality

Platforms/Extensions: Everhour is limited to its SaaS web-based system and a downloadable mobile app for iPhone/iPad devices.  

Best for freelancer project management: Timeneye

Pricing: Timeneye pricing starts at $7.00 per user/month, with a free trial available. There is also a free version that has restricted reporting and limited features.

Capterra Rating: 4.8/5.0 (104 reviews)

Description: Timeneye is a great time tracking tool for freelancers that includes a project management system. This system consolidates all their project information in one central location. Consolidating these two features into a single application can boost your productivity and help you stay on top of your projects. Timeneye’s calendar layout comes with the functionality to tag and categorize clients, projects, and tasks. The software also allows users to break their projects into specific phases which makes it easier to collaborate. Timeneye is ideal for freelancers or organizations that need to manage project scheduling. With this system they can also track their time without the need to invoice clients directly.

Features:

  • Weekly calendar layout
  • Automatic time capture
  • Multiple billable rates & non-billable hours
  • Team roles and permission management
  • Report exports and data imports

Platforms/Extensions: Timeneye offers teams the ability to track time and manage projects through its web-based calendar platform. It also has a downloadable application for Android and iOS mobile devices and tablets.

Best for small to medium teams: TMetric

Pricing: TMetric offers a free version with limited features/functionality for small teams of up to 5 users. There is also a free trial available for TMetric’s complete time tracking system, which starts at $5.00 per month.

Capterra Rating: 4.5/5.0 (235 reviews)

Description: TMetric offers time tracking software for freelancers that work in teams of 2-25 people. TMetric provides a robust free version that can be used by teams of up to five people. TMetric’s free version is an excellent fit for organizations that need to collaborate, track time, generate evidence-based work diaries, and create client reports while on a restricted budget. For organizations that can pay a few dollars per user/month, the higher-tier paid plans can unlock additional invoicing features, varying billable rates, and improved task management functionality.

Features:

  • Real-time monitoring
  • Automatic time capture
  • Billing and invoicing
  • Employee database
  • Multiple billing rates

Platforms/Extensions: TMetric is a versatile platform that is compatible with most devices. A downloadable software version is available for desktop Mac and Windows computers as well as iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Team members can also access the TMetric web-based system for tracking and reporting features. (TMetric is available in English, German, and Russian).

Final thoughts on the best time tracking systems for freelancers

By understanding your time tracking needs, you can select the system that best fits your goals and budget. Incorporating one of these tools into your flexible time management strategy can help improve productivity and increase profitability. To get the most out of your time tracking, check out this article for time tracking tips.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this article. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyse and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

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Author spotlight

9 Best Time Tracking Apps for Freelancers (Including Free Options)
Sean Cope
SEO writer

Formerly a full-time in-house marketing director, Sean Cope began building an SEO and content creation company by freelancing on Upwork. He has enjoyed working with clients in various industries, leading them to achieve their business goals and higher Google search rankings. Sean is passionate about helping new clients in growing their businesses through search engine optimisation, content writing, and digital marketing.

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