Top 6 Time Tracking Tools for Programmers and Developers

Developers, particularly those working from home, often have the need to track both their working hours and the time spent on specific projects, for invoice purposes. Even if you don’t work by the hour, i.e. charge for the whole project, time-tracking helps you understand if you’re working at a loss or not. Thanks to it, you can see how much time you need to complete certain tasks.

Regardless of the reason you want to track your working time, it’s best to use special apps for that – this way, you’ll get the most accurate results.

After reviewing more than 40 time-tracking apps from the pool of remote working tools, we’ve selected the 6 best solutions for programmers, freelancers, and small businesses. They’re also suitable for any personal, non-work-related purposes.

Top 6 Time Trackers for Programmers

TimeCamp

TimeCamp is a cross-platform time monitoring service that shows data on websites visited and programs run by employees. It also provides analytical reports, allows you to create task schedules and track the progress of projects as a percentage. Accurate time reports allow you to pay only for efficient work and can be exported to CSV files. The service easily integrates with Slack, Jira, Trello, Zendesk, and more. 

TimeCamp lets you automatically monitor the time your employees spend using apps and websites. You can expect the ability to create convenient reports, notes, and subtasks. If, say, your company uses Trello to set tasks, you can integrate it with TimeCamp. 

Overall, TimeCamp can be called the best time-tracking app for chronically distracted programmers. You can set it to record all of your activity in the background, which can be helpful if you want to get yourself together and focus on what’s necessary.

TimeCamp’s interface may not seem user-friendly at first, but we got used to it in no time. Overall, TimeCamp is a great product and well worth using.

Harvest 

Of all time tracking tools, Harvest can be called the best solution for dev teams. It’s super-efficient for individual entrepreneurs but mainly focuses on teamwork. If you’re not good at tracking and organizing team time, Harvest has your back covered.

Each team member can install as many instances of Harvest as he/she wants. It can be a desktop, mobile app, or browser extension. The apps run offline, allowing you and your colleagues to track task time without an Internet connection.

When team members launch their personal trackers, all the information is transferred to the administrator’s account, where it’s available in overview and detail. Harvest can automatically remind your team members to send reports, and the business owner can review, edit, and approve them.

Harvest was launched back in 2006 and has since undergone many changes and improvements. However, the core functionality has remained unchanged – it’s still one of the most powerful time tracking services used by thousands of developers around the world.

Among other things, Harvest integrates with a large number of other apps. Some of the supported apps allow you to track working hours directly in them (e.g., Asana, Basecamp, Slack, Trello) and send the results to Harvest. Others are for invoicing and accounting (unless, of course, you want to use Harvest’s built-in toolkit for that).

Harvest has its own employee scheduling app, Forecast (sold separately), which integrates perfectly with the main app. If you need to connect Harvest to a tool that doesn’t have native support, you can do so with Zapier integrations.

Harvest features:

  • Manual and automatic time tracking;
  • Separate billable and non-billable projects;
  • Report building to estimate progress and lost time;
  • Flexible invoice issuing based on your working hours;
  • Integration with over 80 apps, including IFTTT, Slack, QuickBooks, etc.

Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, web, browser extension, plus working in other web apps with integration.

RescueTime

RescueTime is an application of a very special kind. It replaces that strict boss who constantly lurks behind you and monitors what sites and apps you open. Then it will give you a detailed report on the time you spend, which can, actually, give you the creeps. And then you will ask it to block all those sites that steal your time.

To use RescueTime, you have to first install a small monitoring app on your computer. This program will run in the background, monitor your activity, send that data to RescueTime’s servers, and display it to you in the web version’s dashboard.

Because RescueTime knows what app you’ve been using (and for how long), there’s no need to manually track your hours (although you can). Based on the data and set rules, the app will try to categorize your habits. For example, it will classify Facebook as a “very distracting” site and Evernote as a “very productive” resource. And there are enough variables like that; different categories for business operations, communication, and software development. Then, there are also “shopping” and “entertainment” categories to separate the less productive habits.

This app becomes most useful when you “teach” it to recognize your personal habits right. If you’re running social media pages and not just surfing your Facebook feed but working there, you can tell RescueTime to mark that activity as work.

RescueTime also contains a site blocker (FocusTime), which allows you to block sites that distract you when you need to focus. You can choose what time you consider “working hours” and set it manually. This will allow the app to alert you when you’re overworking. Think about the usefulness of this feature to prevent burnout.

RescueTime is designed for both individual and team use. There’s a free plan with a limited number of apps and sites tracked. The premium plan (from $6/month) will provide more detailed reports, distraction blocking, notifications, as well as unlimited data storage.

RescueTime features:

  • RescueTime runs in the background and constantly monitors active apps or websites. The app automatically identifies apps and websites in use into one of the categories, e.g. “Productive”, “Entertainment”, “Informational”, and so on;
  • Built-in reports that show how productive you’ve been. Additional features include blocking time schedules, blacklists, filters, etc.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Brave.

Toggl

If you need a time tracking app but can’t afford to use paid services, try Toggl, one of the most popular solutions on the market. It has almost everything you need to organize your work as a programmer and will even fit a small company. The greatest thing is that most of Toggl’s features are available in the free version.

This tool has an excellent free version that includes all the basic functionality you would expect to see in a high-quality time tracker. Those who choose the free version will not be able to use Toggl for teamwork and will only get a minimum of reports. However, if these limitations aren’t important to you, you can simply and reliably track your time on various projects.

One of Toogl’s advantages is that it doesn’t ask too many questions at the start. In many time-tracking apps, before you can start using them, you have to fill in your name, project/company name, and the task. In other words, you’ll have to set aside your work and enter the necessary information first. With Toggl, you can get the job done while tracking the time spent, and deal with all the details later.

In addition, when you use Toggl as a browser extension, a Timer button appears in literally every web app, from Google Docs and other G Suite components to Help Scout. As you work, you constantly see the red Toggl button that reminds you to keep track of time. And with Zapier, you can connect Toggl to hundreds of other online apps and services.

Toggl has functionality for a variety of needs. For example, in the Chrome extension, you can set a time when Toggl should automatically stop tracking time on a task. This ensures that you’ll never leave the timer on overnight. Toggl is also great at tracking downtime, which helps keep counts more accurately. When the app detects that your computer is idle and the counter is ticking, it prompts you to tweak the recorded block. That is, if you get interrupted while you’re working for a 20-minute conversation, Toggl can subtract those 20 minutes from the record. This time tracker even has a special setting for applying the Pomodoro Technique.

All in all, Toggl is one of the best time tracking apps out there due to its ease of use, great functionality, and decent free version. However, if you don’t mind paying for additional features, the Starter package will cost you $9/month per user.

Toggl features:

  • Manual and automatic time count;
  • Billable and non-billable project separation;
  • Report building to monitor the progress and time spent;
  • Team separation into departments and groups;
  • Timers work offline and synchronize when you’re back online.

Timers sync across all connected devices, so you can start using the app on your computer and continue on your phone.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Windows, Web, and browser extension.

TopTracker

TopTracker is a time tracking platform that allows you to track your progress with transparent and intuitive reports. The platform allows you to calculate the time spent by each employee to perform his/her job duties and evaluate staff productivity. The service is not tied to a specific workplace – it can be used both in the office and for remote employee monitoring.

TopTracker is completely free, with no restrictions on the number of users, clients, or projects. It’s available as a desktop and web app. It’s easy to work with – simply create a project, add members to your team, and start tracking your work.

The platform offers many valuable features such as screenshots with a timer, webcam shots, etc. However, you can control how often you take screenshots and even blur them if necessary. For this, simply set your parameters and get to work.

TopTracker features:

  • Monitor from any device. Use TopTracker as a browser-based app or install it on your computer. There are programs for Windows, Mac, and Linux;
  • All employees and projects are managed in a centralized manner in a single window;
  • Suitable for working with freelancers. Confidentiality maintained;
  • Monitor the performance of each connected employee by several indicators. 
  • Detailed reports can be seen in real time.
  • Free of charge.

For freelancers, there are additional features in the system, e.g. invoice issuing, payment request, commission-free payments, etc. Moreover, there are no limitations on the number of users connected and projects launched.

7pace 

7pace is a German on-premise and cloud-based time tracking solution designed for software developers. The full-featured, professional time tracker extends Azure DevOps to include professional time recording, planning, estimating, reporting, and activity checking. 7pace can automate routine tasks and be seamlessly integrated into your existing IT landscape to help dev teams manage approval processes, projects, and users on one platform. 

You can use timesheets, approvals, archives, and reporting dashboards, which can be customized, to get access to group or individual reports. Plus, 7pace has its own integrated security and permission model. Microsoft, DHL, Volvo, IKEA, Motorola, and other companies all use 7pace management capabilities to improve their teams’ productivity.

With 7pace, you will know exactly how much time you spend on your work tasks. This leads to a better evaluation and productive time management. You, as well as the entire team, can see your team members’ individual pace, remaining time, and decreasing burndown.

The Start package ($5/month, billed annually) includes a dedicated account, 1,000 work logs per user, 100 API calls per hour, and community support. A free trial is available.

7pace features:

  • Desktop and mobile version;
  • Powerful integrated API;
  • Keep every project on track and everyone in sync;
  • Great planning, execution, and estimate capabilities for software developers.

Conclusion

If you haven’t tracked time spent on different activities before, we recommend you try the above-listed time trackers. In fact, there are many more, each with its own features, pros, and cons. 

Depending on the specifics of your activity, the type of workplace, the way you interact with your employees and customers, you can pick a tracker that fits you the most and can better optimize your workflow. We believe that the right solution is 50% of your success since, with it, you will know how to properly manage your time.

Adam Hansen