Tracking Time With Time Track Pro

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several time tracking applications in my time here at AppStorm (such an app can be indispensable for a freelancer). Some of these apps are nothing more than glorified spreadsheets, some place timers in your menubar that need to be activated at precisely the right times, and still others promise to sit quietly in the back of the room and make a note of your every move.

This premise may sound creepy, but consider for a moment the value of such data. First, it can provide valuable insight to how you spend (read: waste) your time on your computer. Second, it can take a lot of the headache out of invoicing for freelance projects, allowing you to tally up a very accurate number of hours that you spent on a given project.

Today I’m going to look at Time Track Pro, a time tracking app from the folks at Bloop that proves very useful in both of these regards.

Tracking Time

The lack of operational interface, I think, is precisely what makes Time Track Pro so easy to use. Download it from the Mac App Store and launch it–and that’s it. The app will drop an icon in your menubar from which you can access The Report, aside from which any traditional form of interface is essentially nonexistent.

The amount of time I spend with an app before I review varies, but in this case, I decided that Time Track Pro needed a pretty substantial amount of time to gather data so we would have something to work with. So while we wait, I’ll cover some of the other aspects of the app.

The drop down menu is just about the only non-report interface Time Track Pro has.

The drop down menu is just about the only non-report interface Time Track Pro has.

The first stop on the tour is the drop down from the menubar icon. Your first option is to View Report, but we’ll get to that later (no peeking!). Next up is a manual refresh, and the Preferences menu, which we’ll also get to momentarily. Perhaps the most useful function of this menu, however, is the at-a-glance time tracking information, telling you instantaneously how much time Time Track Pro has monitored so far today.

Finally, the menubar drop down provides a few quick access links to Bloop’s social media presence, as well as to the Time Track Pro webpage.

The Preferences window provides several options for customizing the way Time Track Pro works. This is only for use in rare circumstances, in my opinion, as I found the app to do a bang-up job right out of the box.

Customize tracking behaviors in the preferences window.

Customize tracking behaviors in the preferences window.

The big things to note here are the Log Time, Blacklist, and App List tabs. Under Log Time, you can turn app logging and web logging on and off independently of each other, as well as whether or not Time Track Pro will keep a log file on hand for either list. The Blacklist tab lets you choose which websites the app ignores (for example, I may have felt better about myself if I blacklisted Reddit…). Finally, the App List tabs lets you customize the apps that Time Track Pro keeps track of, similar to the Blacklist tab for web pages.

The other tabs are pretty self explanatory: providing support, allowing you to import data, and to reset the entirety of the logs, respectively.

The Report

This is it, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. This is the big reveal–where we find out exactly how you’ve wasted your time. Have a seat, take a deep breath, and select “View Report” from that menubar drop down.

The Report: by day.

The Report: by day.

The first thing that I noticed upon viewing the report was how much different (cleaner, mostly) it looked from similar apps. After a bit of tinkering, I realized that it was because a lot of other time tracking apps, with regards to web tracking, note every unique URL you visit, whereas Time Track Pro seems to only catalogue top level domains.

On the left side of the report you’ll see a list of the apps you’ve been running, and a breakdown of how long you’ve spent using each one. On the right side, you’ll see a similar list accounting for your web usage. In the middle pane of the report is a more visual breakdown of the day, displaying a list of document usage, as well as comparing your overall usage to your daily averages from the last 7 days.

The Report: by month.

The Report: by month.

If you switch over to month view (via the toolbar button at the top), you’ll see a similar readout to the previous, but for the past month instead of just the past day. You’ll note in the screenshot above that my hour totals are much higher, and a comparison chart is provided for the past 30 days rather than the last week.

Conclusion

Time Track Pro is an elegant time tracking solution that lowers the bar of entry for such apps. With virtually zero setup and easy-to-absorb data reporting, I can confidently say that this app is most likely (out of the apps I’ve tried thus far) to actually have an impact on my app/web usage, as well as the invoicing process for certain projects.

There are, as with most apps, ways to make the app a bit more streamlined and reliable, but on the whole, Time Track Pro gets a recommendation from me. What is your favorite time tracking app?


Summary

Time Track Pro is an elegant solution for logging where and how you spent your time on your computer.

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  • B30

    … and at the end of the day, this message shows up:

    Send a/the report to Apple

    (just joking)

  • koiyu

    Can those Facebook/Twitter/Promo buttons be disabled from the settings?

    I’d rather not like to see three ads (four, if you count the button for homepage) every time I press a menubar button of a *paid* app. :-(

    Seriously—isn’t that what “About” window is for?

    • Scott Danielson

      You do make a valid point.

      Unfortunately, they can’t be removed in it’s current state, but keep in mind that the app doesn’t have a dock icon or menus. Everything the app does is contained within that menubar icon drop-down.

      That said, I agree that there’s probably a cleaner way to present that.

  • Ian

    While I hate to say that something is better than something else without trying both, I have to say that Time Sink by Many Tricks is hard to beat. It is 1/2 the price of Time Track Pro, and just as good (if not better). The interface is sleek and sexy, and the ability to create custom “pools” of applications or documents is a godsend when organizing multiple clients and projects. Take a look if you are looking for other great apps.

  • Brett

    I’ve tried a lot of time-tracking apps. I’m not a freelancer, but still need to track hours spent doing not only project-specific tasks, but meetings, calls, writing, design, whatever.

    There seem to be a lot of these auto-track apps (not this elegant, true) — but how useful are they, ultimately, for those who don’t spend every minute at their Mac? I use my MBP for many things, but also use a PC at work, and have meetings, calls, brainstorm time, and other stuff that isn’t done in a Mac app.

    Seems like more work to go back and sort through all the auto-captured activities to find the work-related ones? Or is it easier than I’m making it in my head?

    The time-tracking app I’ve settled on so far is called TimeTagger, by Matterform. It’s not very OSX-looking and has a dated feel to it (as does the website), but is easy to use. I like being able to sub-click on the elements of a project — “BigProject, Meeting” or “BigProject, Writing/Design” etc., then add a quick note.

    I always enjoy reading the productivity & time tracking reviews on AppStorm. Thanks for a great site!

    • http://www.alessandrobarbieri.net Alessandro

      I agree.

      That’s why I started using iBiz that does the same thing, but track also the time you won’t spend in front of your mac.

    • mrsean2k

      Thanks for mentioning TimeTagger – I’m in the middle of an extended review of time trackers for my own use, and I would never have spotted or included this. It matches how I manage projects in gmail, and I love the idea of interruptions.

  • Dada

    Interesting tool.
    If I could add just a little tip on monitoring your employees’ productivity by using a time tracking software. There are lots of advantages of it, especially for business owners. They would know where the staff’s time has gone; they could identify what areas that need improvements, etc. And for the employee, he’ll spend his time wisely and he’ll be more focus on work.
    But some employee monitoring software might just disappoint you. You might expect the best of results from it. You should know that picking what tool to use is just as important as hiring employees. It’s better if you’d read reviews or articles like this and do some research first before committing to that particular software you’ve been eyeing.
    Time Track Pro sounds awesome, I’m gonna check it out!

  • gail

    Is Projects for Mac by Bloopt an upgrade to Time Tracker Pro?

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