TimeBoxed: The “Getting Things Done” Timer

Today I’ll be taking a look at a simple timer application – TimeBoxed. A whole range of advanced time tracking and management software is available for OS X, but you may not necessarily have a need for the complex features offered by these tools.

TimeBoxed offers a remarkably simple solution for ensuring you stick within a time limit for any given task. After entering the desired time, a progress bar illustrates how long you have left to get the job done. The idea is remarkably straight forward, but TimeBoxed impresses on account of the wide variety of notification options available and the polished user experience.

Setting a Timer

Changing timer duration

Changing timer duration

Before you get started, you’ll need to input the length of time you’d like TimeBoxed to use. It’s simply a case of selecting the hours, minutes and seconds needed. This may vary between tasks, so changing the timer length will likely be a regular occurrence.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to save a set of favorite or commonly used times – something that would be great to see in a future version.

Notification Settings

After selecting the timer duration, there are a bunch of different options for how TimeBoxed notifies you that time has run out. These can be visual or audio alerts (or a combination of both):

Altering Timer Settings

Altering Timer Settings

Visual Alerts

  • Animate the window: A slightly unusual effect, which causes the timer window to pulse
  • Bounce dock icon: The standard OS X notification!
  • Flash the screen: Good for really capturing your attention
  • Growl: Integration with any Growl notification method, with a customizable message and title

Audio Alerts

  • Play sound: You can select from a number of default OS X sounds
  • Speak: Probably my favorite notification. Have a voice speak the time that’s elapsed, and tell you to move on to something else! The message and voice style can be customized.

TimeBoxed also supports integration with AppleScript, allowing you to run a script of your choice after a given amount of time.

Running a Timer

After setting a timer running, the window will display a progress bar of how much time is remaining. This begins green, then gradually moves through yellow to red as time expires. It can be set to float above all other windows if you’d like to keep track of how long you have left:

Moving your mouse over the timer shows a quick menu, allowing the timer to be paused, restarted, or configured with different settings:

Running and re-starting a timer

Running and re-starting a timer


One of the reasons I like TimeBoxed is the simplicity it brings to time tracking. It provides a very basic tool, which can be used for any number of different things. Whether you’re trying to be more productive by limiting the time you spend on a task, or cooking a scrambled egg via USB, it’s a great way to see visually how long you have left.

I’m aware that a huge array of different “countdown timers” are available for free, which will undoubtedly make the $20 price tag of TimeBoxed seem reasonably high. It goes some way towards justifying this by providing such a wide range of notification options, and an interesting visual timeline design.

If you like the look of TimeBoxed, stay tuned to Twitter as we’ll be giving away a few copies shortly!