Track Your Time Down to the Second — Mac Apps to Use With Timing
Ever wondered if Timing can tell you not only which app you were using, but also what you were doing with it? Well, Timing’s pretty nifty at integrating itself with your work — here’s how.
Imagine a world where you can tell exactly what you’ve been using your time for… down to the very second. How long did writing that email take? Did you procrastinate much on Facebook? Have you spent enough time working on all your projects? Sounds pretty efficient, right? The good news is, it’s not just something you have to imagine — or even go out of your way to achieve. From documents to communication tools, if you’re using Timing, then you could (and should) be tracking the minutiae of your day.
In fact, Timing can track most apps that conform to macOS standards, meaning that there’s no setup or manual integrations for you. We’re going to run through the most common Timing-supported apps you might find yourself using, as well as some little tips and tricks to make using them even more efficient and seamless. For all these apps, Timing can track exactly what you have been doing, which makes it even easier for you to review your day and create adequate automation rules.
Tracking Documents and Files
Most “document-based” apps are compatible with Timing, and if you’re not sure, then check if it has a file icon in its title bar, like each of the ones below:
This means that Timing will be able to track the exact file you’ve been working on in these apps from the beginning without taking any additional measures.
Some of the most common apps this will work with include:
- Microsoft Office apps (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.)
- LibreOffice and OpenOffice
- Adobe apps (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.)
On the Review screen, you’ll see a “Paths” card. This is how these apps will show up there:
As you can see, Timing will list all the files you worked on! And if you’d like to see what you worked on at a particular time, use your mouse to hover over an event on the timeline. Timing will show you all the details, like so:
The “Details” screen will show you the full paths of all these documents:
Why is this useful? It means that instead of assigning all time spent in a particular app at once, you can instead assign only a portion of that time to a specific project. So if you’re using the same app for multiple clients and want it to automatically assign to certain clients depending on the path recognised, it’s easy enough to do so. Create a rule for automatically assigning any paths to a project by dragging it from the “Paths” card on the “Review” screen (not the “Details” screen) onto a Project, while keeping the Option/Alt (⌥) key pressed as explained in this article. If you want to create more complex rules and filters for what goes where or if you want to edit the existing rules, you can find how to do that here. And if you are a developer, you will be delighted to know that Timing supports tracking time in many developer apps.
We’ve made a compatibility list for more document-based apps which work with Timing, but it’s by no means finite. If an app is a good macOS citizen, chances are it’s supported right out of the box — even though we haven’t tried it! Similarly, Timing will also track the path of the current directory if you are in the Finder application.
Tracking Your Path Across the Internet
I know that this is where I lose most time when working. It’s so easy to have a thought pop into your head, open a new tab, and get side-tracked. After all, a search engine and a world of knowledge are literally just a click away. Timing, though, tracks this. Not in a Big Brother monitoring way, as you’ll never need to worry about your privacy with Timing, but the app will automatically record which sites you’ve been visiting. You can find this in the “Websites” card on the Review screen, including their icons:
Meanwhile, on the “Details” screen, you’ll be able to view the full URLs of the pages you visited. So if you’re reading multiple articles, for example, you’ll know which you spent most time on:
Just like when you’re using a document-based app, if you hover over the timeline, you can see the full URL of the page you were on. So you can get really detailed with your knowledge of what you were working on at a specific time:
And if you’d like to create a rule for a website, Option/Alt (⌥)-drag its domain from the “Websites” card onto the corresponding project. If you’d only like to assign specific website sub-paths or URLs, see here.
As you may have already seen from the screenshots, you’re not limited to only one browser with Timing. URL tracking is supported for all the common browsers:
- Timing can track time in Safari
- Google Chrome time tracking (including Chrome Canary and Chromium)
- Firefox (including the Developer Edition)
- Brave Browser
- Microsoft Edge
- Yandex Browser
The only major browser not supported is Opera, which doesn’t allow external applications access to information about which URLs you are visiting.
Communication (it’s Time to Take Control of Your Inbox!)
If you read our article about how to be more productive, you’ll remember us mentioning that you need to schedule email time, rather than it being a constant distraction. The integration of your inbox and Timing is fantastic for keeping you accountable, as it’s very easy to tell how long you’ve spent on your emails — not to mention seeing if they were all important emails. If you’re not using the urgent important matrix, why not?
If you are reading an email in Mail.app, Timing will track the following information:
- The account you received the email with
- The folder that email is in (including parent folders)
- The sender’s information
- The email’s subject
In action, that looks like this:
Please note that this only applies to time spent reading emails, as Mail.app does not provide this kind of information when writing an email. While you write an email, Timing will simply track the new email’s subject.
As always, you can create rules by option-dragging from the Review screen. See this article on some email-specific tweaks, such as automatically assigning all emails from a particular domain to a project.
But what if you are using Outlook to read your email? Luckily, that is supported as well:
Plus if you view a specific calendar event, contact, task, or note in Outlook, Timing can track those as well:
If you’re part of a team or have regular calls with clients, you might be spending a lot of time on communication other than email. Don’t worry, Timing can also track time spent in specific chats on Slack, iMessage, and Skype. If you want to track, for instance, time in specific channels in Slack, this is perfectly possible:
For Slack, you can assign individual teams and channels to particular projects by dragging them from the Paths card onto a project. Just follow the standard way of creating rules. (See this article for more Slack-specific information.)
iMessage is also tracked, so even if you’re just shooting off a quick message, Timing will track it for you:
And, of course, Skype can be tracked so you’ll know who you’ve been talking to, and for how long — whether it’s a voice call or text messages:
Like in the other sections, we don’t limit ourselves to only the most common apps, but rather we like to keep ahead of the game where possible. Timing supports tracking active chats in Amazon Chime, a chat and voice call app from Amazon. How’s that for inte’great’ed?
If you’re a writer, videographer, or maybe just someone who takes a lot of notes, we have you covered. In case you haven’t realized yet, Timing really has a lot of integrations!
You might know by now that Timing and Ulysses work well together, since we collaborated with the Ulysses team in the past. In fact, we wrote an entire article on Timing’s integration with Ulysses. Timing tracks which sheet you edit in Ulysses, including the folder that contains it. We won’t bore you with all the details again, so if you want to get into the real gritty details of how to make the most of integrating Timing and Ulysses, check out the article.
Speaking of writing apps, no list would be complete without the organizational app, Evernote. You guessed it; Timing will track that too! You can track how much time you spend on a particular note and the notebook that contains it, and of course make sure that you assign the correct rule to the correct notebook, automatically assigning it to the relevant project.
I think it’s been at least ten minutes since I’ve mentioned my epiphany about emptying your mind of superfluous information, so I’ll just throw it out there again. If you aren’t already making it your standard to have everything in note form, rather than in your brain, you should really start doing it. You and your stress levels can thank me later.
Final Cut Pro X
If you are editing videos in Final Cut, you’d probably like to know which projects you worked on, not to mention which events and clips you used. Luckily, Timing is on it. Editing videos is a long and detailed process, but luckily careful tracking (that all happens behind the scenes) ensures you won’t get distracted by time tracking while editing that blockbuster.
If you have a clip selected in your project browser like this:
It will show up in Timing like this:
Whether you’re reporting back to a client or just organizing your own thoughts on what you’ve used, this is bound to come in handy if you work with video a lot. And if you’d like to learn more about how Timing tracks time in Final Cut Pro and similar apps, make sure to check out our page on time tracking for video producers.
If you’re a techy whose response to ‘do you use Terminal.app?’ is ‘of course! How else would I get anything done?’ then don’t worry, Timing tracks that too. If it confuses the heck out of you, then read this. Timing will try to extract the current working directory from your Terminal window’s title. If that doesn’t seem to work out automatically, please follow the instructions in our corresponding support article.
Once extracted, the paths will show up as usual on the “Review” screen:
Can you see those paths without a folder symbol? Those are actually in an SSH session on a different machine — Timing will track those, too!
On the Details screen, you can also see the full Terminal window title at the time:
Once again, don’t forget to apply your rules so your projects get sorted correctly. Use the usual controls to do so, and if you find that you’ve sorted some incorrectly, it’s easy enough to edit them.
So there you have it! These are all the kinds of apps Timing can track in a super-detailed fashion for you. Knowing this should let you track and categorize your time in even more detail in the future, to ensure no productive time gets lost. If you have an app that you think might integrate, track some time while using it, and more than likely you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Now, go forth and be productive!
Start integrating your workflow with Timing today by downloading a free 14-day trial, and see how much more productive your day can become.