Complete Guide to Desktop Time Tracking

Written by Asim Qureshi
By Asim Qureshi, CEO di Jibble

Hi, I’m Asim Qureshi, the CEO and co-founder of Jibble, a cloud-based time and attendance software. I have several years of experience in building and scaling software products and teams across various industries and markets. Before I founded Jibble, I worked as a VP at Morgan Stanley for six years. I’m passionate about helping businesses improve their productivity and performance through technology and smart time management practices.


The evolution of time tracking, stemming from billable hours in the 1960s, has been quite the journey. From scribbling hours on paper to juggling spreadsheets and venturing into early phone apps and web-based tools, time tracking has come a long way before landing on the desktop.

But what drives people to opt for desktop time tracking, and what advantages does it offer? The convenience factor is right there – it’s readily available on your computer, eliminating the need for fuss or hassle. No more jotting down hours, opening browsers, or toggling between different tools. It’s swift, precise, and flaunts additional features like offline functionality, ensuring your work data stays secure on your device. 

Here, I want to explore with you, how desktop time tracking software can transform the way you manage your work hours and boost productivity. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into time tracking waters or you’re on the hunt to streamline your existing workflow, you’ll find valuable insights into the benefits, features, and best practices for using desktop time tracking software effectively.
Hands typing on laptop keyboard.

This Article Covers:

What is Desktop Time Tracking?

Desktop time tracking software is a specialized tool designed to monitor and document the time users allocate to specific tasks, projects, or activities directly from your computer interface. It meticulously records and organizes the time you spend on different tasks, projects, apps, or websites directly from your computer.

In contrast to your web experience, where you access time tracking tools through a browser, desktop time tracking involves downloading dedicated software onto your computer. Once it’s installed, It often positions itself as a widget on your taskbar or menu bar for easy access. The icon can also be found among your other frequently used tools, allowing you to launch and manage time tracking activities effectively. 

These tools usually have features like automatic time tracking, which makes keeping an eye on work hours super easy. They also allow manual input and let you categorize tasks, which makes organizing your work a breeze. By integrating itself within your desktop environment, the time tracking software becomes a part of your daily workspace, offering real-time insights and easy access to manage your productivity without interrupting your workflow. Desktop time tracking software offers advantages for freelancers, remote workers, teams, and businesses seeking improved time management, precise client billing, productivity measurement, and data-informed decision-making to boost overall effectiveness.

And guess what? No need to stress about compatibility; desktop time tracking software is compatible with both Mac and Windows. So, no matter your computer choice, it smoothly becomes a part of your setup, making your work life easier without any extra hassle.

What is the Difference Between Web Time Tracking and Desktop Time Tracking Software?

The main difference between web time tracking and desktop time tracking software is in how you access and use the time tracking features. With web time tracking, you can access it through a web browser from various devices with an internet connection. It’s platform-independent, so it works on both Windows and macOS, as well as on mobile devices with web browsers. This makes it ideal for real-time collaboration among team members, particularly for remote work and distributed teams. The web app receives automatic updates to ensure you’re always using the latest version with new features.

On the other hand, desktop time tracking requires the installation of the desktop app on your computer. This app is designed for specific operating systems like Windows and macOS. It allows you to track time even when you’re offline, making it a good choice for situations with limited internet access. Desktop time tracking allows you to explore various features like idle tracking, integrating with other desktop-based software, and other unique features.

5 Reasons Why You Need Desktop Time Tracking Software

  • Enhanced Efficiency and Accountability: Time tracking serves as a fundamental tool for comprehending how you distribute your time among various tasks. By identifying and addressing time-wasting activities, you can substantially enhance your overall efficiency.
  • Precise Payroll Management: For businesses that bill clients based on the hours worked, time tracking software plays a pivotal role in maintaining accurate records. It guarantees that your invoicing aligns with the actual work performed, avoiding both underbilling and overbilling errors.
  • Optimized Project Management: Time tracking enables you to effectively allocate tasks, which, in turn, aids in meeting project deadlines and ensures that your time is utilized efficiently. This feature is indispensable for streamlining project workflows.
  • Stringent Cost Management: Time tracking provides a close monitoring of labor expenses, which is essential for effective budgeting and expense control. This holds true whether you are managing a business, overseeing a project, or handling personal financial matters. It not only prevents the exceeding of budgeted costs but also promotes the efficient utilization of available resources.
  • Compliance with Labor Laws: Adhering to labor laws is of paramount importance to avoid legal ramifications. By accurately recording employee work hours through time tracking, you can proactively mitigate potential legal issues associated with wage and hour compliance.

How to Set Up Desktop Time Tracking Software

Setting up desktop time tracking software on Jibble’s desktop app is a simple process. Here are the steps to begin:

  1. Download and Install the Desktop App: Visit Jibble’s official website, download the desktop app, and follow the installation instructions to set it up on your  Mac or Windows operating system.
  2. Sign In or Create an Account: Open the Jibble desktop app, sign in with your existing Jibble account, or create a new one if needed.
  3. Configure Your Preferences: Once logged in, access the app’s settings to customize your preferences. This may include setting your time zone, adjusting notifications, and configuring specific work-related settings.
  4. Add Projects and Tasks: If your work involves distinct projects and tasks, input them into the app. This step ensures accurate time tracking and proper allocation of hours to specific activities.
  5. Start Tracking Time: Initiate time tracking by clicking the “Clock In” or “Start” button within the app. The timer will begin recording your working hours.
  6. Pause and Resume: You have the option to pause the timer when taking breaks or stepping away from your computer. Simply resume tracking when you return to work.
  7. Clock Out: To conclude your work session, click “Clock Out” or “Stop” to stop the timer, which will record your total work hours.
  8. Explore Additional Features: Explore other interesting features, such as tracking idle time, taking screenshots, or integrating with other software.

Features to Look for in Desktop Time Tracking

When you’re looking at desktop time tracking options, there are some important features to keep in mind that can make your time management more effective:

  • Offline Mode: This is a must-have feature for situations where you might not always have a stable internet connection. It allows you to keep tracking your work hours even when the internet is unreliable.
  • Screenshots: Time tracking with screenshots provides visual records of what you were working on at different times. This can be really useful for tasks where it’s important to keep a clear record of what you’ve been doing.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts for Clocking In and Out: These are shortcuts that let you quickly start and stop tracking your time. They save time by eliminating the need to enter everything manually.
  • Automatic Project and Task Entry: In the future, time tracking software is expected to become smarter. It will automatically fill in your most recent projects and tasks, so you don’t have to type them in. This will save you time and reduce the chance of mistakes.
  • Automatic Clock-In on Startup: Some tools can start tracking your time automatically as soon as you turn on your computer. This makes sure you don’t forget to start tracking your work.
  • Idle Detection: This feature notices when you’re not actively using your computer and can pause the time tracking during breaks or when you step away. It helps you stay accountable for moments of inactivity and keeps your time records accurate.
  • App Usage Tracking: App tracking shows you how you spend your time on different applications. This can be really helpful for seeing which apps you use the most and how these apps affects your productivity.
  • Mouse Clicks and Keyboard Strokes Tracking: You get to identify productivity and usage patterns through mouse clicks and keyboard strokes. This feature records what you do with your mouse and keyboard, giving you detailed information on how you use your computer. It’s useful for understanding your work habits and how you manage your time.

What is the Future of Desktop Time Tracking?

As technology evolves continuously, the future of desktop time tracking is promising, offering various improvements. Here’s what you can expect from desktop time tracking in future:

  • Behavioral Analysis: In the coming future, tools for monitoring employees during work hours are getting smarter. They won’t just track tasks but also pay attention to how employees are working. They’ll do this in various ways, offering a comprehensive view of employee behavior.
    These advanced tools won’t solely focus on what tasks are completed; they’ll also notice any sudden changes in how employees typically work, like irregular hours or shifts in their usual work routines, alerting employers to these changes as they happen. Incorporating behavioral analysis in time tracking offers a proactive way for employers to detect any unusual changes in how work is done, helping to maintain smooth operations and prevent disruptions. For employees, these tools provide timely support by identifying deviations in work habits, allowing for quick assistance to overcome challenges and improve efficiency.
  • Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics: In time tracking software, predictive analytics works like a crystal ball that studies how you’ve worked in the past to predict future trends. It helps spot times when your productivity might dip or tasks that might take longer, giving you a heads-up to fix things before they become big issues.
    On the other hand, prescriptive analytics takes it a step further. It doesn’t just tell you what might happen; it gives you tips on what to do about it. It could suggest ways to manage your time better, recommend tweaks to your work routine, or even propose automating some tasks to help you work smarter. When combined in time tracking software, this duo of analytics would serve as your personal time management consultant, reviewing your past work patterns, anticipating future trends, and providing guidance on improving future outcomes.
  • Wearable Technology: Wearable tech, like smartwatches, is poised to transform remote work. These devices do more than just track fitness; they offer real-time insights into your daily activities, especially when you’re working from home.
    The combination of wearable tech, like smartwatches, with desktop time tracking software is set to change how we manage our daily routines. Imagine these devices going beyond just tracking computer use. They could measure things like your movements, heart rate, and stress levels, painting a fuller picture of your day. This mix of data provides a more complete view, not just of  time spent on your computer but of all your activities, even when you’re taking breaks.Bringing together info from wearables and desktop tracking could mean really accurate time monitoring. It’s like having a detailed map of our daily habits. And imagine this: adjusting your work routine in real time based on how active you are. This adaptability might help us work smarter, improving how efficiently we use our time and even boosting our well-being.

Final Thoughts

It’s truly remarkable to witness the evolution of time tracking—from pen and paper to the convenience of computer-installed software. As you know, desktop time tracking software serves as a practical method for overseeing attendance and efficiently managing work hours, and we’re yet to see all it has to offer. As this technology progresses, there’s an exciting array of advancements to anticipate in desktop time tracking.

Do you want to learn more about desktop time tracking features? Our article on how to upgrade desktop time tracking integrations can help you understand how to set up integrations. Additionally, you can discover time tracking capabilities by reading our article about the 8 Best Practices for Desktop Time Tracking.