Simple application usage timer?
December 26, 2007 3:50 PM   Subscribe

As part of my new-year-self-improvement kick, I'd like to track the amount of time I spend browsing the web. Is there an app that will track how long a single application (in this case, Opera) is open each day, and show the total time somewhere on the desktop?

I thought it would be easy to find something like this, but I haven't had any luck.

There are lots of internet usage monitors which track the connection itself, but that won't do it, since I need to leave my email client connected throughout the day. There's a Firefox extension called TimeTracker that would probably work...if I used Firefox. And there are software metering applications that are designed for IT administrators, but they are intended for multiple computers and are way overkill for my needs.

I expect this would be quick to whip up as a Google Desktop gadget or an Opera widget, but alas, I don't have the coding skills to monitor the start and stop of a windows process, calculate the elapsed time and display it.

Thoughts, anyone?
posted by ad_hominem to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Google says TimeAnalyzer (shareware).
posted by blacklite at 4:04 PM on December 26, 2007

I think rescuetime may be what you're looking for. In addition to tracking general internet usage, rescuetime should also help you track lots of other things that may be relevant to your productivity kick.

Good luck!
posted by eisenkr at 4:23 PM on December 26, 2007

I have personally used TimeSnapper ( It's commercial software but you can evaluate it for free. One of its features is a report that shows total usage by application.
posted by drinkcoffee at 4:31 PM on December 26, 2007

It may be a bit too "Web 2.0," but Wakoopa also tracks how long you use each application, and compiles it (along with the usage of its other users) online.
posted by pzarquon at 4:56 PM on December 26, 2007

Thanks, folks! They're all cool productivity apps, but none of them seem to have the key piece I'm looking for: a persistent desktop (or systray) display that tells me how long I've used a particular application today. I'd like to be able to look and say, "I've used Opera for 1 hour and 45 minutes today; I've only got 15 minutes left in my allotment for today."

Any other ideas?
posted by ad_hominem at 5:42 PM on December 26, 2007

timetracker for firefox shows you how much time you've used it for the day in a clock at the bottom of the browser (...and i was doing so well at keeping it under two hours for a while there...).
posted by nevers at 5:58 PM on December 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Check out the dozens of items under the time-tracker tag at Lifehacker. You might find something you like.
posted by exhilaration at 7:56 PM on December 26, 2007

Just to clarify, I'm assuming by your reference to the system tray that you're looking for a Windows app that does this?
First, this.

Also, I'd suggest searching for parental controls that will do what you want (perhaps also using the search term "quota"). If you found a parental control program that enforces a four-hour limit on use of a browser, etc., that would fulfill the need you're describing to us.
posted by WCityMike at 9:24 PM on December 26, 2007

Seconding eisenkr's suggestion of rescuetime. I've been using for some time now and the analysis you can get once you've tagged all your applications and websites is very nice - and often depressing.
posted by your mildly obsessive average geek at 12:47 AM on December 27, 2007

Another program to look at is TimeSprite. While it doesn't actually display the amount of time you've used an application in the system tray, it only takes two clicks to get that info. I think it does the rest of what you want.

I know it's frustrating when there are only programs out there that do something close to what you want, but not quite right. I use TimeSprite myself, and that's my situation. It's good enough for what I want, and comes closer than anything else I found, so it's what I end up being stuck with.
posted by Emanuel at 5:01 PM on December 27, 2007

Thanks, everyone. These are all very interesting applications, and I'll try them out.
I think I'll also start chatting up developers and see if I can get one to build exactly what I'm looking for. Would there be other uses for an application that simply times how long a particular executable has been running in a given time period?
posted by ad_hominem at 10:29 AM on December 28, 2007

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