Time tracking - DT3 or specialist software? Any views?

This may be a topic where existing specialised apps are a better solution than DT3. But maybe not.

I need to track time spent for the organization I remote work for, according to different internal projects of the organization. This does not map well onto the time tracker software I have tried which (a) has far too many features and (b) mostly regards projects in a totally different way - more like a way of allocating between several employers. I need maybe 20 project identities, plus another 10 or so for core tasks and planning that has not yet been allocated a code but might get one soon (catching this ahead of time with provisional codes saves going back and re-labelling projects that move from the idea stage to getting funded). This is all in the non-profit sector with funds from a dozen or so different donors, some of the projects are joint funded, mostly not. Some funders support multiple projects.

Typicaly I might do a task like answer an email that takes 15 mins to an hour of my time and I want to quickly record a project name or code for which project should pay. Sometimes I write a report or analysis that takes from a couple of hours to a few days. Again, the time needs allocated to the relevant project. Sometimes a couple of projects share the use of my time so I need to divide the time spent between them. And I need to allocate admin time, background reading and so on. Nothing at all complicated.

My current solution is to just run an open text file as a sort of ticker-tape where I keep a note of what I am doing, that I can than transfer at end of month to a spreadsheet for the calculations. It requires some time, but is very flexible and meets my single-user needs - maybe that’s as good as it gets, but maybe with a few scripts and tags for the work for each project code I could start to timestamp activities a bit better and avoid the inevitable forgetting to start or stop the timer that sometimes happens.

Is anyone using DT3 to do this - an archive search on “time keeping” turns up a few very old references going back to 2008, and a warning that DevonThink is not designed to do everything and some tasks are better done with specialist software.

Any suggestions welcome - including recommendations for other software that does this which can also readily integrate with DT3. Integrating with DT3 where the relevant documents are stored would allow much better tracking of what was done in terms of writing or editing documents for which project and when. But I can live without it…

Thanks very much !


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If I were to do this I would use an Elantro Stream Deck as sot of a taxi meter with buttons to select the active client. Then I would have “On Clock” and “Off Clock” buttons which retrieve the Item Link of the document I am working on and either start or stop the clock. All this would then be automatically logged to a text file or spreadsheet. Most of this would be doable through a combination of DT3 scripting, DT3 smart rules, and/or Keyboard Maestro macros to the Stream Deck.

It would probably be a good bit of work to get it tweaked just right. But if you really need this level of detail, then it probably would be worth it because when done it would be no more distracting for you than a taxi meter is for a taxi driver.

Particularly if you involve Keyboard Maestro in the process, you could also extend the concept so it tracks use of other apps - such as using a browser other than DT3 to do research on a specific project.

Have you looked at…

I use an app called Timelime (“lime,” like the fruit). It serves what I need.

Apple Numbers will insert a date/time stamp from “table -> insert current time”. It’s actually a full date/time stamp. The “insert current date” function is just the date.

The shortcut is control-option-command-T. You could make a work log with a spreadsheet.

This sounds ideal, except that there would be a significant learning curve for me to set it up. It’s perhaps a long-term goal. Thank you.

Thanks to Bluefrog and Amontillado - I had looked at timeEdition some time ago and it wasn’t what I thought I wanted - went to take another look following the suggestion and today the certificate on their website is out of date so didn’t get any further with downloading. But Timelime looks like a possible choice (despite the price and the need to get a web browser to not correct the spelling to timeline). Installed it and will run the 14 day trial to see if it meets my needs. Otherwise an open spreadsheet and shortcut to timestamp might be a useful choice.

Much appreciated…


No problem :slight_smile:

the best software all the time!

Welcome @mrchild

the best software all the time!

I think you mean second best :wink:

PS: It would be nice if it wasn’t subscription-based or offered a one-time purchase.

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agree :sob:

It’s on SetApp…for now…:wink:

Timemator is an automatic option similar to Timing that is a one-time purchase.

I’ve got lots of experience with Timing. It’s very good but can be very fiddly. Also has a ton of features. Not sure how Timemator compares as I haven’t use it before.

This has a list of some options (from a company that makes a tracking app): The 12 best time tracking apps for your Mac in 2023 - Daily for Mac

I use Klokki to track time for individual tasks. Then at the end of the day I keep a spreadsheet in DT with the summary and total time spend. You can also export the tasks from Klokki as csv and keep it in DT for archival purposes.

Previously I was tracking time manually in a text file for each day for individual tasks and adding a summary at the end to the spreadsheet. But I find that having a dedicated time tracking app simplifies things and make it more accurate.