If you share your PC with your family, do you ever wonder how much and for how long it is used? Free software, Manictime will give you the answers.
Launch a web browser and go to Manictime’s website. When the website has loaded, click the large Download Free Version button.
At the next screen, click the ManicTime.exe link. If the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and then choose a location for the downloaded file.
When the download has finished find and double-click the file to start the installation wizard.
Follow the instructions to install the program, accepting all the default options (unless you have cause to do otherwise).
When the installation is finished, give Manictime a moment to sort itself out.
If it doesn’t launch automatically, look for its icon in the Notification Area at the bottom right of the Windows Taskbar and double-click it.
When the licence screen appears, select the Standard (free) version and click OK. When the warning screen appears, click Yes to continue and then click OK to confirm your choice.
Manictime displays four ‘lanes’ at the top of the screen to show how long the PC has been used, the programs that have been launched and the documents worked on.
The fourth lane is reserved for Tags, which we’ll explore later (see Step 8).
In the panels underneath, Manictime lists the various things it has logged – for example, looking at a website or starting a program – together with a percentage breakdown of how the time has been divided between the programs currently running, color-coded to match the bars in the lanes above.
Here’s what the Manictime window looks like after a few hours
The timeline along the top is now filled with horizontal bars split into vertical sections, each of which represents a slice of time spent using the PC, running a particular program or working on a particular document.
Notice that the day is broken up into time slots and that there’s a slider – currently greyed out – in the middle of the screen. On full days this slider can be dragged left or right to change the timeslot displayed in the top window.
Click in one of the lanes – Computer Usage, Applications or Documents – and the content of the columns underneath will change to reflect the choice.
Hover the mouse pointer over any of the vertical bars and a pop-up menu appears with more details of what was happening during that moment in the timeline.
Alternatively, Select the Applications lane and then drag the mouse pointer across part of a bar in that section to highlight it and then let go of the button.
Right-click on the highlight and choose Zoom to selection from the pop-up menu.
Having zoomed in, roll the mouse pointer along the Applications bar to see pop-up boxes that indicate clearly what was happening at a particular time: these detail when a particular task was started and stopped.
This is a great way to see how much time has been spent on a particular project, say.
When done, click the magnifying glass icon to the left of the timeline to return to the main Manictime view.
Use Manictime’s filters to search for specific types of activity, rather than hunting them out using the pointer.
In this screen we’ve typed Word into the Filter box at the bottom and then pressed Enter.
In response, Manictime displays our Word usage during this particular day as a series of blue bars in the Applications lane.
Interestingly, although it feels like we’ve spent a lot of the time writing, we really haven’t. Manictime is good for revealing information like this.
To see the computer’s usage over a longer period click the Statistics tab at the top and then, at the next screen, click the Top Applications button just above the upper window.
Next, open the dropdown menu next to the ‘Show top’ setting and choose 10.
Manictime will now display the 10 applications used most often during the selected time period.
Remember the Tags lane, mentioned earlier? Click the Day tab at the top to return to the main view.
Here we’ve used the techniques described in Steps 7 and 5 to find the time we’ve spent using Microsoft Word and then zoomed in to have a closer look.
Next, we can drag the mouse pointer across the time period to highlight it, and then click the Add Tag button. When the dialogue box opens, we type in a name for our tag techfeedpro and then click the OK button.
Here we’ve highlighted several more applications and tagged those with the word techfeedpro; we’ve also added a new tag called ‘Admin’ in the same way as we did in the previous step.
The Tags lane at the top of the screen is now starting to become populated.
By using tags we can ‘cut across’ different applications and see how much overall time we’ve spent on projects to do with techfeedpro.
If we were to flip back to the Statistics page we’d be able to view a chart for tagged items as well.