ActivTrak vs RescueTime: A Detailed Comparison

by Time Doctor
ActivTrak vs RescueTime

Want a comprehensive ActivTrak vs RescueTime comparison?

Tracking time spent on tasks and projects is one of the best ways to gauge and monitor productivity.

ActivTrak and RescueTime are both great tools for this, but they do have some significant functional differences. 

ActivTrak is great for monitoring employee activity, while RescueTime helps you improve your employees’ time management skills.

So which one is ideal for your business?

In this article, we’ll highlight the differences between ActivTrak vs RescueTime and compare their best features. We’ll also suggest a powerful alternative for the two.

This Article Contains:

(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)

What is ActivTrak?


ActivTrak is a productivity tracking app used by businesses to record employee work hours and gain valuable insights into team performance.

ActivTrak focuses on:

  • Remote Employee Monitoring: Discover what employees are doing and how. 
  • Productivity Monitoring: Learn employee performance patterns and optimize workflow.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Ensure operational efficiency, compliance, and productivity. 

What is RescueTime?


RescueTime is a SaaS (Software as a Service) tool that focuses on time tracking. Its distraction blocking features also make it a good option for freelancers and solopreneurs

You can also use it to improve your personal productivity. 

RescueTime enables you to:

  • Automatically track time. 
  • Set productivity goals.
  • Stay focused on a task or project by blocking distracting websites.

ActivTrak vs RescueTime Comparison

Due to COVID-19, almost every in-house team transformed into a remote team overnight – leading to the rise in popularity of activity tracking tools like ActivTrak and RescueTime.

While these tools do share similarities, their functions are quite different. 

ActivTrak is more of a computer monitoring software, and RescueTime is a productivity management tool. 

Let’s have a look at how ActivTrak and RescueTime compare against each other:

1. Time Tracking

Whether you’re tracking employee activity or a freelancer’s billable hours – time tracking is a vital business process. 

That’s why you need to choose the right monitoring tool to help you track time.

Here’s how these two employee monitoring software help you do just that:

A. ActivTrak

ActivTrak is an automatic time tracking tool that runs quietly in the background as you work. It senses keyboard and mouse activity and records data accordingly.

Employers can keep track of:

  • Idle time
  • Attendance 
  • Paid time off
  • Late shifts, etc.

You can access all the information relating to time tracking from the Dashboard or Activity Log. 

1) Dashboard

This is the first thing you’ll see the moment you sign in.

The Dashboard shows a quick overview of all your team’s activities. 

Here you can:

  • View and compare how employees spend their time filtering by productive and unproductive categories.
  • Discover how much time employees spend on using tools relevant to work (in other words – how much time they spend working).
  • See how much time employees spend on their most visited websites and applications.
dashboard activtrak
2) Activity Log

You can view all time tracking information here.

It provides a breakdown of your team’s working hours, so employers can go back and view what an employee was doing at a particular time. 

navigating activtrak dashboard

B. RescueTime

Because RescueTime uses an automatic time tracker, you don’t have to start or stop the timer to commence recording. 

RescueTime will track all your activities even if you forget to start tracking time. You can turn off this feature if you want to protect your privacy.

Premium plan users can even record offline activities in their activity log.

Rescuetime time tracking

Quick Recap

Both apps are automatic time trackers; however, ActivTrak provides more detailed time tracking information than RescueTime.

2. Productivity Management

One of the main reasons for adopting employee monitoring software is to improve productivity.

Let’s see how these two activity monitoring tools help you manage team productivity:

A. ActivTrak 

With ActivTrak, it’s easy to see how your team is performing. 

You can gauge which tasks are fruitful so that you can do more of them. You can also identify unproductive processes that you can phase out.

1) Productivity Reports

There are two features accessible under this category:

  • Bar chart: Visualizes your team’s idle time, productive and unproductive activities, etc.
  • Single Day Report: View an aggregate of the day’s activities.
activtrak productivity report
2) The Daily Team Pulse

Here’s what you can do with this feature:

  • View team productivity. 
  • See each user’s availability status. 
  • View what tasks/activities your employees are doing in real-time.
activtrak daily team pulse

B. RescueTime 

Here’s how RescueTime approaches productivity management:

1) Categorize Common Activities

RescueTime lets you categorize your common activities based on how productive they’re for your business. 

You can categorize activities as:

  • Very productive
  • Productive
  • Neutral
  • Distracting
  • Very distracting

This feature is only accessible on the Premium plan.

rescuetime categories
2) Goal Setting

With RescueTime, you can set goals for the time you spend on various tasks.

For example: ‘Spend 5 hours on writing.’

You can also receive notifications or updates informing you how close you’re to a goal.

Note: This feature is only available in the Premium version.

rescuetime alerts

Quick Recap

ActivTrak’s features enable managers to measure team productivity. RescueTime allows individual employees to manage their own productivity.

3. Distraction Management

Whether you’re working from home or the office, you’ll have to deal with distractions.

As more companies adopt remote work strategies, remote employee monitoring software can help manage this issue.

Here’s how ActivTrak and RescueTime fare when it comes to distraction management:

A) ActivTrak 

The website blocking feature allows you to prevent your employees from visiting certain websites. 

For example, you can block social media sites during work hours.

activtrak web and app monitor

B) RescueTime 

This is how RescueTime handles distractions:

1) FocusTime

RescueTime has a distraction management feature called FocusTime. 

With this feature, you can:

  • Block distracting websites like social media sites or news so that you can focus better. 
  • Set daily limits on apps and sites
  • Use the Calendar to schedule when you want to block all websites.
Rescuetime Focused Time Tracking
2) Alerts

The Alerts feature gives you on-screen notifications for various productivity standards determined by you. 

For example, you can set a pop-up message to appear when you’ve spent more than 30 minutes on unproductive websites.

Note: Alerts are only available in the Premium package.

rescuetime alerts

Quick Recap

Both ActivTrak and RescueTime can help you block distracting websites. However, RescueTime offers a ‘FocusTime’ mode where you can block certain software and apps for a specified period.

4. Reports

Reports can help you measure productivity and improve performance. 

Let’s take a look at ActivTrak and RescueTime’s reports: 

A. ActivTrak 

The ActivTrak tracking software offers numerous reports, such as:

1) Time Reports
  • Single Day Productivity: Shows what your team does in a single day. 
  • Idle Time/Passive Time: Indicates time when the app recorded no keyboard or mouse activity. 
2) Web and App Usage Reports
  • Activity Log: Displays all accessed websites and apps opened. It also shows login and logout times.
  • Application Usage: Shows you which apps your team is using in real-time
  • Top Websites: Lists the most commonly visited websites and the time spent on them.
3) Security Reports
  • Alarm Log: Alerts admins if team members trigger alarms. Alarms are predefined conditions or rules set by the employer. If it’s broken, the managers receive a notification.
  • Security Audit Log: Tracks logins and changes made on any account. It also shows deletions, alarm creations, etc. 
activtrak security audit

B. RescueTime Reports

These are three main categories of reports you can generate with RescueTime:

1) Productivity Report

This report reflects a team member’s productivity score from 0-100, known as the Productivity Pulse. It also shows a breakdown of time usage for each productivity rating.

2) Daily Highlights Report

This report shows the logged hours and events of the day. 

3) Team Reports

This allows the entire team to view how they are performing collectively. 

Within this report, you can view:

  • Summary Reports: Shows how each member of the team is spending their time.
  • Category Reports: Reflects how much time employees spend across categories. 
  • Key Tools Reports: Shows a breakdown of time spent on key work tools (e.g., Slack)
rescuetime reports

Quick Recap

Managers and administrators can use ActivTrak’s reports to optimize team performance. And employees can use RescueTime’s reports to boost their own productivity.

5. Integrations

Software integrations can improve employee productivity and streamline workflow. 


Integration with a project management tool can help you track the time it takes to complete tasks and projects. And accounting software integration can simplify expense tracking, etc.

These are the software tools you can integrate with ActivTrak and RescueTime:

A. ActivTrak 

ActivTrak’s premium plan offers a limited number of integrations, such as:

B. RescueTime

RescueTime’s premium also offers a few integrations:

Quick Recap

Both ActivTrak and RescueTime have a limited number of integrations.

6. Platform Compatibility

Let’s see what operating systems these two solutions are compatible with:

A. ActivTrak 

ActivTrak is compatible with Mac OS, Windows, and Linux systems. It also has apps for iPhone and Android mobile devices – as well as Chrome and Firefox extensions. 

Unfortunately, you can’t track time with the mobile app. You can only monitor your employees’ time (tracked from the web or desktop app or web apps) and view reports. 

B. RescueTime 

RescueTime is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms. 

Like Harvest, you can track time from the iOS and Android apps too. It also offers a Firefox and Chrome Extension.

Quick Recap

ActivTrak and RescueTime are compatible with most operating systems. However, ActivTrak’s mobile app functionality is limited.

7. Pricing

Let’s compare how much each of these tools will set you back:

A. ActivTrak 

ActivTrak has a freemium plan for up to three users. The paid plan begins at $7.20/user per month (billed annually).

B. RescueTime 

RescueTime’s plans begin at $6.50/user per month (billed annually). It also offers a free 14-day trial. 

Quick Recap

The cost of these solutions are similar, but ActivTrak offers a free plan for very small teams, whereas RescueTime doesn’t.

A Powerful Alternative to Both ActivTrak and RescueTime

We’ve compared both ActivTrak and RescueTime on time tracking, productivity management, distraction management, reports, platform compatibility, integrations, and pricing. 

But, there’s another tool that you should also be considering…it’s called Time Doctor. 

And it does a lot more than just basic time tracking.

What is Time Doctor?

time doctor

Time Doctor is an employee time tracking and productivity management tool used by large companies as well as small businesses.

Here’s what you can do with Time Doctor:

  • Precisely track employee time, manually or automatically.
  • Create several detailed reports to gain insights into your team’s computer usage.
  • Use the Payroll feature to make paying employees a breeze. 
  • View screenshots of users’ screens with the Screenshot feature.

Unlike ActivTrak, Time Doctor is an employee-friendly solution for increasing productivity. 

And like RescueTime, it empowers your team to manage their own productivity with features like Manual Time Tracking and Productivity Ratings. 

Time Doctor has a desktop app for Windows, Mac, Linux platforms, and a mobile app for Android platforms. Its powerful Chrome browser extension lets you easily track time across several apps.

While ActivTrak and RescueTime have a limited range of software integrations available, Time Doctor integrates with more than 50 tools, including Asana, Jira, Trello, and Basecamp.

That’s more than double ActivTrak and RescueTime’s integrations combined! This way, Time Doctor is almost certain to link with your current work tools.

The Final Verdict

ActivTrak and RescueTime are both focused on time tracking to maximize productivity, but they differ in their approaches. 

ActivTrak is a great employee monitoring tool for organizations. But if you’re a freelancer or if employee monitoring isn’t a priority, RescueTime may be the better choice. 

But if you want a more straightforward solution, Time Doctor is an excellent ActivTrak and RescueTime alternative.  

Time Doctor has all the features that employers value to manage team productivity. And it also empowers individuals to improve their personal time management and productivity. 

Why not sign up for your free trial of Time Doctor and experience it for yourself?

Time Doctor - Request a Demo

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