One of my 21st century hobbies is app collecting. Some people collect stamps or coins or cars or money. I collect apps. Mac, iPhone, iPad, apps reign and the Applications folder has far more apps neatly tucked away than I can use.
Which ones get used the most? Safari and Mail come to mind, but honestly I don’t know about everything else. I know I use Calendar and iTunes; Photos, of course, and thanks to this habit of collecting what I don’t always use, I browse the Mac App Store more frequently than most.
Which apps do I use the most?
Here’s a free app that can tell you. It’s called Usage, a background time tracking app from the same publishers who brought Timings to the Mac; also a popular time tracker utility but with more features. Usage resides in the background and counts the minutes for each application you use on your Mac.
I’m trying out Opera this week, so the numbers are skewed away from Safari.
Usage also displays which apps have been used and total time for each one on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Simply click the Show All menu option in the Usage pull down menu to get to more details.
The pie chart makes it drop dead simple to see which apps get used the most vs. the least and those in between. I would like to see the app’s name inside the chart, but it’s hard to quibble with free.
The Show All window lets you group applications, too; useful to me because I test out many Mac apps, but also good to segregate Adobe from Microsoft from Apple applications, or to keep utility usage separate from main and most used apps.
The data itself is saved only on the Mac and doesn’t travel over the interwebs, but you can export the data as a standard CSV file to stuff into a spreadsheet or database.
What do you get for free?
Nothing more than a quick look at what you’re actually using on your Mac. Usage doesn’t just capture the time an app is open, or the time the app is frontmost and staring you in the face even if your face isn’t in the same room. No, Usage tracks what you think it tracks. Usage. If you’re using the app– keyboard or mouse– then those minutes are captured and tracked.
Not bad for free and an absolutely easy and enlightening way to see where the day goes.