The billing/invoicing/time-tracking software I use, iBiz, is no longer being supported by its manufacturer. I am a freelancer, so I need software which allows me to:

  • Track time on jobs
  • Track tasks on jobs
  • Automatically fill in a rate for a task (not all tasks are the same hourly rate)
  • Add notes about a job
  • Put in flat-rate items
  • Organize clients, preferably by allowing me to have more than one point of contact in a company
  • Generate invoices
  • Record payments and log them against invoices
  • Customize the invoices with a logo
  • Generate earnings reports for tax season

Cost is not an enormous issue, although I'd rather not spend several thousand dollars.

I do not want something online or cloud-based. I want something I can buy, once, and download, once, and which works offline. I do not want to pay a subscription fee. I do not want something which is a web app, because if the company disappears, so do all my records.

What are your suggestions? What experience have you had with the software, and why would you recommend for/against it?

I am in the U.S. working on a Mac, so the software must be Mac-compatible.

  • All vendors want to go the cloud route especially in the small business sector. Mainly because of how small busineses behave on upgrade time. the sell once ans support for free works badlyvin this sector. Look for open source, which is usually less turnkey.
    – joojaa
    Feb 20, 2014 at 6:30
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    I am having the same problem with finding the best non-cloud software, I used Billings before it became a cloud based system and found it great. But now I've had to upgrade to the new cloud based system and pay a monthly charge I have had nothing but trouble, not backing up/syncing I also used to have all my invoices saved to my machine but now all my invoicing/financial records are nothing but data on the other side of the world. The cloud systems are just a rip! and when something does go wrong at their end you're stuffed (up the creek without a paddle) as I have found out first hand... May 4, 2014 at 22:40

16 Answers 16


Pancake is not subscription based, once you buy it, it's yours. You do need to install it in your (or a) server, like a regular website, but you don't really require programming (as mentioned in another answer), just some online space. You can also create a local server - which would need some reading and implementation, but it's not terribly complicated if you follow the instructions.

Good thing is, you can regularly back-up and download your information, and only you have access to your data, not some third party. But I haven't used it, so I don't bet my life on it :)

  • I use and advocate for Pancake.The way @yisela described running it locally would be the way to go.
    – Drai
    May 6, 2015 at 20:42

Give Harvest a try.

My freelancing needs aren't that great, but I've been happily giving them $12/month for a few months now. They have a ton of features, a bunch of apps, they integrate with a bunch of 3rd party stuff, and more.

Free trial and a limited free tier; worth checking out.

  • It's online, though, isn't it? I really don't want cloud-based. Apr 2, 2014 at 10:10
  • Their iOS app claims to have some offline capabilities for time tracking. The Mac app doesn't let you start or stop timers while offline, but it'll run if you lose your connection. But yeah if you want to handle reports and stuff offline this isn't your choice.
    – Brendan
    Apr 2, 2014 at 13:32

I would suggest Replicon for the sort of billing, invoicing and time tracking. The task and project management is also a sole part of the company. Its A versatile solution for the overall business management.

  • 2
    It's only in the cloud? there's no actual program to download? What happens to all my information when the company disappears? For that matter, what happens when they get hacked like Target/Neiman Marcus etc.? Feb 19, 2014 at 19:29
  • Yes, Replicon is cloud based and I don't think so it will disappear. I had been using them for about 3 years now and Yes, all my time, expense and product data is on cloud, but the best thing is that those data is available for me all time and I never experienced any issues with their server. Even when I dont have access to internet, I can fill in my time, expense and project data and it will be stored on cloud once I am connected to internet. I am not sure about others, but most of my tools are cloud based and I prefer it because of zero maintenance and installation and related hassles.
    – user65831
    Feb 20, 2014 at 13:13

I've gone back and forth on this one. On one hand, I love the ubiquity of cloud apps. On the other, I hate the longterm expense of a subscription model.

For a local, desktop app that supports lots of time tracking and billing functionality as well as some reporting, I keep coming back to OfficeTime. It's not perfect, but it gets the job done.

It is not, however, a proper project management app. For simple task tracking with a decent level of tagging and filtering, I prefer RememberTheMilk, Tick Tick, or Todoist.


All items on your list are done well with Freshbooks, plus an extensive api, third party add ons and mobile apps. Example: tracking time - phone app records time, you select which client and what tasks and when you're done it gives you an option to immediately create an invoice based on flat or hourly rate you stored previously or add a custom rate. Then an option to send immediately by email and by physical mail or save as a draft. There are too many features to mention but its really well designed and developed and worth checking out.

  • still cloud. :( Aug 14, 2014 at 9:32
  • 1
    Oh whoops, didnt know that was an opposition. I personally prefer the accessibility. Aug 14, 2014 at 13:27
  • My issues with cloud are (1) I'm not buying software but renting it, which I resent on principle (2) cloud software can go away without any notice and then I'm stuck (3) clouds can be hacked much more easily than my computer, which I can unplug from the Internet if I choose. Aug 14, 2014 at 14:00
  • All fair points =) Aug 14, 2014 at 14:14

I actually gave Fanurio a considerable trial, and it came pretty close. It does do most of what I'm looking for, although there's an annual "maintenance fee" for upgrades and tech support (which is not unreasonable).

Ultimately I got too frustrated with the number of clicks it took to enter the details I needed on my task list — in iBiz it's one; in Fanurio it's three or four — and in order to see those notes I had to download a non-public beta to access the function. Getting the notes to show up on the invoices was also very complex, so I shelved the trial for now.


I haven't actually tried these, but while researching time tracking apps, I've run across Totals, Invoice & Lumina which do invoicing and time tracking


I use Grandtotal for Estimates & Invoices and it works with Timings for time tracking from the same Company. Its a desktop software, its pretty simple and i use it to generate Estimates which can be converted into invoices. You can import clients from your Mac address book and add more contacts to a client.It increases the invoice no. by itself and sets a due date and reminder for open invoices. Its basic but thats what i like about it.

Also possible: different rates, notes & custom fields on your estimate/invoice, add payments, custom logo, reports.

In my opinion its weakes point is the time tracking part which just feels weird to me. It works but others did it better (like Toggl). It can use 3rd party apps like "Things" or mite online time tracking to pull in your hours for invoices though.


I'm in the same boat.

Here are a couple apps I'm looking at. I'm still evaluating them so I can't directly recommend anything, but you may want to evaluate these as well.

  • Profit Train Appears to be a decent client and job tracker. At first glance not as easy on the "start and stop" job timer front. But possible.

  • On The Job Seems to have easier time tracking abilities, but also somewhat over-complex job/client input.

I do not use any invoicing app (none of them output to plain text email), so I'm not evaluating any of the invoicing features in apps. Just so you're aware. I can't comment on those features.

These are apps though, not cloud-based subscriptions.

Not much help ...

Fanurio is okay, but it's clunky in spots and forces me to work as it deems correct rather than adapting to my desires. So, as of late Feb 2016, I've written my own PHP/SQL application to run on my local web server. This allows me to create, edit, and structure things exactly as I want.

  • Live, automatic, updates of project status should date approach deadline
  • notification of late invoices
  • calculations of earning by project type, client, etc.
  • Automatic database backup
  • essentially any customization needed.

I realize this is absolutely no good to anyone else. But the lack of available, non-subscription based, client and billing tracking software made this a necessity.

If I knew anything about getting a php/sql web ap into a product form, I'd package for others. Unfortunately I'm not in that space and app creation is well beyond my wheelhouse.


So I may have finally found my answer! The iBiz forums recommended Studiometry by Oranged.net.

It has a cloud version, but you're not required to use it. You can download the software once and use it offline. It is Mac-compatible (with a lovely Mac interface) and has extensive video tutorials. You can try it full-featured for 30 days, I think.

So far I have been able to replicate almost every function of iBiz, if in slightly different places and formats. Studiometry has an "import iBiz" function which allows you to import everything directly from your iBiz database, which is SUPER useful, and their tech support is very responsive. The invoice templates are pretty editable, and the new version which comes out in a few weeks promises to have an improved template editor.

Entering information in a task is all in one window, including detailed notes. And it's possible to get an invoice which puts the details right on it with minimal fuss.

It's also compatible with the latest Mac OS, which is resolves my other (new) problem, which is that iBiz is only good up to OSX 10.11.

  • Thank you for revisiting. I'm still on OS10.10 due to this (and iBiz still works).... but I am staring down a dreadful upgrade to 10.12 by year's end. My custom PHP web app still works, but, well, it's inevitably not as handy as iBiz has been and time to improve that has been impossible to find.
    – Scott
    Nov 3, 2017 at 19:51
  • @Scott I've kicked Studiometry around for a week and I'm doing double bookkeeping all November to really run it through its paces. It's not a one-to-one replacement but it's closer than anything else so far. Nov 3, 2017 at 20:45
  • Hi Lauren...FYI... Just upgraded to 10.13 today... iBiz 2 launches as works pretty well. There are some very minor display issues (date column is too narrow and can't be expanded - but shows MM/DD/Y) - I did manually copy files - including the "IGG" folder in ~Library/Application Support - from my previous install as opposed to trying to install from a dmg though. I haven't run it through it's paces, but upon cursory examination it seems relatively fine.
    – Scott
    Dec 27, 2017 at 3:45
  • @Scott That's great to hear! I think I'm still going to switch to Studiometry because I worry about iBiz being unsupported, but I'm very happy to hear it's working for you. :) Dec 27, 2017 at 12:23

I have tried a number of applications from this site. Most offer most of the functionality you are looking for, some lack a few things. Maybe one or two has all. Most require you to have web hosting of some sort or local php and mysql.


Zoho Invoice may be a viable solution. However, it is a web application. It offers many of bulleted points you mentioned. The 'Standard' pricing option is $15/month. You also get access to a handful of other Zoho business apps, collaboration apps and productivity apps. There is also a 'Forever-Free' option, which still offers the core features. I would give that a try before spending any money.

While my experience with Zoho Invoice is limited, it has worked very well for my time-tracking & invoice needs. Additionally, Zoho offers iOS and Android apps for their products. So far, I am quite pleased with the (Android) mobile experience from Zoho Invoice as well.



I have been using OfficeTimer employee time tracking software for my timesheet and invoicing, I am quite happy with it. Moreover, it is priced reasonably. It has all the features that freelancers would look for.

  • Again... it's web-based software, and it has a monthly subscription fee. I want something I can purchase, once, and download, once, and use even if offline. Aug 25, 2014 at 9:51

You may want to check Fast Invoice

As well as all the basic invoicing functionality it has automation tools, which will invoice your clients automatically, and even send payment reminders.

  • 1
    thanks, but again... it's cloud-based. I want something I can purchase, once, and download, once, and use even if offline. May 6, 2015 at 16:53

I'd use a database. I'm familiar with MySQL, so I would use that. You can use phpMyAdmin as an effective and powerful frontend, so you don't even need to program (or buy) one. Both MySQL and phpMyAdmin are free and come with many webspaces, so you could access your "billing software" from everywhere you have internet access. Or you can install it locally to your machine (and sync the database, if necessary).

All you need to create is a script that creates the invoices, but that will be a half-hour job for an accomplished programmer. Even I could hack it together in PHP or Python in an afternoon.

This whole solution is completely free (if you programm the script yourself), it is highly adaptable to your probably changing needs, and it will work forever and not die on you the moment a company shuts down.


Zylot is the software that I will recommend for billing and invoicing. Not sure which tool is best for tracking time, but I personally use a custom software for the same.

I normally prefer free tools(but not open source - just because of the pain it yields) as I work for an SMB and we dont initially invest(hugely) on any software. Zylot is completely free and I like the way the software works.

Moreover, I was not able to find any other free and effective billing software both for official and personal use.

  • 4
    I don't trust any software which requires the user to "sign up" for anything - demo, free account, and even to simply see what pricing is.
    – Scott
    Nov 12, 2014 at 19:05
  • 1
    kinda sounds like spam here
    – user9447
    Nov 12, 2014 at 20:21
  • @Scott, not sure what you are talking about as this is a free software. If you are worried about signing up, you wouldn't have been here too. Every website or software requires signup, which has become something like "clean yourself before you eat". Nov 13, 2014 at 7:11
  • @Matt, not sure how you came to the conclusion that my comment is spam, though I see so many "REAL" spams in this thread. Anyways, you are a moderator and you can remove my comment, as I dont have any issues with it. Nov 13, 2014 at 7:17
  • Uhm... but to sign up to see absolutely ANYTHING about the product is not standard. 99.9% of software I can view a demo and check pricing without any need to "sign up". Asking for my information BEFORE I'm a customer is a bit of brute force sales if you ask me. I REALLY don't want to add my email to spam lists just to see what a product costs or how it works.
    – Scott
    Nov 13, 2014 at 9:27

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