Frequently Asked Question

How can I reduce Time Sink's CPU usage?
Last Updated 5 years ago

By its very nature, Time Sink is going to be a bit CPU intensive: it's polling every app and window on your system twice a second to see what's changed. But it's not just polling windows that are's polling every window in its history that's ever been opened. That's because it needs to be able to add to those windows' timers if it becomes active again.

This high polling rate is needed to get accurate data on foreground and background times for every window you track. There are, however, some things you can do to reduce CPU usage:

  • Modify the "Timer update frequency" slider in the General tab of Time Sink's preferences window. Moving this slider towards "Seldom" will reduce Time Sink's sampling rate, which will lower CPU usage. However, you may risk missing tracking, if you rapidly switch applications. This is explained in more detail in Time Sink's help, in the Preferences section.

  • Occasionally reset your Time Sink history. You can use auto-export and auto-reset to keep all your data (in exported files), and automatically clear it out each day. This is the single biggest thing you can do to change Time Sink's CPU usage—the fewer items Time Sink needs to track, the less CPU it will utilize.

  • If using Time Sink as an application, close both the Time Sink Organizer and Activity Report windows. Time Sink will continue to run and accumulate data, but should take less CPU power as it doesn't need to update its windows in real time.

  • In Time Sink's preferences, on the General tab, disable (uncheck) the "Show inactive items in apps list" and "Show inactive pools" checkboxes. The inactive items option, in particular, can be very CPU intensive if you've got a huge Time Sink history.

  • Ignore windows in applications that you don't really need to track.

    For example, Mail composition windows get a new title as you type each letter of the subject. Take too long to type, and you'll track a ton of Mail windows. To avoid this, Peter and I both tell Time Sink not to track Mail's windows. In Time Sink's Blacklist preference, click into the 'Ignore windows titled' pane, type: Mail [Control-S] *. The Control-S will generate a right-arrow, indicating that the following windows will be untracked only for Mail; the * means 'all windows.'

    Repeat this setup for all programs that have windows you don't care to track.

  • Ignore applications entirely when possible.

    Finder and Path Finder are two good candidates for blacklist entries that skip the programs entirely. They both open and close tons of windows, and you may not care about how much time you spend in them, as you're typically only there to get somewhere else. In the left side of the Blacklist tab of Time Sink's preferences, type Finder (and/or Path Finder) to completely ignore these programs.

    Alternatively, you can track your time in them, but not the window usage, by using the previous tip.

  • Run Time Sink in menu bar mode. This is essentially like closing all its windows, but it also removes the Dock icon.

There is no "normal" CPU usage for Time Sink, but as an example, on a four-year-old Mac Pro, with a history file covering several months, CPU usage is under 10% with the Time Sink windows closed.

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