Getting started

Getting started with ActivityWatch is as easy as installing, starting it, and setting up autostart (if your installation method doesn’t do it for you).


Download and run the Windows installer for the latest release on GitHub.


macOS 10.15 (Catalina) introduced some complications for running ActivityWatch, see issue #334.

Download the .dmg for the latest release from GitHub and drag the .app to your Applications folder as usual, then add it to your autostart applications.

Download the latest release from GitHub, unzip the archive into an appropriate directory, and add the aw-qt executable to your autostart applications.


If you are using Arch Linux you can install ActivityWatch directly from the AUR.

Install it from the Play Store or using the APK from the aw-android releases page.


Getting it to F-droid is a work-in-progress, see this PR.


The aw-qt application is the easiest way to use ActivityWatch. It creates a trayicon and automatically starts the server and the default watchers.

If you’ve installed by extracting a zip archive, simply run the ./aw-qt binary in the installation directory (either from your terminal or on Windows by double-clicking). You now should see an icon appear in your system tray.

You should now also have the web interface running at localhost:5600 and will in a few minutes be able to view your data in the Activity view!

If you want more advanced ways to run ActivityWatch (including running it without aw-qt), check out the “Running” section of Installing from source.


If you are running GNOME 3 or another desktop environment that does not support system trays, or if for some reason Qt can’t be used on your machine, read Running on GNOME.


If you are using a proxy ActivityWatch might not work out of the box. To fix this you can set the environment variable NO_PROXY to include before starting aw-qt. How to set an environment variable depends on your operating system, use Google if you are unsure how to do this.



Autostart is set up automatically by the Windows installer and for Arch Linux by the AUR package (if your desktop environment supports XDG Autostart).

You probably want to make ActivityWatch start automatically on login using your operating systems autostart settings. For some installation methods (Windows installer, AUR package) this is done automatically, but if you don’t use those methods you’ll have to do it yourself. Searching the web for “autostart application <your operating system>” should get you some good results that don’t take long. You want to start the aw-qt executable in the application directory.


Configuration files for ActivityWatch can be found at the following default locations:

  • Unix: ~/.config/activitywatch or the path defined by the $XDG_CONFIG_HOME environment variable.

  • Mac OS X: ~/Library/Application\ Support/activitywatch/

  • Windows: %LocalAppData%\activitywatch\activitywatch

Config options for the server, client, and default watchers are listed below:

  • aw-server

  • host Hostname to start the server on. Currently only localhost or are supported.

  • port Port number to start the server on.

  • storage Type of storage for holding buckets and events. Supported types are peewee, memory (), or mongodb (MongoDB support will be removed in a future version).

  • aw-client

  • hostname Hostname of the server to connect to.

  • port Port number of the server to connect to.

  • aw-watcher-afk

  • timeout Time in seconds with no activity required to become afk.

  • poll_time Time in seconds between checks for activity.

  • update_time Not yet implemented.

  • aw-watcher-window:

  • poll_time Time in seconds between window checks.

  • exclude_title Don’t track window titles

  • update_time Not yet implemented.