Windows 10 comes with a decent alarm and clock app which has a timer. But earlier versions of Windows lacked a built-in option. Besides, Windows 10’s clock timer is pretty bare bones when you compare it to third-party solutions.
If you need a customizable timer on your desktop, Hourglass may be worth a try. It is a free program that is light on resources and has quite a few options. The interface of Hourglass is minimal, some may think it’s perhaps a bit too simple but that’s the point. This program was meant to be used as a reminder app and the lack of fancy elements is on purpose.
To set a timer, open the application, and click on the enter title box. Give it a name and then click on the text that says “5 minutes”. You can enter a time from as low as 1 minute to any number of minutes that you want. The default format is “number space minutes”, for e.g. 10 minutes. Click on the Start button to initiate the timer and it will beep a few times once the timer runs out. It will continue to count the time elapsed since the timer ran out which is sort of useful. You can pause the timer at anytime.
Hourglass displays the timer in 2 ways: the primary display view is a text format view that is displayed on the screen, the other view is a box which serves as a visual indicator.
As far as other settings and options are concerned, there are a few.
You can have multiple instances of Hourglass running at the same time; just right-click on the interface and select “New Timer” to create a new window. This right-click context menu has quite a few options that you may find useful.
For example, the Loop Timer option restarts the timer automatically when it runs out which may be useful in certain situations. Hourglass will display a pop-up (in case the window was minimized) when the timer runs out. It’s handy in case you set a timer a long time ago and forgot about it, or don’t have it in view all the time.
Hourglass has an “Always on top” option to make the window stick over other program windows. A full-screen setting is available which makes it work like a screensaver. There are a few color themes to choose from for the time bar if you prefer a different scheme. You may also enable the dark theme if you prefer it over the default light theme. Alternatively, for a distraction free experience, you can minimize the timer to the system tray.
Hourglass has loud, normal and quiet beeps. It also supports custom sounds that it detects automatically.
The program can shut down the computer when a timer expires. It can also be configured so that it does not keep the computer awake; handy if you want the system to go to standby.
As far as customization options are concerned, you can modify the timer in several ways. The time units supported by Hourglass are:
All you need to do is combine these with a number followed by a space and the unit. For e.g. 6 months, 1 year, 4 weeks, or 1 hour.
The program also supports short forms of the units: s, m, h, d, w, mo and y. But when you use these, there should be no space between the number and the unit, e.g. 6mo, 1y, 4w, 1h, etc. You can combine units (minutes seconds, hours minutes) too. Want to set a timer for 30 seconds? You can use the decimal form, i.e., .5 minutes.
Only want to use numbers? That works too but the format changes slightly. You will need to add a separator (comma or colon) like 10.30 (for 10 minutes and 30 seconds). It works with other time units too.
am and pm timers
The am and pm units are “until” timers, so if you set the timer to say 3 am. It will countdown until it is three in the morning.
day and date timers
The day unit works a bit differently, e.g. if you set the timer to “Thursday”, Hourglass will countdown until it is Thursday. The date timer works similarly, and run till the specified date. Like October 1 or December 26, 2019 and so on. The month unit supports full names (January, February, etc) and short names like Jan, Feb, etc. The backslash separator can be used for setting month timers like 101 or 1226.
I’d advise reading the official help page, there are far too many options to list here.
Hourglass requires .NET framework 4.0 to run. The program is open source.
I really liked the Eyes Alarm Firefox extension, and wanted something universal. Hourglass works quite nicely and provides enough customization options and supports multiple timers that run independently.
Now You: do you use timers at all?
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