How to Track Keystrokes

By Ray Padgett

There are many legitimate (and legal) reasons one might want to track keystrokes. With a keystroke tracker ("keylogger") you can see if anyone uses your computer while you're away or keep an eye on your employees' work habits. There are several good keyloggers that will let you do this. Note that installing a keylogger on a computer WITHOUT the user's permission -- for instance to spy on a spouse's machine -- is most often illegal.

Things You'll Need

  • Actual Spy/ KeyLogger / Powered Keylogger

Step 1

Track the keystrokes with Actual Spy. This is a standard keylogger that tracks every key a computer user hits, noting the time and, in some cases, application where it was typed. It offers a free trial. The full version costs $59.95.

Step 2

Track the keystrokes with KeyLogger. This program offers an attractive interface that makes it easy to turn the tracking on and off. You can even program hot key combinations to enable or disable it without opening the program. It offers a free trial. The full version costs $45.

Step 3

Track the keystrokes with Powered Keylogger. This advanced program offers many settings and functions, including the ability to automatically save logs to a USB drive. A particularly nice feature is that it tracks where the keys were typed, saving separate logs for web browsing, email, etc. It offers a free trial. The full version costs $69.95.

Tips & Warnings

  • The laws for tracking keystrokes vary slightly from state to state. Generally, it is illegal if you do not own the computer yourself or have the user's permission, but many state laws have individual nuances. Check your state's laws before you proceed.