It’s no secret that hydration is an important part of wellness. But for many of us, the hard part isn’t knowing that water is healthy—it’s actually remembering to guzzle enough fluids throughout the day. This is where water tracker apps could come in. A water tracker app serves as a kind of pal-slash-nag that lives in your phone, sending you gentle (or not-so-gentle) reminders to drink more water throughout the day and keep track of how close you are to hitting your daily hydration goals.
Our pick for the best water tracker app, WaterMinder, impressed us with its sleek design, easy-to-use features, and detailed logs. Its reminders to drink more water also struck the right tone—they never felt like a guilt trip or a fear-inducing warning.
But after testing five water tracking apps, we found that these apps as a whole may not be worth the cost or effort required to use them. Here’s what to know about whether you should actually use a water tracker app, and which ones are worth considering.
These are the best water tracker apps:
- Drink Water: Drinking Reminder
- Water Reminder—Daily Tracker
- Plant Nanny² Water Tracker Log
- Water Tracker Waterllama
The Best Water Tracker App
- Graphics show how much water you’re drinking throughout the day
- Charts are fun for data geeks who want to look back on their water intake over time
- Available on iOS and Android
- Simple design, tracking shortcuts, and gentle reminders making drinking water easy
- Cool charts and graphs
- Inputting data can be tedious
WaterMinder made the process of logging fluids quick and easy compared to other apps. This is an important feature when keeping track of every sip you take is an inherently annoying task. Like most water tracker apps we tried, WaterMinder was straightforward to set up. I paid the one-time $4.99 subscription cost and downloaded it onto my iPhone. The first time I opened the app, it served up a short module that used gender, weight, activity level, and local climate to figure out my daily hydration goal.
The questions are slightly more comprehensive than other apps I tried, as some others didn’t ask about the weather. For me, my daily recommended water intake was 88 ounces (though, like all other apps, I was a little confused about what exactly made this the right amount for me).
After revealing the water intake goal, the app shows the main screen, which is where you track your water intake. The blue “plus” symbol, located about a third of the way up the screen, acts as a shortcut exclusively for tracking water in three different sizes: 8 oz (or a small cup), 12 oz (or a large cup), and 17 oz (or a water bottle). If these default sizes don’t line up with your usual cups or bottles, you can adjust them in the settings section. There’s also a menu icon next to the plus symbol, which you can use to log 17 other types of beverages, including coffee, tea, beer, and coconut water, and specify how much of each you drank.
From the moment you log your first glass of water, WaterMinder starts filling up the silhouette of a person with blue water and a simple bar graph, both of which visually represent how close you are to hitting your goal. It also tells you numerically how many ounces are left in your goal for that day. I appreciated how the app depicted this information in an interesting way without falling into gimmicky territory. Once you hit your daily goal (and other long-term achievements), the app rewards you with fun badges to keep you motivated.
WaterMinder’s push notifications were also better than all other water tracker apps I tried. You can choose exactly when to receive them by toggling through standard timing options or creating custom reminders. It was also the only water tracker app to provide an option to stop reminding you to drink water after you’ve hit your goal for that day—and the relief from the frequent notifications felt like its own reward. The tone of WaterMinder’s reminders was more gentle than the others, too, with phrases like “Time for another glass of water!”
Though I didn’t love the reminders on any app, I didn’t actively hate when WaterMinder’s popped up on my phone. I usually hit my goals, largely because I am already in the habit of drinking a lot of water. When I didn’t hit my goals, it was because I was traveling and didn’t have easy access to water throughout the day. (These circumstances were also true for the other water tracker apps I tried.)
WaterMinder also has great charts and graphs to show you how your hydration habits are changing by day, week, month, and year. This information wasn’t particularly useful for me, but for people who love data about their habits, it can be a fun tool.
Still, WaterMinder has room to improve. It could have earned more points in my book if it was more transparent about the research it used to make its hydration recommendations. I also wish it asked about other health information, such as whether a person is pregnant or breastfeeding, which causes The Journal of Perinatal Education “Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond” View Source . With that said, these weren’t common features in other water tracker apps, either.
Are Water Tracker Apps Worth It?
Water tracking apps do pretty much what their name implies: keep a log of how much water you drink (and maybe how much you consume other drinks including soda, juice, coffee, kombucha, and booze) and remind you to have more H2O. The existence of such apps can be chalked up to the fact that dehydration is a common condition. There’s no conclusive literature on how common it is—one oft-cited claim states an StatPearls “Adult Dehydration” View Source are “chronically dehydrated,” but the actual numbers are fuzzier. Still, it’s not a bad idea to make sure you’re drinking water. But do you need a water tracker app to help you do that?
In most cases, probably not. “Everyone experiences dehydration from time to time,” says Matt Priven, MS, RDN, LDN of Oceanside Nutrition in Boston, Massachusetts. “There are lots of people out there who are mostly adequately hydrated. Trying to stick with an arbitrary figure about how much fluid they should take in, [like] a goal of 70 ounces a day and they’re getting 60 but experiencing no adverse effects, isn’t that helpful.”
Personally, at the end of the day, I didn’t find the data provided by the apps I used to be useful, nor did it change my drinking habits. Because this is an integral part of most hydration apps, the cost and effort doesn’t feel worth it. If you just need help getting in the habit of staying hydrated, I recommend setting alarms on your phone—it costs nothing and works just as well.
For those who frequently experience symptoms of dehydration or have trouble recognizing thirst cues, a goal—and some kind of phone reminder—may be helpful. “When someone is curious about what their life would be like if they were better hydrated, I encourage them to just spend a couple weeks making sure that they’re getting, say, 64 fluid ounces per day and see if they feel better,” says Priven. “Sometimes people don’t get strong thirst signals from their body. So I always say to give it a week or two [and see what happens].”
There are no standardized guidelines on how much water any one person needs to drink from any medical organizations. In my experience, I found that apps aren’t transparent enough about how they come up with guidelines for how much water a user should be drinking. Depending on the app I was using, my own recommendations ranged from 71 ounces to 106 ounces (or about 8.8 to 13.25 cups), without much context on why.
The Water Tracker App Buying Guide
Who should use water trackers?
Water tracker apps can be useful for anyone who wants to improve their health and wellbeing by collecting data on their hydration levels. These apps could be especially useful for, say, an athlete who wants to incorporate hydration into their training regimen or a person with a medical condition that could benefit from increased water intake. Someone who finds they often forget to drink water throughout the day may benefit from a water tracker app, too.
Still, I stand by my assertion that most people don’t need a water tracker app. Reminders to drink can be helpful but just as easily accessed with a phone alarm. But recording each glass of water (and other beverages) you drink on the apps can be annoying—especially if you’re at a restaurant or another person’s house and don’t know how much fluid your drinking vessel holds.
Which features matter most when buying water tracker apps?
- Reminders: Water tracker apps should send notifications reminding you to sip more water throughout the day in order to help build a habit. The notifications should be quick to read and motivational, but in no way should they feel like they’re nagging you or making you feel guilty.
- Easy-to-use interface: It can be tedious to track your water intake, so the app should make it as easy as possible to log data in just a couple of taps.
- Charts and graphs: If you’re a person who likes data on your health habits, it can be helpful to use a water tracker app that lets you compare how much water you drank on previous days, weeks, and months.
How much water should you drink a day?
The Institute of Medicine from the National Academies says women should aim for 2.7 liters (or 91 oz) and men should get 3.7 liters (or 125 oz) of The National Academies Press “Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate” View Source per day. That includes water from other beverages (like an iced tea or juice) and water from foods (like soup or a juicy piece of fruit), along with glasses of regular water. That said, it’s difficult to estimate the water content in most foods, so you may not be able to track the amount of water that comes from things you eat.
It’s also tough to nail down exactly how much a person needs to drink each day, though. Despite the Institute of Medicine from the National Academies’ recommendation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that there’s CDC “Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake” View Source on exactly how much plain water one should drink in a day. Plus, you may need to increase hydration if you have certain medical conditions, live in a very hot climate, and/or have high levels of physical activity.
One thing you may not need to consider as much is alcohol and coffee. Though both are diuretics, it’s a Harvard Health “How Much Water Should You Drink?” View Source , according to Harvard Health. This is because the water from those beverages still contributes to your overall water consumption for the day. (That said, water is always preferable, health-wise, to a cocktail or cold brew.)
Water tracker apps often try to take these factors into consideration when determining water intake goals. But given that there’s no firm recommendation on how much water people should generally be drinking and many apps aren’t transparent with how they’re calculating their figures, a water tracker app isn’t the best place to look for guidelines on how much water you as an individual should be drinking. Consider consulting with a healthcare professional who can give you personalized guidance.
What are common dehydration symptoms?
Typical symptoms of Mayo Clinic “Dehydration—Symptoms and Causes” View Source include extreme thirst, infrequent urination, dark-colored urine, dizziness, confusion, constipation, and fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic. Severe dehydration can lead to urinary and kidney problems, seizures, heat injury (particularly if engaging in vigorous exercise), and low blood volume shock. Harvard Health “How Much Water Should You Drink?” View Source , on the other hand, helps manage blood pressure, allows muscles to contract properly, can help move things along the digestive tract, and flush bacteria from the bladder.
How can you stay hydrated?
Whether or not you go for a water tracking app (or our phone alarm “hack”), everyone can follow some basic guidelines for drinking a sufficient amount of water. This is especially true if you find that you identify with some common dehydration symptoms like fatigue, confusion, and dark or infrequent urination.
“I like to recommend that people start the day with a 16 ounce glass of water. It’s a good foundation for meeting their fluid needs of the day,” says Priven. He also recommends that people “take the pressure off of themselves” to just drink flat water if that feels boring—reaching for a seltzer (one without sugar or high-intensity sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose) or a glass of water with a splash of juice for some color and flavor may help get in more fluids. Finally, keeping a water bottle around may help serve as a reminder to drink more.
How We Got Here
Meet Your Guinea Pig
I’m Joni Sweet, and I’ve been covering health and wellness as a writer and editor for major publications for more than 10 years. My work is in SELF, Health, Prevention, Forbes, Healthline, mindbodygreen, Greatist, and dozens of other publications. I love debunking health myths and teaching people about research-backed ways to feel their best and live well.
Our Testing Process
The testing process started with a review of the water tracker apps available for download in the App Store. I took a look at ones with top reviews from users, as well as ones frequently mentioned in news articles to narrow the list down to five water trackers I wanted to review.
I then tested each water tracker in a real-life scenario (including at home and on business trips) for four consecutive days. The testing process required near constant engagement with the water tracker during those four-day periods, including receiving and reading frequent notifications with reminders to drink more water, logging intake of water and other beverages, and exploring the apps’ charts and graphs. I also tested each app to see what would happen when I hit my water intake goal, as well as when I failed. I took detailed notes throughout this process and rated the water trackers on five key areas: user friendliness, tracking capabilities and accuracy, reliable and personalized recommendations, goal setting capabilities, and ability to motivate users without causing guilt.
Want to see exactly how we tested and found the best hydration apps? You can access our testing spreadsheet here.
Other Water Tracker Apps To Consider
Best Free Water Tracker App
Drink Water: Drinking Reminder
- App is free (but with ad breaks)
- Allows you to track wide range of drinks
- Available on iOS
- Wide range of drinks to track
- Warns you if you didn’t hit your goal the previous day
- Ad interruptions
If you’re looking for a totally free water tracking app and don’t mind the occasional ad break, Drink Water: Drinking Reminder is a great runner-up choice. The app’s data-forward design (complete with a silhouette of a person that gets filled with blue liquid as you log your water intake) almost makes it feel like a version of WaterMinder, if slightly less slick than the real deal. It allows you to track a whopping 65 drinks, far more than the free versions of any other water tracker app we tried.
It recommended I drink 106 ounces a day and reminded me to do it with notifications every two hours throughout the day. Ultimately, I liked that it offered so many options for beverages a user could log and displayed the data in a straightforward way, but its design just just didn’t feel as thoughtful as WaterMinder’s. Ideally, a hydration goal should enhance your life, not disrupt it (with, say, a lot of extra bathroom breaks). It sometimes felt difficult to hit the 106-ounce goal, as that’s quite a high quantity of liquid, especially when traveling. It sometimes felt difficult to hit the 106-ounce goal, as that’s quite a high quantity of liquid, especially when traveling.
Water Reminder—Daily Tracker
- No-nonsense reminders and nutrition breakdown of drinks
- Big disparity between free and paid version
- Available on iOS and Android
- Provides nutrition breakdown of drinks
- Free version doesn’t have many options
- Paid version is pricey
Our third pick, Water Reminder—Daily Tracker, is unique in that it provides a nutrition breakdown (including caffeine content) of the beverages you’ve had in a given day. Overall, I liked its no-nonsense reminders and visually compelling design (you can see an illustration of every drink you’ve had in a given day). It would have tied with my runner-up pick, had it included more than a lackluster eight drink options in its free version. You can get many more choices if you upgrade for $3.99 a month—a cost that felt too high, considering my favorite water tracker app was just $4.99 in total.
Water Reminder—Daily Tracker recommended I drink 81 ounces of water a day. It sent push notification reminders every couple of hours, most of which said the same thing: “It’s time to drink water.” Boring? Sure. But no one can say it’s not straightforward!
Water Tracker Apps You Can Skip
Plant Nanny² Water Tracker Log
- Animated plant “grows” as you track drinks
- Reminders can be annoying
- Available on iOS and Android
- More transparently researched than other apps
- Logging drinks takes a lot of effort
- Irritating reminders
Plant Nanny gets frequent mentions in news articles about water tracker apps, but I think it’s one to skip. The entire concept revolves around growing a virtual plant by logging your own water intake. It wins points for being a cute water tracker app, but it tries too hard at gamifying hydration without providing enough of a reward for the effort. Logging your water intake requires pressing and holding a button for a few seconds, and if your finger slips, your data doesn’t get recorded. It’s extremely limited and somewhat tedious to use. It recommended I drink about 94 ounces a day and notifications were childish at best and aggravating at worst, constantly telling me that my “plant is thirsty.”
Still, Plant Nanny deserves kudos for being the only water tracker app we tried that backs up its hydration goal recommendations with research users could access. It pulls from the University of Missouri “How to calculate how much water you should drink” View Source and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations “Land & Water” View Source , with citations right in the app. It was harder to hit my goal with this app, not because it was unachievable, but because it was so annoying to use that I didn’t feel motivated to log every sip.
Water Tracker Waterllama
- Whimsical design
- Tough to log drinks
- Available on iOS
- Fun, inventive design
- Hard to log drinks
- Annoying push notifications
Water Tracker Waterllama’s design, in which you fill up a colorful llama as you log your beverage intake, feels whimsical, cheerful, and fun. But that’s about all it has going for it. Logging a beverage takes more time if you aren’t using a default size of 18.5 ounces—otherwise, you have to drag your finger over a water glass shown on the screen and painstakingly add .5-ounce increments until you hit the correct volume. While the app allows you to review how much you drank on previous days, it doesn’t offer charts and graphs that allow you to easily see changes to your habits over time.
Water Tracker Waterllama (say that five times fast) recommended I drink nearly 71 ounces a day. The app’s worst feature was its reminders—they frequently included grammar mistakes, nonsensical suggestions, and scary mentions of health problems connected with dehydration. As with other apps, hitting the goal this app set for me wasn’t difficult (as long as I could easily access water wherever I was) but if I wasn’t already drinking enough water, the reminders wouldn’t have done much to get me there.
- Common claim that 75% of adults are dehydrated: Adult Dehydration (StatPearls, October 2021)
- Signs of dehydration in adults: Dehydration: Symptoms and Causes (Mayo Clinic)
- Benefits of proper hydration: How much water should you drink? (Harvard Health, March 2020)
- Increased hydration needs during pregnancy: An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy (The Journal of Perinatal Education, Summer 2002)
- Guidelines on drinking water: Get The Facts: Drinking Water And Intake (CDC)
- Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day? (Mayo Clinic)
- Guidelines for drinking water: Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate (The National Academies Press, 2005)
- Guidelines for drinking water: Regional brain responses associated with drinking water during thirst and after its satiation (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2014)
- Alcohol is a diuretic: Hangover (Cleveland Clinic, July 2017)
Our research and review process is intended for informational purposes only—never as a substitute for medical treatment, diagnosis, or advice. Recommendations or information found on this site do not infer a doctor-patient relationship. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have questions about how a product, service, or intervention may impact your individual physical or mental health.
Our evaluations of products, services, and interventions have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. Information and research about health changes frequently. Therefore, some details or advice on this site may not be up-to-date with current recommendations.
The Nessie is an independent publication and is not in any way affiliated with the production or creation of products, providers, services, or interventions featured in reviews or articles on the site.
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