What options are available for an Apple Macintosh user who wants to manage their personal finances? Banktivity 5 by IGG Software might be a possible solution. In this review, we’ve updated our research for Banktivity version 5. Previously the app was named iBank. In earily 2016 IGG Software renamed iBank to Banktivity.
For most people, Quicken 2016 for Mac is a non-starter. Macintosh users have always been considered second rate citizens with Quicken.
For whatever reason, Quicken Mac OS X version is completely different than the Windows version, and to boot is a very buggy piece of software. Previously, I’ve recommended staying away from the Macintosh version, and use the Windows Quicken on your Macintosh via some virtualization software.
This is where Banktivity 5 comes in to fill a niche that Inuit has still largely missed. So this review of Banktivity will primarily compare what I consider still the gold standard in personal finance applications: Quicken for Windows.
Converting From Quicken
As I mentioned previously, I’m a long time user of Quicken for Windows. To test Banktivity, I exported a QIF file of my current data in Quicken. Since I suspect this is going to be a common occurrence, I tested this part out extensively. In Banktivity 5 they added a setup assistant, which makes the import process even easier than previously.
Unfortunately, all of the online download account information is not passed within the QIF file. You must manually setup each account within Banktivity. Most of my 52 accounts are setup to download, and this can be a long tedious process. Mind you, this isn’t the fault IGG Software, but rather the limitation of the QIF file format (which was developed by Quicken).
What Is Banktivity?
Banktivity is a personal finance software for Macintosh users. Created by IGG Software, it helps users pay bills online, track their spending patterns and maintain a budget. It’s a good alternative to Quicken if you’ve got a Mac.
|Mobile App||Yes — Apple iOS|
- Direct Access — Connect to more banks than ever. This done via Yodlee.
- Updated Budgeting — Improved compared to the previous version you can build savings, track spending, monitor progress daily, incorporate scheduled income and bills, compare goals vs. results, and sync your budgets to Banktivity for iPad.
- One Button Update — Similar to what’s offered in Quicken you can now download all financial transactions with one click.
- Improved Investing Tools — Enhanced investment support for bonds and options.
- Setup Assistant — Making it easier to import from other applications.
- Prevent Duplicate Download Transactions — Superior elimination of duplicate transactions from bank downloads
- iPad synchronization — Sync of scheduled transactions
- Improved Speed — Better use of import rules to speed categorization
- Better Categorization — The ability to categorize investment transactions
Banktivity iPhone/iPad Synchronization
Like Quicken for Windows, Banktivity Mobile can sync with your iPad or iPhone, so you have access to your information on the go. Banktivity does support synchronization outside of your home network via webDAV, but it is much more complex to setup and configure.
It is not something I recommend using, unless you are very tech savvy and understand the security complications. While the Banktivity software is running on your desktop and you are within your home network, the synchronization happens automatically.
I have a large amount of data financial data. The process to initially sync with my iPad took over forty-five minutes to complete. I wish within Banktivity you could selectively sync the accounts you want available on your iPad. Not only to make this process quicker in my case, but also for security.
I do not need a total view of my finances from my iPad. Primarily, the mobile app is useful for transaction entry. So that would mean I would only need to have access to my checking, cash, and credit card accounts. I would not care about investment accounts while on the go, especially because many brokers offers mobile apps for this exact purpose.
Outside of this the synchronization works well and gives you access to the same information you have within your desktop software. The iPad application does not give you access to these sections: budgets, memorized transactions, scheduled transactions, historical security prices, account interest rates, or reports.
If a conflict occurs, your desktop software will notify you and allow you to pick which transaction should win. It is possible to synchronize with multiple mobile devices. Your desktop Banktivity software will always be the master.
The latest version of Quicken for Windows also has an iPad app. From the comments on our own site, this has been a big source of contention and bug fixes. From my own testing, I haven’t experienced any bugs within either application. However, Banktivity’s setup seems a little more robust to handle conflicts better.
The investment area still needs improvement from Banktivity 4. The positive, it allows you to reconcile your accounts, and does allow for downloading transactions from popular financial institutions. It can even download the latest stock quotes into Banktivity.
Unfortunately, there is no central area to manage your investments interactively. The only way you can view investments is via their reports: Investment Summary and Portfolio Summary. The reports do allow you to drill down into detail, but isn’t nearly as powerful as Quicken.
IGG Software touts currency conversion as a big feature in their application. Yes, I do consider it a good feature that pretty much no other personal finance software offers. But there is a good reason for this; how many individuals have accounts in different currencies?
Assuming the United States is their primary audience, there is very little need for this feature. U.S. citizens must comply to a complex array of compliance issues when owning foreign bank accounts.
So while this is a neat feature and a must have for those who have this problem, I just don’t see that many users needing it.
For those who want a native Macintosh application, Banktivity should be on your short list to seriously consider. Banktivity has all of the must have features any modern personal finance application should have. Overall, the application is easy to use, but with some user interface clunkiness in areas such as reconciliation and split transactions.
It’s great to see that with each new version, Banktivity is improving the product. Each version is making it just that much closer in comparison to Quicken for Windows. The new features introduced into Banktivity 5 (bill pay, direct access, and one-click updating), are much welcomed new features in this competition.
The primary issues with Banktivity is Quicken for Windows is much more intuitive and has a better investment section.
Even with Banktivity 5 their investment section needs improvement. Banktivity is not for the serious investor who would like to manage all of their accounts from one location. Since this area is lacking, it’s a non-starter for me and a serious limitation of their software.
For others who are more concerned about budgeting and balancing their checkbook, these limitations aren’t so much of an issue. Then again, the competing You Need A Budget might be a viable alternative to Banktivity.
From my extensive testing, I don’t think Banktivity is a bad piece of software. I really wanted to like Banktivity 5. IGG Software has shown considerable improvements in Banktivity with each new release. Quicken seems to be stagnant with really worthwhile features, and going backwards with their reliability. Not to mention no set release date for a new native Quicken for Macintosh.
The problem, for at least my situation, is that Banktivity 5 is still not complex enough to handle my investment needs. Your situation might be different. In these other cases I can feel confident to recommend Banktivity 5.
Sadly, for individuals who have more advanced financial management needs (like myself), I still recommend sticking to Quicken for Windows. Perhaps my recommendation will change with a future version of Banktivity.
For Banktivity 5 I have increased our rating half a star.