Running Quicken on a Mac has been a frustrating experience. I’m a longtime Windows user and, in fact, started using Quicken back when it was an MS-DOS application. When I upgraded to Windows, I upgraded Quicken as well to run native under Windows. Now that I use an Apple Macintosh, I still use Quicken for Windows.
The reasons are the numerous drawbacks with Quicken Macintosh version:
- Long Development Life Cycles: Only every 3–4 years does Quicken upgrade their software.
- Missing Features: Compared to the Windows version it’s missing many features.
- Buggy Software: As reported by many reviewers on Amazon, the native OS X product is very buggy as well.
Back in the old days of computing, the only viable way to run Windows was to get a dedicated machine to run the software. Of course this can be costly and take up massive amounts of desktop space. Not only this, but it’s also impractical.
Today you have the option to create a virtual machine within your Macintosh to run other operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows. So the advantages are less hardware to maintain and the ability to run software not natively available for Apple’s OS X.
There are two reasons why I do this:
- There’s no other viable alternative application available for Mac.
- Security is increased by virtualization.
Increased Security by Virtualization
Let me touch on the second reason in a little bit more detail. The added benefit of virtualizing your personal finance software is security. By keeping Quicken installed on its own copy of Windows (in fact also completely separate from OS X), it minimizes the chances of getting malware, viruses, and Trojans.
This, of course, assumes you run nothing else on this virtual instance, nor do any tasks other than your personal finance. This is critical. It sandboxes your personal finance within a virtual machine that’s dedicated to no other tasks.
All too often individuals unknowingly compromise their computer’s security by not updating software or by visiting websites with malware that can infect your computer. By limiting activities to only Quicken this decreases the chances for infection and therefore increases the security of your personal finances.
Before You Begin
Before you begin, make sure your Mac is pretty recent (no more than, say, 3–4 years old) and has at least 4 GB of ram and 30GB of available hard drive space. Otherwise the machine will not have enough resources to run Windows and Quicken at the same time you wish to run other OS X native applications.
These steps apply not only to Quicken for Windows, but really to any Windows-based program you wish to run on a Mac.
Step 1. Get Your Virtualization Software
I personally recommend VMware Fusion to run for your virtualization needs. VMware has a long history with virtualization, and you have the added benefit of being able to move your virtualization container to any other platform in which VMware runs. This means if you also have a desktop Windows machine running VMware, you can move your virtualization container and run it there as well.
Parallels Desktop for Mac is another option, but I don’t recommend it because it’s not as popular. However, it does have similar functionality.
Downloading and installing VMware Fusion takes about 30 minutes.
Step 2. Install Microsoft Windows
Once you get VMware Fusion set up, you need a copy of Microsoft Windows. VMware instances are like brand-new barebones machines — they need an operating system to function. Technically you need a legit license that is separate from any other computers you own. Get a copy of the Windows 8.1 Professional 64-bit version, which is the version I recommend running.
Alternatively, you can use Windows 10, though there’s nothing in Quicken’s software that needs the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system. Windows 8.1 is stable, well tested for security, and has many more years of security updates. The 64-bit version is available and is perfectly fine to use.
If you have an existing real machine running Windows, it is possible to migrate your Windows software AND Quicken all at once. Check with licensing to make sure all software is legit with this transfer.
Once you get the operating system installed, as with any Windows computer, make sure you have antivirus software installed.
Step 3. Install Antivirus Software
It’s not widely known, but Microsoft has its own antivirus and malware protection application. Best of all it’s free!
It’s called Microsoft Security Essentials. VMware Fusion includes McAfee Antivirus Plus for free, but in my opinion it isn’t as good and is more intrusive.
Download and install Microsoft Security Essentials. Once this is done, you are ready to install Quicken.
Step 4. Install Quicken
You are now ready to install the latest version of Quicken for Windows. I personally recommend Quicken Premier 2017 for Windows. If you want to find out more about the product itself, you can read my review of Quicken.
Buy Quicken for Windows and install it in your virtual Windows instance. This is no different than if you were installing it on a real computer.
Step 5. Transfer Quicken Files
If you are currently using Quicken on an older Windows machine, you can transfer your Quicken files to the new virtual computer.
Step 6. Use It!
You are now ready to use Quicken for Windows on your Mac! Do make sure you keep your antivirus software, Windows itself, and Quicken up to date. This level of security will protect you from any potential hackers compromising your personal finances and is the first level of security.
Readers: If you have any questions or details about the process, please make a comment.