- Review: Quicken for Mac
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One of the biggest news items in the personal finance software space for 2015 was the releasing a new version of Quicken for Mac. The last time there was a true update for Quicken for Mac was in 2007. Quicken Essentials for Mac was released after that, but no one really takes that app seriously.
Previously, for Mac users who liked using Quicken, it was necessary to run VMware Fusion and use the Windows version. For the most part, when Intuit owned Quicken it was ignoring the Mac platform, and that resulted in problems for Mac users who want to use Quicken.
Now with the 2015 and 2016 under their belt, they just released the latest version — Quicken 2017 for Mac. This is the first version of Quicken as an independent company and no longer part of Intuit. It should be made known that Intuit has sold the Quicken product line to H.I.G. Capital. Quicken has promised to keep improving the Macintosh version and the latest version has kept this promise.
Quicken for Mac Features
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Quicken 2017 for Mac New Features
- Manage your Investments — See how your investments are performing. Track cost basis, see realized and unrealized gains, and capital gains.
- Better Reporting — Compare your income and spending with custom reports.
- Improved Mobile App — Do more on the go with more functionality added.
- Improved User Interface — Enjoy a new look that’s easier to use and navigate.
Compared to the previous update in 2016, this one is a bigger improvement. In fact Quicken has made the functionality more like its Windows counterpart (finally). Some individuals have commented they can finally get rid of the VMware Fusion version of Quicken for Windows and run Quicken natively in MacOS. For me personally I still prefer running the Quicken for Windows as the investment section (though much improved in this Mac version) and a few other features are still not up to par on the Macintosh version.
To run Quicken for Mac, you’ll need to be running OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or newer.
New Features introduced in Quicken 2016 for Mac
If you missed last year’s version of Quicken for Mac, here’s what was available in the previous release:
- Bill Payment — You can make payments within the Quicken app.
- Ability to transfer money between bank accounts — If set up within Quicken, you can transfer monies between accounts.
- Free Phone Support — Phone support is available Monday to Friday, 5 AM to 5 PM PST, and you can use their online chat support 24/7.
File Conversion Process
If you are currently running Quicken for Windows via VMWare Fusion, it might be possible to convert your setup to Quicken for Mac. One of the improvements in Quicken 2016 was the conversion of multiple older versions of Quicken.
Specifically, there is full support to move from Quicken for Windows (2010 or greater) or the 2007 version of Quicken for Mac. In my real world test, with over 70 accounts and over five years of transactions I was able to convert from my Windows data file without issue. I assume Quicken tested this feature quite a bit, since most users of their service are already using Quicken in some form. Unfortunately, passwords are not transferred and you must reenter them into Quicken for Mac. Otherwise, the process was painless.
Quicken for Mac vs. Quicken for Windows
Be aware Quicken 2017 for Mac does not function exactly the same as its Windows counterpart. In some ways this is good, because Quicken can take advantage of features available only in Apple’s MacOS operating system. On the other hand, Quicken for Mac operates slightly different than the Windows counterpart. For someone like me who’s very familiar with the Windows version, it was sometimes hard to find various features.
The Windows version is still Quicken’s primary platform and gets all of the latest bells and whistles. Quicken for Mac is missing these features:
- Debt Reduction Planner
- Loan Amortization
- Customizable Portfolio View
- Investment Reports, IRR, ROI
- Investment Allocation View
- Profit & Loss / Balance Sheet Report
- Automatically Link Online Bills to Display Due Date and Amount Due
- Free Credit Report
- Portfolio X-Ray
- Multiple Currency Support
- Automatic Backup (though you should be using Time Machine for backups anyway)
- Automatic Reconciliation
- No Paystub tracking
For some users these missing features make Quicken for Mac a nonstarter.
One major sticking point with me is their investment reporting isn’t as flexible as the Windows version. For someone like me who likes to track my investments in detail, this is a deal breaker, though it’s better than Banktivity’s investment section. Quicken for Mac is currently the best investment monitoring tool on the market… for a Macintosh. Though that’s not saying much. I prefer the online tool Personal Capital reporting for my investment portfolio.
For some, the lack of investing functionality might not be a significant issue and their primary use is for budgeting. I suspect these users will like Quicken 2017 for Mac.
As I just mentioned, Quicken for Mac is a native application and is built to take advantage of the MacOS interface. As a result, the redesign is sleek and attractive. It’s also easy to navigate, and the account setup process is fairly straightforward. Intuit supports over 14,500 financial institutions for downloading accounts and will remain available with the new owners of Quicken.
On top of that, there is mobile syncing, so you can sync up your information between your mobile device and your desktop. This is a convenient way to manage your finances if you use Quicken for Mac. This mobile app is free to download and is available for Apple’s iOS and Google Android devices.
Another new development when comparing to Quicken Essentials is the ability to track your investments.
The navigation is simple so you can easily add or delete transactions. It’s also got an easy-to-use reconcile function, much like what was available in earlier versions. Many people overlook the ability to reconcile your accounts, but we like it, because it reminds you to make sure that your records match what your bank has and helps you identify problems in reporting. Using the reconcile feature is a very important feature for anyone serious about managing their finances.
Another nice touch is that Quicken for Mac makes it easy to analyze your finances. The new interface means the display is easy to read and understand, and graphs and charts make it easy to see exactly what is happening with your money.
You can choose to look at it in terms of monthly, quarterly, year-to-date, or other time periods. One of the biggest issues I had when I imported my data from my bank was that a number of items were not categorized. So, I had to manually begin categorizing what wasn’t evident to the system. Actually getting the information into the program wasn’t that difficult. I had to download a file from my bank and then drop it into Quicken, but it was easy to do with drag and drop.
However, updating the uncategorized items can be tedious, and I’ve heard stories that other data imports didn’t go very well, so be prepared for that. As you can see, I didn’t finish changing all of my categories. But the quick overview of my spending was appreciated. I also like that it’s possible to see reports of cash flow, although I don’t like the layout as much as I like the way Moneydance presents the information.
It’s also possible to see your spending over time, and compare how you are doing in terms of cost cutting. You can also set up savings goals to follow, but it’s not possible to create long-term life goals. For me, this isn’t a big deal, since I don’t use such tools in my personal finance software. However, for those who like to use their personal finance software for long-term planning, Quicken 2017 for Mac may not be the best option.
Another issue is the lack of bill reminders in calendar form. You can set up a bill reminder, but you can’t view your upcoming bills in calendar format, which makes it harder for many to be interested in this application. It’s a small thing, but it’s convenient for many to be able to see things laid out in a calendar format.
Additionally, there is no paycheck tracking ability with the new Quicken for Mac, so if you have been using Quicken on Windows to track income, along with deductions, you might be disappointed. And even though the interface is sleek and easy to use, the reports and graphs aren’t as customizable, and there is some functionality lacking.
- Bill Payment — Now available in the Mac version.
- Native MacOS App — Quicken for Mac is built from scratch for the Apple Macintosh which allows the software to fully utilitize the features within MacOS.
- Easy Conversion Process — If you are converting from other versions of Quicken, the process is pretty painless.
- Missing Features — Mac version lacks some important features compared to its Windows sibling.
- Weak Investment Tracking — While it has the most features of any other personal finance app for the Mac, there are better Windows tools and online services.
- Expensive — It is expensive compared to other personal finance software available for Macintosh.
Quicken 2017 for Mac adds some new improvements that might actually sway Mac users of other personal finance software to give Quicken a try. Though it is still not as feature-rich as its Windows counterpart.
The primary motivator for using this version is the Bill Pay feature. It is great they added this feature, but it should have been in the 2015 version. Because of this new feature, we increased the score for this product ½ star from the previous version to the new ranking of 3½ stars.
During Intuit’s multi-year lapse of updates, many frustrated users switched to other alternatives to Quicken. The new owners of Quicken have stated they are committed to the Macintosh platform, so expect future updates and quicker bug fixes. If you have already converted to something else, like Banktivity or Moneydance, it might not be worth the hassle to switch back.
Quicken 2017 for Mac isn’t a bad choice for new users looking for a native and local MacOS app. It does what it needs to do and will satisfy the needs of many users, though it’s still lacking some of the features many Quicken for Windows users are accustomed to.
Miranda Marquit contributed to the article.