The new Quicken for Mac is almost great

Quicken Essentials offers numerous useful tools to track your finances on the Mac, but it falls short by leaving out some important features found in Windows versions.

Quicken Essentials offers numerous useful tools to track your finances on the Mac, but it falls short by leaving out some important features found in Windows versions. The interface has been rebuilt from the ground up to make Mac users feel at home by following the design and navigation schemes of other Mac programs like iTunes. All of your accounts, transactions, credit cards, reports, and program tools are easily accessible from the left sidebar (what they call the Source List), showing all the information for each in the main register window. Like iTunes, you can click and drag to expand columns in the register and also sort by column heading with a single click.

Intuit strove to make it easy to set up accounts and import data from old versions of the program, Windows versions, and old users of the now defunct Microsoft Money. The import process is less than intuitive, however, forcing you to go through multiple steps even to import data from your Mac version of Quicken 2007. Also, those with large amounts (multiple years) of data are in for a long wait. Some import actions require the use of an external converter, which seems like it ought to have been part of the import process already and something you shouldn't have to deal with.

Where Quicken Essentials shines is for those who are new to tracking their finances. A wizard guides you through the process of adding bank accounts, credit cards, and ongoing monthly expenses like car payments or rent, making it easy to track all your spending habits. In addition to your transactions, you can view charts and graphs that detail your spending over a given period of time so you can make adjustments in real life to make your income work better for you. Quicken Essentials will also let you view activity in individual accounts or view a ledger of all your accounts so you can assess your overall financial health. Unfortunately, those hoping to use Bill Pay or track their investments will be disappointed with Quicken Essentials because Intuit chose to leave Bill Pay out of the Mac version and you only get the barest minimum of information regarding your investments.

Quicken Essentials does a great job categorizing your expenses, accurately identifying the ways you're spending your money automatically. For added convenience the software lets you download your transaction data, obviating the need to enter transactions manually. The program's budgeting tools are top notch as well, making it easy to analyze your spending categories and draw up a realistic budget.

Overall, Quicken Essentials for Mac is still not as feature-rich as its Windows counterpart, but succeeds if you're just looking for a way to keep an eye on your finances. Unfortunately, those with more complicated needs such as investment tracking or automatic bill pay may need to fire up Quicken in Windows using Boot Camp or any of a number of other virtualization programs.

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