Free accounting package

Do the books with ease using this free accounting software.

The name Express Accounts Free Accounting Software pretty much sums up this freeware from NCH: it's a basic but flexible accounting package suitable for small businesses and organizations, and even some that are not so small. It integrates with other NCH business software, and it's also available, at a cost, in a Pro version that offers extra features. However, Express Accounts Free does what most users need most often, such as create and manage invoices, payments, and receipts; report income and earnings; create balance sheets; track orders and supplies; and manage customer contacts.

During installation, a wizard walked us through the process of setting up Express Accounts Free for our hypothetical business and contacts. Express Accounts Free has a familiar look, with toolbar, main view, and left-hand navigation sidebar. This software uses a series of dialogs and wizards to create invoices, bills, receipts, and other documents as well as manage accounts and settings. The navigation pane's expandable categories lead to menus labeled Todo, Transactions, Customer Invoices, Supplier Orders, and Reports, each with subentries for functions like creating documents, managing accounts, recording transactions, and issuing reports. The main view also features the program's various functions grouped by categories, and an icon-based toolbar offers access to the program's primary tools as well as Web access, Options, and a button labeled Suite that accessed other NCH software that works with Express Accounts. We clicked Create New Invoice, and a pop-up dialog opened with various entry fields, drop-down menus, and tables ready to fill in with our data; brief explanations of many of the fields appeared when we hovered the cursor over them. We tried several other standard forms as well as the reporting tools, and all opened with easy-to-use wizards that made the job a snap.

Express Accounting Free seems accurate, which we expected, and intuitive, which we didn't. This may be the friendliest accounting package we've yet come across. Small business owners, bookkeepers, and entrepreneurs owe it to their bottom lines to try Express Accounting Free before plunking down cash on big-ticket software, deductible or not.

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