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Quicken on the Mac - Yes, It's Terrible

I spent several hours trying to convert to Quicken on the Mac. Then I tried using some standard functions. Let me assure you, it's not worth anyone else's time and bother. I'm pretty committed to using my Mac when I can, as opposed to regularly switching to the PC to get the 'real' work done. I read other horror stories about Quicken on the Mac on the Internet, but really thought it couldn't be so bad. I was wrong.

For the record, the latest version of Quicken for the Mac is the '2007' edition, with some downloaded - and manually applied - updates. There are reports of a new program from Intuit to be called "Quicken Financial Life for Mac." But according to fine print on the web site, this is actually "Quicken Lite." So it would seem that Mac users are screwed as far as Quicken goes for the foreseeable future.

Quicken Financial Life won't be our savior. In fact, the page at Intuit about it ends with this fine print:

We are constantly working on adding more features to Quicken Financial Life for Mac. If you need more advanced investment, reporting and finance features now, check out Quicken Mac 2007.

This suggests that the existing version will still be "better" than Financial Life in some sense. Gosh, I hope not.

My odyssey with Quicken started a while back when I bought the Quicken 2007 for Mac CD. It has sat around gathering dust while I awaited a good time to try the conversion. January is generally the best time, so I girded my loins for the ordeal and started to work.

Quicken has posted a multi-page PDF document explaining the conversion process. It consists of renaming accounts and categories since the "operating system" can't handle names longer than 15 characters. This is just the start of excuse-making by the development team.

After renaming all of my accounts and categories, I had to export four separate files. Curiously, none of them required the little check box saying "Export for Macintosh." Apparently someone was supposed to automate this bothersome process, but failed. There were additional steps and caveats involving weird financial transactions I didn't use myself, so I could safely skip them.

I moved the files over to the Mac and installed Quicken. The install process was weirdly long, since the installer felt an obligation to scan all of my drives for some unexplained reason.

Trouble started once I uploaded all those export files. They all seemed to load correctly, but none of the resulting account balances looked right. Many were wildly incorrect. Accounts eligible for on-line use did not have balances even close to the reported on-line balances.

Aside from the incorrect totals, though, the transactions seemed to import correctly. At least, that's what appeared when I printed a "Tax Summary" report. I do my own taxes, and I always start out with a report of transaction totals for "tax oriented" categories. I ran the same report on both the Mac and PC, and the numbers matched. This was essentially the only thing that worked in the whole conversion process.

It was a pain to reactivate the on-line accounts. When Quicken "exports" an account, it cleverly forgets such mundane information as account numbers. No doubt some idiot considers this to be a security feature, though it smacks of more incompetence. I had to carefully document all these numbers by hand, and the associated "Customer ID" and PIN.

The Quicken authors set up some weird process for enabling on-line accounts. In order to select the appropriate on-line modes, you are first forced to provide a Customer ID and PIN. I didn't have these available at first, so I just guessed. Incorrectly. This failure was basically ignored by Quicken. Once I'd failed the login, I could set the appropriate settings, like the "connect mode," which was disabled before I tried logging in.

These first on-line connections also flushed out the existence of updates for this version of Quicken. Note that it didn't look for updates during installation. I had to manually install the updates - there's no provision for automatic updating. How 1990s.

But on-line connections don't seem to really work. For some unexplained reason the on-line update creates lots of duplicate entries. This of course ruins the check registers. I tried to clean up the mess, but there's no easy way to clean it up. I can do "command D" on duplicates one-by-one, but I can't select and delete several at once. Even worse, I can't figure out where the duplicates are coming from, and why Quicken doesn't automatically match them up - the duplicates match for date, number, description, and amount. It's ridiculous.

So it's time to give up on Quicken for the Mac. Hopefully layoffs will eliminate whatever managers allowed this disaster to manifest itself.

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Sounds like a horrible mess. I wonder if Quickbooks on the Mac is just as bad.

Have you looked at They're not a 100% replacement for Quickbooks but off much of the same functionality with a snappy API.

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