The Robservatory

Robservations on everything…

 

My choice for a Quicken 2007 replacement

The coming of “not without compromise” 32bit app usage in the fall 2018 macOS release finally forced my hand: I was going to have to update my single longest-used app, Quicken 2007. I’ve been using Quicken in some form since 1994, but stopped with Quicken 2007—I found the newer versions worse than Quicken 2007, so I never upgraded.

Yes, I was using an eleven-year-old app to track our family’s spending and investments. Why? Basically because it worked (most of the time), and I didn’t like any of the alternatives, which I would occasionally test. But Quicken 2007 was showing its age. In addition to its 32bitness, it had other issues: The UI was tiny and horrid, the windows never opened where I closed them (Moom‘s saved layouts to the rescue!), and online access to my accounts was nearly non-existent. Worst of all, it would crash on occasion, necessitating rebuilding all my data files. It was finally time to find its replacement.

After reviewing lists of alternatives—and asking on Twitter—I focused on three apps: Bantivity, Moneydance, and Quicken 2018 for Mac.

After looking at all three, I surprised myself by deciding that Quicken was the best tool for our use. Going in, I was dead set against it, mainly due to its annual subscription structure. (I hate subscription software in general, but as it turns out, this one isn’t really a subscription.)

Read on for brief overviews of each of these three apps (with more detail on Quicken) and my rationale for deciding on Quicken.

Getting started

I was looking for an app that…

  • Imported our historical Quicken data I didn’t want to lose 24+ years of our financial data.
  • Felt like a Mac app I wasn’t interested in something that felt like a port from Windows, or lacked the specific “Macness” one gets in an app written for the Mac.M
  • Offered accurate investment tracking Our investments are in a few accounts, and I like to monitor them all in one spot.
  • Included online account access I want to update our bank, credit card, and investment accounts from the source, instead of having to manually enter transactions.

Things I don’t really care about are bill pay (I use our bank), reports, budgets, and charts and graphs for anything outside the investments section of the app. As such, I can’t vouch for how well any of these three programs handle those tasks.

All three apps imported my Quicken data file, though with varying degrees of success. Moneydance ignored the “hidden” status of accounts, so a lot of old, closed accounts showed up. Banktivity won’t import reconciliations, so none of my accounts were reconciled. Still, these are relatively minor issues compared to successfully importing nearly 25 years worth of Quicken data.

Now, here’s a brief overview of each of the three apps…

3 – Moneydance

This was the first app I looked at, and I pretty quickly ruled it out. I found the interface not to my liking—there are icons next to each account, which makes the layout look busy, and I found its register view confusing:

Notice that entries take up two rows, but the white/blue background alternates every other row…so if you’re glancing at the register, it’s nearly impossible to pick out one transaction unless you click on it to select it. (It’s easy to tell them apart in this four-line partial register, but in the full register with comments on the second line for many entries, everything blends together.)

Moneydance is a Java app. And while that doesn’t inherently make it bad, Java’s generic “write once for many platforms” code shows itself in a few places: The Preferences window doesn’t look anything like a native Mac app window, and the buttons in the app are definitely not macOS-style buttons. Performance-wise, the app feels a bit slow; it takes a couple of seconds to open an account in a new window after double-clicking its entry in the account list. This is true even if it’s an account I just opened and then closed.

Due to these issues, I quickly decided that Moneydance was not for me.

2 – Banktivity

Banktivity was a strong contender; it was neck and neck with Quicken until I got more into the transition and looked closely at all of our accounts. Its account list view is also laden with icons—folder icons, new activity count badges, and status badges. It looks very busy, but once you get into an account, the view is much cleaner than Moneydance:

This view can also be infested with icons, but those can (thankfully) be disabled in the app’s preferences. In the register view, each entry is two rows, but the alternating background is also two rows, making it easy to see each transaction at a glance.

Banktivity has two methods of data download: OFX (free) and Direct Access (subscription required). While many of our accounts offered free OFX support, there were a number that only worked with Direct Access, which is free during the generous 30 day trial period. Outside of that, Direct Access is a $45 per year subscription.

Banktivity doesn’t have any of the “non-native” issues I found in Moneydance; the app looks and feels like a traditional Mac app, and opening an account window from the account list is speedy. Unfortunately, you can’t do that with a double-click, as that brings up the account’s info panel; you need to right-click and choose Open in New Window from the contextual menu. That’s a big time waster for me.

On the investment side, I had issues with two stocks that had had stock splits. Because I wasn’t downloading investment data in Quicken 2007, I had manually entered the splits using Quicken’s split tool. Banktivity didn’t handle this correctly, so our balances were way off in those two accounts.

In the end, I decided against using Banktivity due to its cost ($65 up front, plus $45 per year), the overabundance of icons in the layouts, its inability to import reconciliations from Quicken, and its difficulties handling some investment data.

1 – Quicken 2018

When Quicken 2018 was released as a subscription product, I tweeted my displeasure with the change, as I have a big issue with “software as a service.” But as I dug into the app, I discovered that their subscription isn’t really a subscription: If you stop subscribing, you can still use the app to enter and track financial data; you just lose access to the online components and Quicken’s support services. That allayed my fears of needing to subscribe forever, just so I wouldn’t lose access to my financial data.

Unfortunately, there’s no free trial of Quicken, but they do offer a 30-day money back guarantee, so I paid and started testing.

What I found is an app that, for the most part, takes everything I liked about Quicken 2007 and modernizes it. As I hoped, Quicken handled the import of my old data perfectly, bringing across the reconciliations and handling investments properly. It’s also speedy, opening new account windows promptly when double-clicked.

I like the minimalist one-line register views—they’re clean and easy to read:

(If you need to see the details, you can double-click to see an expanded view.)

You can choose one of four levels of line spacing for the register—they include Comfortable, Cozy (pictured), Compact, and Tiny. None of these affect the font size, just the row spacing. (I wish the font size were changeable, but it’s not.)

Unique to Quicken among these three apps is the ability to change the visible columns, as well as the column order, on a per-register basis.

As seen at right, there are a large number of columns you can choose to view—24 in total. I like that it’s just as easy to hide columns you don’t want to see. Once you’ve added and removed columns to your liking, you can drag the remaining visible columns into any order you wish.

Quicken includes two methods of online access: Direct Connect and Quicken Connect. Both are included in your annual subscription cost, and between the two, I was able to get all but one of my accounts working for online access. (Oddly, that one account did work with Banktivity.)

Why I chose Quicken

Certainly there’s some value to continuing with the app I had been using: The import went perfectly, and I felt immediately comfortable in the app. But given how horrid Quicken was for many years of Intuit’s onwership, I was prepared to be disappointed.

But Quicken is no longer owned by Intuit—two years ago, they were sold to an investment group. That’s both good and bad; it’s good that they’re out from under Intuit’s lack of interest in the Mac app. But it’s possibly bad in that an investment group only buys a company for one reason: To later sell it at a big profit.

But to get to the point where the company is worth a higher valuation, they have to offer things that customers want. And to me, it seems “new Quicken” is trying hard. After buying, I received an email thank-you from the CEO, explaining where they’ve been and where they’re trying to go, and thanking me for being a customer—sure, it’s a form letter, but it’s more than I ever got from Intuit.

The in-app help options, as seen at right, are extensive and include a link to the community forums as well as an in-app screen sharing feature. The help file itself is detailed and well indexed, making it fairly easy to find what you want. (Though it is a complex app, so there’s a lot to look through.)

The app is a real Mac app, with none of the weirdness that comes from a Java app. Buttons look right, the prefs look right, shortcut keys work as expected, etc.

Finally, there’s the issue of cost. Quicken for Mac comes in three versions: Starter ($35/year), Deluxe ($50/year), and Premier ($75/year). The comparison page lays out all the differences. For us, as we need to track loans and investments but don’t need bill pay, Deluxe was the obvious choice.

Right now—and probably for quite a while, I’d imagine—a two-year Deluxe subscription is $69.98, bringing the cost per year to $34.99, which is a bargain. By comparison, the first two years of Banktivity would cost us $155, or $77.50 per year. If there are no more discounts after the first two years, Quicken will then cost us $5 more per year than would Banktivity, which means it would take roughly 17 years to spend the $85 we save up front.

Quicken 2018 isn’t perfect, but for us, at least, it’s a very nice upgrade from Quicken 2007, and its reasonable cost and “not-really-a-subscription subscription” model work well for our family.

32 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. Thanks for the review – and the positive experience encourages me to try installing the 2-yr Deluxe version of Quicken that was offered for $44 when bundled with my most recent purchase of Turbotax.

    1. Can you make reports from quicken 2018 like you can from Quicken 2007? I really need the reports for my small business. I still use Quicken 2007.

      1. There’s a full Reports menu with seemingly lots of options. I don’t do much with reports, however, so I’m not sure if it’ll meet your needs.You can create customized comparison reports, summary reports, transaction reports, and there’s a selection of pre-defined reports.

        -rob.

  2. I used Quicken for 10+ years. Then went to iBank, tried Moneywell. 2 years ago I tried YNAB (You Need A Budget) Hands down the best money app out there. Has totally transformed my relationship to money. Web app from desktop and syncing iOS app.

    1. Wyn:

      I’d never heard of them, so thanks for the pointer. However …

      I’m one of “those” people: I despise web apps, and can’t use them, and that seems to be what they are now? (Their prior version was a traditional Mac app, it appears.)

      Beyond that, if I’m reading the site correctly, all my data is stored on their server somewhere? That’s also not for me—I want my financial data on my machine, away from the cloud.

      It may be the most amazing solution ever, but those two things will stop me from ever using it.

      regards;
      -rob.

  3. Thank you Rob for sharing your assessment.

    How comfortable are you with sharing all your bank and broker details with Quicken in order to be able to download the transactions? And they even store, at least some of the transactions on their website if you use automated data downloads (Quicken Direct) because they do it overnight and then push it to the client when you connect to the internet with the client.

    1. Posted the last comment not as a criticism of your choice, but to try and understand how you thought about the issue. Thanks.

      1. I’m OK with it, because they’re not storing account access information with that data. I don’t really have an issue if our transaction data got out; I’m much more concerned about the access details needed to get to the data.

        -rob.

  4. Thanks for that report. I didn’t know that Quicken was not Intuit any longer. I was not able to upgrade to High Sierra with 2007. I too have been using it over twenty years and feared the loss of all that data.

    1. I was using Quicken 2007 in High Sierra; it worked as well as it did in any prior release—take that for what it’s worth :).

      -rob.

  5. Thanks Rob for your post here. It steered me in the direction to try out Quicken for Mac 2018 after several attempts to try out the previous versions since 2007 and always going back to 2007. (I always was able to keep all my online investment/billpay features working through High Sierra). I have found that on eBay, 2 year subscriptions are significantly discounted. $70 for 2 year premier and I think $49 for 2 year deluxe.

  6. I am still using Quicken 2013, manual entries
    I bought 14 and 15 uninstalled and threw them out within a couple days
    Useless the so-called improvements were of no use to me and it felt like the core program was loosing functionality
    Wish I had stuck with 2009 or 2010. maybe earlier
    I do not need or want an “app”, I want a “program”on my pc only, no cloud and no sync
    Retired now, lots of time for manual entries

    1. Ken:

      You’d probably be happy with the newer version—it’s much more like Quicken 2013, and I’ve found it quite nice. If you don’t like the subscription, you just don’t renew when it expires. The app will still work, you’ll just lose download ability.

      -rob.

    1. Their web site says “Monitoring alerts, data downloads, and feature updates are available through the end of your membership term,” so that sounds like yes, but I have no way of testing.

      -rob.

  7. Hi Rob, thanks for the article. I’m in the same boat as you, needing to reluctantly transition out of 2007 but I DO need the reports function. Like you, I track family spending and finances but depend on the “Income Statement” report every year to send to my accountant. It’s a terrific report and I count on it to bring all categorical expenses into one one handy report, and you can even click on each item to reveal the list of underlying individual expenses if necessary. I don’t think I could ever do without it. But, I must change to something else, even if it means buying a cheap Windows computer just to run Quicken with all the bells and whistles again. It’s a very sad situation for sure.

    1. There’s time before resorting to that level of desperation (running Quicken on Windows). Right now, any Mac that can run Mojave can still run Quicken 2007 without really relying on a legacy Mac yet. Assuming “High Mojave” in 2019 has the same requirements, that’ll take you until fall 2020.

      1. You are so right about that being a desperate move, to Windows. Yuck. But what leads me to look for other options now is that I can’t get my new Discover card to download transactions, getting the dreaded OL-226 error. The Discover rep said downloads don’t work with a Quicken over 3 years old. Also, my Schwab stopped downloading a couple of years ago but I like Quicken so much that I’ve been doing that manually. I need for those to download. And, there’s no longer any support, even chat forums, for Quicken Mac 2007. Nail after nail in that coffin, sadly. :-(

        1. I can download Discover .qfx to Q2007. I just have to shorten the file name. I also have to download a .ofx and change it to .qfx and shorten the name on a CitiBank download. Not fast but as long as I can keep Q2007 I’m happy.

          1. Thanks for the heads up on that. I was able to import the downloaded qfx of my Discover statement into Quicken (when importing, it asks what register you want to use to record everything into) without changing the file name.

    2. JC: You can definitely run an income statement, and drill down into details. I’d recommend giving it a try—as a long-time “2007-forever!” user, I’ve been quite happy with the new (non-Intuit) version. It’s updated regularly, and performance is good. They do offer a money back guarantee, as I recall, so you can bail with no cost if it doesn’t do what you need.

      -rob.

      1. Rob, I didn’t realize that an income statement is possible with Q2018. Great! Since the investorjunkie.com site says that P&L / Balance Sheet reports are missing as well as loan amortization, I assumed the Income Statement is missing, too. I will try Q 2018 for sure. I’ve used Quicken for Mac since 1991 and have been searching for a resolution to the current 2007 issues for quite some time, so your writing here gives me great comfort. Many thanks for that. – Joel

        1. Just to be clear, Quicken is a personal finance tool, not a business tool, so the tools are basic. While there’s no balance sheet, there is a net worth report to see assets vs. liabilities. You can also see loan amortization info, though not in as much detail as you could in 2007.

          Anyway, make sure the moneyback guarantee is still in place, and if so, give it a try with an import from 2007. I wasn’t expecting great things, and while it’s still not 2007, it’s more than met my personal needs so far.

          -rob.

          1. Thanks for that. Did they keep the “Loan Planning Calculator” where you can plug in various interest rates and terms and it’ll give you the monthly payments and amortization schedule? Good to know it kept loan amortization — I’m used to plugging in the loan info and it knows monthly how much of the mortgage payment goes to interest and principle, etc.

  8. JC – There’s a basic “what if” tool, but it’s not that advanced—it’s about making an extra payment, or what if you want to pay off by a defined date, etc.

    -rob.

  9. I still use Quicken Premier 2009 on Win 7. My plans are to upgrade PC w/Win 10 and use Q1018 or 19, but was led to believe that Q2009 could not be readily converted for use with Q2018, but had to be first converted to some intermediate version (2013?), then to Q2018. Is this true? Any other solutions to this situation for satisfactory use with WIN 10?

  10. Is Quicken for Mac 2018 still available? Or is it now 2019? Have used Quicken since 1995 and afraid of change. Stalling around and should buy a new Mac, too, but worried about the Quicken situation.

    1. It’s a continually-updated product now, much like Office 365. So it’s now Quicken 2019, but anyone who bought Quicken 2018 will now have 2019 as part of their subscription. (If someone doesn’t renew, they’ll be left with whatever the last version they had before the subscription expired.)

      -rob.

  11. Rob, Thank you for the work you have done comparing these accounting software products.. I am sold on Quicken but wondering what version you would recommend for us. We are 1099 contractors in the oil fields of Texas. I need something that will help keep track of deductible expenses.

    1. I wish I had a recommendation for you, but I really don’t know – I only have experience with the home version, and I’ve never used it to do any 1099 tracking.

      Sorry!

      -rob.

    2. Hi, I’ve used Quicken 2007 for Mac (and prior versions dating to the early 90’s) for my 1099 businesses with fine success. It’s very easy to keep track both income and deductible expenses using categories (create categories like “Office Expenses”, “Employee Gross Pay”, “Business Travel”, etc.) and at the end of the year, simply run an “Income Statement” which shows all the expenses totaled you need to see. You can also run a category report which shows each expense itemized. I ASSUME and hope Quicken 2019 uses the same way to keep track of things because you can import your Quicken 2007 file into the new version. I haven’t done this yet though I will in the near future. The only things I don’t keep track of are equipment and car depreciation — I leave that stuff to my accountant. Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

The Robservatory © 2018 • Privacy Policy Built from the Frontier theme