In the past few years, Intuit has done an incredibly awful job positioning Quicken, its personal finance software, on the Mac. Despite my experience with Quicken Essentials and Quicken 2015, I decided to upgrade to Quicken 2016. In this post I’ll share my first impression of the latest version and tell you if the upgrade was worth it.
Quicken: A Brief History
Intuit used to have a fairly decent personal finance software called Quicken for Mac 2007. It was a PowerPC application that stopped working when Apple switched to the Intel (x86) processor architecture and deprecated Rosetta in OS X 10.7 Lion.
As a result, Intuit had to rebuild Quicken for x86. Instead of taking the time and doing it right, they released Quicken Essentials for Mac. Unfortunately, Quicken Essentials was a huge disappointment and made many longtime Quicken users really angry. In retrospect, they took their sweet time but just developed sub par software.
Intuit promised to fix the problems and they released Quicken for Mac. Unfortunately, the new version wasn’t much better. I purchased Quicken 2015 and had nothing but issues. It lacked major features, was super buggy and Intuit’s (outsourced) technical support gave me an anger stroke on more than once occasion.
Last year I decided to reduce my financial planning requirements to the bare minimum that Quicken would be able to properly handle. That is, managing and categorizing bank and credit card transactions. I stopped trying to make budgeting work and I removed all investment accounts from my Quicken file because they would regularly show wrong balances.
But even then, Quicken managed to bug the heck out of me with asking to sign in multiple times every time I launched the application. Plus, the app would show an annoying “Upgrade to Quicken 2016” screen that could not be permanently dismissed. I was not amused and started looking for alternatives, such as Banktivity (formerly known as iBank). Unfortunately, Banktivity doesn’t support “Tags” that I have used extensively in Quicken. As a result, I took another look at Quicken 2016 and decided to give it a try.
Quicken 2016 – What’s New
With Quicken 2015, I couldn’t create annual budgets or keep an eye on cashflow. Instead, I just used it to categorize and tag transactions. I would export all transactions into Excel once a week where I sliced and diced the data using Pivot tables. But with the last update to Quicken 2016, Intuit finally added the ability to create 12-months budgets. They also added the ability to export Category Summary and Tax reports. Those were the two features that pushed me over the fence to upgrade.
Quicken 2016 Features
- Pay your bills from right within Quicken
- 12-month budget
- Portfolio time machine
- Single-click upgrade from Quicken Windows to Quicken Mac
- Export Category Summary and Tax Summary reports to a csv file
- Free phone support
- Ability to transfer money between different accounts within your bank
Quicken 2016 seems to be the first usable version of Quicken since Quicken for Mac 2007. Budgeting finally works and I can export certain reports that are needed during tax season. With Quicken 2015 I had to send screenshots of certain reports to my CPA. Also, the mobile app finally seems to be working reliably. It used to be a total mess with earlier versions that would lead manually entered transaction categories being overwritten by what the software thought was the correct category.
12-months budgets and the ability to export Category Summary reports made Quicken 2016 a worthy upgrade for me.
I also noticed that they fixed a couple of bugs, including the multiple login screens and mobile sync. I still haven’t added my investment accounts back in and I didn’t try their phone support yet. Fortunately, I don’t need either one as long as basic transaction management, budgeting and export functions are working.
Quicken 2016 is what Quicken Essentials should have been. Instead, it took Intuit solid 9 years to finally come up with usable software. Even worse, they had the cojones to charge $75 for every unusable release in between. If it wasn’t for my existing Quicken file and my reliance on transaction tags, I would have probably switched to Banktivity. In my situation, Quicken 2016 was the more convenient choice and so far I haven’t regretted my decision.
If you recently switched from Windows to Mac, you will find that Quicken still lacks a significant number of features that have been available on Windows for a long time. But knowing Intuit, I’m sure they’ll add those in over the next couple of years, charging $75 for every upgrade. You can purchase the latest version of Quicken in the Mac App Store or directly on quicken.com.
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