Managing your money on a Mac is either easy or painful, depending on your patience, skill, software, and how much money you have.
Intuit’s Quicken reigns as the Mac’s top financial software, though Mac users regularly express disappointment. Enter iBank. Why not? Almost everything good these days has an “i” in front of it.
There is no shortage of money management software for Mac users, though few offer the full range of features found in the popular and much maligned Quicken.
Maligned? Why not? Quicken’s Mac version has a history of bugginess and feature lag when compared to the more popular Windows version. Intuit sells Quicken for $69.95, along with various TurboTax products which range from $44.95 to 89.95.
Windows versions of Quicken start at $29.99 and range upwards to the Quicken Home and Business version at $99.99, which weighs in with far more features than the lowly Mac version.
iBank is worthy of consideration if you want your Mac to help manage your money and do more than just balance your checkbook. At $59.99, iBank is competitively priced with other Mac money software, though it boasts a substantial feature set.
As you might suspect, you can set up a variety of accounts, including, but not limited to checking, savings, credit card, loan, asset and liability. One feature I particularly like is the ability to set a minimum balance on an account and get an alert when the minimum is reached.
Money management software is only as good as how easy it is to use, and that means how easy is it to enter information.
iBank has a Transaction Editor which lets you enter new items, even without using a mouse.
iBank even pays homage to your Mac’s iSight camera and lets you take a snapshot of a purchase and attach it to a transaction. Split transactions are supported so you can divide any purchase (grocery store or department store) into proper categories.
Speaking of categories, create as many as you need. Some are built-in, though you can add others and still track them in iBank’s charts, reports, budgets, and forecasts.
The Mac and OS X is all about integration and you won’t be disappointed. iBank works with iCal to post scheduled transaction reminders, and works with TurboTax by assigning tax codes and exporting TXF format files at tax time.
Integration as a software philosophy and reality is enhanced with a built-in browser so iBank can visit your bank’s web site to download transactions. It even imports data from Quicken, and Microsoft Money (tried the former, not the latter).
All the standard visual reports are in iBank’s new version, too. Graphs, charts, forecasts, transactions, and more, are just a click away. I’ll admit that iBank’s attention to graphic detail is excellent, and compares favorably with Quicken, which seems to get window dressing upgrades every few years.
Did I mention integration? iBank is loaded with places to leave notes and reminders so you can remember where you were and what you did and why you did it.
Got an iPhone? iBank lets you enter transactions on the go with a handy iPhone utility, available free for iBank users (haven’t tried that yet, but if it works it’s a huge feature for those of us on the go). There’s also a handy Dashboard Widget for iBank users which lets you quickly enter transactions, check on balances, and view budgets.
I’m not the investment guru of the family. Somehow that part of my Scottish blood didn’t make it from dad to mom, but even I have figured out how to handle investments and quotes and set up a portfolio in iBank. Even capital gains reports are available which displays profit and loss on investments. So far, I’m only losing. Where is AAPL when I need it?
Your investment portfolio can be posted to your .Mac account and viewed anywhere you have Internet access.
By now you’ve figured out that iBank’s feature list is rather long. How does it work? The use of Mac visuals is, well, visually stunning. Can you say Cover Flow?
Yep, transactions can be viewed in Cover Flow just by flipping around as you do in the Finder or in iTunes. Flip to a transaction, see the details in the window below.
iBank is worthy of your money. Any gotchas? A few. A visual and graphic interface in Mac money software takes some getting used to. But not long. It’s almost fun, and that probably increases usability.
I also had some trouble pulling in data from my older version of Quicken. iBank just wouldn’t bring in everything, so some data had to be entered, tediously, I might add, by hand. I don’t know if that’s iBank’s fault, or Quicken’s fault, or my fault for not upgrading Quicken often enough.
Otherwise, iBank is just plain fun, highly intuitive, and, as I’m finding out the more I use it, a bit addictive. Maybe there’s a stirring of my Scottish blood and I’m finally watching my money while it works for me, rather than just spending it. If so, my father is happy.
Are you still a Quicken user? If so, how do you think it compares to the Windows version? How about other Mac money software? Share your experience in the Comments section below.