Don’t misunderstand my intent. I really want to like Quicken Essentials. From what I’ve seen over the past week, this new version shows promise and polish. But not without a few hiccups.
Getting Started With The New Quicken
The new Quicken Essentials looks and feels like a Mac app (rather than a crude imitation of a Windows version). The user interface is straightforward and almost self explanatory.
But is it enough to get me to switch from my favorite, MoneyWell?
First, I had to find some old Quicken data files, circa 2008. They would be out of date, but good for a test. Fortunately, Quicken provided me with a mess of data files to test.
Included in the pre-launch package was an old Quicken Mac data file, a Quicken Windows data file, and even a Microsoft Money data file—all ready to be converted and/or imported into Quicken.
Let the hiccups begin.
Quicken Essentials looks great. It is elegant. It has a very competent, friendly feel. And it’s obviously designed to make it easy to get started. Quicken Essentials is aimed at the mass of Mac users who need a good money management tool (not so much those who need all the esoteric bells and whistles which are seldom used by the rest of us).
Simplistic? Perhaps, but I suspect that Intuit knows something about most Mac (and Windows) users, and a step-by-step approach is a good start. This is where the basics of money management begin.
Quicken walks you through simplified steps to set up accounts, track monthly bills, and set up a budget—the three very basic requirements of any decent money management app.
Preferences are an absolute snap, and modeled after Apple’s typical limited Preference offerings. Check for updates. Display Register information and Toolbar. And download transactions. There’s no place for confusion here.
All this is well and good if you’re starting from scratch. But what if you have financial information from an older version of Quicken? Or, you need to import data from Quicken Windows or Microsoft Money?
Caveat emptor. Quicken claims the import process is akin to the mother-of-all-importers and converters. Not quite. Data has to be converted first, and this is where I ran into a few hiccups.
The Quicken data converter is designed to run on older Macs, and requires Rosetta to run on newer Macs (those running Mac OS X Snow Leopard).
That means a separate app is required just to get your old Quicken data converted and then imported into the new Quicken. Windows Quicken users will need to export their data as a QXF file before it can be imported into the Mac version. Likewise, Microsoft Money users will need the conversion utility found on the Quicken Essentials CD to convert and import data from a PC.
This is a convoluted, multi-step process which really needs to be completely transparent to the user.
Not one, two, or three apps or multiple steps to get the data converted and imported into the Mac version. One single import button should suffice. Just one.
Assume you jump through those hoops and Quicken Essentials has successfully transferred your old data. Or, you’re starting over with Quicken, starting from scratch. Is Essentials a good place to begin managing your money?
It is if you don’t mind a very simplified, almost sophomoric step-by-step process to get started. From here on I was pleasantly surprised.
The complete conversion and import process took about 10 minutes (I had to download Rosetta for the conversion utility to work properly, and the old data file contained over 3,000 transactions). The import tool is animated eye candy but the convert and import went off without a hitch.
So, what does the new Quicken Essentials for Mac look like with money in the bank and bills to pay? Part 3 tomorrow.