Managing money, for most of us, should be a simple process. After all, if you have a lot of money then you can afford to hire someone else to count it. The rest of us get to figure out how to have our Mac do most of the work.
Quicken Essentials for Mac has four basic functions: Tools, Accounts, Reports, and Budgets.
Tools, Accounts, Reports, Budgets Oh My!
The Tools section reigns at the top of the left column. Included is a simple overview of finances, which includes checking and savings account totals, investment totals, upcoming bills, and total net worth.
Now you’ll see why Quicken Essentials was worth the wait. Clicking Transactions brings up a spreadsheet-like page of all transaction details. They’re sortable by month, accounts, type, and status—all using a range of predetermined sort buttons.
The lower toolbar provides tools to add a transaction, schedule, pay, display status, or split.
When you schedule a specific transaction that shows up in a list format, too, so you can see what’s paid and what’s not.
The Accounts Summary is bar chart eye candy, but shows Assets and Liabilities, and the basic details for Checking, Savings, Credit, Investments, and Cash.
Property and Debt are included, too. It looks good. Feels good. And works well. The intuitive mouse-over magnifying glass can be clicked to reveal more information.
The Accounts section is necessary, but boring, though it uses the same interface structure—spreadsheet-like, with pull down tabs to sort data. All checking and savings accounts can be listed, and details for each are a click away. The familiar toolbar at the bottom lets you add New accounts, Edit accounts, and so on. The interface remains comfortably familiar throughout.
Many web sites today have tags to identify various segments of a site. Quicken Essentials for Mac has a Spending Cloud. Click on any item in the cloud and get the details in a pop up report. This is very handy. Not only can you see more detail, the tools come along for the pop up ride.
The Reports section is mostly as expected. It’s loaded with details but all in one location. As you scroll through the details, the mouse pointer turns into that magnifying glass as you hover over each item. Click and get another pop up with more details, including the toolbar—so you can make edits or add something new without traveling back up the drill-down hierarchy. That’s nice.
At the bottom of the left column is Budgets section. First, set up a specific budget and let Quicken Essentials track the details, so you get to match budget with actual spending. Well done.
Quicken provides yet another easy way to compare account budget with actual expenditures. It’s eye candy, yes, but very handy, very smooth, easily accessible, and doesn’t require additional effort for the user. It’s just there.
The lower right corner of the Quicken Essentials window has a link to Live Community, Quicken’s modern forum-wiki for support. If you have questions that go beyond the obvious, this is a good place to visit.
In summary, Quicken Essentials for Mac is worth a close look. No, don’t expect the same bells and whistles as the Windows version. They may come in the future, but they’re not in this latest version for the Mac.
Included is an improved bank transaction function which makes it easier to download account transactions and import into Quicken Essentials.
What is in the Quicken Essentials version is a truly Mac-like money management app built from the ground up, complete with basics—Tools, Accounts, Reports, and Budgets—the features expected by 90-percent of Mac users.
The other 10-percent—those Quicken Mac users who want bill pay, investment details, and tax data exports—will have to wait awhile.
Despite the initial hiccups, I admit I’m impressed. Has Quicken improved enough to get me to jump from MoneyWell, my current favorite? Not yet. For now, I’m content with kicking the tires and doing the test drive awhile longer. But I really like what I see.
Intuit seems intent upon making up for lost time and making up with most Mac users. Quicken Essentials for Mac comes with a 100-percent Satisfaction Guarantee. If you don’t like it, return it within 60 days for a refund. Essentials is priced at $69.99, at the high end of Mac money management software.