Bye Bye Quicken

August 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Last month I migrated two decades of email to GyazMail. The only remaining PowerPC software running on my Intel Mac is Quicken 2006, and two days ago, my migration process started. First of all, the next version of Quicken for Mac is running into some “troubles“, exacerbated by Intuit’s general lack of Mac support and focus for the past couple of years. I saw nothing good from Intuit in the next few months and decided to find a product with better Mac support.

I looked at financial software alternatives and most were lacking in terms of tracking investments or were not Mac-like enough. I evaluated Liquid Ledger, Moneywell, and GNU Cash and they either lacked features I needed or were hard to use. It was down to Moneydance or iBank and I chose the latter, as it seemed to have been evolving quickly over the last year.

Importing 15 years of Quicken data proved relatively painless – I exported my data from Quicken to a QIF file and both products read it without crashing. Although Moneydance was much faster than iBank, it had more trouble with my accounts – duplicate entries and closed accounts with non-zero balances is a lot of work to correct. iBank’s QIF import took 10 minutes (versus 1 minute in Moneydance). However, all but three of my accounts showed the same balances as Quicken; there were some problems related to split transfers that took a few hours to resolve in the three problematic accounts (since I decided not to RTFM beforehand).

I am concerned about iBank’s slow performance, but I do have a speedy iMac and telling iBank to only show this year’s transactions made the program fast enough. I suppose that at the beginning of every year, I’d have to switch to a “Recent” view that shows transactions going back 30 to 90 days. I do like iBank’s interface and use of the latest MacOS technologies, though the charts are more eye candy than useful. It would be more useful if the user can control chart parameters like date ranges and accounts to show.

To fully appreciate iBank, one has to unlearn Quicken behaviors and muscle memory. Using Smart accounts is a great way to generate reports, although I’m still trying to figure out a way to show account and portfolio balances as a function of time. I’m still not fully sold – I’m using iBank and Quicken in parallel for the next two weeks to see if there are any showstoppers.

What is interesting about my experience is that the software I ended up choosing were commercial products, not Open Source. Even though I use a lot of Open Source and GNU software in my professional and personal life, I put priority in polish and user interface when it comes to my email and personal finances. As a Linux friend of mine once said – sometimes, after working on Linux all day, you just want to come home and use low-maintenance software that looks good and is a pleasure to use. Quicken for Mac was once like that, but iBank has taken its place.

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