QuickBooks for Mac is one of those products that feels like it is always teetering on the edge of disaster. The releases over the last five years have lagged far behind the Windows version, and Mac users have watched the gap widen over the last two […]


QuickBooks for Mac is one of those products that feels like it is always teetering on the edge of disaster. The releases over the last five years have lagged far behind the Windows version, and Mac users have watched the gap widen over the last two years since QuickBooks Pro 2007 was released. New versions with significant features popped up on the Windows platform while Mac users watched from the sidelines with envy.

Just a couple months ago, Intuit showed a renewed commitment to the Mac platform by releasing QuickBooks 2009 with support for Leopard and a number of additions that help somewhat to close the distance with the Windows version. Feature parity is still a long ways away, but Intuit is displaying energy around the Mac this year that has been absent in the past. In fact, Ian Vacin, the Offering Leader for Mac Financial Sofware (basically, the guy in charge of delivering Mac software) assured me at Macworld Expo that they have been adding engineers to his group this year and the commitment at Intuit to developing for the Mac is stronger than ever.

All Your Financial Information in One Place

QuickBooks 2009 revamps the old interface to bring it more in line with the Windows version. New to the Mac scene is a “Home Page” that gives you an overview of your finances organized into a workflow of common activities. This view will be familiar to anyone coming from QuickBooks for Windows.


Another addition is the use of several company centers to organize information for different aspects of your business and a new company snapshot to provide a comprehensive overview of your financial health.


Integration with other Mac apps has improved as well. You can send reports by email more easily and sync calendar items and tasks with iCal too. One feature I really like is the automatic backup to the online MobileMe service. Good off-site backups of accounting files are really important for any business, and the combination of QuickBooks and Apple’s MobileMe service is brilliant. Another improvement is the ability to integrate directly with Xsilva’s Lightspeed Point-of-Sale solution.

The report center has a new Cover Flow mode where you can flip through previews of the various reports available from within QuickBooks.


If you need to share information with Windows users, you can share your company file with your accountant or CPA (even if they use the Windows version of QuickBooks) and then open up the file after they have made changes.

Core functionality does not seem to have changed too much, but the new Home Page, financial centers and company snapshot make it easier to find information on your business and reduce the number of clicks to get to information. In fact, a lot of UI items have new links to take you to frequently used functions in the software.

QuickBooks 2009 for Mac is $199.

Is QuickBooks 2009 Right for Me?

If you need integration with Lightspeed POS, then absolutely, you need to upgrade. For everyone else, QuickBooks 2009 is a nice facelift on 2007 that adds some nifty Leopard features. It is far easier to use, with lots of great usability enhancements that help you get to where you want to go much faster. That might be worth $199 to many of you. Some of you may prefer to wait and see what Intuit plans for 2010.

What if It’s Not Right for Me?

To continue this review of QuickBooks on the Mac, I will look at the upcoming release of QuickBooks Online, which adds Mac support, and when you might still want to run QuickBooks for Windows. We’ll go over the choices for how to run QuickBooks for Windows over the next few days. Be sure to come back tomorrow and look at why you might want to hold on to the Windows version even if you are switching to the Mac.

  1. I use Quickbooks at work on a PC platform but definitely prefer Quicken on my Mac.

    1. I used Quickbooks Pro 2009 and just changed to a Mac. If I purchase Quicken for Mac, will I be able to install y data from the Windows backup?

  2. Edward J. Stembler Monday, January 19, 2009

    I’ve been using QuickBooks 2009 for Mac since December 2008 and have been very pleased with it. I use it for my consulting company which is service-based, using hourly-rate invoices (no inventory or products).

    Since incorporating back in 2002, starting on Windows, I’ve used QuickBooks Pro, then QuickBooks for Professional Services, and eventually Microsoft Office Accounting. I grew to loath QuickBooks for Windows with it’s non-standard UI and bugs. Microsoft Office Accounting was pretty good actually and work great with Word.

    About 2 years ago, I switched to Mac and used Billings for a while. Though it did not really handle all of my needs. I was hesitant to purchase QuickBooks 2009 for Mac due to my prior disdain for QuickBooks. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well it works, and behaves like a Mac application. I do not see myself using anything else now.

    1. Hi Edward

      I just backed up my qb pro 2009 on windows and bought a Mac. If I purchase qb for Mac, will I be able to install from my backup?



  3. At Xero we’ve developed online accounting that works great on a Mac or PC. Safari is a great browser for interactive web applications so Mac users get a first class experience.

    We now have a global version that works well the US now and are collecting feedback for a more specific US specific version so would love to hear what US customers need.

    Have a look at http://www.xero.com



  4. I don’t like “home page” style interfaces. They’re annoying and get in the way when you really know the app well.

    One of the big omissions of QB for Mac is the total lack of support for handling debt and amortization schedules, both owed by you and owed to you.

    As I recall, Xero can’t account for fixed assets. I understand if it didn’t do automatic depreciation, that being so country specific, but having simple fixed assets for accurate balance sheets is a must for any business.

  5. Sven L Rafferty Monday, January 19, 2009

    I made the move to QB 2009 Mac from Pro 2007 for Windows and man what a disappointment. While the Mac version has nice features, they’re nearly all duplicated on the Windows version. What gets me really upset is the lack of simple features found in the Windows version that is three years old! Such as:

    – No reminder after saving an invoice of a customers positive balance and if you’d like to apply it to that invoice.

    – Inability to “Add New Line” between line items. Dude, even the most basic spreadsheet app has that!

    – Absence of Loan Manager

    – Difficulty migrating Windows version to Mac

    I do like the look and feel of the application, but man, I keep finding little things missing that 2007 Windows version had that disappointments me nearly every day. Because of it, I’m looking into Freshbooks.com. Not a full-fledged QB replacement, but it looks to better my life which Intuit doesn’t seem to get.

  6. Alex Rodriguez Monday, January 19, 2009

    Quickbooks on the Mac can be summed up in one word, disappointing. Frankly, accounting applications on the Mac simply suck. My accountant handles all my bookkeeping and exchanging files back and forth is simply not as smooth an experience as Intuit makes it seem. I have ended up using Quickbooks online and even here Intuit has given every Mac user the big giant finger. Its a web based application that requires Internet Explorer on Windows due to its extensive use of Active X. Well over a year ago an Intuit employe posted on the Intuit support forums that web based Mac support was in the works. It is simply disappointing, at best the products Intuit delivers for the Mac. Perhaps over the course of this year things will change, if history is any indicator it will not.

    A very disappointed Intuit customer.


  7. I gave up on accounting apps for the mac a while back and went hunting for something online. Kashflow ( http://www.kashflow.co.uk ) was recommended to me so I took the free trial on offer and haven’t looked back since.

    By the sounds of the other comments here I’m not missing out on anything anyway.

  8. One thing I dislike about the 2009 version is the fact that the graphs and charts still look terrible despite the way they look in the new Report Cover Flow. You expect to get a great looking pie chart but instead you get the same old pie chart from the 07 (and earlier) version(s).

    One the other hand the ability to search (and view) customers, items, accounts, etc. is much, much improved. This has been the a great time saver. I also find the new snapshot (I think that’s what it is called?) to be very convenient and a better starting point than the “Home Page”.

    I thought the new “Home Page” would be more beneficial than it is but that may be a result of being a long-time user of QuickBooks for Mac. Someone new to the program may find it more useful.

  9. Every person I know who rejected the Mac version of these apps runs the Windows version instead. Why should Intuit care about improving the Mac versions if they profit either way? One might conclude that the Mac versions are deficient because Intuit wants you to buy the Windows version.

  10. Ahh, where to begin. I have a love/hate relationship with Quicken (mainly hate), but whaddya do? I’ve tried the others, and unfortunately, Quicken is the “lesser of the evils”, as they say.

    I find the whole Intuit development process remarkable. Few products I know of garner so much discussion in the Mac world, yet Intuit trudges along, gleefully ignoring the call of the (loyal) Mac user. I wish wish wish a decent competitor would come along. I guarantee they’d make a zillion dollars. I’m personally waiting for Quicken 2009 for Mac, but, as with the past 2 or 3 releases, I’m expecting little to no improvement.

    And I don’t even need to visit a site like Kashflow, because as trendy and hip as some of you developers think you are, web interfaces BLOW and always will. We need a fat client – it’s more reliable, performs better, and just feels right. Web interfaces are dying. I’ll still check out the site, though….:^)

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