QuickBooks 2009 for Mac: A Real Step Forward or Just a Facelift?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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