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



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.


Sam Ecoff

In case this might help someone else out there… I just got off the phone with an hour long call to Intuit support, and after being accelerated to a manager, I actually got them to admit that the “Inactive Item” check box in the item dialog box is broken in QB 2009 for Mac. Inactive items continue to show up in the Stock status by Vendor report, regardless of the setting of that checkbox, or the reorder point you set, which means that if you have over a million items in your inventory like I do, they will all show up as needing reordering regardless of what you set the reorder level at, and regardless of whether you’ve made the item inactive. Their solution was to create a filter in the report and select the active items only. The filter only shows the catalog numbers, not the descriptions, and you can’t access the item window while the filter window is active. So, the time issue aside, this is nearly impossible for me.

I think the most frustrating part of the entire support experience is that all of the people working there are quite obviously told never to admit that there are problems with Quickbooks. They propose these absolutely ridiculous solutions as work arounds, or claim that it’s the user’s problem for wanting to do something the software can’t do (even if it could do it in a previous version — 2007)

Ho hum. I too wish there was another product I could use. I’d be on it in a heartbeat.


I should add that QuickBooks for Mac users should backup their company file prior to importing transactions via IIF.


Hi Rob,
As with previous versions, you can download transaction histories into QuickBooks for Mac by downloading an IIF file from PayPal.

According to instructions I found at http://www.onlinemerchantnetwork.com/inform/board/message?board.id=TechnicalIssues&thread.id=2722, these are the steps you can take to download an IIF file from PayPal:

Go to My Account/History-
on the display in the header you will see
“download CSV |More”

Select “More” –then “settlement file”
At the very bottom there is a link to
“Downloadable History Log”

The QuickBooks for Mac team


We’re on macs and looking for accounting software for our 2-person home office business. Can Quicken do the job, or do we need to go to Quickbooks? Can Quicken be used for both business and personal financial accounting?

We have very simple business needs: basically the chart of accounts. We’d like to export data into Turbotax — both personal and business accounts. Don’t need payroll, invoicing, loan tracking, inventory, P.O.s.



I used Quicken for years for both home and office. I used what I think they called the “class” field to track business vs personal expenses, and it worked just fine.

I switched to Quickbooks for the invoicing. I entered my client addresses; I can generate professional-looking invoices and keep track of what’s been paid. Other than that, there’s nothing I need to do in QB that I couldn’t do in Quicken. I also think Quicken is faster and easier to use. QB is the program we love to hate … it promises so much and delivers so badly.


Todd–you might ask that question at the Mac section of http://community.intuit.com/quickbooks Lots of QB Mac users there that will give you a frank perspective.

Nan–QB Mac supports WebConnect and DirectConnect downloads of credit card statements. Depends on whether your financial institution supports QB Mac. There is no online bill pay in QuickBooks for Mac currently.


Is is true that I cannot download credit card activity directly into QB for mac?

I don’t see the “online bill pay” option on the QB for mac–is it not offered either?


I have been running my salon business for 20 years using the Mc bee system. I know “old fashioned, but I can trust it”. I have a Mac book pro and I really want to start using it for my book keeping. Will quick books 09 for mac save me time and energy or is it going to be a disaster for me?

Alex Rodriguez


Its not hard to figure out what details Mac users want.

1- Feature parity with the Windows version. At best the Mac version is always several releases behind the Windows version.
2- Adherence to Mac interface standards.




I use QB 2007 for Mac and it is horribly clunky and unintuitive. I just downloaded the 2009 trial and though it looks a little better on the surface, one click takes you to the same clunky underpinnings of 2007. If I could find any competitor that offered a similar product that interfaced with my accountant’s version of QB I would leave Intuit in a second.


Hi Brad,
I work on QuickBooks for Mac. We appreciate your feedback on what could be better–the more details the better. We’re on twitter @quickbooksmac.

The QuickBooks for Mac Team


I have recently switched over to Mac and after research concluded the only Windows based product I would continue the use was QB Pro. I run QB for windows in Parallels 4.0. This has been a good solution for me.

ronny stephens

Can you help me … Mac Pro 2006 – i use atrix top pay for payroll … i can not get payroll expense to show in the profit & loss statement … we run 4 businesses and 3 work great, not the 4th … any suggestions ?? Thanks you!

Bob Vila

Joe L–the MacBook can boot Windows, so tell your Father-in-law to ask for one, then he gets a great Mac and can run the accounting software he already has at work…

As for the rest of the complaints, I agree. I run a consignment-based company and have had to basically modify and tweak almost every aspect of Quickbooks for Mac just to do basic work. I still don’t understand why simple functions (like loan/interest calculations) can’t be added in, they are very, very basic…

Frank N. Stein

Quickbooks for the Mac looks ok to me, but it is missing a very important feature – manual payroll. The software forces you to sign up for one of their payroll options, and it costs more money. The windows version allows manual payroll, why not on the Mac?

Some have said that payroll can be set up manually, and checking Intuit’s knowledge base I found this article:

But alas, the screen shots in the article don’t load, and without them, the article is useless. Why doesn’t Intuit allow manual payroll!? If they did, I would buy it.

Weldon Dodd

Lots of great comments here. I wanted to respond to two…

@Joe L – We run our consulting business on QuickBooks for Mac, including payroll, AP/AR, etc. I’m running another article on reasons to stick with the Windows version that might help you decide if you can switch to the Mac version.

@mover – Check out macpayroll.com – this is what we use and it works and is reasonably priced.


Quickbooks? Well I’ve been looking for an accounting package to handle my small moving company. I really need payroll to make my life easier. I tried QB trial and it did not offer payroll. I call for assistance and the rep just told me that the mac market was just too small. I have sold Macintosh computers for well over 15 years and have dealt with many graphic houses. Small and large. You can’t tell me that they would not want a payroll option to avoid paying an additional fee to some payroll company. I know I don’t want to spend another $90/month just to do payroll! I know that if they at least tried to have a version equal to the windows version in features, Mac users would more than likely buy it and us it!

I looking elsewhere.

I felt the rep from Intuit was rude. Sure he’s make a statement but I thought the Mac market is growing?!

You make it and they will come.


Intuit has always ignored a feature that could take the mac version to another dimension which is a multiuser/multiplatform version, lots of small and medium sized companies have macs as well as windows machines or simply would like to have all macs and want to run all business operations within the organization. By limiting to a one user version the mac version is never going to be as popular as the windows version. Most companies at least have more than one person to runsales and administration.

Joe L.

Quesiton for anyone using Quickbook for Mac in a business – is it capable of being a complete replacement for Windows Quickbook? Can a business’s accounting be run completely inside Quickbook for Mac?

My father-in-law recently started a new job at a small company as the Controller/Accountant/Financial Officer/etc, having come from being the CFO at a larger company. He has over 25 years of accounting experience, and many, many years experience using Quickbooks on Windows at his previous job.

At his new job, the owner of the company is the “creative type” who designs all the products, and he uses a Mac. He told my father-in-law he would buy him any computer he wants, including a high-end MacBook Pro, if he wants. My FiL has asked me if the MBP would work for him. I told him there is a quickbooks 2009 for Mac that looks like it would work, but I haven’t actually used it.

So, would someone who has used Windows Quickbooks for years be able to start up on Mac Quickbooks 2009, import the old data files, and continue to use it for everything they have done previously in Windows?


If your FIL is getting a high end MBP just load the parallels and load and run the windows version of quickbooks 2009, that way you know that he is totally backward compatible. Yes he could still run quickbooks for mac, but he would have to convert his data files to be compliant with mac version. Mac version might not have all the bells and whistles that the windows version offers.

Frank Furter

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….:^)

Bob Smith

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.

Brad Hopkins

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.


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.

Alex Rodriguez

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.


Sven L Rafferty

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.

Bob Smith

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.

Rod Drury

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



Edward J. Stembler

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.

kevin cloutier

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?




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

kevin cloutier

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?

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