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Quicken Essentials for Mac

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I spent the last week or so playing with a copy of the new Quicken Essentials for Mac from Intuit (s intu) and I can make this review really short for you. If you’re a die-hard Quicken user, you will hate (I mean really loathe and despise) the new Quicken Essentials product. If you are new to Personal Finance Management (PFM) software, then you will probably really like Quicken Essentials but still feel a little confused about why you have to pay $60 $69 for it.

Quicken Pops a Mint

Quicken 2007 for Mac was released in August of 2006. Since that time, Intuit has struggled to define its Mac strategy and loyal users have felt left behind. Intuit tried an online product that worked with the Mac, but were bewildered when a little startup, created as an anti-Quicken, amassed more subscribers. Last September, Intuit took another look at that startup and acquired and placed Mint’s founder, Aaron Patzer at the head of the personal finance group at Intuit. That move appeared to show that Intuit was floundering and was looking for outside help to fix its core PFM business. Understandably, the new Quicken Essentials shows a strong Mint influence.

The Essence of Quicken

To start on the new version, Intuit threw away the code for previous releases and started over to create a Mac native version with a modern look and feel. One of the design goals was to create a financial app that would feel at home as part of the iWork suite and it mostly succeeded. The new version looks great and shows a lot of attention to simplifying the user experience in areas like adding new accounts. People that are new to Quicken will love how easy it is to get started.

The new version had four key features: to see all your accounts one place, to see where your money is going, to stay on top of bills, and to track goals for saving money.

Accounts in One Place

Quicken Essentials will download transactions from about 12,000 banks out of the box (around the same number that currently supports) and up to 16,000 financial institutions will be supported in the next few months. This is over 3x the number of FI’s that Quicken for Windows supports. This is a tremendous improvement.

Where is My Money Going?

Quicken Essentials provides a nice looking home page with pie charts to quickly show where you stand. Instead of being buried in reports, this information comes front and center. QEM also supports budgets for tracking spending by category.

Plan for Bills

Quicken Essentials will analyze your previous spending and detect recurring bills to help you anticipate upcoming expenses. Of course, you can enter bills manually as well.

Set Goals for Saving Money

You can set goals and track your progress towards that goal.

The reboot of Quicken for Mac comes at a price in features however. While Intuit was fairly certain that they would cover 80 percent of the users from previous versions, there are going to be a lot of pretty upset users from the other 20 percent.

What’s Missing?

No Bill Pay

There is no Bill Pay feature in this release. Intuit found that less than 10 percent of existing customers were using that feature. Because major banks offer free online bill pay to their customers, this feature was axed as “non-essential.”

No Turbo Tax Link

There is no quick link to export tax prep reports direct to Turbo Tax. Many users would simply run the reports to look at spending by category and then type those numbers in Turbo Tax so, again, Intuit decided that this feature was also “non-essential.”

No Investment Tax Lot Accounting

QEM will track the current value of your investment accounts, but it does not provide any reports on the history of your transactions. Fortunately, all the transaction data is preserved in the underlying data and will be available to future versions that offer more comprehensive investment reporting.

The Future

Banking Services

QEM is one of the first places where you will see the integration between Intuit and Mint. All of the back-end will eventually be the same across Mint, Quicken for Windows and Quicken for Mac. Quicken for Mac will be the first product to get the big connection and then the rest will be ported over.

Parity with Windows

The whispered goal at Intuit is to bring parity to the Mac and Windows versions. This includes file format compatibility between different platforms. There is a clear acknowledgment that customers just want to get access to their financial information on whatever platform is available or convenient and Intuit is interested in being there.

Whither Quicken 2007 for Mac?

Quicken 2007 is still being fully supported. Intuit made it clear that it will provide support for a three-version window to include 2006, 2007 and Quicken Essentials.


No official statement here, but Intuit did discuss that the iPad is an “at your fingertips” device and financial data is a nice thing to have “at your fingertips.”

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I mentioned at the start that Quicken Essentials for Mac is similar in many ways to Mint. The product is streamlined, simple, visually appealing, and easy to jump into. They are so similar, that it is hard to understand why you should pay $59 for Quicken Essentials when you can use for free. That decision comes down to…

  • planning future transactions to manage cash flow
  • importing historical data
  • offline access

If you need any of those features, Quicken Essentials would be a good choice except for the price. For such a limited product (albeit a much cleaner and better designed product) I really think Intuit should have come out with $29 introductory pricing, $19 if you own any other Quicken product.

If you are a hard-core Quicken user and you like to reconcile your bank statements with your own records and you religiously enter all your receipts, you will be disappointed in this product. You might really like the next version that includes tax lot accounting and bill pay, but then hold on to your $60 $69 for a year (yes, I am an optimist and will hope against hope to see another version in a year). For the time being, hold on to Quicken 2007, or even Quicken 2010 for Windows, and see what happens.

130 Responses to “Quicken Essentials for Mac”

  1. I primarily use Quickbooks (PC version) for a check register and to run reports. No investments or check writing. If I can download my transactions from my bank and run reports and reconcile my checkbook, I’d be happy. Can I do all these things? Can I import data from my PC which is running Quicken 2008?

    • Steve – Quicken Essentials will let you keep a register, and reconcile with your bank statements. There are reports available, but I think there are not as many different kinds as there are in Quicken 2008 for PC. You can import from Quicken 2008 as well.

  2. alberg

    DEALBREAKER – I can’t believe I just paid for, downloaded and converted my data for a financial package that…CAN’T WRITE ONLINE CHECKS??? What were they thinking???

    This is from the instructions you get once you buy the package. You’d think they might tell you this ahead of time? I’m requesting a refund right away.

    You can track your bills in Quicken Essentials, but the program doesn’t have the direct bill pay capabilities that allow you to pay your bills directly from the program.

  3. Margie

    I too am a long time quicken pc user. Got a Mac last summer and was anticipating the new quicken. Check printing is essential to me and I find that a simple basic that is missing along with password protection.
    Is there another basic program that others are using? I hate going on my husbands pc just to do quicken and adding windows parallel to my mac defeats the purpose of having a mac.

  4. We are long time Quicken users having switched to Q2007 for Mac from Windows last summer. We’re not really happy with Q07 and have been looking forward to the new release. After reading the reviews and trying for a little we are uncertain about where to go from here. I guess we stay where we are (Q07) and hoe someone does things to improve the situation. Any ideas?

  5. I just transferred all 3 of my accounts from my PC that used quicken 2006 to my mac with the new mac essentials. Took me all day, but I did it. I had data back to 2006. One of the 3 accounts was off. I realized that once I put it on my mac, somehow it had added 5-6 scheduled transactions that I never created. Which changed my balance. Once I deleted those, everything was fine.

    I didnt delete each scheduled transaction in the register. I went into “scheduled transactions.” Clicked the one in question. Then clicked at the bottom of the screen “Schedule.” Then where it says “Ends:” I noticed it was set on “Never.” I changed that to the date before it started and all was fine. I suppose maybe I could have just deleted that from the list of scheduled transactions.

    My other two accounts did not have this problem. Hope this helps. So far I love this. I never needed any of the things they did not include in this version anyway.

  6. David Sternlicht

    My balance of my main bank account that I’ve been using for years is off by several thousand dollars. And has anyone used the new reconcile format? It confused me and I couldn’t solve the balance discrepancy.

  7. Who gives a crap about check printing and bill pay! My god it’s like the same 5 people complaining all over the Internet! My needs were simple: import quicken 2007 mac history and be able to schedule and input transactions. My bank has bill pay. I don’t have investments. I don’t use checks…at all. Everything is electronic. I personally never want to import bank data because it’s never accurate. I only compare quicken to my statements.

  8. PRINT CHECKS? Gone! I even bought some stupid checks from intuit to print from my printer, and this stupid essentials, can’t print checks. So I have ti write them. Isn’t much of an essentials as much as Assentails..
    Hate IT!!

    • bikinijack

      This version has an AWFUL REPORT FUNCTION, NO CHECK PRINTING (how could this be? Indeed when you search the PDF that comes with it the word PRINT does not come up!), and a REALLY GOOFY HELP TOOL.

      I am sending my copy back for a full refund. I am astounded at how poor this product is. Quicken 2007 is not going anywhere. What really amazes me is that with each new version QUICKEN GETS WORSE!

  9. Introvert

    I’m clearly in the minority here. I’m not a serious investor and I don’t understand all the fancy features in Quicken for Windows. I’ve tried many times, over the years, just to find myself lost and afraid I irrevocably messed up years of financial data. So, this is from a non-power user who wants just some accurate, usable information from Quicken. I just spent some time with Quicken Essentials For Mac and I really like it. It does what I want. I didn’t need to google anything or need a help file. My conversion and import from Quicken for Windows worked perfectly. My data goes back to 2004. I found it much easier to see information, and I was able to correct errors I never noticed in my QFW. So, my reports are more accurate now. The searching, sorting and corrections were stupid easy. The whole interface made so much sense to me. Sure, this may not be a product for serious investors or power users. I’d like to see the details of my stocks, as well. (not a deal-breaker for me) But for regular people, I think it’s great. I’m sure they will eventually add new features to make others happy, and that will be a good thing – I don’t want to see the product discontinued. But I hope, at the same time, they maintain the simplicity and nice interface for simple folks like me.

  10. I’ve been using Quicken since last century! As you said, I not only loathe and despise, but I’m lost in QEM. Plus, when I imported (or converted) my old data from Quicken 2007, my register is off. Well try and fix that — good luck!

    And I found the reconciling impossible. So much so that I did a Google search for “I hate Quicken Essentials” and that’s how I found your blog. I’m trying to decide if I will wait until January 1, 2011 to make a clean switch to QEM or just give up.

    Not making the switch yet, that’s for sure.

    • Ossian Howley

      Expressing me frustration with Quicken Essentials for mac.
      Find the user interface frustrating, and not intuitive.

      Transactions aren’t appearing from my bank statement when they are imported? Why?

      Doesn’t seem to by any logical reason. Frustrating when you just need something to work.

    • Ruth Iverson

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, David! I have been a Mac Quicken user since 1994 and have upgraded several times, usually with no major issues. However, upgrading to Quicken Essentials caused me many of the issues you related as well, especially massively incorrect registers upon importing my old data.

      One other issue that has my head banging on the keyboard in exasperation is that I’m unable to download transactions from my bank using Quicken Connect (I get an error), and when I try to use Web Connect instead, it creates a NEW ACCOUNT … every single time. Am I missing something or doing something stupid?

      Grrrrrr!!! I am thoroughly disgusted with this product.

  11. Bill pay isn’t the only thing missing from QFM 2007,
    check printing is missing.
    I too am terribly disappointed I waited this long to get less and less features compared to the Windows versions.
    I might just be done with Quicken.

  12. As someone who has been using Quicken 2007 for such a long time, I was eagerly anticipating this release. Now that I have it and realize there is no bill pay, I will be requesting a refund and going back to 2007.

    I realize that if less than 10% of the market needs this, Intuit needs to do what is good for the business. Doesn’t mean that I (part of that 10%) am not sorely disappointed.

  13. Weldon, many thanks for your article. I feel there is a huge lack of such reviews on the web. I am not an active user of Quicken, but I gave it a close look on Windows at some point. I am pretty much aware of financial apps for the iPhones, and feel that many iPhone users currently prefer simpler apps over more feature rich apps. Maybe it was one of the reasons behind Quicken’s decision to get rid of the Bill Pay feature. Generally from your review it looks like Quicken is taking steps to become simpler. Why do you think it happens this way?

  14. I have international bank accounts that aren’t supported. Is it possible to download an OFX or QIF file and then get the transactions into Quicken Essentials without having to manually enter them all? Thanks.

    • I have been waiting for this for quite awhile, just bought it and just NOW find out I cannot transfer my QIF files from Quicken on my PC. Is there anyway to do this? I have years of information I want to transfer. I have been researching this for quite a while and never saw that it did not support QIF files. I might not have purchased if I knew that. A bit frustrated at the moment. Thanks for your help.

  15. Rick St. Cyr

    I was using a beta version for the Mac called Financial Life and found it very useful and easy to use. Is Quicken Essentials for Mac the released version of Financial Life?

  16. Viewing a snapshot of my financial situation atop a pretty graph is not what I would call ” managing my finances”. Intuit was really desperate when they annointed this Mint guy ” Big Chief”. Mint is a joke. How could they axe the bill pay feature thinking it is non-essential because of some 10 percent usage stat that they perceived?

    How could Intuit have been so incompetent for the past 5 years that they couldn’t continue to improve their Mac version and could only bloat their Windows version while maintaining an ugly buggy interface.

    Remember in ’97 when Apple was trying to make a comeback and Steve Jobs provided Intuit with a developers to aide them in developing a Carbon version because they were not going to pursue it on their own?

  17. Thanks for the review. Does Essentials have the ability to print reports like in Quicken for Mac 2007? I understand that Essentials omitted many features of Quicken 2007, but I’d like to know exactly how much and what (besides the exclusion that’s already stated).

    From the screenshots, it looked pretty similar to Financial Life for Mac beta (which was horrendous) and doesn’t appear to have the ability to print report.

    • I’m disappointed to hear this. I was pretty certain that Intuit would do something revolutionary for the Mac version when they initially announced a preliminary release date on their blog last year. Oh well. I’m not spending money on a glorified copy of Financial Life, let alone $70.00!

    • I can’t find any way to print reports with Quicken Essentials. I’m looking for simple category/selected accounts and profit & loss. Am I missing something? I’m about to return my new QE.

  18. I am still using the copy of Quicken 2004 which came with my old iBook back when I bought it. If I was going to upgrade I think I would switch to MoneyWell or Cha-Ching, but I would rather spend money on something other than something to help me track what I spend money on ;)

  19. Not a comment but a question. I currently use Quicken for Windows on an old PV which I would like to get rid of. The only use I have for Quicken, however, is as a check register. does not have a check register although they told me they were looking into it when I wrote them. Not that I’m using a Mac for everything else, I don’t want to spend $60 or $70 for Quicken just to be a check register although converting all my old data is appealing. Is there a free program that is purely a check register and, if so, can old data be imported? Thank you.

  20. As people talking about mentioned, mint is read only, no way to input upcoming transactions to really plan.

    Here is my question, does that new version of Quicken offers that feature? Every review I’ve seen so far focus on the read-only part of things, which I’m not interested in. From that line in the article “planning future transactions to manage cash flow” it would appear so, I just can’t see that anywhere…

    • saul Stockhamer

      I have a brand new mac 27″ computer with snow leopard.I could not wait for the quicken essential for mac since I was using quicken for windows for years. I just got it and it is a big disapoinment . It does not have a way to print your own checks and it lacks in its reminder portion. I don’t understand why they just can’t duplicate the quicken for windows program. Because of this I am installing the ability to use windows on friday. intuits marketing people have developed a program for old time mac users and not one that would benefit sales for mac coming from the windows to mac conversion. I blame apple for not demanding a program that would also benefit their sales.

    • Saul – it’s interesting that Intuit went to great lengths with the Converter to reach out to switchers that have lots of data in Quicken for Windows or Microsoft Money. The old process for transferring data from Quicken for Windows to Mac was absolutely horrible. The new app makes it a lot easier to move but, as you have explained, many will be disappointed to find that the programs do not have the same features.

      I do think there is hope for future versions of Quicken for Mac, but you may want to hold out until those are released.

  21. I really want to like it. A local Mac version of Mint. But it’s missing simple stuff like income v. expenses for the month (i.e. what’s left). And the only way to graphically see historical spending per category is a pop-up in the budget section. That should be its own report!

    • I am with Brad. I really want to like this new essentials program, and for the most part, I do. But it is beyond my understanding how they could produce such a weak budgeting module. It does not distinguish between expense and income categories. So there is no way to tell at a glance, how much money I have left during the month to determine if I need to alter some of my budget categories.

    • I just made the mistake of upgrading from Quicken 2006 before reading the reviews. I agree that the reporting tools are awful and no investment tools either. Pie charts are great for the big picture but if I want to see how the new windows and insulation in my house have decreased my electric bill then Quicken essentials can not give me that information. An excel spread sheet with some pivot tables has better reporting than QE.

  22. I have to disagree with your statement that die-hard Quicken fans will hate this product. I consider myself a huge Quicken fan and if anything, I loathe and despise Quicken 2007 for Mac. I love the look and feel of so if this new Quicken is anything like you say it is, I am so excited for it!

    • Edward Mouton

      I’m definitely a nay-sayers who is a die-hard Quicken user. Intuit really dropped the ball and stays true to it’s direction to abandon Mac users. Quicken 2007 could have benefited from some updating for quite some time, but it’s still a far superior product/tool when compared to this new, and not-improved version.

    • biztrobill

      Cristina, I’m on your side. I’ve been using Quicken since the ’80’s DOS days. Speed and reliability took a nosedive when Quicken first became a Windows app. In my earlier days I was a Quicken geek, using every Quicken feature to track every minute detail. But these days, who has time? Now I use only debit cards and pay all bills online (but not with BillPay) – never write checks. is clean, fast and elegant but it won’t import my history, so I can’t use it for tax records. I use it just for quick balance check and alerts when big transactions clear the bank. (Or when balance gets low)

      I’m encouraged by what I read about Essentials for Mac. For the sake of those of us who like it clean and simple, I hope Quicken doesn’t bog it down with too many features.

      I wonder if Essentials can be developed as a modular system that lets users turn on just the features they want…?

    • Stefan Foerster

      It was $59.xx until release. Now that it’s actually out, available, and getting reviews, I guess they figured they’d be able to bump it up another $10. Sounds like smart business, eh? :-/ I actually have some hope for the future of Quicken on the Mac with Mr. Patzer at the helm, but the price definitely seems high — even at the previous $59 — for what you get, compared to the competition.

    • Mark – sorry for the confusion. In my briefing with Intuit they gave me the price as $60 and did not mention that it would be going up to $69. I apologize for the omission in my article and will see about updating the text to reflect the current pricing.

  23. Honestly, as a tax & accounting professional that refuses to work on anything but a Mac (if I can help it), I’ve always been disappointed with whatever Intuit releases for the OS X. So much so that I’ve just stopped trying. I use Intuit products because my clients use and love Quickbooks, but would much rather use the Windows version (through Parallels) than the OS X version. The version for OS X always seems watered down.

    • CJ Hazer

      I love me some Quicken. I use the Windows version on my Mac VMWare Fusion. There are too many elements of Quicken that I must have (bill pay, investment entry & download, etc.) that the Mac version can’t support. And I really got a kick in the pants when just today (1/13/2011) I receive a message from Intuit that I must upgrade to Quicken 2011 or lose the functions that I so depend upon. So, I have to pay the expense of VMFusion AND Quicken for Windows. Their message says they my current version has reached its 3 year limit for these special services. Come on Intuit. Get it together and get us a Mac version that competes with the Windows version.

  24. I can’t understand why anybody would even use — it doesn’t even let you enter transactions into your checkbook or your credit card register. It’s a “view-only”, “read-only” service that only lets you LOOK at your current balances & transactions for your accounts. You can’t even enter in a single transaction into! A truly UN-useful service for people who actually really care about their finances. Unless you’re entering your own transactions and then comparing them to your bank statements at the end of the month, then you have no idea which transactions are correct or incorrect. is ridiculous, and so is this new Quicken product.

    • Stefan Foerster

      I really like (though it does have trouble connecting to my bank sometimes) but it does need the ability to manually enter and reconcile transactions as well… Without that, besides not having a true picture of your actual available funds (due to outstanding checks and the like), you are really forced to trust that what the banks have cleared is all correct. I’ve caught a few mistakes over the years, and though none have been all that big, it’s definitely enough to know I need to keep my own record as well…

    • Is the description correct when it states that there is no support for bill payment? I interpret this to mean that once can’t direct one’s bank to send out a check to say, Sears, or Visa? If that feature is not there, I am left to wonder what the purpose of Quicken Essentials is. I am still running a Windows XP virtual environment on my Mac for the sole purpose of running Quicken windows for bill pay and bank register management. Is there no company with a similar product for OSX? Am I destined to work with Windows forever? Cannot MSFT make such a product. UGH!

    • I think the best way to address this issue is that there are different money management personalities out there. You would probably associate with “trackers” or “reconcilers” that like to double-check every statement. The Millennium generation is more likely to have only ever known online banking and the instant transactions with debit cards. Writing checks is almost completely foreign except for a few big items like the rent. Those folks are used to just checking online, like having one place to check instead of several, and have never reconciled a checkbook in their life.

      Quicken Essentials is designed to meet the needs of that casual group today and Intuit hopes to grow it to meet your needs and the needs of trackers over the next year or two.

    • Pete – there is no bill pay support in Quicken Essentials. In previous versions, Intuit offered their own bill pay service with which you could schedule payments from within Quicken. Only 6% of Quicken customers use this service, so it was pulled from the first release of Quicken Essentials.

      As an alternative, many banks offer free online bill pay. For example, I bank with Chase and I pay several of my bills by scheduling them through I pick up the payments in my electronic register when I reconcile in Quicken Essentials.

    • I prefer to write down all my transactions manually, and then check at the end of a month with my banks statements. It does not only help me to track bank transactions, but also any cash payments and anything else. I think that’s the best and most efficient way to care about personal finances. Having a list of transactions from Mint that I cannot edit.. helps, but absolutely not enough

    • Downloaded the product last night after purchasing some time ago. Very, very disappointed. The lack of a financial management tool is astounding. May keep it to see if Intuit improves it since I already paid for it. I’m very surprised that a company as successful as Intuit would market such “wimpy” product

    • John Selden

      Just to be clear, there are two types of “bill pay” that other Quicken products have offered. The first, mentioned above by Weldon, was a for-pay service called Quicken Bill Pay (or something like that), where you paid Intuit a fee, and they would pay your bills for you. I can see why few people used that. The second was where the user could direct-connect to his bank from within Quicken and pay bills using the bank’s payment service. This was free, and took the place of going to the bank’s website. The benefit of this was that it did everything in one step (you didn’t have to input the payment on the bank website and then separately record that payment in Quicken).

      The latter, free bill pay is (to me) quite essential. It sounds like that was omitted in QEM, which is a dealbreaker for me. I switched some time ago to another product that offers online bill pay, investment account tracking, full reporting, etc. I doubt Intuit will win me back at this point.

    • The last comment is correct. Quicken Essentials Mac does not alloow the user to connect with their bank and upload payment instructions to the bank. In my view, this is the major purpose of the product. I purchased, tested, and returned to Intuit because it lacked this feature.

      INTUIT – Mac users need a version of Quicken identical to WINDOWS QUICKEN DELUXE 2010… we need MAC QUICKEN DELUXE 2010.

      Please help us!