Quicken Essentials for Mac

I eagerly mounted the install volume when I returned from work for the day. My mission: install Quicken Essentials for Mac. I’ve been using Quicken for Mac for some time. Quicken has never been the most aesthetically pleasing application by any reach of the imagination, but it has always done what I’ve required of my money application: it must connect to my financial institution via a direct connection, download my transactions, and automatically reconcile them to what I’ve already entered. That is the only feature I have ever used. That also happens to be the standard by which I choose a bank. It must allow for direct connection; not the other commonly used “download a file and import it manually” that most banks prefer to deal with.

I don’t care about budgeting. I don’t care to print checks. I don’t care to follow investments. I don’t want to use any bill pay features. I don’t even want to export to some tax program. I simply want my money program to talk to my bank and match up to what I’ve entered, and somehow tell me if I’ve made some mistake. So this is the mindset that I have coming at the new Quicken Essentials for Mac.

My first impression was how pretty the eye candy was. Nice revised icon. When importing my existing Quicken data file it gave a pretty cool show, symbolically illustrating the fact that it was importing all my information. That was a 3 step process that could have been shaved down to an automated procedure asking you one simple question: Where is your existing file that you would like to import? Instead, you select File > Import, another window opens telling you to select a file, the file gets converted to a new file and dumped into your Documents folder, and then you have to drag it over to the dialog window you started from so that it can import that converted file.

Now I’m all set. Or so I thought. It imported everything but my password that I use to connect to my bank in order to download all my transactions. I had to dig that password up, because I only used it once: to put into the original Quicken. From that point on, I never typed that pin number again. I found it after much digging (1Password anyone?). It connected to USAA and downloaded all my new transactions.

That’s when the initial panic settled in. How in the name of Zod do I tell what has been reconciled by the bank and what has not? In older Quickens, every transaction was matched to the one I entered and marked as “reconciled.” This made for a simple task of looking down the columns and identifying which transactions that I have previously entered that do not have a big bold “R” in it. This is no longer the case. A quick trip to the user guide PDF informs me that this no longer happens, but I can still perform a manual reconcile if I desire to. Not cool. The whole reason I use this program is so that I do not have to manually reconcile.

After mucking around in the column chooser (control/right click on one of the column headers) I notice one that is labeled “match” and enable it. Now I see the status. All say “downloaded” except one deposit I had entered. It said “downloaded/matched.” So maybe this is how I will be able to keep an eye on my mistakes when I happen to make one. Unfortunately, I won’t know for sure until tonight after I download the new transactions. I’ll follow up on that later.

Speaking of downloading transactions, that process has been immensely improved. There is an update button on the bottom that connects to the bank and downloads transactions in one simple click. Kudos. I hated the fact I had to enter a password every time connected in previous versions.

Tonight’s download and matching will be the determining factor as to whether or not I stick with QEM. My other options will be to stick with Quicken 2007, or go use MoneyDance for a while, as I own that one too.

Follow-up on Downloading transactions

Downloading transactions was very smooth, as I wrote above. This time, entries already entered in were matched correctly to their corresponding download transaction, marked as “Matched (auto)” and the reconciled checkboxed became checked. It looks like I’ll be able to use this.