iBank as a Quicken Replacement?

iBank as a Quicken Replacement?

Over the weekend I spent some time migrating my 14+ years of Quicken data from Quicken 2007 to iBank, which was at the top of my list of Quicken alternatives. I’ll be providing lots of details below, but the executive summary is that iBank (currently version 4.2.4) is a great piece of software, though I’m not convinced that it’s right for me.

While the good folks at IGG Software were kind enough to provide me with a review copy, iBank comes with a 30 day free trial that can upgraded to the paid version at any time. That should give you more than enough time to decide whether or not you like it – and if you do, simply register your copy and keep on using it.

Okay, back to the topic at hand…

Getting your data out of Quicken

For starters, I had to export my data from Quicken into a QIF (Quicken Interchange Format) file. This is one of several data formats that Intuit has developed and then abandoned over the years, and it’s the preferred format for importing into iBank.

In Quicken 2007, you can export to a QIF file by going to File > Export > To QIF. In my case, this took a few minutes as I have a ton of data – when all was said and done, I wound up with a 1.8 Mb text file.

Also note that Quicken is unable to export the price history for securities without a ticker symbol. This isn’t a huge deal, as most of our investments either have ticker symbols or are tracked as dollar-denominated investment – click through for more details on how I track CDs and Lending Club investments.

Getting your data into iBank

The next step is to install and launch iBank. When it comes up, tell it that you want to import from Quicken for Mac and then simply drag-and-drop your QIF into the window. Once again, you may need to wait patiently at this step – it really depends on how much data you’re dealing with.

NOTE: If you’ve been using Quicken Essentials for Mac, you’re out of luck, as it doesn’t support QIF export.

Once the import is done, you’ll get a window that asks you to verify the account types. Be careful with this step, as there’s no way to change account types after you create your file. For me, the only glitch at this point was that all bank accounts defaulted to checking accounts, and I had to change a few to savings accounts – though this is mostly a matter of aesthetics.

Double-checking the import

Okay, now that my data was in iBank, I needed to double-check the import and make sure there weren’t errors. The easiest way to do this is to open Quicken alongside iBank and cross-reference the balances for each account to make sure that they agree.

Given the huge number of accounts and transactions that I was dealing with, I expected to find a number of errors, but there were surprisingly few. Moreover, as far as I could tell, most of these errors appeared to be Quicken artifacts as opposed to iBank import errors. Regardless, this cleanup step was very fast and easy.

Strengths and weaknesses

My first impression of iBank once I got everything imported and started poking around was that it’s a very nicely polished piece of software. It’s much prettier than my old version of Quicken, and it’s fairly easy to navigate. The built-in help files are extremely helpful, and IGG also hosts some very nice support forums where you can mingle with other users as well as support staff.

One particularly awesome feature was the ability to cut/paste transactions from one account to another. This comes in especially handy if you make a mistake when setting your account type. You can’t change the account type after it’s created, but you can create a new account of the right type and then select all and cut/paste (be sure to cut and not copy!) the transactions into the new account. From there you can simply delete the old account. Slick! (And useful in other scenarios, as well.)

As I dug deeper, however, I ran into some unexpected limitations and annoyances. For example, when looking at how securities are set up, you can’t customize the the investment “Type” or “Risk.” Rather, you have to choose from a pre-set list of plain vanilla options.

Once again, this lack of customization isn’t a huge deal, but it could be an issue if you like to visualize your asset allocation with more granularity than Stock vs. Mutual Fund vs. ETF, etc. and Growth vs. Income vs. Speculation vs. Hedge. It would be nice to be able to specify things like domestic vs. international, large vs. small cap, etc.

Another annoyance is that iBank lacks a default portfolio view where you can see share numbers by account, returns, etc. While you can access this info through a custom report, the report has to be generated on the fly each time you view it, so there’s a bit of a delay when clicking over to review your portfolio. One tip here is to open your report in a separate window so you don’t have to wait for it to regenerate if you click in and out of it for any reason, but still… I miss the Quicken portfolio view.

I was also disappointed that you can’t enter total transaction amounts when recording an investment transaction. Rather, you have to rely on share price and number of shares and hope there isn’t a minor rounding issue. I often have things like a $1000 transaction that totals up to $999.99 or $1000.01 due to rounding errors from multiplying the share price by share number.

In Quicken, you can set the transaction amount and that spare penny will automatically get added or subtracted in the “commission” field to make the numbers work out right. In iBank, you have to do this manually. Yes, I’m anal – why track your finances with a computer if you’re not? And yes, I do a lot of manual updating, so that might be part of my problem.

If you’re a hard core investment tracker, then you might also be disappointed that that all investment basis tracking is done on a first-in-first-out (FIFO) basis, which might be a major sticking point if you’re into tax loss harvesting and prefer to specify tax lots. I do this, but I’ve always kept a separate spreadsheet for tracking this, so iBank’s use of FIFO tracking isn’t a show stopper for me.

The reporting is a bit cludgy, in that it tries too hard to make you use specified intervals, such as the past week, month, quarter, year, etc. While you can set custom date ranges, but there’s no easy way to generate reports for all of your data. Rather, you have to specify the relevant date range to get a look at all of your data at once – and then you’ll have to update the date ranges as time goes by.

Oh, and for some odd reason, it rounds of all you investment returns off to the nearest whole percentage in the investment reports. Why? Seriously… Why?

Finally, it’s worth noting that iBank doesn’t support billpay. This is a complete non-issue for me, as I use our bank’s billpay interface, but it might be an issue for you if you’ve grown accustomed to paying your bills from inside of Quicken.

The final analysis

In the final analysis, I was reasonably impressed with iBank, but I’m not convinced that it’s the right solution for me. I had extremely high hopes going in, the data migration was a snap, and I think it will be a great solution for many. That being said, I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to things like investment reporting, and I suspect other “power users” might be likewise disappointed with some of the limitations that I ran into.

Given the above, I’m going to keep poking around. My next (and hopefully final) stop will be Moneydance. Stay tuned for more updates…

17 Responses to “iBank as a Quicken Replacement?”

  1. Anonymous

    I used quicken for PC until I bought my Mac. I had hoped iBank was the solution until I used it for 6 months. I became very frustrated due to all the errors I had in my investment accounts Each month it would take hours reconciling my accounts. iBank might be good enough if you just have checking / savings accounts. It just could not accurately handle things you take for granted in Quicken. Like reinvesting dividends. Buys. Sells. Also, iBank “kind” of works with most Banks, but ask your banks first if they support it. It probably won’t and probably consider it a security risk. . Also, don’t count on iBank or even your bank providing any trouble shooting support. IBank support is close to non existent. After finally bailing on iBank after 6 months of frustration, I tried Quicken Essentials and Quicken ’07 for a short stint, got frustrated, then did what I was originally hesitant to do. I installed Parallels, Windows 7, and the full version of Quicken. It is awesome. Dont be afraid of the VM interface. In my mind, this is the only way too go. Quicken has a bit of a monopoly on the personal finance software market for good reason. There is nothing like it.

  2. Anonymous

    I recently received this reply from Intuit, inviting me to switch to Windows if I wished to use Quicken!

    “Thank you for contacting Quicken Customer Care.

    David, it is true that Quicken 2006 mac will not work with Lion OS but you can use quicken essentials on Lion OS. You can convert all the data files from quicken 2006 to Quicken essentials.
    If you want to track rentals, I suggest you to use Quicken rental property manager program for windows.

    If you require additional information or feel that the above resource(s) did not assist with supporting your issue, please feel free to reply to this email. ”


  3. Anonymous

    Any investment user will find iBank 4 completely inadequate. It is a horrible product. Comparing it to Quicken is like comparing a go cart to a Mercedes. i Bank is primitive and buggy.

    BTW, Intuit has announced they are bringing out a full Mac version of Q. If you can, wait. If you can’t go parallels and windows and Q 2012, which is fantastic, orders of magnitude better than Q 2007 Mac.

  4. Anonymous

    Understand that my background is graphic arts; and, advertising. I’ve never taken a computer class. I’m self taught. I’ve been using Quick Books, since 1987, to run a multi-million dollar advertising agency. Over the years I’ve tired of $150-250 upgrade charges from Intuit… especially since I’ve been on Social Security Disability since 2009. Because of Medical problems I had to close the doors to my agency.

    I’m fairly sure I’m going to use iBank as my Accounting application. A quick perusal of iBank has given me a positive feeling. Just as I’ve grown tired of Congress screwing me; and, stealing my assets. I’ve tired of outrageous annual fees, a blotted program and a program that has many capabilities I never use.

    An earlier accounting program, which I used for years, enabled me to play “What If” scenarios with loans and various debts. Quick Books doesn’t have this capability.

    Chris Barr

  5. Anonymous


    The reports are very basic and completely inflexible. If you are used to Q reports you will be frustrated. Don’t waste your time.

    Parallels 7 [Google it}is a slick program that allows you to install Windows 7 on your Mac and then install any Windows app, like Quicken 2012 and run it just like it was on your mac.

  6. Anonymous

    The one thing no one mentions is whether ibank can create itemized category income & expense reports. I use quicken for this and NEED this. I have 2 macs and one PC . I would like to be able to use my quicken 08 on my mac. What is parallells 7?

  7. Anonymous

    iBank is a nightmare. I tried q essentials but need full investment/security support ala q 2007 for Mac. So I installed IBank 4 six months ago and have never been more frustrated. Comparing it to quicken is like comparing msdos 1988 to OS Lion. It is one problem after another from duplicated transactions when importing to horrible investments graphics to …. I could go on and on. And I haven’t even mentioned all of the bugs.

    So I spent $200 on Parallels 7 and windows 7 and installed the pc quicken 2012. Nirvana! It sits in my dock and opeNs like any Mac app. I don’t even know windows is involved. And Q for the PC is an order of magnitude more robust than the Mac version.

  8. Anonymous

    When manually entering transactions, is there a way to have it automatically create a new blank transaction after you hit enter for each one? Stopping between transactions to click on + is annoying.

  9. Anonymous

    I am also a long-time Quicken user, and I have been checking out iBank. Along with everyone’s issues about the way iBank handles investment transactions, I also have an issue with their Check Reconciliation process.

    Compared to Quicken, it is cumbersome, and took me much longer to reconcile my monthly statement. The reconcile function is inside the check register and you have to find and mark the line item that has cleared. It reminded me of the days of balancing my checkbook with a paper register. Using Quicken, I could complete this task in minutes (enter ending balance, interest adjustment, and click, click on cleared transactions, and done!)

    I will be upgrading to Mac OS X Lion, but not yet sure how I will handle my 15 years of Quicken data. I am disappointed with Inuit and the solutions they have offered (Essentials and going to a PC version).

    Do you know if there will be issues with Lion and Inuit’s tax software? (I have as many years of tax returns too).

  10. Anonymous

    A truly fine review. Good luck in your further explorations. For reasons to follow I am not too optimistic about what you will find.

    So bothered have I been by Quicken on hte Mac’s minor failings that I have failed to fully realize how fundamentally sound a product it is: stable, fully featured for all including investors, and possessed of myriad flexible reporting capabilities. What has awakened me to its deep strengths is a brief trial of iBank. It is strong where Quicken is weak. It is Mac-like, attractive, fast, and designed for contemporary Mac operating systems and processors. Unfortunately it is weak in many areas where Quicken is strong and, while investors can use iBank, they are not well served by it for reasons cited my many.

    I may be wrong in my surmise but I suspect that in it and other Lion-capable accounting software the portfolio features are add-ons to programs first developed simply as registers for banking and credit-card accounting. Perhaps on such foundations an application with robust investor and reporting functions can be built. But as of today, as far as I know, no-one has done that. I do not know enough about application development to know whether a satisfactory accounting program can mature in that way or whether it must from its beginnings be designed with portfolio management and investor functionality in mind. I also don’t know what level of resources is required to develop a satisfactory product of the Quicken kind along either of these routes. Resource scarcity has not, I would guess, inhibited Intuit from updating Quicken or adapting it for Lion. Rather, I would guess, strategic thinking has: -I’ll move everyone to the cloud. If major resources are required to make a strong accounting product two routes seem possible: iBank or one of its competitors attracts a venture capitalist or other source or…..Apple does what it has done in word processing, media applications, and other areas.

    I know several folks who have rejected the Mac even in the presence of Quicken 2007. They will not consider a Mac or even take the platform seriously until there is a robust and deep application that meets the accounting needs of investors. Folks who own Macs and share my thinking should apprise Apple of their distress.

  11. Anonymous

    I had also had the issue with iBank investment transactions so I had sent them a support e-mail message. After an initial failed exchange which simply reiterated how to use iBank, the real answer came back: iBank cannot handle an investment transaction by starting with transaction value and share quantity and calculating price/share. It is a feature that iBank developers have discussed but they have no plans as yet to implement it. Looks like it will be Moneydance for me too, then.

  12. Anonymous

    Very good review nickel. I’m a PC user so I don’t have to leave Quicken for now, I’m currently using Quicken 2011 and it’s very good. But I’m looking for something that can also be used via an app on my Android. Hopefully Intuit will come out with a Quicken app. I’m just like you, I really need solid investment support and it seems IBank is not cutting it. I could not deal with only FIFO transactions for example. Keep up the good work and let us know how Moneydance works out.

  13. Anonymous

    I’ve been using Quicken 2011 on my mac running in parallels, while it’s not the greatest solution at least i have all of my data and don’t have to worry about migrating it.

    if you are awitching from a pc, you already have a license for XP to run in parallels when you trash your old computer.

  14. Anonymous

    others, if Intuit cannot ante up and work with the long time mac users, I’d much rather give my dollars elsewhere and not to both microsoft for windows and intuit for pc quicken. I’ve been relatively happy with Q07 but it wasn’t fantastic. So having someone who knows WAY more than I do about what it should do, is a great relief.

    I moved over to ibank two days ago and am just now able to play with it a bit. I will say I like being able to move the order of the accounts on the left column as Q was not very flexible in that way. and I like the totals showing in the list.

    I am going to keep playing in ibank to stay current but moneydance was the other one I was on the fence about so I am looking forward to whatever you have to share, after trying it out.

    I don’t have a lot of stocks to track, some but have not been doing it online prior to this so I don’t know what to look for, so again, I am very appreciative of your willingness to share your learning.

    you rock!


  15. Anonymous


    At the top of your article, you say “…iBank, which was at the top of my list of Quicken alternatives”.

    Will you share your list?

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