Quicken Essentials for Mac – Taking a Step Backwards?

Quicken Essentials for MacI just received a mailer yesterday announcing the arrival of Quicken Essentials for Mac, which is the long-awaited update to Quicken 2007 for Mac. Quicken Essentials was actually released back in February, but I somehow missed the announcement.

On the surface, this update sounds great. The new software runs natively on an Intel chip (requires MacOS X 10.5+) and the interface has been completely re-designed to make it more user-friendly. According to the mailer:

“Built from the ground up for Mac, the 2010 Edition delivers the intuitive ease of use and clean, modern look you’ve come to expect from a Mac application.”

Unfortunately, the early reviews on Amazon are abysmal, averaging 1.5 stars on over 100 reviews. While Intuit claim that “this is the upgrade you’ve been waiting for, ” it appears they’ve paid too much attention to form, without focusing on function.

Here’s some info from the Setup Guide that I gleaned from one of the reviews. Note that you wouldn’t otherwise learn about this until you had bought and begun installing Quicken Essentials:

As much as we improved the experience of using Quicken when we rebuilt it from the ground up, there are some features you may have been used to using in Quicken for Mac (or Quicken for Windows) that we didn’t include in this version of Quicken Essentials.

Investments – Quicken Essentials lets you to track the overall value of your investment accounts and the value of specific holdings, but the software does not track individual buys and sells, nor will it provide some advanced investment performance reports.

Exporting to TurboTax – Quicken Essentials does not currently support the ability to export your data to TurboTax.

Direct bill pay – 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.

Other advanced features – Quicken Essentials does not include many of the advanced features in other versions of Quicken, including Business features, Rental Property, lifetime planner, cash flow forecast, spending plan, debt reduction plan, emergency tax records, tax planner, and home inventory manager.

Wow. Seriously? You can’t track individual buys and sells in your investment accounts? It’s unclear if this information is actually lost upon import, and cannot be entered going forward, or if Essentials simply fails to provide a way of viewing/reporting it.

And beyond that… No direct billpay? No TurboTax integration? This all makes me wonder what else is missing. In the three years since the last update, you’d think they could’ve found of way of incorporating these essential features into a product called Essentials.

All in all, this is very disappointing news. I’ve been pretty happy with Quicken 2007 for Mac, and was looking forward to an equally useful replacement – especially given Intuit’s history of sunsetting online support for older versions. For now, it looks like I’ll be sticking with the 2007 version.

The good news is that Intuit offers a 60 day money back guarantee, so if you buy Quicken Essentials and are unhappy with it, you can get your money back. The only downside here is that they don’t cover return shipping.

14 Responses to “Quicken Essentials for Mac – Taking a Step Backwards?”

  1. Anonymous

    Yes, Quicken has outdone themselves with Mac Essentials.

    They thought it would be to their advantage to use their marketing and demographic expertise to give our grandmothers a program they could enjoy while still using a pencil and paper to do most of the work.

    How futuristic of them.

    I hope another financial software company takes advantage of this golden window of opportunity and slam dunks Quicken.

  2. Anonymous

    Quicken for Mac has always been less advanced than the Windows version. Why Intuit never improved the Mac product appropriately is beyond me.

    If their plan is to bring advanced capabilities to an online plateform for Mac users in the future, than they should say so.

    The loss of tracking buys and sells is a deal-breaker for me. Without that data, how can I use the program for looking back to old purchases/sells so that I can determine my cost basis? I have data from stock purchased over 10 years ago. Why would I want to lose that information??

  3. Anonymous

    I very recently switched from Windows to Mac. I have been using Quicken for years so I purchased QEM. The transition took several time consuming steps to import the previous data and the imported data did not match up with the information from my Quicken for Windows. I removed the entire program from my Mac. Then I re-installed it without any imported data and created a very simple to calculate checking account. After two days of trying to reconcile the newly created account (it only has about a dozen entries) I still can’t manage to get it to reconcile correctly. The program goes back today. QEM is by far the worst program I have ever tried to use.

  4. Anonymous

    I was using Quicken Home & Business 2009 and was considering upgrading to QH&B 2010 but thought I’d give QEM 2010 a try. Not exactly what I was expecting, and yes, it was an annoyance figuring out how to clear a transaction. Finally got it, and if you add the column Reconcile to your view (does it by account, so you’ll have to add it to each account), when you clear the transaction, it adds the checkmark to the Reconcile box. So there you can see which are cleared or not. I’m not much in accounting, but I thought Reconcile and Clear were different…but at least now I can see which are cleared.

    Oh, and you can move the columns around! 🙂 That was cool, but not essential… oh well. Yes, I’m a Mac guy, but that was not the reason I got QEM; I wanted to be native on my new MacBook Pro, but I would have been perfectly happy with QH&B 2009 had I known the reporting was not up to par. Oh well, serves me well. I just hope they update soon.

  5. Anonymous

    In Quicken 2007, I have check and credit card transactions that go back to 1995. When I imported to Essentials, transactions only go back to May 2009.
    A question: why is my old qdfm file 30 MB but my new Essentials converted Quickendata file 94 MB? Less info packed into a bigger box!

  6. Anonymous

    I switched from Windows to Mac for my home computer in 2008. Since then, I’ve been running XP in a VM (VMWare Fusion) for just a few applications. The one I used the most was MS Money. I had heard that Quicken 2007 for Mac wasn’t that great, so I was fine to just keep running with Money. Well, after some time, I got tired of having to launch the VM every time I paid bills. I bit the bullet and bought QEM.

    To tell the truth, I never used the advanced functionality, so that part doesn’t bug me. I used Money as a glorified spreadsheet and never downloaded data, paid bills through it, etc. I prefer to go to my bank/cc websites and manually enter my transactions. It’s just personal preference. QEM does allow me to do this, but not easily. It’s not as quick to enter them and scheduled transactions are a real pain.

    There are several basic functions that I used all the time that I miss dearly though. I never used Quicken before, so I don’t know if their other/previous products had these functions or not. Maybe it was just Money that had them.

    1) I want a column to see a C for cleared transactions. In QEM you can mark a transaction as cleared, but there’s no indication on the register if you have marked it. You have to change the filter to see which ones aren’t cleared. I want to just be able to glance at it! Plus, I don’t want to waste my time clearing transactions that have already been cleared.

    2) I would love to have a follow-up flag. In Money, I would flag all my transactions when I scheduled their payment online. Since I pre-planned everything and had several months worth of bills already entered, it helped to see which ones I had already set up and which ones hadn’t arrived, etc. I would clear the flag when it cleared the bank. This was immensely helpful to see which checks hadn’t cleared yet. For now, I’m using the notes field in QEM to attempt to handle this. I mark “S” when it is scheduled and delete it when it is cleared. Any checks that haven’t cleared with still have the “S.” It’s not ideal, but it’ll do.

    3) If you use the scheduled transactions, you cannot change the value unless you mark it as “Paid.” You can change all future scheduled transactions, but you can’t change a single one.

    Even with all of this headache, I’m planning to continue using it. Like I stated before, I’m tired of launching the VM every time I pay a bill. It is for this reason and this reason only that I will continue to use QEM.

  7. Anonymous

    I needed to buy Parallels to run a windows-only compiler that I need for my business, so I didn’t even bother w/the abysmal version that Quicken had for Mac.

    I just installed the Windows Business Edition onto the virtual machine. It’s a little inconvenient to get into it, but it works well and has the features missing from Mint that I really need…such as reconciling transactions and being able to record who I write a check to. (Honestly…how much longer can Mint go before they implement that?!?)

  8. Anonymous

    Annoying.

    After I made the switch to Mac, I was less than perfectly pleased with the version of Quicken for Mac available at the time — its functionality seemed prehistoric, and it “disappeared” all my investment data.

    That notwithstanding, I stuck with it because of the difficulty of moving large quantities of data to another program.

    Getting laid off my job, however, provided a golden opportunity to consolidate and simplify the finances. Coincidentally, I was canned on December 31, making it easy to start everything anew in Excel.

    If your finances are simple enough that you can do your taxes yourself, it makes sense to use one of the applications in the Cloud. If you have to send your data to a tax professional, Excel will do as well as Quicken.

    I was already tracking my investment data in Excel — it doesn’t absorb data from the Web, but how hard is it, really, to do your own updates? The beauty of Excel is that it works on all platforms and doesn’t quit working just because Microsoft issues a new version.

  9. Anonymous

    @Nickel – this is somewhat shocking as Intuit has a $660 million research and development budget annually. It would appear that they’re not very serious about Mac consumers or they simply don’t understand them. No TurboTax, BillPay, Advanced Features? Wow.

  10. Anonymous

    I have tracked my investment accounts for years in both Windows- and for the past several years when I purchased my MacBook Pro. Never a problem importing between computer types or even program versions. However, the new Quicken Essentials is a step backward- especially for all current Quicken Mac users.

    To help address the investment question: The product does not allow for an investment account import NOR does it allow for the user to enter transaction information manually. It essentially downloads a “snapshot” of your daily investment account information when you do an on-line update; and God help you if your financial service provider does not offer web connect- then your just plane screwed with no ability to track investment account information! To me, the investment tracking resembled something you’d see in the on-line financial offerings like Quicken.com or Mint.com (now owned by Intuit).

    Seriously Intuit, you never should have released this version. You had YEARS to come up with a decent solution for a growing market segment drooling over a dynamic product such as what you offer with the Windows platform. I know I can run Windows on my Mac, using a program like Parallels, but why bother with the OS cost and all the security updates when all I really would use would be Quicken?! Even The Quicken Essentials Forum (a large quick link button is provided through the software in the lower right corner of the program) is filled with nothing but negative comments about the product- loyal users are even sharing to others on how to return the product for their money back. This has to be a PR nightmare for Intuit.

    After playing around a few days with it, I determining that I’d be more frustrated using this lame version than sticking to my older version, I applied for the money back guarantee posted in the Quicken Forum by another 10+ year Intuit customer.

  11. Anonymous

    Allow me to tell you some of the other features that are missing: the ability to export reports to an excel-readable file and income/expense subcategories. The second issue would have been possible to work around, except that it created entire new categories to handle the subcategories in my imported information. So in order to see how much I spent on “Auto” I had to manually add up “Auto:Fuel”, “Auto:Repairs”, etc. This was made all the more difficult because I couldn’t export the data to excel and have the spreadsheet add it up.

    As to the export issue, I tried a million ways to make it work – even copying and pasting. No luck. Without that, Quicken is useless to me, so I very snottily took them up on their money-back guarantee. I even offered to provide feedback about the issues but shocking, no one has followed up.

    I actually speculated that this program is a jab at Mac users as people who like pretty things and don’t need to worry about money – because sure, it’s pretty, but good luck figuring out how much money you have.

  12. The problem with the online solutions (like the old Quicken Online and now Mint) is that they can’t import my desktop data. If they could, I’d be all over them. But for now… I’m not willing to part with 13 years worth of data.

  13. Anonymous

    There are so many apps “in the cloud” these days, I am surprised they are still able to sell prepackaged software. Taxes can be done at turbotax.com and finances can be tracked at sites like mint.com.

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