iBank 5: Dr Mac Can Finally Say Goodbye to Quicken


Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves 
Episode #98


I love managing my finances on my Mac, but I have never liked depending upon Intuit or its Quicken for Mac products. Intuit, as you probably know, has no love for Mac users. Way back in May of 1998, when Apple was at the depths of the death knell era, Intuit abruptly discontinued Quicken for the Macintosh. At the time I wrote:

I don't know about you, but I'm done with Intuit. As soon as I find a replacement, I'm throwing out my copy of Quicken. I won't use MacInTax, even if they don't kill it next year. Furthermore, I will never visit their Web site, nor will I take advantage of their "extended personal finance capabilities" at Quicken.com. And you can bet that I won't shop and apply for mortgage and life insurance online at Quicken.com either. Like Howard Beale, the mad prophet of the airwaves in the movie Network, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

* The complete column appears at the end of this one…

Believe it or not, I’ve been looking for a personal finance solution for the Mac since then. I know…but I tried at least a dozen programs over the years, and I didn’t find a single one that worked for me. And trust me, since I had to import 10 or more years of financial data into each program for testing, I’d have been delighted to never open Quicken again. Sadly, I never found anything that came close to meeting my needs.

Fast-forward 14 years and Intuit/Quicken was still a thorn in my side, as I ranted in an August, 2011 column:

The second and far more significant reason is that I’m not ready to upgrade my main Mac. And the reason I’m not ready is that at least one application I consider mission critical — Quicken for Mac 2007 — will cease to function after I install Lion. You see, Quicken for Mac 2007 (as well as Quicken for Mac 2005 and 2006) were built for the ancient PowerPC processor and were only able to run on modern Intel-based Macs by the grace of an Apple technology known as Rosetta. The problem is that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion doesn’t include support for Rosetta. So, as soon as I install Lion I lose the ability to use Quicken as well as a couple of hundred other PowerPC apps on my hard disk (but none of which I consider mission critical).

* The complete column appears at the end of this one…

Four months later Intuit updated Quicken to run on Macs with Intel processors. Did that make me happy? Here’s what I said in January 2012:

I know I ought to be thrilled that Intuit will provide a Lion-compatible version Quicken 2007 sometime in 2012, but I’m not. For one thing, I don’t trust Intuit, which has shown a remarkable lack of respect for Mac users over the years. For example, it has frequently updated Windows versions while there hasn’t been a new Mac release since 2007. And it has discontinued the Mac version at least twice since I’ve been a user.

* The complete column appears at the end of this one…

Next: I Found It - iBank 5

Page 2 - I Found It - iBank 5

 

I had but two criteria for a replacement: my new personal finance program had to import Quicken data, and it had to let me pay bills electronically (i.e. without writing or printing checks). After testing close to a dozen programs that didn’t meet my requirements, I found iBank, from IGG Software, which not only imported my Quicken data flawlessly, it also lets me pay any bill electronically with just a few keystrokes. 

And that’s my favorite feature  — paying any bill by typing a few characters and clicking the “send payment” button.

You provide Payee Details the first time you make a payment to someone…

After that, just fill in the blanks and click Continue to send a payment

Paying bills this way rocks – no printing, no paper, no envelopes, no stamps, just a few clicks and I’m done. Which brings me to my only gripe about iBank: While it’s possible to pay bills and download data directly from many banks at no additional cost, my bank wasn’t one of them. The solution is a subscription to IGG’s Direct Access service for $39.99 a year. On one hand, this means iBank costs me a bit more than $59.99 for the app. And since Direct Access is a subscription, I pay it annually. On the other hand, it means I don’t have to use Quicken or deal with Intuit anymore. So while I resent paying extra for Direct Access, it’s a small price to pay to be free of Intuit.

Next: More iBank Features

Page 3 - More iBank Features

 

The other features I use regularly are the overview dashboard, which contains all of my account balances, upcoming bills, recent deposits, and much more, and the individual account summary pages, which provide additional details for each account. These reports make it easy to determine my current financial situation with just a couple of clicks, which is a lot easier than trying to create a report in Quicken. 

The overview screen displays my most important financial data on a single page

I’ve been using iBank to pay my bills twice a month for over a year and I like it better than Quicken in every way. To me, Quicken always looked and felt like a bad Windows port with its confusing mess of windows, palettes, and crowded dialog boxes. iBank looks and feels like it was made for the Mac, with everything you need in one cleanly-designed window and far fewer dialog boxes. This should come as no surprise considering IGG Software is an Apple-only developer that doesn’t even make Windows or Android software.

One last thing: Speaking of other operating systems, there are Quicken and iBank apps for iOS. I haven't tried the Quicken app for iOS, but iBank has excellent iPhone and iPad apps that sync effortlessly with your Mac. They do cost a bit extra ($9.99 and $19.99 respectively), but it’s a small price to pay if you like having all of your financial data at your fingertips at all times.

I realize that personal finance software is a very personal choice. What works for me may not work for you. Fortunately, Igg Software offers a 30-day free trial at www.iggsoftware.com.

If you hate Quicken as much as I do, or are just looking for an easy-to-use personal finance program that doesn’t suck, I think you’ll find a lot to like in iBank.

And that’s all he wrote…

...except for those past columns.

Next: Full text of Dr. Mac column for May 1, 1998

Page 4 - Full text of Dr. Mac column for May 1, 1998
(as submitted to The Houston Chronicle)

 

Dr. Mac
By Bob LeVitus

Intuit has committed its final offense

I received  a disturbing letter from Intuit, the publisher of Quicken. In a nutshell, it says that Intuit has decided to discontinue development of Quicken for the Macintosh.

This fall, when Windows users get their copies of Quicken 99, we Mac folk will be stuck with last year's model. "Instead of developing another desktop release for Macintosh, we've decided to assign our Macintosh development resources to the important task of implementing expanded personal finance capabilities on the Web," wrote Mark Goines, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit's consumer division. "I'm confident, however, that this business decision will enable us to better serve all our customers -- including Mac users -- with innovative enhancements to our products and services."

Have you ever heard a bigger load of BS? My favorite electronic newsletter, MWJ, The Weekly Journal for Serious Macintosh Users ( http://www.gcsf.com), summed it up thusly: "The move is especially galling because Intuit completely dominates the Macintosh personal finance market, having used its resources to squash the competition. Plus, Intuit CEO Bill Campbell is on Apple's board of directors, yet continues to remove his company from undisputedly profitable Macintosh markets while paying lip service to the importance of the platform."

In an interview with MacCentral (http://www.maccentral.com), Adam Samuels, an Intuit spokesperson and former Apple employee, said the company is not abandoning the Mac platform. There's even a possibility of new Quicken versions in the future if Apple makes inroads into the consumer market.

I know Adam, and he's a nice guy. But if he expects us to swallow this hokum, he's got another thing coming. Does he think the Mac community doesn't remember back in 1996 when Intuit discontinued MacInTax Pro for the Mac? At that time the company denied the decision would affect development of the standard version of MacInTax, Quicken, QuickBooks or QuickBooks Pro. But guess what? Later that year they killed QuickBooks and QuickBooks Pro for the Mac anyway. At that time they denied the decision would affect development of Quicken or MacInTax. Now, they've killed Quicken.

I don't know about you, but I'm done with Intuit. As soon as I find a replacement, I'm throwing out my copy of Quicken. I won't use MacInTax, even if they don't kill it next year. Furthermore, I will never visit their Web site, nor will I take advantage of their "extended personal finance capabilities" at Quicken.com. And you can bet that I won't shop and apply for mortgage and life insurance online at Quicken.com either. Like Howard Beale, the mad prophet of the airwaves in the movie Network, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

If Intuit's outrageous behavior ticks you off as much as it's ticked me, I suggest you write to: Mark Goines, senior vice president and general manager, consumer division, Intuit, 2650 E. Elvira Road, Suite 100, Tucson, Ariz. 85706-7180.

If enough of us make our displeasure known, perhaps they'll reconsider. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

--

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on the Mac OS and the author of 27 books, including Mac OS 8 For Dummies. E-mail comments to boblevitus@boblevitus.com. Copyright © 1998 Bob LeVitus

Next: Full text of Dr. Mac column for August 9, 2011

Page 5 - Full text of Dr. Mac column for August 9, 2011
(as submitted to The Houston Chronicle)

 

Dr. Mac
By Bob LeVitus

Thoughts on Upgrading to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Apple released Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) into the wild on July 20; the next day Apple announced that over one million users had already bought and downloaded it. If you’re wondering why I haven’t written about it before today, there are a couple of reasons.

First, I was on a cruise ship the week Lion was released, so I followed my own advice, namely: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or to put it another way, when I’m away from home and my MacBook Pro is operating flawlessly, I never install, update, or upgrade a critical component like, say, its operating system.

For what it’s worth, before I left for my trip I ran pre-release developer versions of Lion on another Mac while I worked on Mac OS X Lion For Dummies, and I would have loved to have had some of its features on my MacBook Pro while I was away, but, I wasn’t taking any chances.

The second and far more significant reason is that I’m not ready to upgrade my main Mac. And the reason I’m not ready is that at least one application I consider mission critical — Quicken for Mac 2007 — will cease to function after I install Lion. You see, Quicken for Mac 2007 (as well as Quicken for Mac 2005 and 2006) were built for the ancient PowerPC processor and were only able to run on modern Intel-based Macs by the grace of an Apple technology known as Rosetta. The problem is that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion doesn’t include support for Rosetta. So, as soon as I install Lion I lose the ability to use Quicken as well as a couple of hundred other PowerPC apps on my hard disk (but none of which I consider mission critical).

To determine which, if any, of your apps won’t work under Lion, launch the System Profiler application in the Utilities folder within your Applications folder and choose Full Profile from its View menu. Select Applications in the list on the left side of the window and click on the header of the column named Kind. If System Profiler displays an app’s kind as Intel or Universal, that app is likely to work OK under Lion. If, however, an app’s kind is listed as PowerPC, the app won’t even open once you upgrade to Lion.

I’m checking out Lion-friendly personal finance software that can import my Quicken data, namely iBank (www.iggsoftware.com) and Moneydance (www.moneydance.com). Until I’m convinced one or the other will serve my needs, I’m forced to stick with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

--

Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS X, the author of 60 books including iPad For Dummies, Mac OS X Lion For Dummies, and Incredible iPhone Apps For Dummies, and a Mac consultant, troubleshooter, and trainer. Visit his Web site at www.boblevitus.com; e-mail comments to doc@boblevitus.com. Copyright © 2011 Bob LeVitus

Next: Full text of Dr. Mac column for January 3, 2012

Page 6 - Full text of Dr. Mac column for January 3, 2012
(as submitted to The Houston Chronicle)

 

Dr. Mac
By Bob LeVitus

Is there still hope for Quicken 2007?

In my August 9th column last year I explained that I wasn’t ready to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, placing the blame squarely upon Intuit’s Quicken personal finance app, which I’ve used for personal and business finances since time immemorial. I reported that Quicken would cease to function under Lion and explained that finding and switching to another personal finance program was a rather substantial undertaking sure to cause me severe pain in the backside.

In my October 4th column I discussed two Lion-compatible personal finance apps — iBank (www.iggsoftware.com) and Moneydance (www.moneydance.com) — and said I would let you know what I decided in an upcoming column.

This isn’t that column; I still haven’t gotten this dilemma sorted out for a variety of reasons:

First, a number of readers told me they liked a program called SEE Finance (www. scimonocesoftware.com) better than iBank or Moneydance, so I wanted to check it out.

Second, a number of readers said they were happy with Intuit’s Quicken Essentials, a program I had dismissed as a dumbed-down Lion-compatible release. It’s still missing many features I consider essential but I feel obliged to at least take another look.

Finally, Intuit announced last week that it would be releasing something called, “Lion Compatible Quicken for Mac 2007,” which will be available “soon.” The bottom line is that I can’t make any decisions until I’ve compared and contrasted this release with the others. 

This leaves me with a major quandary. The just-announced Lion compatible version of Quicken 2007 will almost certainly be the simplest and least-painful solution to my problem. The problem is that I’m not sure it’s the right solution. I’ve made no secret of my disdain for Intuit and its shabby treatment of Mac users over the years and have publicly proclaimed (and more than once) that I was done with Intuit for good. 

I know I ought to be thrilled that Intuit will provide a Lion-compatible version Quicken 2007 sometime in 2012, but I’m not. For one thing, I don’t trust Intuit, which has shown a remarkable lack of respect for Mac users over the years. For example, it has frequently updated Windows versions while there hasn’t been a new Mac release since 2007. And it has discontinued the Mac version at least twice since I’ve been a user.

Should I give Intuit another chance, or should I cut my losses and switch to a product from a company that respects and cares about Mac users? I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve tested Lion Compatible Quicken for Mac 2007.

--

Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS X, the author of more than 60 books including iPhone 4S For Dummies, Mac OS X Lion For Dummies, and iPad 2 For Dummies, and a Mac consultant, troubleshooter, and trainer. Visit his Web site at www.boblevitus.com; e-mail comments to doc@boblevitus.com. Copyright © 2012 Bob LeVitus