Quicken 2005 Mac vs. PC version

In short, when using Intuit Quicken 2005 Deluxe for Windows next to Quicken 2005 for Macintosh, you have to wonder why Intuit bothered with the Mac version. Intuit has waffled on Mac support in the past, and after using versions of the same software on both platforms I can see why Mac users for the most part hate Intuit and their software, and judging by the difference in the software for which Mac users pay $10 more I imagine the feeling is mutual.

You can see the pecking order right from the start when you visit the Intuit site:

Intuit box shots

Squint real hard and you may be able to make out the little Mac box there in the back.

I use Intuit products on both platforms by necessity. In a perfect world, I’d using something else but I like 100% compatibility with others. Same reason I use Word. I manage Mom at Home Design using QuickBooks Pro for Windows. I already explained my decision process for choosing this package, and I’m not sorry. Aside from the constant ads and nagging to “upgrade” to expensive services I don’t want or need, it’s not bad. In a few months I’ll be working with a CPA to make sure my books are in order before the close of my fiscal year and had I been using the Mac version (or another software package) this would be a much more painful process than it needed to be. My CPA uses QuickBooks for Windows, I use QuickBooks for Windows. All are happy.

For our home finances, I’m using Quicken 2005 for Mac. Eric and I exchange data and he has a PowerBook. I thought maybe it was just me, but could the interface be any less usable? Windows, windows everywhere. And managing categories is a nightmare. Quicken 2005 for Mac also has more than its share of bugs…like if you search for something in a register, and you get to the end and it says “Do you want to continue searching?” and you click “No” then Quicken says “Ha ha on you, stupid Mac user, I’m going to waste your time by searching through every single register in this file with absolutely no way of stopping the process or using Quicken for anything else until I’m done. So there!” I learned the very hard way that when I’m done searching, I better hit the “close” button to get rid of the search box instead. Now mind you, I only use Quicken to handle our banking accounts, credit cards, loans and budgets. I don’t use it for investment or long term planning.

Go shopping on the Intuit site and you’ll see a “View Demo” button next to the Windows versions of Quicken, but no chance to preview the Mac version. Good reason. Only good thing about the Mac version is that you are not bombarded with Services ads and come-ons.

So why am I comparing it with the Windows version? I am keeping the books for the school PFO and since everyone on the Board is a Windows user, I got the $50 Quicken 2005 Deluxe to keep all the data. That way it will be easier to pass the data along to the next Treasurer/Bookkeeper. Except for the aforementioned @#$@%^ ads, the user experience is night and day. Quicken for Windows keeps everything in a single, concise window that is clear to follow. Picking and organizing categories is a breeze. Setting out and printing budgets a no-brainer.

Mac users deserve better. Intuit, either make your products feature-for-feature comparable or stop stealing from us once and for all.

Note: The instructions for converting data from the Mac version to the Windows version are on the Intuit website here.



  1. I am converting from MAc to Pc. No problem converting my Quickbooks file to PC. But Quicken is diffrent story. Quicken 2005 for PC will not accept anything but .qdb, .qdf, .qdt files which the mac version will only output .qif files! nightmare! and to find a phone no and get a real live person on the phone at intuit? never! any suggestions?

  2. Judi Sohn says:

    Hi Jeff, It’s not a perfect conversion, but you get can most of the data in to the Windows version without a problem. I found the answer on the Intuit site. Take a look at the entry body for the URL (long URL in comments mess up my site layout and I haven’t fixed that yet).

  3. raf says:

    You seem to hit a majority of this article on marketing of the product and less (eventhough you touch on it) the UI and differences between the two. I have been a mac user for a little more that 2 years now and the switch from MS Money to Quicken has been tough. My main issue with the software is the matching algorithm used when downloading transactions. I have countless times pressed the unmatch button to have Quicken match with already cleared transactions.

    Do you still use Quicken 2005 on your mac or have you found any alternative?

  4. Judi Sohn says:

    Raf, No, I’m using Quicken 2005 on my PC only now. When I did use the Mac version, I didn’t tie it in with my bank or PDA. My bank only supports Quicken through the PC version so I switched our home records over and I’m very glad I did.

    The point of the entry was the marketing difference, but at the time I posted it I didn’t have enough experience with the PC version to comment further. Now, months later, I do. It’s night and day. I recently set up the Mac version for my Mom on her iBook and I couldn’t believe how unfinished and “sloppy” the Mac version feels compared to the PC version. I’m hoping that the recent upgrade from Intuit will help with some of the bugs. None of her bank accounts work with Quicken, so no experience with matching transactions using it.

  5. Linda Goodwin says:

    Dear Judi,
    I hate to think of buying a pc in order to best utilize quicken and quickbooks. What are your thoughts on installing VirtualPC on my Mac? Or, I am just whistling in the wind?

  6. Judi Sohn says:

    Linda, I think it depends on the Mac you have. I’ve never tried Virtual PC, but I heard it’s painfully slow on all but the fastest Macs. I was considering it myself for my iBook since I know there’s going to be a period of time that I won’t have access to my PC when we move, but my iBook is a G3/800 and I suspect that it would groan loudly if I asked it to run XP Home in VPC.

  7. John says:

    Hi There: It took me about 18 months of learning to move away from the PC world to the Mac world but I’m VERY pleased to have done it. I use an iMac with Virtual PC. Yes, VPC is somewhat slow (my iMac ‘PC’ runs at the rate of a 486…remember them?) but is not too bad with Quicken. VPC was viewed as a temporary ‘patch to enable me in the conversion process. To my suprise VPC (including Windows Explorer) allowed me to accces and operate on the Apple disk as well as the PC one. I always use a folder called DATA to store the data used by all programs (for ease of data backup) and VPC can access this even if it is loaded onto the Apple disk. Thus VPC turned out to be a very powerful and flexible product. I was using Quicken 6 on the PC and am firmly convinced that this version was the best all-round version for the average home user even although it contained a well known 2K ‘bug’ (that only affected ‘Import/Export). However, I have just bought an iBook G4 which had Quicken 2005 pre-installed and decided (I’m still not sure if I made the right decision) to move to this version of the product. Compared to the PC Quicken 6 Quicken 2005 on the Mac is clumsy and unattractive. However, it’s major (and I mean MAJOR) plus is that it gets one away from the ‘blue screen of death’ that still occurs on Win 98 running under VPC. Attempting to move all the previous data from Quicken 6 on the PC to Quicken 2005 on the Mac turned out to be impratical. The main problem (but not the only one) is that as you have to move the data one file at a time then inter-account transactions (of which I have plenty) get repeated! Also, the investment type cannot be converted on a ‘one to one’ basis and this results in all kinds of problems. Thus I decided to end using Quick6 on 12/31/2004 and start afresh with Quick 2005 on 1/1/2005. Transferring over the categories and such like was simple and so far I have not had any real problems in posting transactions. Here is a tip however, Don’t post an initial opening balance with any account that you use the RECONCILE proceedure on. Just let Quick 2005 calculate the correct value and install it for you. This is because Quick2005 will not allow you to manually insert a ‘R’ in the reconcile column and inserting a C screws up the reconcile process. Best ‘o luck.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Quicken 2005 for Mac converts certain expenses in register splits to credits on category summary reports. Technical support as yet offers no fix for this bug.

  9. Jason says:

    the link to the intuit website is no longer valid. heres a current one

  10. Dan says:

    I just noticed that Quicken2006 has been released for the Mac. Does any one plan on trying it to see if it is an improvement?

    I couldn’t get enough info from the Intuit website to make a guess as to whether this is a worthy upgrade.

    Specifically, I would like to know if Q2006 for Mac can accept downloads of .qfx files for Quicken for Windows. AND, can this new Quicken for Mac read Quicken2005 for Windows data. Thanks to anyone who can answer this.

    The reason I’m asking is that I would love to get a Mac and use it as my only computer but Quicken is the clincher.

  11. Judi Sohn says:

    I just love when I find out information by reading it on my own website! 😉

    Seriously, I didn’t know Quicken 2006 was out and I just skimmed the page. Good questions, and there doesn’t appear to be answers. You may have to wait and review the Mac support sites for real-world reports before making a decision.

    I’m tempted to upgrade to Quicken 2006 on my PC simply because it’s not that expensive and the PDF reports look nice. I’ll wait for initial reviews to decide for sure. I have things working so well now between Quicken 2005 and all my accounts of Bank of America that I should probably leave well enough alone.

  12. Dan says:

    I found the users guide for Quicken2006 for Mac on Intuit’s web site. This version does indeed accept downloading .qfx files. Also, transfering data from Quicken2005 for Windows to Quicken2006 for Mac still requires exporting data to .qif, then importing that .qif file into the Mac version. The system requirements state that the Mac have a PowerPC cpu. I wonder if Quicken2007 will support x86???

  13. Judi Sohn says:

    My guess is that Intuit will put their finger in the air and will only support Mactel if there’s enough pressure (peer and otherwise) to do so.

  14. Paul says:

    Hi, Judi. I’ve got Quicken ’06 for Mac here and have been wrestling with their “customer support” folks about a printed third-party manual for Mac versions of the software. It has been very difficult to get a straight answer out of them.

    What I’m wondering about now is if you, or anyone else, know of a good, robust Open Source financial management software to run under X11? I’ve had great success with OpenOffice so it seems likely that there would be such a “Quicken-esque” program floating around under the GNU public license. Any info is appreciated.

  15. ML says:

    All of you who are unhappy with Quicken might want to try out [iBank](http://www.iggsoftware.com/ibank/). It imports Quicken files & runs really smoothly on the Mac.

  16. Mark says:

    2 months ago I made the switch from the PC to the Mac and like some of you, a decent personal finance app was the one thing I didn’t like about the Mac. I really wish Apple would make their own and include it in iLife. That would be sweet because you know Apple would do it right.

    I have been using MS Money 2005 on the PC. I did finally find an alternative to Quicken on the Mac. A program called Moneydance (www.moneydance.com) shows great promise. It even does the direct-connect thing with my bank, which is important to me as I cant stand the idea of having to go to a website and download the files and then import them individually. It’s relatively cheap and of course you can try it out before buying, and the developers actually respond to questions/bug requests!

  17. Jerry says:

    After using Quicken versions for the Apple IIc and also for Windows (from Version 1), I switched to QMac 2006 which I use on my new iBook. Everytime I try to create/print a report, QMac aborts. It takes 7-8 tries before I can actually get a report. QMac also aborts quite frequently when I try to File/Backup/Disk.

    Is anyone else having this problem? I’m totally frustrated!

  18. Todd Ignasiak says:

    This analysis is dead on.. The Mac version of Quicken is terrible. I made the mistake of buying the ’04 version, and was very disappointed (isn’t it great how retailers won’t take returns on open software? If there was ever a case for this, it’s Quicken Mac).

    Quicken ’05 came with my Mac Mini, so I recently gave it another shot… and ’05 is just as bad as ’04.

    Quicken Windows connects with E*Trade & downloads all the stocks & transactions. Quicken Mac doesn’t even list E*Trade as a valid financial institution.

    And, Bill Campbell, the Chairman of Intuit, is a member of the Apple board of directors! This is probably enough to keep the Mac version alive, albeit in a neglected state; and it’s enough to stop Apple from making their own.

  19. I’ve ran into a lot of trouble getting Quicken to download QFX files from my banks. Most of the banks Quicken says the work with don’t offer Mac support. In reality this means that Intuit looks at what bank you are trying to import data from and not let you unless that bank has paid extra for their Mac users.

    There is a way around it. You can modify the QFX file to say a different bank and it works fine. There are some detailed instructions here:

  20. DrummerGirl says:

    Quicken for Mac has been a wretched program for years. I have seen some unbelievable bugs, as basic as things not adding up correctly (I think that was Quicken 2002). Every time I would buy a new copy I’d think, “Surely they will have fixed bug X by now,” but no such luck. I managed at one point to upgrade to Quicken 2003 and decided that I would not be buying another copy, ever. (My favorite bug in that version is when you pull up the investment calculator or the retirement calculator and only half of the dialog box appears on the screen… talk about useless.) I didn’t even trust the program enough to upgrade to the free copy of Quicken 2004 that was installed on a new Mac that I bought. Everyone just needs to give up on Quicken for Mac and quit giving Intuit their money. You know the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice… !!” I’m convinced, after a decade of poor releases, that this company will never do right by Mac users.

  21. Lou says:

    HI! Thanks so much for all of this great info. I was just looking to buy Quicken 2006 for Mac and now I’m looking at two of the other software mentioned (iBank and Moneydance). I had Quicken98 on my old lime iMac and it was fine… I’m still using it on my Power Mac G4 and the only reason I was looking at getting 2006 was because it’s a bit annoying having to open classic just to put info into my check register. It’s a great idea put forth about Mac making their own software and bundling it with iLife. That would be the best. Anyway, thanks for the site and all of the great info.

  22. teszeract says:

    Hello fellow mac users

    I have been through many many personal finance packages (bought some, trialled others) for the Mac over the past year. Previously I used MSMoney99.

    – iBank – too slow, incomplete
    – MoneyDance – java missing standard UI features
    – LiquidLedger – will wait for next version, incomplete – best of the lot
    – iCash – almost there, but like the others, features missing
    – excluded many others that had the word simple in its description

    in the end, its back to MSMoney and VirtualPC for me. 26 seconds from the dock to Money ready to use. On an iMac 2.0ghz, Powerpc.

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