Financial Management on the Mac

This is just a quick post to address a few of the big financial management players in the Mac market.

1. Quicken: The new version coming this summer is way better than the previous version. I used the beta for a while and was very happy with it compared with the 2007 version.

What I like about the 2009 app is that it looks like a Mac app… finally. It also comes from an easily recognizable company which strengthens its credibility.

On the down side, Quicken has always had a weird relationship with its Mac counterparts. Updates are late. 2009 is the first version that is Universal (native compatible with the Intel chipset). Apple switched to Intel chips 3 years ago. Get with the program. Another negative is that if you’re switching from a PC, getting your data into the Mac version can give you problems. If you’re going to do it back up your main database first!

2. MYOB: This financial software is a solid competitor to Quicken. With a PC and Mac version, using this solution in a mixed environment is seamless. I haven’t actually used this product so cannot give any feedback on its performance. There are 30-day trials available for their products. I recommended this often as a replacement to Quicken and for use in a cross-platform environment.

3. iBank: This is my finance manager of choice. I’ve used it for the longest and am happiest with its blend of form and function. The app has been around for a while, is mature, and has many of the features the big boys carry.

My only complaint (which will soon go away) is the lack of an iPhone app. There’s syncing through MobileMe, but it’s still over a network and can be slow. You also lose some control working through an online database instead of on a native app. iBank Mobile is in the works though (YEAH!) and we should see it soon. They’ve been working on it since December or January so this release should be a truly solid 1.0.

4. Cha-Ching: This app is the prettiest of the bunch. It’s really a piece of art. There’s also an iPhone app which was a huge plus to use. With the 2.0 beta out for a while now I started using that. I really like that this version uses tags in addition to categories (though I find categories a bit redundant) so you have a lot of flexibility with organizing your finances. The syncing is also pretty good, though there have been steady issues with duplicates and changing the initial amount of the account.

My beef with Cha-Ching is it’s biggest positive—it’s the prettiest app of this bunch. After spending nearly two months with the product I came to the following conclusion: It’s a shiny box with nothing inside. It’s a beautiful woman with an empty head. With an infinite beta period for 2.0, continual bugs with the iPhone/Mac syncing, and missing features available in similarly priced competitors ($40) I’ve come to see the error of my ways.

That said, it’s not a bad app. It is very easy on the eyes and a pleasure to use. The developers have been working on it for a while, and continuously addressing bugs. I think they just need to be more committed to releasing a mature, full-featured product instead of shiny stuff.

To conclude, if you’re a business user, all but Cha-Ching should satisfy your financial needs. If you’re just keeping personal records, any one of these apps would do you. Of course, there are other apps out there too, just keep an eye out for them.

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