Mac Finance Software Update

I previously wrote a post in 2011 on selecting Mac financial software. A lot has happened since then and it is time for an update.

I have to admit that finance software is an area where Mac OSX still isn’t competitive with Windows. It is an anomaly because in my opinion in almost every other category (except possibly games) Mac has more choice and better high end programs. Also Mac freeware is much better for many reasons. Finding free software on Windows is a terrible experience filled with malware and installers that force installation of unwanted and often hidden software.

I used Quicken for Mac before but it didn’t have the features and support that the Quicken Deluxe for Windows version has. It also didn’t get updated properly by Intuit so I didn’t like that they treated Mac users as second class citizens. They also treat Canadians as second class customers by not providing a full featured Canadian version. Yesterday (August 21 2014) Intuit announced Quicken for Mac 2015. There are lots of improvements but not feature parity for some features that probably matter to you.

I am still a beginner using iBank and it seems to meet my simple needs so far. It downloads transactions from my bank easily and runs the standard set of reports with customization options. I would be interested in any views from Quicken power users on where iBank falls down. Features and reports missing or how it works? All?

I am also starting to use a different program called YNAB (You Need a Budget). I like the approach and expect it to be quite useful for budgeting and perhaps other features as well.

BTW. I also use the free GnuCash software for my business accounting and the functionality and stability is adequate. The software is not Mac specific and is unattractive but it does the job. Minimal is good when you just want to get the job done as simply as possible.

You have a lot of options if you want the best of both worlds on the Mac. Some people say Macs run Windows better than Windows specific computers.

Bootcamp comes for free from Apple which allows you to boot into OSX or Windows on startup. You have to have the Windows OS license purchased separately as with all of the options.
This can work well if you are more regimented about when you want to use each operating system because a reboot is required. An advantage is that you are dedicating your computer resources (except disk storage) to each operating system so performance should be as good as a dedicated computer.

The other approach is to go virtual and run both operating systems at the same time which has the advantage of being able to dynamically switch back and forth at will and also easily transfer information between your two virtual worlds. The disadvantage is performance because you are sharing computer resources between the two OS.

Virtualbox from Oracle is free. I have used it in my security lab courses and it works well. It can be a bit technical to use so the main feature in its favour is price.

Parallels is a really slick virtual OS manager as is VMWare Fusion. These two programs have a reputation as really solid and sophisticated virtual managers that are so well integrated it is like Windows is a part of OSX or vice versa. They tend to leap frog each other on features and price.

There is a review on PCMag comparing the virtual OS managers. It shows the price in 2012 of Parallels at $80 and VMware fusion at $50. On their web sites they have basically have retained these price points with Parallels at $80 CAD and VMware increasing to $60 USD. Prices are comparable in Canadian (CAD) US (USD) dollars. Both products provide free 30 day trials to determine which one you prefer.

As for me, I rarely see a need to run Windows software so I don’t want to split my computer resources between operating systems even though the latest virtual managers are getting quite efficient at it. I am content to use old dedicated Windows machines on the rare occasion I want to run Windows software (mostly to test web sites in Internet Explorer).

Let me know if you think I am missing out on something.

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