How to Choose the Best Mac Personal Finance Software
The top performers in our review are Quicken for Mac, the Gold Award winner; Moneydance, the Silver Award winner; and iBank 5, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing Mac personal finance software that meets your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 programs.
Managing your money can feel like a daunting task when you look at the number of financial accounts you have, including checking and savings, credit cards, mortgages and auto loans, and retirement. Mac personal finance software can help you get a handle on your money by streamlining all of your accounts into a single program.
The best Mac personal finance software programs save you time by connecting to your financial institutions and then syncing with your account data, giving you a real-time look at your money. However, if the software doesn't recognize one of the financial institutions you use, you may need to manually import your data into the program. Another convenience that the best programs offer are companion apps for iPhone and iPad that sync with the desktop version of the program. These integrated apps give you access to your account data and enable you to check your budget or individual accounts on your iPhone when you're out and about or on your iPad when you're relaxing on the patio after work.
Whether you prefer to check your accounts on your desktop or on an app, the benefit of using software that makes it convenient for you to use is significant because recent studies suggest that people who frequently review their finances are more likely to get ahead financially than people who don't regularly monitor their money. To read articles about the advantages of money management, you can visit our Mac Personal Finance Software Learning Center. If, in addition to managing your money, you also need help preparing your taxes, check out our Online Tax Software review. If you need software that helps you manage your business finances, our Accounting Software review may be useful to you.
What You Should Expect From Mac Personal Finance Software
Budgeting tools are included with all Mac personal finance software, and you should expect them to be feature-rich, with flexibility in how you organize and label your transactions. It should give you the option of splitting transactions and adding notes, including scanned copies of receipts. The software should allow you to manually import data from your accounts using common CSV or Excel formats. Additionally, you should expect the software to generate a variety of reports, including those that analyze your spending over a period of time or by category. The software should have robust security features, including secure socket layer (SSL) encryption and password protection.
What We Evaluated; What We Found
You're more likely to regularly use the Mac personal finance software if it's intuitive to learn, if it's quick to maintain, and if you can access it on your iPhone and iPad. We looked online for Mac personal finance software that have these qualities, and then tested them on desktop computers. When available, we installed the companion apps on an iPhone and iPad to examine the cross functionality of each program. In our testing, we found the key differentiators to be the connectivity of the software with other devices and your financial institutions, the strength of the budgeting and reporting features and the ability to monitor your personal investments.
Connectivity: Device Apps Not Universally Available
Although companion apps aren't yet available for all programs, the best mac personal finance programs have them and they integrate with the software to enable you to see a real-time overview of your accounts, track your budget and add cash transactions. Some also give you the ability to create alerts that notify you when your accounts are active. For example, you might decide that you want an alert when you make an automatic payment, receive a deposit into an account, or when you're reaching a spending limit that you've set in your budget. These apps connect to the software in a variety of ways, either through drop box, manually syncing, or through an online account. A few of these personal finance software providers charge an additional cost to use the app. Buxfer and Mvelopes in particular stood out with the apps that they offer.
Investment Accounts: Depth of Analysis Capabilities Vary
Another toolset that not all Mac personal finance software includes is that for investment accounts. The best programs give you the option of connecting with your retirement and other investment accounts so that you can see how your accounts are performing, analyze how your assets are allocated, and track the fund fees associated with your investments.
Reporting: Monitor your Money
Every Mac personal finance software that we reviewed featured some kind of reporting capability. This varied from simply keeping track of your net worth and spending to more robust reporting that keeps track of your investing. The best software also allows you to create tax reports and export them to a tax program.
What Else Is Important to Consider When Selecting Mac Personal Finance Software?
As you determine which Mac personal finance software best meets your money management needs, some additional capabilities to consider are whether the software can connect to all of your financial accounts, and how easy the software makes it to create a monthly budget and track your transactions.
Connect to All Your Accounts
Using the best Mac personal finance software, you can connect to all of your financial accounts, including those at banks and credit unions, like your checking and savings accounts, and online payable accounts like your credit cards. The quality of the connections also vary, some of the software we reviewed uses a different protocol. iFinance uses a technology that is better suited to European banks. When you connect with your account, the software will import your transactions. You will have to tag your transactions and assign them to various categories, such as groceries, phone or auto, for budgeting purposes. Quicken for Mac and iBank 5 will automatically tag the transactions you import.
Create a Budget and Manage Your Money
Once you connect your accounts and sync your data, you're most likely to spend the majority of your time with the software performing monthly budgeting tasks. For this reason, it's important to choose Mac personal finance software with a robust set of budgeting tools that help you create a budget quickly, enter any manual transactions easily – such as those for cash, and perform additional budgeting tasks with ease. If your budget is relatively stable from month-to-month, look for a program that lets you copy your budget to subsequent months. If goal-setting is an important part of your budgeting strategy, look for a program that supports these tasks.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
The best mac personal finance software is one that you'll use regularly. It makes it easy for you to gather all of your account data together in one program so you can see exactly where you stand financially. It connects to your accounts, which saves you the time of importing your account data manually. Plus, it offers companion apps that syncs with your iPhone and iPad, so you can check your data at your convenience, from wherever you are.
The best mac personal finance software we reviewed was Quicken for Mac. It features the best options for monitoring your personal investments as well a robust reporting that includes options for exporting your tax information to a tax program.
Moneydance is a Mac personal finance software that stands out by allowing you to pay bills directly through the program. This software is also compatible with Windows and Android operating systems.
iBank 5 has excellent options for budgeting, including bill pay and budget alerts that tell you when you've gone over. This personal finance software will also automatically tag your transactions with you import them from your bank, which can help make setting up a budget simpler.
Moneywell is a good option if you are looking for a Mac personal finance software with strong reporting capabilities. This software even allows you to create tax reports.
Buxfer is a Software as a service or SaaS styled program, which means you log in to an online portal instead of installing software directly on your computer. Buxfer has excellent budgeting options, including the ability to pay bills through it, as well as a highly usable app. It lacks any kind of ability to keep track of investments and may not be ideal if you have a portfolio of assets you wish to monitor.