Removing unused and no longer used categories

simon's Avatar


16 Nov, 2020 01:20 AM

I have numerous categories that are no longer being used either because we have moved from a property or sold an item (car, boat, etc). If I go through and remove all the unneeded categories will any previous transactions that used that specific category be altered in any way.

For example, I used to own an Audi - and I had numerous sub-categories under Audi - like fuel, repairs, parts, etc., etc. If I now delete everything related to Audi on the category list what happens to those old transactions - do they still talk about "Audi - fuel" or will the expense now be uncategorized.

Hope this question makes sense and you can advise me on my best course of action to ensure that all old transactions remain unaffected.

 thanks for any insight you can give me - continue to love this program for keeping track of my financial transactions. Hope that in the next upgrade you will be able to include fingerprint login capability.


  1. 1 Posted by mhoggie on 16 Nov, 2020 01:40 AM

    mhoggie's Avatar

    just a user,

    Currently MD prefers that you maintain all your transactions. There are ways to clear old transactions, but there are many steps involved and it's not recommended. But if you just want to clean up your category list, I would just create a new top category named something like "Archive", and move the unneeded categories below that new "Archive" category. You probably don't want the new "Archive" category at the top of the list so you could add an underscore prefix to "Archive" as "_Archive" and then it would be at the bottom of your category listings. To move the old categories, just edit each one and show the "Parent Category" to be your new "_Archive". That way you don't mess up any of your transactions and can always include them in a report if you want.

  2. 2 Posted by dwg on 16 Nov, 2020 01:44 AM

    dwg's Avatar

    I'm a fellow user.

    If you delete a category you delete every transaction that uses that category in every account. You cannot have a transaction without a category. Moneydance is based on double entry accounting principles so every transaction has two sides the other side of a transaction is either a category or an account (for a transfer) Delete one side of a transaction and both sides are deleted.

    In other words it you delete a category that contains transactions you are destroying data and your data integrity is destroyed.

    So do not delete any used categories, if they are no longer required go into the category and set it as inactive.

  3. 3 Posted by simon on 16 Nov, 2020 04:45 AM

    simon's Avatar

    To mhoggie and dwg

    Thank you both for your comments and suggested solutions. I looked at setting categories to inactive an easy, but tedious, process. And I really like the idea of moving all the disused categories into a folder that holds them as the last item in the category list.

    The comments about double-entry possibly explains why a couple of categories have really weird amounts in them. Fortunately all my active bank accounts and credit card accounts are correct to the penny so those transactions that seem out of kilter can be moved to archive too.

  4. 4 Posted by Stuart Beesley ... on 16 Nov, 2020 05:01 AM

    Stuart Beesley - JUST A FELLOW USER's Avatar

    Hi. Don’t do it! Categories are really accounts under the covers. If you delete one, then it deletes all associated txns (it asks you to type yes to confirm). If you want the history then you have to keep the categories.

    (A fellow user)

  5. 5 Posted by Ben on 16 Nov, 2020 03:22 PM

    Ben's Avatar

    (Just another user)
    Can I share an odd trick? It might be totally irrelevant, it might only work in Windows, idk.

    I wanted a list of all categories, but reports only show ones that have been used. Still, it's amazing what Ctrl-C does sometimes. So - open a report like "Income and Expenses", click Edit, on the right above the category selection box click "By Individual", click anywhere in that, press Ctrl-C and paste the result into the text editor or spreadsheet of your choice.

    In this case, you could compare that listing to an I&E report for all dates and quickly see which categories were never used.

  6. System closed this discussion on 15 Feb, 2021 03:30 PM.

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