Moving from Quicken, synchronizing between two Macs, App Store version vs. IK website version

jimrobertson's Avatar


17 Feb, 2019 06:46 PM

On a Mac listserv I frequent, Quicken 2019 has been assailed for connecting to almost 2 dozen domains when one opens the program (the obvious inference being that Quicken the company is making money from harvesting user data for sale to others). Also, Quicken 2019 still cautions users not to try accessing the same datafile from different computers. So, after more than 20 years, I'm looking at alternatives.

I've narrowed my choices to Moneydance and See Finance. See Finance uses iCloud synchronization to permit access to the datafile from multiple workstations. You say you use Dropbox. Will iCloud work as well And does your method work WITHIN the datafile prevent two different users from editing the same transaction or report simultaneously? And, are items in reports editable (in Quicken, one can double-click an item in a category detail report to edit the underlying transaction).

I'm also curious why you offer a legacy version of your application on the Mac App Store, but not the current version. My guess is that it's because of Apple's "no discount on upgrades" policy for apps available on the App Store, but I'm still curious.

Thanks so much,
Jim Robertson

  1. 1 Posted by dwg on 17 Feb, 2019 08:37 PM

    dwg's Avatar

    I'm a fellow user.

    I will attempt to answer some of your questions.

    Moneydance could use icloud if you are only working with Windows, Mac and Linux systems. if you are using mobile platforms like IOS or Android wit the mobile app then you have to use Dropbox since there systems are using API's to pass data and the Dropbox API is the only one supported. The desktop/notebook type systems can use fileshares (this is a byproduct of supporting the dropbox client) to pass data hence why they can function with a variety of services. I believe that in general Moneydance will concentrate on services that can support the entire range of systems the software can run on i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux, IOS, Android.

    With Moneydance you can simultaneously work on the data on different machines, it achieves this by each machine maintaining a copy of the data and new transactions or updates being passed between the systems using the shared service.

    I can only offer a personal opinion on why Moneydance 2017 is the version on the App store. From my perspective I believe that Moneydance 2019 has a number of issues round migration of data using QIF files and also with moving some data sets from the previous version, I believe these need correcting before going to the effort of getting a new version through Apple's process. I doubt if it is because of Apple's policies of no discounts since there are people who will only get software via Apple's and indeed Microsoft's apps stores, don't offer the software via those channels and you miss sales.

    I would suggest you download and try the software out in trial mode, it is fully functional, the limit in this mode is 100 manually entered transactions, imported data does not count.

  2. 2 Posted by jimrobertson on 25 Feb, 2019 05:08 PM

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    Thanks so much for your comprehensive response. I hope you won't mind a few derivatives questions.

    I'm actually looking at two DIFFERENT replacements for Quicken Mac 2007. Moneydance is one; SEE Finance is the other.

    First let me say that I'm in macOS 10.12.6, but that one of my reasons for abandoning Q2007 is that Quicken (the company) will no longer support it, and that, as a 32-bit application, it won't even run on whatever Apple calls its next version of the macOS, likely to be released this fall). There are others, of course, e.g., paying for annual subscriptions, and perhaps paying for Quicken (the company) to anonymize (I hope) my data and sell it to advertisers. Another Mac user installed Q2019 and discovered that it connected to 23 different domains as soon as he launched it!

    The major problem I've seen so far in Moneydance is that when it imports a QIF file created by Quicken 2007, the 2019 Moneydance version creates many "bank" type accounts with names identical to "real" accounts and/or distribution categories, except that they have a trailing"x" character (not a file extension, just an added "x"appended to their name). Most of these have zero balances and contain no transactions. There are a few tech support articles that state this is a result of the way Quicken 2007 sometimes created opening balances for accounts. From what I've read, I think that Moneydance 2017 may not have this issue, but I'm not certain about that.

    The other program I'm considering is SEE Finance. I have a problem with its user interface, in that the standard way of displaying a transaction is a single line, so that, for example, a check written for groceries might contain data fields for date, check number, payee, a memo regarding what was purchased, and [if the user is as compulsive as I] an expense category, and the amount. However, if the transaction puts money into two DIFFERENT buckets (for example, principal and interest on a loan), the transaction record jumps to THREE (not two) lines. The first line contains the the same information as the single-line entry, including the gross amount of the check. The second line lists the first category, but the sub amount distributed to that category; the third line lists the second category and the amount distributed to it. If I look at this transaction from the LOAN account, ONLY the gross debit from the checking account and the principal reduction in the loan account are listed. AND, if I look at the transaction from the calendar view, EVERY transaction is listed twice!

    HOWEVER, when SEE Finance imports the QIF file I've exported from Quicken 2007, it doesn't display all these phantom "trailing x" accounts. Because of THAT and my preference for Moneydance's interface, I tried exporting the account I'd imported INTO SEE Finance as a QIF, then IMPORTING that into Moneydance 2019. That didn't help (all those "trailing x" files show up again).

    Apparently, Moneydance 2017 did not have these import issues (I've not verified that for myself, but I'm inferring it from other posts I've read here). So, I'm considering uninstalling Moneydance 2019, installing Moneydance 2017, importing my Q2007 QIF into Moneydance 2017, then either exporting my new Moneydance 2017 file to a QIF file, or leaving the Moneydance 2017 file in place and "upgrading" from the demo version of Moneydance 2017 to Moneydance 2019 and opening the Moneydance 2017 file in Moneydance 2019 (I've not read yet what the usual upgrade procedure is, but of course I'd follow that if it's more complex than what I've just outlined.

    I'm concerned about doing this because I'm aware that applications written in Java often depend on "buried" extensions in the computer's System and Library folders, and that there are many incompatibilities between the Java versions used to build and run Moneydance 2017 and Moneydance 2019 (to say nothing about whether this would eliminate all those "trailing x" accounts.

    I guess another option would be just to "nuke" all the "trailing x" accounts (unless they have transactions in them, which I've not found in the first dozen or so I inspected), but I don't know if that would wreck some important internal linkages in my datafile.

    By the way, all of this suggests a minor interface tweak. The "Account name" field is constant width; some of my account names are as long as I am wordy, so just FINDING all those "trailing x" accounts is a chore. I don't know if you have the ear (or the Slack address) of Sean the developer, but if so, perhaps you might mention that to him.

    Would screenshots (from Q2007, MD2019, or SEE Finance) help clarify what I'm talking about?

    Thanks so much. I'm hoping to make my decision in plenty of time to prepare for my visit with my accountant, which will be a marathon this year, because

    (a) we lost our house in the Oct 2017 Santa Rosa Firestorm and have complex insurance proceeds (b) i had no plans to retire at the time of the fire but couldn't deal with commutes that increased from a maximum of 55 minutes 4 times per month to as much as 3 HOURS each direction from our post-fire refuge. Retirement produced all KINDS of changes in the sources of my income, revealed that I didn't even KNOW I should be withdrawing money from qualified retirement plans even if I did NOT retire (c) at the time of the fire I was many months behind in entering my daily life into Quicken. Most of those records are now available only as bank or other financial institution statements, with many of the transactions only cryptically identified.

    If this scenario scares you at all, walk around your home with your smartphone, identifying EVERYTHING of value you own, estimating what you paid for it, when and where you bought it, what condition it's in if not brand new, specifying clearly anything that's appreciated in value and why. Open all your cabinets and drawers and show what's in them. Upload that video to whatever cloud repository you trust.

    Also, don't assume that the "guaranteed" replacement value coverage you have on your home is sufficient. There are trailer parks in Santa Rosa inhabited by people who used to live in luxury hilltop homes but who have no idea whether they'll ever be able to rebuild on their own lots! Year after year, they trusted that their homeowners' insurance renewal protected them. Big mistake!

  3. 3 Posted by jimrobertson on 25 Feb, 2019 05:11 PM

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    DAMN! I just composed a LONG (but clear, I hope) follow-up question; the spam catcher arithmetic question ate my response. I'll try again!

  4. 4 Posted by jimrobertson on 25 Feb, 2019 06:12 PM

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    Here goes (I'll save my opus before clicking "COMMENT")

    I'm leaving Q2007 because it won't run on the next version of the macOS (no 32-bit applications will run), and because another Mac user with whom I communicate discovered that Q2019 connects to 23 different domains as soon as it's launched, presumably so that Quicken the company can make money not just through mandatory annual subscriptions to the software, but also by selling (hopefully anonymized) data of mine to advertisers.

    Moneydance and SEE Finance are highly reviewed on the Mac App Store. I think (but do not know) that Moneydance has a larger installed base.

    Because the person I message with moved to SEE Finance, I tried that first. It seems to have imported the QIF I exported from Q2007 with no major issues (and that file contained data from as far back as 1997!)

    However, there's a glaring "wart" in the SEE Finance interface that I don't know I could ever get used to.

    A typical checkbook transaction in SEE Finance might include data fields for the date, the check number (or other type; e.g., DEP, TRANS, POS, DEBIT, etc.), the Payee, a memo describing the reason for the transaction; e.g., groceries, and and the amount of the check. Assignment to a tracked expense category is not required.

    SEE Finance CAN function as a cash-based double-entry bookkeeping system, but the way it does so is bizarre. Let's say I write a check for a car loan or mortgage payment, and I want to track the principal and interest amounts. The first line of the transaction entry would be similar to what's outlined above. Even if the check were NOT distributed into two categories, if I ACTIVATED the recording of the check into distribution expense categories, the transaction would occupy THREE lines in the register. The second line would display the distribution category and the amount distributed to it. If there was no second category, the third line would repeat the second as far as the category name, but there'd be no amount listed. In the case of the car loan, the second line would show the principal (or interest) category, and the pertinent amount, and the third line, the other category and its amount. It's not possible to discard the third line of a "split" transaction even if it contains no real data.

    And, there are two other oddities: first if I look at that same car loan payment FROM the loan account, it shows only the principal amount! Second, EVERY transaction in SEE Finance seems to take up at least TWO lines in the calendar view of transactions.

    As I said, I don't know whether I could EVER get used to this.

    All that said, SEE Finance CAN show a whole BUNCH of additional data fields, such as fields for the financial institution's recording dates or transaction identifiers, tax-relevant dates where they're different from the date of occurrence, etc.

    Now, on to Moneydance. I'm told it's very well liked by Quicken refugees. However, the immediate dilemma I encountered was a large number of what I call "trailing x" ""bank" accounts that show up in the file I exported from Quicken 2007 in QIF format and then imported into Moneydance. Most of them contain no transaction other than an opening balance, which usually (but not always) is zero. I use the double quotes in their description as "bank" accounts, because many of them are in fact NOT bank accounts, but rather credit card, or tangible asset, or categorical expense accounts, but they're all grouped under the bank account heading in Moneydance.

    None of those "trailing x" accounts appeared in the Quicken QIF file I imported into SEE Finance. So, thinking that perhaps SEE Finance was not confounded by some Quicken Quirk that befuddled Moneydance 2019, I exported a QIF from SEE Finance and brought it INTO Moneydance. DIDN'T help; the "trailing x" accounts are all there.

    I've read that some of the oddities of importing a QIF from old versions of Quicken into Moneydance 2019 weren't present in Moneydance 2017. So, I'm wondering whether I might solve this issue by FIRST installing Moneydance 2017, importing a Q2007 QIF into Moneydance 2017, then upgrading from Moneydance 2017 into 2019. I'm not optimistic this would help, but also fearful of getting "jarred" by JAVA (pun intended). I've read that Moneydance 2017 and Moneydance 2019 were created in different generations of JRE, and that sometimes bits of the earlier generation get left behind in the Mac user's System and Library folders, causing all kinds of runtime errors in users who've upgraded from Moneydance 2017 to Moneydance 2019. Do you think it's worth trying this?

    I'm hoping to decide soon which program to use to supplant Quicken, because this will be a watershed year for me with my tax accountant. We lost our home, along with ALL our paper records and all our belongings except our cars, our cat, and the clothes on our backs in the October 9,2017 Santa Rosa, CA firestorm. We've been buried since in our attempts to resurrect our records. It didn't help a bit when our insurance company adjusters (all several dozen of them, sequentially) told us "don't worry, just show us your inventory and receipts, and we'll replace everything. Don't have receipts? No problem; just show us photographs" (how many people photograph their clothes closets, their drawers, their cabinets).

    On October 8, 2017, everyone knew Santa Rosa was a "hot" real estate market, largely because there was a growth-induced housing shortage fueled by a growth averse city council and county board of supervisors. So, like many of our fellow citizens who resided in the 5300 newly missing homes, we were "deployed" to hotels at considerable distances from Santa Rosa. Our initial stop was 50 miles south of our former home, and even once we obtained a NICE place to live in December, it was still 25 miles south of our former home just NORTH of Santa Rosa, meaning my commutes to remote worksites (all of which were all also NORTH of Santa Rosa, increased from a maximum of 55 minutes of rural expressway to LONG rush hour commutes THROUGH Santa Rosa even before what would have been the beginning of that pleasant rural drive.

    I had no plans to retire, but at age 71, those days that began at 4 am and ended at 10 pm were just not sustainable, so I retired precipitously 1 year ago. That means ALL kinds of things for me and my accountant, with my records in shambles. I'm hopeful that as I prepare for this year's tax meeting, I'll have cleaned up my records in a vehicle that will serve me well going forward, even though my requirements for a personal financial management package will be much simpler than they used to be.

    Two more things about those "trailing x" accounts. Some of them have long names, and the differentiator from REAL accounts is just that last character. The column width for the account name data field in Moneydance is fixed. It would be WONDERUL if it could be made wide enough to display the full account names on a large monitor.

    And, assuming I don't find transactions that matter in any of them, can I just delete them all if I can't find a way to import a QIF that does so for me? Or, by deleting them do I risk breaking important internal links in the program that will bite me later.

    Thanks so much,

  5. 5 Posted by jimrobertson on 25 Feb, 2019 06:16 PM

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    Are comments moderated, appearing only after review? I've retyped my follow-up questions twice now, and they disappear when I take the spam test. Is there some other way I should be asking my question? Is a question limited to some arbitrary number of keystrokes? Would you prefer I send you a DOCX file as an attachment?

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