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Last week I mentioned that I would finally have to part with Quicken 2007 when Lion becomes a reality. I also mentioned that I was testing out iBank 4 as a viable replacement. Well, I tried it and moved on. It had no problem converting my  Q2007 files (after exporting them in QIF format), and it had no problem producing the summary reports that I rely on at tax time, but data entry was slow. No automatic saves, like Quicken. No tabbing to a new entry. Too many extra key combos and mouse clicks for me. 

While looking at reviews of other programs, I found that Intuit had fixed many of the things that caused negative reviews of the initial release of Quicken Essentials. OfficeMax had it on sale for $39.99, and as Intuit offers a 60-day money back guarantee, I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad that I did. Is it perfect? Not by a long shot, but it's better than I expected.

Converting my old data was kludgy, at best. While other software will import a QIF file that has been exported from Q2007, Essentials has it's own converter app that turns the .QIF file into a .QFX file that you can then import. And the interface for doing the converting and importing is confusing, to say the least. On a positive note, it did import my multiple accounts without losing a thing. 

Entering transactions is pretty much like always with a couple of exceptions. Tabbing across fields is the same except for the date field. It used to be a matter of using the plus key to advance the date, then tabbing to the check number field. Now, you can still use the plus and minus keys to change the date, but you then tab from month to day, day to year, then year to check number. Hopefully, they'll get this back to the old way of tabbing. And while it still saves automatically, tapping the Return key does not bring up a new transaction. Now — Command-n. Minor things, but they slow me down. I will admit that it is faster than it's predecessor, probably because it's native and not running under Rosetta. Another positive — I can create custom summaries and save the report formats. They can't be customized like similar reports in QuickBooks, but you get what you pay for, and this is a lot less expensive. 

I can't speak for how it handles online banking data transfers. I've been a trial balance bookkeeper for 4 decades, and a control freak to boot, so I've never gotten into that. Conflicts with my own system of checks and balances. I still use spreadsheets to compile my tax data, but I have at least gone from paper to Excel and Numbers. All in all, I'm satisfied with Quicken Essentials, and if the changes and improvements in v. 1.5 over v. 1.0 are any indication, I think Intuit is listening to the complaints.

One other thing I mentioned last week was ArchDetect, an app to find all of those old Classic and PPC leftovers in your folders. While it does a good job on most things, it apparently runs into some things that confuse it. Some newer apps are tagged as PPC when they really aren't, and a few are showing up with no designation at all. So, if it flags things you haven't used in eons, feel safe to dump them. If, on the other hand, it's something recent and you really use it, double check before deleting it. 

And on that note, a favorite video:



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