How I Learned To Love Quicken Deluxe and Give Up on the Past

Yes, this is exactly the realization that most people don’t reach, and it sounds like you just hit it:

(1) If you need the reports, you can just print / save those off and refer to them as needed (and in fact, you really don’t want to update a report 6 years later - you want it frozen).

(2) If you need the transactions, even in the facehuggeryiest software you can typically still get a CSV (or as you say, PDF) out. And it’s as easy to search for “ConsultingLLC” in Numbers or Excel or your PDF reader of choice as it is in Quicken (I in fact will claim it’s easier.)

I think one other psychological thing that keeps people locked into one tool is they like seeing a chart that goes back 10, 15, 20 years or whatever – but if you’ve run the reports, it’s easy enough to roll those up in a spreadsheet and do them there, too.

Maybe I’m the only one who cares about converting from SEE Finance to Quicken, but I learned a few things today:

  1. Quicke Deluxe for Mac can ONLY import from QFX. That is what the Quicken rep confirmed.

  2. SEE Finance can ONLY export as QIF or CSV.

So that sucks.

So then I wondered if there is some middleware that could convert from QIF to QFX, and I found this:

Certainly would be worth the $20 if it works, although it’s pretty lame that between the two apps, there is no overlap of these long-time basic formats. I don’t know if I should worry that this ProperSoft app can be trusted to not spy on my financial records and harvest data.

I also don’t know enough about the formats to know if migrating from QIF to QFX is lossy; am I going to lose data?

It really would be nice if I didn’t have to go through all these shenanigans. Quicken doesn’t have a free trial, but they have a 30 day money back guarantee.

GnuCash can import QIF, and the price - free - makes it mostly harmless to give it a shot.

Generally what I’d say is that for both personal finance and accounting software, file formats are a mess. No one is trying to make things awful, but they basically are and always will be, because different systems have different data models and QIF is less a file format than a series of vague suggestions about how a file might be organized, maybe. This is part of where my “Don’t migrate, archive and switch” recommendation that I made to Glenn comes from. Even if Quicken seemed to import those QIFs, your confidence that it imported your last 10 (or whatever) years of data correctly should be very low.

My general advice for anyone considering a switch in finance software - no matter what software! - is:

(1) Pick a cut-over date.
(2) On the cut-over date, export your existing transactions to CSV and stick it in a spreadsheet. When you want to look up any transaction before that date, you’ll use that. Generate whatever reports (balance sheet, income statement) you need for your records.
(3) Set up your account structure and opening balances in the new software. Other than that, start fresh.

If you’re not sure you want to switch, you can run them side by side for a while. But of course, that’s a lot of work! At one point this year I was running 4 systems before I settled on the one I’m going with, because I’m very foolish.

Thanks, I’ll try it! Or at least look up the feature list!

Sorry, but no! That completely sucks! Sure if your legacy data is truly trapped on an island of incompatibility, then you have no choice. But otherwise, what a horrible downgrade of productivity. Imagine searching for a transaction and you can’t remember how many years back it goes. Now where do you find it? And forget writing reports that go back in time.

Same reason I will never split my 1.4TB photo library into smaller ones if I can avoid it. Same with my music library. Everything.

At work I actually have to archive old email going back decades into various archives. What an unmanageable headache finding anything!

Ever since Quicken went to a subscription mode that killed it for me. I don’t mind paying once for an app and occasionally for updates but I refuse to pay a monthly fee for them. Time to move on to another app.

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My meta-point is “I guarantee you, it totally is.” :grinning:

You find it in the plain text (or spreadsheet) log that you exported; even if you’ve migrated 10 times (I hope not), each time you appended the exported data to your plain-text(-ish) transaction log. All migration data goes to the same place. The only date you have to remember is “This was the last time I switched” which will normally be self-evident.

Just to hammer this point home: You’re not keeping a bunch of separate plain-text logs labeled “Finances 2002-2004” “Finances 2005-2007” and so on. You have one file called “Previous Transactions” that contains everything. If all you care about is literally being able to search for a transaction, then you can just append the CSV export from each migration to it and now you can use any text editor, or even just grep. If your own sense of neatness won’t allow you that (because each export will have slightly different field orders, etc in CSV) then you can import each CSV export into a spreadsheet and put “Organize things so the columns match” on your to-do list.

Either of these is both easier and less error prone than the import path you are going down right now. I have never seen a significantly large QIF import go perfectly. Never. But there’s a good chance you won’t discover the fact that you imported some field wrong for months or years.

Well, Glenn said “ It took about half an hour to convert and import tens of thousands of transactions, but it succeeded.”

But I agree that there could be flaws that were not noticed. But exporting to CSV itself would need more evaluation before I trust it. Does it include all the metadata? How does it handle double entry accounting (moving money between accounts?) In general, what flaws would a migration have that claimed success that a CSV would not have?

Earlier this year I did a QIF export and import from Moneydance to See Finance, transactions going back to 2000, and the only thing I had to do was set initial balances for accounts that existed prior to 2000. (Moneydance didn’t export the initial balances in the QIF file.) Good enough for me.

I was shocked it went so well, and I don’t technically need all my data since about 1998, but it is useful to look at earnings and sources of revenue and expense across that period! I was really more concerned about last year and this one. Or, maybe more precisely, about the last seven years of data, since I have mostly electronic records for that period and audits can go back that far.

It’s yearly and I hate to keep accumulating them. But I’m watching updates appear weekly with fixes and improvements, and before Quicken 2007, I believe I would pay for an update every 1 to 3 years as they improved the product. Because I use it for personal and business accounts, and because the new Quicken is shaving so much time off my previous manual processes, the annual cost is totally fine in my case.

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I’m with you on the subscription model. After years with MacMoney then the various Quicken versions including Q2007 forever, I was ready to try another option. Then I tried Quicken Deluxe in 2020 and since then I am very pleasantly surprised. Like Glenn said, they really seem attentive to updates and fixes and it does everything I need. I’ve been a heavy Quicken Direct Connect user since that feature was offered and just about a month ago I was shocked when Wells Fargo dropped their $9.95 monthly fee for using QDC with them. I do all bill pays though the register and all accounts are on auto-reconciliation. Fast, accurate and reliable.

Glenn, Thank you!, Thank you!!! I’ve been using Quicken since it first came out and have an old iMac (27" Mid 2010 running OSX 10.8.5) with version 16.2.4 of Quicken as only one of two application on it. These two apps (the other being The Print Shop - V4) will not run on my Mac Mini 2018 running Catalina. And the reason for the purchase of the Mac Mini was because the iMac has a serious problem (probably the mother board) and is too costly to repair. I’ve been stuck.
Now, after reading your column, I had hope. I did a backup of the latest data on my iMac in Quicken. Transferred the file to my Mac Mini. Purchased “The New Quicken” and installed it. Then started it up and held my breath with I pointed to the file so Quicken could “do its thing”. It took less then 5 minutes to convert the file to the new format.
I’ve since made a few transaction without any problems and tomorrow I plan on doing a Reconcile.
I’ve noticed it is “smarter” than the old Quicken (it knows of all the “vendors” I’ve used) and displays them very nicely.
Once I’ve done a reconcile I’ll let you know how it went.
Again, from the bottom of my heart; Thank You! Now if you could only find a replacement to my Print Shop (I’ve got over 200 greeting cards and 30 or more envelopes that I use on a regular basis). I’d really not have to redo any of them.
Be Safe, Al

Hi Dave!

Quicken supports importing QIF files. When you create a new Quicken file, the “Let’s get started” screen asks you to choose from several options, including “Start from a .QIF file exported from another application”

The online help has more info: - Getting started

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You can export the contents of your Quicken file to a “Quicken Transfer File” (QXF) by choosing the File > Export > Quicken Transfer File (QXF) menu item. If you do that for both of your Quicken files and get 2 QXF files, you can then create a new Quicken file and import the QXF files into it.

Wow! I was pretty clear with the Quicken rep that I was screwed because of this lack of a common format, and they insisted QFX was the only option.

What version of Quicken are you speaking regarding? Maybe QIF import was available for some versions but not others?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but GnuCash can’t do direct downloads of transaction data?

If so, that’s a deal breaker. Free is great, but that’s downright dark ages. Quicken was doing direct downloads back in the 90’s over a modem :slight_smile:

The current Quicken app (the “subscription” product, versus the non-subscription yearly products Quicken 2017, Quicken 2016, …) has always supported QIF import. (It was introduced in a mid-cycle update to the Quicken 2015 product, I believe.)

The subscription Quicken app was version 5.1 when it was first released in late 2017. The current version is 6.3. (The version number was changed from 5 to 6 when the system requirements changed in late 2020 to require macOS 10.13 and later.) As long as you have an active subscription, you can automatically update to new releases when they come out. If your subscription expires, you can continue using Quicken, but you can’t use connected services (downloading transactions from banks, syncing to mobile or web apps) or install updates that were released after your expiration date. (This is similar to the non-subscription yearly products like Quicken 2017, which would be supported for 3 years after their initial release.)

A point of clarification, the current version of Quicken only supports import of QIF files when creating a new Quicken file. Once the Quicken file is created you cannot import or export transactions into Quicken via a QIF file.

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That’s a great point. It’s primarily intended to be accessed by making a new file via File > New and choosing the option to start from a QIF file.

If you really wanted to get the QIF into an existing file, you could create a new file, import QIF into it, then export it to QXF, and import that QXF into your other file.

QIF is a very old file format, and I think there were ancient agreements between banks and Intuit that the banks needed to pay Intuit and switch to the better OFX format in order to keep supporting transaction download into Quicken, and QIF wasn’t intended or allowed for that purpose. That’s one reason its utility is limited to starting a new file: so it can’t be used to continually import transactions from a bank and bypass the use of OFX, for example.

(The world has changed since then, though. Probably time to revisit such deliberations!)

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Hi Chris! Hm. Different feature sets between the subscription version and the annual dated versions? News to me, thanks for that. Also for the qif > qfx tips… Sometimes I really like thees interweb.