iBank 4

Recently I was contacted by IGG Software about a post I wrote back in early 2010 detailing my search to replace Quicken with a Mac equivalent.  Doug Bowman (formerly of Google and currently at Twitter) commented about my article on his Twitter feed.  I guess that generated a little buzz for a couple days.  In my original article I evaluated GnuCash, Moneywell, Moneydance, and iBank, eventually settling on Moneydance.  In that original comparison I used iBank 3, but the performance after importing my ten years of existing Quicken data was so poor that I couldn’t actually test the features.

When IGG contacted me, they informed me that they’d released version 4 of the software since then and that the performance had been improved drastically.  They asked if I’d take a look at their latest version.  I love personal finance software and I was interested in seeing the improvements, so I happily agreed.

The goal in my original article was to find a Mac-native replacement for Quicken.  As I mentioned I did that with Moneydance over a year ago.  Since that problem has already been solved I decided that this article should focus on two things:

  1. Answer the question of whether or not iBank is now capable of handling large amounts of data
  2. Finally review iBank to see if the important features are there

 

The short answer to question #1 is a resounding yes.

I have over eleven years of financial data stored in Moneydance right now.  I exported all my data out of Moneydance in QIF format, then imported it into iBank.  It took a very long time, so long that I thought the software had stopped responding, but iBank successfully imported all my transactions.  When it was finished, it provided me the opportunity to map my existing imported accounts to the correct account type (checking, savings, credit card, 401(k), etc).

After the import was complete I tested the software by simply switching between account registers and seeing how long it took.  I was pleasantly surprised to see no noticeable delay.  iBank 4 was quick and responsive, even with eleven years of transactions loaded.  I noticed only a minor slowdown when viewing reports and budgets, but nothing so severe that I’d consider it an issue.

Unfortunately not everything imported exactly right.  It’s likely some of this is due to the QIF file itself while some of it might be due to the fashion in which iBank imports data.  Regardless, I fixed most of the issues quickly and I will assume I can fix the few remaining issues.  I don’t expect the QIF import to be completely error-free with any software package; even Moneydance had a few issues importing my data after I switched from Quicken.

Now that question #1 has been answered I’ll move on to #2.  Does the software contain all the features I’d expect in personal finance software?

In a word, yes.

iBank 4 provides what you’d expect in terms of account registers and transactions.  Data entry is reasonably fast, as fast as anything else I’ve used.  It supports splitting transactions into multiple categories.  I particularly like the way iBank handles splits by expanding the register and adding lines rather than popping a new window.  Less mouse movement and clicking.  I also like that calculations can be performed within a single number field, just like Moneydance.  I never knew how powerful that could be until I finally used it.

iBank 4 supports multiple account types; checking, saving, cash, investments, assets, loans, and more.  It will also calculate interest and principle on loans.  It allows transfer of interest and escrow payments into separate categories.

Accounts can be manually grouped and ordered in the sidebar.  I really like this because it allows me to group and order every account exactly how I want.  Very flexible.  It also provides the summed value of all the accounts within a folder group.  That’s very cool.

iBank automatically downloaded the latest stock prices when I started the program the next time after the import.  I like that it does this out of the box, without any setup.  I didn’t enter any transactions into the register, but it appears to be straightforward.

One really cool feature is the ability to attach files to a transaction.  Quicken had this feature; Moneydance currently does not (though there’s talk this will come soon in a future release).  Personally I find this useful and I’m happy to see it implemented in iBank.

iBank 4 will also allow users to create budgets.  I didn’t push budgeting much further than creating a simple one; it’s just not as important to me as tracking and reporting.  It would appear the budgeting capabilities in iBank are comparable to Moneydance and Quicken, at least in my experience.  If budgeting is your main focus, then you might want to look at YNAB (You Need A Budget) or Moneywell; both of those applications focus heavily on budgeting.

The reports in iBank 4 look amazing.  They’re attractive and intuitive.  They generate relatively quickly (at least quickly enough to not cause frustration) and they’re very easy to build.  I was able to basically replicate the functionality of all my important Moneydance reports, save for the budget report (I didn’t see a budget report option in iBank).  I created investment performance and portfolio reports, income/expense, net worth, itemized categories, and more.  I was also able to save memorized instances of these reports for easy access later on.

iBank 4 guides the user through a wizard-like series of steps when creating a new report, making the creation process for less experienced users easier.  I also like how iBank adds additional information about the report’s purpose to each report.

iBank doesn’t have anything resembling a “home page” like Moneydance has.  The program starts wherever you last left off.  To be fair though, most of the other finance applications I’ve looked at don’t have this view either.  I tend to like the homepage because it gives me a “dashboard” view of my finances, but that’s me.  Maybe it’s a hold-over from my Quicken days.  In the end it’s not a necessity, just a nice-to-have.

There are other features and functionality which I haven’t touched on; this is not an exhaustive review of every single little thing iBank can do.  Rather, my intention was to determine whether or not iBank handled the major stuff, and it does.

With the release of iBank 4, IGG Software has successfully addressed their performance issues and have produced an application that is powerful, fast, attractive, and full-featured.  It does virtually everything I need a personal finance application to do.  IGG has made tremendous strides in improving the performance of iBank; so much that the software is no longer not unusable, but desirable.  It looks absolutely gorgeous, drenched in the native Mac look-and-feel.  It’s also very intuitive, so I think it might be a better choice for newbies who need a little hand-holding.

I’m impressed with iBank 4.  I would now recommend it, along with Moneydance and SEE Finance, to anyone who’s interested in purchasing finance software for the Mac.

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22 Replies to “iBank 4”

  1. So, per my previous post I am looking for a quicken for mac 2007 replacement. With 20 years plus of data to import. Moneydance or Ibank4?
    Seems like there are good and bad reviews with each. Ibank seems to take a beating on it’s customer service response. Which would you suggest?

    1. It depends. If cross-platform compatibility is important to you then definitely Moneydance (I run Moneydance on a Win 7 netbook in addition to my iMac). Moneydance is very stable and very capable, and it handled my 10+ year QIF file better than iBank did. I have dozens of saved reports and graphs in Moneydance, and customer service seems to be pretty responsive in the forums. Moneydance does come with a bit of a learning curve, but you don’t sound like a personal finance newbie. If you understand Quicken, then you’ll get Moneydance very quickly.

      iBank is more Mac-like and much more attractive than Moneydance. I think it’s better for newbies due to the hand-holding it does. It’s very capable and can do pretty much everything Moneydance does. IGG has put a lot of effort into iBank over the past year and it shows.

      I don’t know how much stock to put into the reviews; nothing’s perfect. Both Moneydance and iBank seem to be backed by people who care about the Mac, which is more than I can say for Intuit. At least they’re actively developing their products.

      I ultimately chose Moneydance and I’ve been very happy with it for the past year and a half. It’s cross-platform, full-featured, stable, and does everything I need. If I were you I’d download both Moneydance and iBank and see for yourself which one you like better.

      Good luck!

      1. I have been using Quicken for Mac since it came bundled on a Mac I got in late 1995 or early 1996. Like Brian, I am mostly interested in monitoring and tracking accounts (credit cards, bank account, and investments). I don’t care about written down budgets. A few years back I tried iBank and the import was horrible. I am now about 8 days into the 30 day demo of version 4.2.5. I am desperate to find a replacement for quicken. The download was easy. The things I needed to correct were transfers from accounts in Quicken I no longer track and adjustment of security prices to 5 or 6 digits to make the cash equal in both systems. They were correctable. One problem that I can’t correct is that the portfolio report shows more shares in one account than was transferred in. Even when I add up all the transactions in excel using the iBank register the total in excel matches the Quicken number not the iBank portfolio number. I was hoping that I could use the report generator to troubleshoot but I could not find anything that comes close to the Quicken “security window”. Also I like reports that can be downloaded as a “csv “ so the iBank reports leave me cold.
        I think iBank would be great if you are starting from scratch, but I think you could be left high and dry if you run into a problem with no clue on how to locate and fix it. If I can’t figure out how to correct errors I will probably not use iBank as a Quicken replacement.

        1. I ended up with some import errors as well when importing into iBank. The import was from Moneydance instead of Quicken (for testing). I was able to fix most of them, but my checking account was off and I couldn’t seem to find a solution. I also think iBank would be spot-on starting from scratch, but importing existing date presents a lot of challenges if your balances are off. I think that’s true for most of the software available.

          Have you tried Moneydance or SEE Finance? I personally use Moneydance and it does just about everything I need it to do. It did a good job with my import of 10+ years from Quicken 2009 for Windows. I had some data to “clean up”, but the balances were all right after the import. I had good luck with SEE Finance as well, although I did have minor import problems. Hopefully one of these two solutions will work for you. Good luck!

          1. I tried the MoneyDance demo after reading your review. The import took a few seconds. The demo is supposed to download 100 items. There seemed to be a lot more than that. There were some stocks that did not end up with the same total of shares than are in the Quicken database (could be that not all transactions were imported because of the demo limitation). I also down loaded prices using an extension. Prices were different than got from Quicken just after the MoneyDance price download (I did not read any instructions so it could be I was not downloading current prices). Asked MoneyDance Support about the above two items, but have not heard anything yet. When I compare my Quicken portfolio with Fidelity, I don’t care about prices just the number of shares so the number of share accuracy is priority 1 . In the first minute of use I was more impressed with MoneyDance than over the first two weeks of iBank use. Just waiting to get an answer from their tech support before buying.

          2. Hi Elliot,

            Thanks for taking the time to comment and I’m glad my review was helpful. Not sure what’s going on with the 100 entry limit; maybe you downloaded more than 100 transactions from your brokerage? I’m sure those would count as “manual” transactions (done after the QIF import). Again, I’m making assumptions, so I could be off base.

            I agree with you; stock price isn’t as import. The number of shares should match (prices can always be updated later).

            I’m glad you like Moneydance. When I first tested iBank they were on version 3, and it wasn’t able to handle all my data. They’ve really improved the product since then, but by the time they did I was already so deeply entrenched with Moneydance that it was tough to find a compelling reason to switch. If iBank 4 would have been available back in Feb. 2010 then things might have gone differently.

            I find Moneydance really does just about everything I need. It’s stable and capable, albeit a bit on the homely side. Looks come in second though when we’re dealing with financial data.

            Moneydance support is generally pretty damn good. They can answer the questions and they get to them pretty quickly. There are also some great volunteer contributors who really are helpful.

            I hope Moneydance turns out to be a good fit for you. I can’t guarantee that it’ll meet all your needs, but I can say with absolute confidence that the software has met my requirements. If you can just get through the initial bumps in the road during set up it’s up to the task.

            Good luck,
            Brian

      2. Brian: great info. I’ve been agonizing over a switch to Mac from PC and Quicken was the reason for the agony. Trying to decide on a Mac version of “something else” or running Quicken in partition on Mac. Any experience with that?

        Also, I’ve read numerous Q’s elsewhere about the horrors of transferring files to IBank and Moneydance, especially in the area of investment transactions. You didn’t seem to be fazed. Is it really that “easy” to transfer the data?

        1. I switched to Moneydance from Quicken 2009 for Windows. I think because Intuit keeps the QIF a moving target people have different experiences importing their data, some better than others. Personally I had very little issue converting over to Moneydance, even with my investment accounts. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience with Moneydance, but the trial version will allow you unlimited transactions on import. You can freely try it out to make sure it’ll work for you.

          You’re likely to run into quirks along the way, regardless of which solution you choose. I found them to minimal with Moneydance. In other words, the problems I had didn’t affect the totals, so I was able to keep on truckin’ once the data was imported, fixing cosmetic glitches as I went.

          If none of that works then you can always run Windows in a virtual machine. My advice is download VirtualBox from Oracle. It’s free and it works great. I bought VMWare originally and it just seized up one day, refusing to work. After that I switched to VirtualBox. That was a couple years ago. I ran WindowsXP just fine, running Quicken 2009 on top of that for a year and a half.

          If I were you I’d download both Moneydance and iBank, then see how the imports go. If neither of those work out then you could try SEE Finance as well. Hopefully one of those three will work, but there’s always VirtualBox+Windows+Quicken if you need it.

          Good luck,
          Brian

  2. I have been trying iBank4 for the past month and it seems quite functional for me except for 1 area: It does not have on line Bill Pay as does Quicken.
    You mentioned in a previous comment that Moneydance does support on line Bill Pay. Is that the case?
    Here is what I do (or would like to do) with the software:
    Checking Account (manual input, categories)
    Pay Bills
    Credit Card (download transactions, catagories)
    Year end reports (expense categories) for tax reporting
    I intend eventually to track Investments (if I have any left)
    Ease of use is a BIG issue for me. I find iBank a bit more awkward than Quicken, but I have been using Quicken for over 10 years.
    Your thoughts??

    1. Hi Gary,

      As I understand it, Moneydance will do online bill pay as Quicken does it. It supports the same format (QFX, I think) so if your bank supports Quicken, it *should* support Moneydance. That said, I really don’t use online bill pay with MD. I do download credit card transactions from CitiBank, and that works just fine. I also download stock prices using the “Quotes and Exchange Rates” extension. That works just fine as well.

      MD supports categories, year end tax reporting (you can mark categories as tax-related), and investment tracking. It supports tags as well (for additional categorization, above and beyond standard categories).

      If you have all your bill-pay login info for Quicken, you could download the free trial of Moneydance and test it all out. The trial is fully functional, it’s only limitation being 100 manually entered transactions. If you’re importing from Quicken those imported transactions don’t count toward the 100 limit.

      On a personal note, I also used Quicken for ten years before switching. I can say this; even Moneydance took some getting used to. Once you get used to an interface it’s tough to change. I suspect you’ll struggle with the same problem if you move to Moneydance as you have with iBank. MD does have its awkward quirks, and they’re all a bit different than Quicken. Having used Moneydance for the past year and a half , I can say that it’s a non-issue now. I actually enjoy using MD more than Quicken because it’s provided more insight and allows me better control than Quicken did. It enforces double-entry accounting rules. I also don’t miss the Quicken credit card and mortgage ads, nor do I miss the clutter and bloat Quicken has taken on over the years. And Moneydance doesn’t force you to upgrade every three years by crippling your software (as Intuit does).

      Good luck in your search. Let me know if I can provide any additional feedback.

      1. Thanks Brian.
        I downloaded Moneydance over the weekend. I had a few minor issues regarding duplicate transactions when I imported my file from Quicken, but once I saw what had happened, it was simple to fix.
        I was about to purchase iBank, but now I am thinking Moneydance could be easier to use for those things I do.
        I haven’t printed out a detailed expense report yet. I will need that at the end of the year for tax purposes.
        Also, I am planning to manually load investments to see how those track.
        Thanks again for all your insight.
        Gary

        1. I’m glad Moneydance has seemed to work out for you thus far. Generating the detailed income/expense report should prove to be a trivial thing. And I enter all my stock transactions manually (I actually enter just about everything in all my accounts manually). So far Moneydance has done a fine job of handling my stocks.

          Good luck and take care.

          Brian

  3. Hi Brian and everybody. Brian says that he imported his files from Quicken 2009 for Windows. I suspect that may be the reason that he had minimal problems with the imported results. I imported from Quicken for Mac and had terrible results, especially with Transfers. Moneydance duplicates all or most Transfers and all of the Account totals are wrong. See Finance got everything perfect.

    See Finance treats the Transfer as a Category, same as Quicken. Moneydance puts the name of the Transfer in the Check number column and duplicates the entry on one side of the transfer. That is only one of the several reasons for inaccurate Account totals.

    If you Google the phrase: MoneyDance – Can’t import Transfers correctly, you will be amazed at at the number of people complaining about Moneydance.

    Ralph

    1. Ralph,

      That’s unfortunate to hear. Too bad Intuit is so squirrely with the QIF format and that MD is apparently having trouble with the Mac version.

      SEE Finance is a good app; it’s one of the three I recommend to others. Hopefully it continues to work for you.

      Brian

      1. Is it Intuit or is it Moneydance. For myself and many other users who have reported their experiences, See Finance has no problem importing QIF files from Quicken Mac. In my case, 11 years of multiple account records imported with zero errors. And, for the record, my version was Quicken 2002, I believe the very first OS X version of Quicken.

        I would be interested in knowing whether your import had very many transfers between accounts.

        1. Ralph,

          The way I understand it is that Intuit has several different version of QIF. In fact, it seems that the QIF format varies even between different versions on the same platform. Apparently QIF export was never intended to be used to allow people to take their data with them to other applications, so it’s purposely vague. Although SEE did a great job with most of my accounts, my investment accounts were jacked up. iBank got most of it right, but then puked on certain things too. Point is, it seems that every software package (that’s not written by Intuit) has some degree of trouble importing QIF.

          That said, Moneydance no doubt wants to be in the position of being able to import your data just fine, no matter where it came from. If they’re not then it would behoove them to fix the issue. In other words, if SEE can do it then theoretically so can Moneydance (with the right amount of work and expertise).

          Another related QIF fact: I’ve been told first hand that Intuit actually removed QIF export from the Australian version of Quicken at some point. Those customers don’t even have the freedom to export their data at all; it’s locked up in the app. They have to start over again. Ugh.

          I had hundreds of transfers between accounts in Quicken for Win 2009. Mostly payments to credit card and loan accounts, but I keep a cash asset account that tracks my cash spending. I transferred money to that all the time and Moneydance handled all those transfers without a hitch from my QIF.

          My guess is that most people were coming from some version of Quicken for Windows. Moneydance imports just fine. Fewer are coming from Quicken for Mac, so the QIF import problems just never got fixed (the QIF files between the two are different). Then Intuit shoots themselves in the foot and loses virtually the entire Mac market. Mac users are looking for a replacement and now the Quicken for Mac QIF bugs are a hot issue; but they take time to fix. That’s all conjecture on my part, but it would explain how we might have gotten here.

          At the end of the day, if SEE Finance works for you, then I’d just use it. Of course, if you have your heart set on Moneydance and it won’t handle your Quicken for Mac QIF, did you ever think about importing your Quicken QIF to SEE then exporting out to QIF from there? That could then be imported into Moneydance and might have better results. Might be worth a shot.

          Good luck!
          Brian

  4. Thanks for your input, Brian. I’ll give your last suggestion some thought, although I probably would have to have a need for cross platform capability to consider using Moneydance at this time.

    Ralph

    1. Makes sense. I use Moneydance across Windows and the Mac, so the cross-platform capability is really valuable to me. Of course, I also already have things working perfecting in Moneydance, so for me to switch now would take something really compelling. I’m assuming you’ve settled on SEE Finance? It’s good software and I think we’ll see it get even better over time.

      Take care,
      Brian

  5. Battling with duplicate transactions, need to find the ‘tool’ to search & eliminate them. Can you help?

    1. Hi LoriJo,

      I’m not sure if there’s a tool to specifically remove duplicates, but you could try installing the “Find and Replace” extension. I think that would allow you to more easily identify and remove the duplicates.

      Hope that helps.

      Brian

      1. Hi. I’ve been looking for the “Find and Replace” extension you mentioned. Where is that? Not on the iBank site apparently!

        1. The reference to “Find and Replace” was related to Moneydance, not iBank (the topic veered away from iBank in the comments, admittedly).

          Sorry for any confusion.

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