Intuit’s Quicken is the only software product I’ve used in the past ten years that gets consistently worse with each subsequent version. I started out with Quicken in 95 or 97, when it was a pretty stable, usable app, although it did have its quirks. Each version since then has been more complicated, more unstable, and slower than the version before. At the current pace, I’ll be back to balancing registers by hand in about 2006, I estimate.
But things have really hit their low point with my recent switch to the Mac. Everything about the switch went pretty smoothly, with the exception of moving my Quicken data. For some obscure reason I never quite understood, I couldn’t access my online balance and transaction info via Quicken for several months. I spent literally hours on the phone with my bank’s long-suffering and patient (but often totally clueless) customer service personnel, until they finally straightened everything out. Sort of: I can download transactions into Quicken now, but a whole bunch of the past few months’ transactions got duplicated in the process, and I’m still not sure we’ve eliminated every duplicate. The result: my Quicken balances can’t be trusted.
And, it turns out, Quicken for the Mac is a completely retarded program–and I mean that in the literal sense of “held back,” “slow to develop,” “retrograde,” and “dumb.” You can’t sort by the cleared/uncleared status of transactions–which makes it next to impossible to do a quick, back-of-the-envelope reality check of your balance vs. the bank’s balance. You can’t manually clear or unclear transactions by clickig in the “clr” field. It’s slow. There’s no one-line-per-transaction view. The only columns you can sort by are “date” and “number.” Who programmed this thing? A class of sixth graders could do better.
Sadly, this hell that I’m locked into is inescapable. There are simply no alternatives on the Mac. Sure, there are a few alternative money managers, but it’s not clear they’ll interface cleanly with my bank’s online system–a feature I consider completely essential. Also essential: being able to sort and search transactions, being able to track where money is going by category, and being able to track loan payments and amortization schedules. Oh, yeah–and being able to import the past few years’ of my Quicken financial data, cleanly and accurately. That’s about it. This is not rocket science, folks. How come no one is going after this market? Intuit’s only real challenger is Microsoft Money, which is PC-only, and that program, too, is excessively big and complicated. Someone needs to kill Quicken — and soon. Please?