Proposed Solution: Quicken 2007 & Mac OS X Lion

Right away, you should know something about me.  I am a die-hard Quicken user.  I’ve been using Quicken on the Mac since 1994, which happens to be the point in time where I decided that controlling my personal finances was fundamentally important.  In fact, one of my most popular blog posts is about how to hack in and fix a rather arcane (but common) issue with Quicken 2007.

So it pains me to write this blog post, because the situation with Quicken for the Mac has become extremely dire.  Intuit has really backed themselves into a corner, and not surprisingly, Apple has no interest in bailing them out.  However, since I love the Mac, and I love Quicken, I’m desperately looking for a way out of this problem.

Problem: Mac OS X Lion (10.7) is imminent

Yesterday, I got this email from Intuit:

It links to this blog post on the Intuit site.  The options are not pretty:

  1. You can switch to Quicken Essentials for Mac.  It’s a great new application written from the ground up.  In their words, “this option is ideal if you do not track investment transactions and history, use online bill pay or rely on specific reports that might not be present in Quicken Essentials for Mac.” Um, sorry, who in their right mind doesn’t want to track “investment transactions”?  Turns out, at tax time, knowing the details of what you bought, at what price, and when are kind of important.  At least, the IRS thinks so.  And they can put you in jail and take everything you own.  So I’m going with them on this one.  No dice.
  2. You can switch to Mint.  I love Mint, and I’ve been using it for years.  But once again, “This option is ideal if maintaining your transaction history is not important to you.”  Yeesh.  For me, Mint is something I use in addition to Quicken.  Unfortunately, Mint is basically blind to anything it can’t integrate with online.  Which includes my 401k, for example.
  3. You can switch to Quicken for Windows.  Seriously? 1999 called and they want their advice back.  Switch to Windows?  Intuit would get a better response here if they just sent Mac users a picture of a huge middle finger.  By the way, to add insult to injury:  “You can easily convert your Quicken Mac data with the exception of Investment transaction history. You will need to either re-download your investment transactions or manually enter them.”

This is an epic disaster.  I’m not sure how many people are actually affected.  But the Trojan War involved tens of thousands of troops, so I’m going with Homer’s definition of “Epic”.

What’s the Problem?

There are really three issues at play here:

  1. Strike 1. Around 2000, Intuit made the mistake of abandoning the Mac.  Hey, they thought it was the prudent thing to do then.  After all, Apple was dying.  (The bar talk between Adobe & Intuit on this mistake must be really fun a few drinks into the evening.)  Whoops.  This led Intuit to massively under-invest in their Mac codebase, yielding a monstrosity that apparently no one in their right mind wants to touch.  From everything I hear, Quicken 2007 for the Mac might as well be written in Fortran and require punch cards to compile.  Untouchable.  Untouchable, unfortunately, means unfixable.
  2. Strike 2. Sometime in the past few years, someone decided that Quicken Essentials for the Mac didn’t need to track investment transactions properly.  I’ve spent more than a decade in software product management, so I have compassion for how hard that decision must have been.  But in the end, it was a very expensive decision, and even if it was necessary, it should have mandated a fast follow with that capability.  It’s a bizarre miss given that tracking investment transactions is a basic tax requirement.  (See note on the IRS above)
  3. Strike 3Apple announces the move from PowerPC chips to Intel chips in June 2005.  Yes, that’s *six* years ago.  Fast forward to June 2011, and Apple announces that their latest operating system, Mac OS X Lion, will not support the backwards compatibility software to allow PowerPC applications to run on Intel Macs.

Uh oh.

This is Intuit’s Fault.

With all due respect to my good friends at Intuit, this problem is really Intuit’s fault.  Intuit had six years to make this migration, and to be honest, Apple is rarely the type of company to support long transitions like this.  You are talking about the company that killed floppy drives almost immediately in favor of USB in 2000, with no warning.  They dropped support for Mac OS Classic in just a few years.  It’s not like Apple was going back to PowerPC.

If you examine the three strikes, you see that Intuit made a couple of tactical & strategic mistakes here.  But in the end, they called several plays wrong, and now they are vulnerable.

Intuit would argue that Apple could still ship Rosetta on Mac OS X Lion.  Or maybe they could license Rosetta to Intuit to bundle with Quicken 2007.

Apple’s not going to do it.  They want to simplify the operating system (brutally).  They want to push software developers to new code, new user experience, and best-in-class applications.  They do not want to create zombie applications that necessitate bug-for-bug fixes over the long term.  Microsoft did too much of this with Windows over the past two decades, and it definitely held them back at an operating system level.

A Proposed Solution: VMware to the rescue

I believe there is a possible solution.  Apple has announced that Mac OS X Lion will include a change to the terms of service to allow for virtualization.  If this is true, this reflects a fundamental shift in Apple’s attitude toward this technology.

The answer:

  • Custom “headless” install of Mac OS X 10.6.8, stripped to just support the launch of Quicken 2007.
  • Quicken 2007 R4 installed / configured to run at launch
  • Distribution as VMware image

OK, this solution isn’t perfect, but it is plausible.  Many system utilities are distributed with stripped, headless versions of Mac OS X.  In fact, Apple’s install disks for Mac OS X have been built this way.  A VMware image allows Intuit to configure & test a standard release package, and ensure it works.  They can distribute new images as necessary.

The cost of VMware Fusion for the Mac is non trivial, but actually roughly the same price as a new version of Quicken.  I’m guessing that Intuit & VMware might be able to work out a deal here, especially since Intuit would be promoting VMware to a large number of Mac users, and even subsidizing it’s adoption.

Will Apple Allow It?

This is always the $64,000 question, but theoretically, this feels like really not much of a give on Apple’s part.  They are changing the virtualization terms for Mac OS X Lion, so why not change them for Snow Leopard to0.

Can We Fix It? 

I’m a daily VMware Fusion user, which is how I use both Windows & Mac operating systems on my MacBook Pro.  If Intuit can’t work this out, I just might try to hack this solution myself.

In the end, I’m a loyal Intuit customer.  I buy TurboTax every year, and I use Quicken every week.  So I’m hoping we can all find a path here.

Feel free to comment if you have ideas.



53 thoughts on “Proposed Solution: Quicken 2007 & Mac OS X Lion

  1. Sadly, it isn’t just the mac version of quicken that is broken. Though it is clearly worse off. The windows version might as well be in fortran with punch cards. It hasn’t improved in years, but each year it gets a few silly UI changes to make it look different. Sometimes these changes are actually useful. But usually not.

    The fact that mac and Windows versions don’t use the SAME data formats is… stunningly bad. It would not surprise me if the windows version defeatures investment data as well.

    I’d be embarrassed to be at Intuit, without a publicly transparent plan to fix what’s broken.

    Also, it isn’t any better for quickbooks. So most people on Macs that I know, have an old copy of windows in a VM running – for the sole purpose of running quicken or quickbooks when needed. That is just pathetic, in my opinion.

  2. I think this all very interesting, but the post seems to dodge the most obvious solution.

    First: full disclosure. I’m the marketing whiz at IGG Software, so that’s where I’m coming from.

    IGG makes iBank, an excellent, Lion-ready alternative to Quicken or Mac. My sales spiel ends there. But my larger point is: there are several worthwhile alternatives to Intuit’s products, many of them developed exclusively for the Mac. Anyone who thinks they are not up to speed hasn’t been paying attention over the past couple of years. Yes, each has its limitations or characteristics that make them fundamentally different from Quicken, or from one another.

    If you’re committed to both Lion and Intuit, fine – run Essentials. Or create a Windows partition, or a Snow Leopard partition, to run a different Quicken version. But most users just want a simple solution that meets their needs. And that means finding Mac personal finance software that works. Maybe a future column here can examine a few of those alternatives.

    • Ever since receiving “the” notorious email from Intuit 2 days ago about Quicken 2007 going away with Lion, I started looking into iBank4. I downloaded a 30-day free, full-feature version and was encouraged when I was able to export my Quicken data file and then import into iBank without a hitch.

      I obviously have very little experience with iBank, so take what I say below with a grain of salt.

      The main problem I’ve found so far is with iBank’s reporting capabilities. With Quicken I frequently use the “QuickReport” feature to either display or print a list of, e.g., payments to a particular payee or payments to a category, for a specific time range, from a particular account or from all accounts. This is easy to do in Quicken, but not so with iBank.

      Another type of report I use frequently with Quicken is “Print Register” (e.g., my checking account) for a particular time period – again, very easy to do in Quicken. If you try to do a simple print of, e.g., your checking account in iBank you are given no option for selecting a time frame (or range of check numbers). So, if you’re like me and have a checking account register that goes back many years, you may get an 80-page printout! Not good if all you’re looking for is the last month or so.

      I’ve found a kludgy way around some of this by using a feature called “Smart Account”, which works sort of OK; however you can’t format the printout into landscape mode or even scale it to make it fit on one page. Even though there’s the usual File>Page Setup… menu item, it doesn’t seem to work. You can select landscape mode and type in a % scale, but it has you effect, you always get a fixed (and quite large size) font in portrait mode.

      These are “features” that should be relatively easy to fix, but at the moment (version 4.2.4) they’re a real nuisance.

      • I have been using Quicken, either the Windows or Mac version, for more than twenty years. I am also a CPA with 35 years of experience. Because of the OS X Lion problem, I have tried iBank, Moneydance and SEE Finance. The reporting capabilities of all three are terrible. There is a huge database of information on Quicken and its pathetic that none of these vendors can develop simple report writers to get at the data. They seem more interested in showing pretty pie and bar charts than useful information. For now, I will stick with Quicken for Mac 2007 but may start all over with something else next January.

  3. I have been using Quicken on the Mac since 1993. Over the years i have downloaded both IGG’s iBank and Moneydance as alternatives to Quicken, but neither will import my exported QIF files properly. To fix the imports would require days of effort.

    Both Moneydance and iBank stated that the problem was with Quicken’s QIF file format, which apparently leaves me stuck with Quicken forever.

    Consequently, Adam’s VMware solution seem best in the short run. Long run solution if for Intuit to get its act together and launch a Lion-supported version of Quicken with all of Quicken 2007’s features.

    • Scott,

      You might give iBank another chance. I tried to export a QIF file from Quicken and then export it into iBank2 some years ago and did not like the results. I don’t recall the details, but just remember there were countless issues that would have taken weeks or months to correct manually, so I gave up on iBank at the time.

      When I tried this again a few days ago with iBank4 it appears to have worked flawlessly. At least I haven’t spotted any data errors yet. The jury is still out.

      • In the past few days I downloaded the latest versions of iBank and Moneydance, and both programs again failed miserably to correctly import my Quicken 2007 exported QIF file.

        The good news, however, is that I downloaded the Lion-ready SEE Finance product, which near-flawlessly imported my QIF file (containing more than 30 accounts), with only minor corrections required to my bond transactions. Needless to say, I purchased their $29.99 product right away. Another bonus for me is that SEE Finance handles foreign currencies (I have one overseas brokerage account.)

        A downside for me is that SEE Finance currently has a limited number of banks/brokerages from which you can download transactions. (Schwab is conspicuously missing.) It would be great if SEE Finance could also produce a comprehensive user manual in PDF format, rather than depending on online help to understand some of the less-obvious features of their software.

  4. I just learned of this today and am totally pissed at Intuit. What makes this squeeze even worse is that the changes (won’t say upgrades) coming to Mobile Me require Lion.

    If Intuit doesn’t come up with a Quicken for Mac that will track investment transactions — one of the main selling points for dealing with detailed tax data required of buys and sells — then I’m going to be in the market for another program, which I hope I can load my Quicken data into.


  5. Surprising that Intuit has fallen this far behind OS X, especially considering their chairman, William Campbell, is on Apple board.

  6. Does anyone know if TurboTax for 2010 and prior years will also be broken on Lion? It’s pretty important to be able to launch prior year’s returns, for example if you are audited.

    • It appears TurboTax for 2010 is not affected. If you go to About this Mac….More Info…..Applications, you will see that Turbo Tax (since 2006 anyway) has been written as a Universal application. You can also see which apps are specifically written for PPC (including Quicken 2007).

  7. I have been unhappy with quicken for the Mac for a while. Quicken Essentials for the Mac is a joke. No online bill pay! Whats the point. Might as use a spreadsheet to track your checks.

    I was glad to see that my back provides a very nice system for paying my bills online. A much cleaner UI then quicken.

    And it works on the iPad.

    Bye Quicken, your lose and you are lost.

  8. Correction to my comments on SEE Finance: Charles Schwab (and many other brokerages) are available in SEE Finance.

  9. Do any of the Quicken alternatives offer a Cash Account? In my work and my clients businesses, there are thousands of dollars of tax write-off unable to be integrated into reports without the ability to set up a Cash Account.

    Also, check writing (who wants to do that job twice)? I print checks in Quicken less and less, but still enough to make it a painful loss of time.

    Essentials is way too basic in many areas — categorizing; reporting; download duplication; etc. The list goes on.

    I’m sick about this. I have been putting clients on Quicken for 10 years and have been on it myself since 1994. I’m no investment wizard, I just have the basic tax requirements of an independent contractor. I need to access my tax reporting data for 7 years for the IRS and at least 10 years for U.K.’s Inland Revenue (no statute of limitations there). I will have to keep an old computer tucked away in the drawer with my Zip drive, just in case.

  10. Adam,

    I’m in total agreement with you, but unlike you, I never received notification from Intuit about the problem if upgrading to Lion. I have been an Intuit user for many, many years. I just completed the upgrade to Lion and the normal Quicken Icon in the dock has a line running through it telling me “You can’t open the application Quicken 2007 because PowerPC applications are no longer supported.”

    Now I have no way to access my data on my iMAC. Any suggestions from you how I might accomplish this? You seem to be very knowledgeable on this subject and thought you might have a suggestion or two. I am (or was) using Quicken for MAC 2007 as well. Your help would be greatly appreciated.


    Carl Schuett

    • Does anyone out there have a solution to those of us who did not get the email from Intuit, upgraded to Lion and now cannot access any financial information??


      • I’m going to do a follow up blog post, but I’ve actually gone with another solution now. I got an old Mac Mini, which I have on Ethernet on my home network. It’s running Snow Leopard, so I just Screen Share into it from Lion in order to run Quicken. Works fine.

  11. Well, this dummy updated to Lion before realizing that Quicken wouldn’t work. Don’t have a recent QIF file, and don’t have quicken on another computer to make the qif.

    • Don’t feel bad, I did the same thing:( But I found a temporary fix! I have 2 hard drives in my Mac Pro. I installed Snow Leopard on the non-Lion drive and transferred info from my Time Machine and Quicken was back in business with no loss of data! If you don’t have a second internal hard drive, I am sure an external would do the same thing. It’s not perfect, but it give me a way to use Quicken 2007. I can boot from the Lion drive when I don’t have Quicken stuff to do.

      Hope this helps.

  12. One obvious solution guys…..put your Quicken on an older Macbook(pro) and just use it for Quicken and some older files from FileMaker as that program is also a no-go on Lion prior to v10. Expensive, but relieves the strain. Bruce H. 8-3-2011

  13. I have not upgraded to Lion yet, but plan to in the near term. I have been using Quicken since 1996 and find it hard to believe the lack of foresight on Intuits part. But that is another story….

    After reading quite a few posts and blogs regarding this predicament, I considered another option to wait out this problem until there is a solid solution. I have a G5 (PowerPC based) connected directly to my TimeCapsule. I have been basically using it as a file share (it has 1TB of drive storage and a few connected USB/Firewire drives). I use a program WakeOnLan to wake up the computer via my iMac [i5 core]. (I actually plan to run a sleep/wake schedule on the G5 but just haven’t got around to doing it). Once the G5 wakes, I use Share Screen from my iMac if I need to make some admin changes, or use it as another computer.

    The G5 is running Leopard (not Snow), but of course this is an operating system that can run Quicken 2006/7. I have ran Quicken using this method and the only issue I have is the screen window does not fully expand out to fill my 32″ screen.(not a big issue as the problem itself!)

    Having a faster system as a file share system with OS X Snow Leopard would probably be even better.

    This just may be my way of “camping out” until Intuit get’s their act together or someone jumps on the opportunity to capture this market.

    Please let me know what your thoughts are on the temporary idea and hope it can relieve some of the distraught!

    • I’ve tried iBank, Mint, and a couple more programs and none of them work like Quicken! BillPay through or through your bank isn’t all that bad. I’ve been paying my bills through online banking with Quicken for over ten years and I love Quicken 2006, but there doesn’t seem to be a solution if I want to upgrade to Lion and I want to keep current with Apple. Partitioning my disk is not the answer for me as I go back and forth with Quicken and other reports ive created in Numbers and am always looking up transactions, etc. I’m going to check out Quicken Essentials $19.99 @ buy. Com. I don’t need the investment portion and have set up bill pay through my bank. However, if VMWare comes up with the ok to run Leopard as a VM, I will definitely go back to Quicken 2006.

  14. My biggest issue is the online bill pay feature. Do any of the OS X Lion compatible financial apps have online bill pay within the application? Using my banks online bill pay is not a solution because scheduled transactions will only download once they have cleared, which means a separate manual entry is then needed into the app’s check register in order to have the register up to date and include all future transactions? HELP.

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  16. Adam – So appreciate this post and comments as I freaked out this morning when I couldn’t access any of my financial data for my business or personal accounts both of which have 10 years worth of Quicken data. Since “upgrading” to Lion and to iCloud my productivity has gone way down as a novice trying to wear an IT hat. I’ll find someone to help me with these workaround options before creating a bigger nightmare. — alex

  17. Apparently VMWare had the solution for us for a few days in 4.1 until they changed it. That would have been ideal and I still don’t understand why Apple would say no to running Snow Leopard as a VM on a Lion machine. It is Apple hardware! Does VMWare for Mac also run on PCs? The same software? I wouldn’t think so.

  18. I have been using iBank 4 for one year for home finances and am quite happy with it — overall, a MUCH better interface than Quicken for Mac 2007. Rather than move my huge Quicken data file into it, I decided to start “clean” with iBank. (Yes, that meant investing a couple of hours in setup time, but it also gave me a chance to reevaluate things.) There were a few differences between the apps which initially took some getting used to, but no big deal. There are a few features that I’m still hoping IGG Software will add/change, and I expect them to happen, since IGG has been pretty steady with their updates.
    Also, I LOVE the mobile app — we use it all the time to enter transactions when we are out and about. It syncs data flawlessly with the desktop version.

    • Just curious, what kind of quarterly or year-end reporting do you do on iBank. Also, do you have the ability to create a cash account as needed for an independent contractor? Thanks. Jan. 1 is arriving fast and I need a solution. I think starting clean is a great idea, then hold on to Quicken ’07 ’til the taxes are done. Lion, here I come…

      • I usually create a monthly Income/Expense report and use the numbers from it to enter into our Excel budget spreadsheet. (iBank has a budget feature as well, but my Excel spreadsheet is detailed to the nth degree and better reflects my thought process, so I prefer to use it instead.) But iBank’s reporting capability is very flexible in terms of dates and other reporting parameters and has quarterly- and year-end options.
        I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer regarding your cash account question, since I don’t know the nature of your transactions with the independent contractor. I have several accounts in iBank called “Cash” or “So-and-so’s Cash” in which we track cash income/expenses for different people in the family. There is transfer capability between these accounts as well as with “Checking” (particularly needed for ATM or cash-back transactions).

      • Thanks for your reply. It appears you have to duplicate your data input, to some degree, which I am trying to avoid having to do. My clients and I have some complex reporting (international and/or investment accounts) needs that Quicken has been able to satisfy. It looks like it might be time to look closer at iBank. Thanks, Bruce. BTW, I use cash accounts for myself and my clients to not only track spending, but report tax-deductible expenses to the IRS. These accounts must, therefore, integrate with quarterly reports for IRS reporting.

  19. If you get VMWare Fusion version 4.1.0, you can run Quicken 2007 on Lion with a Snow Leopard virtual machine (not SN Server). I recently set this up on my Macbook Air . It takes about 15GB. It works pretty well. I won’t be able to upgrade Fusion.

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  21. Freaking out here. I got no email message from intuit and had no idea this was going to happen. Now I have updraded to Lion and can’t access my Quicken 2007. Could use some help…

    • A note from IGG Software to anyone with their Quicken 2007 data stuck in limbo after updating to Lion: we’ve been able to help many users recover their historic account and transaction data and successfully port it to iBank 4. If you’d like to ask us about this, please go to our main support page and contact us (generally during business hours) via Live Chat: (we can also be contacted via email). thanks!

  22. I just upgraded to Lion a few days ago. Loving the new environment, with iCloud…and my new iPhone 4s…how could I not? Right? Wrong! I happily went to pay my bills the day after upgrade and found a big “X” over my Quicken icon. “Devastating” is an understatement. I use that exclusively to send electronic payments through to my online banking institution, track scheduled payments and recurring payments, including our retirement investments. After much research, an hour on with Intuit “support” and more time on the phone with my bank, I’m literally stuck … up the proverbial creek with a paddle. With no way to access my previous Quicken data file (because I discovered this after the upgrade to Lion) and no suitable software interface to switch to and start over again… WHAAAA???

    I, too, got the same exact “solutions” from Intuit just today and was furious that they’ve literally turned their backs on us. I’ve been using Intuit products for over 15 years, just 2 years on my MAC. I hope they do the right thing but, in the meantime, here we sit…with our thumbs you-know-where.

    Sadly, betraid and disowned…

    Any ideas on how to access the Quicken data file ‘after’ a Lion upgrade?

  23. Great news form Quicken 2007 for MAC users. I’ve discovered MoneyDance which works perfectly on LionX an with my bank and includes online bill pay through the program, just like Quicken did. I’m so excited!

    Tho I couldn’t recover my previous Quicken data (I’ll archive the file just in case) I was able to quickly set up my accounts, link to my bank, download January’s activity to begin my check register AND create some online payments thru the software.


    There’s a free trial if you’d like to check it out. I’ve done all of this inside the free trial. Cost for registered license is only $49.99. Site address is

  24. I’ve wasted money on both Moneydance and iBank. Neither of them handle mutual funds in a practical manner. Can you believe that they don’t have a running balance of shares? Instead they have a cash balance, which for mutual funds is 0 (zero). How useless is that? In portfolio view, I get a pie chart showing me that 100 per cent of a mutual fund account is invested in, guess what, mutual funds. Brilliant! With Quicken 2004 I, when I transferred money between one fund and another, I could see the transfer on the register. MD takes 2 entries to show the transfer (for imported data) and iBank doesn’t show it all all. I also appreciated the ability to look over my quickfill and category lists in Quicken. I use automatic withdrawals to pay utility and credit card bills, so I don’t miss online banking. I don’t need a budget feature either. But I do want the clear, practical registers that intuit had and I’m not seeing them anywhere else.

  25. Installed an exterior hard drive running Snow Leopard. My techie son saved all my Quicken files and reinstalled on the exterior HD. Whenever I want to use or access my Quicken files, I have to choose Snow Leopard as my Start Up Disk. What a big pain in the ….!!
    Son now suggests I move all financials over to another financial service/system.
    Can’t believe that this happened under the watchful eye of the Board of Directors. One person serves on the Boards of both Apple and Quicken! Is it too late for them to wake up???

  26. Pingback: Review: Quicken 2007 for Mac OS X Lion | Psychohistory

  27. It’s 2012, almost 2013, I’m going to get a new Mac which means it won’t support Quicken 2007, right? I’ve tried other programs and Q7 does what I want best. Any (simple) suggestions anyone?

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