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No matter what the economy holds in store, there’s never a bad time to start managing your money. It’s a daunting task, but with the right software, your Mac can help. iBank is loaded with tools to help you track transactions, analyze your spending history, create budgets, and generally keep a sharp eye on your finances. But you’ll have to do the hard work yourself, and sometimes that means working around an occasionally frustrating interface.
We learned everything we know about banking from Monopoly, so we were glad to find that iBank walks new users through adding accounts and importing financial statements. All the account types you expect are here—checking, savings, credit cards—as well as investment, 401(k), money market options, and more. You can import current transactions from another application—or from your financial institution’s website—by dragging a QIF, OFX, or QFX file into iBank’s account wizard. Better yet, if an institution transfers data with the Open Financial Exchange protocol, you can enter your account information in iBank, then download up-to-date transactions with just a click. If you’re stuck adding transactions manually, the optional iBank Mobile iOS app ($4.99) lets you view and enter new transactions on the go, then sync them back to your Mac. Thanks to iBank’s built-in database of banks and credit card companies (and the tutorial videos on its website), we had three accounts imported and synced in about 15 minutes. Not bad for someone who forgets to collect $200 after passing Go.
iBank's good looks are bristling with ways to view and customize your financial data.
Once your data is imported, it’s vital to categorize every transaction—for instance, marking this deposit as your salary and that withdrawal as a utility payment—to get the most from iBank. Editable preset categories like Entertainment and Dining autofill as you type them, and you can add your own. But iBank lets you do more than just apply labels. You can split single transactions into multiple categories to fine-tune record keeping, mark taxable income with a searchable list of tax codes, schedule transactions, and even add files like receipts and images to items in a register.
What you can’t do is edit multiple transactions simultaneously, so customizing each item from scratch in several accounts can be needlessly time-consuming. Thankfully, you only have to categorize imported transactions once. Future instances of categorized transactions (like your next paycheck or utility bill) can be imported with your custom information intact, so your initial work pays off as accounts are updated.
With fully detailed transactions, iBank can generate great-looking dynamic financial reports with live links to your data, budgets, and smart accounts (think Smart Playlists for money) that isolate specific slices of your financial pie for closer scrutiny. Budgets let you create category-specific envelope icons filled with set amounts of virtual cash that deplete automatically as you spend in each category. It’s a great feature, but building budgets requires too much scrolling though cramped lists of categories, and options for editing them are limited, forcing you to create a new budget to make significant changes. Budgets ought to match the flexibility of reports, which are easy to customize on the fly. We also wish iBank Mobile recognized budgets so we could refer to them out in the world where spending happens or get an alert when we’ve overspent.
The bottom line. While iBank lets you flexibly organize and view your financial data, its best features could be easier to use. Together they add up to a money manager that’s worth a serious look, but not quite worth its weight in gold.
Mac OS 10.5.7 or later
Imports account information automatically from supported institutions. Easily generates financial reports. Extensive transaction customization options.
Interface makes some key tasks a chore.