Review: QuickBooks 2009 for the Mac

It's getting to be tax time here in the U.S. and if you're like me you dread it.

It's getting to be tax time here in the U.S. and if you're like me you dread it. I usually end up promising myself to keep better records and be more organized next year. Well it's next year and time to get your financial act together. If you work for yourself you need good accounting software and the leader in this category is clearly QuickBooks from Intuit.

The new QuickBooks 2009 for Mac starts with a wizard that asks questions about your business ("do you pay employees?"), then prepares an easy-to-understand interface with icons suited to the relevant aspects of your business. The updated "home page" (pictured) lays everything out in a clear and concise manner.

QuickBooks Pro 2007 for Mac lacked several key features that were available in the Windows application, namely being able to download and reconcile bank and credit card transactions directly from the institution – forcing many people to use the Windows version. Mac users had to download a "QuickBooks Web Connect QBO" file from the bank's Web site, then import that into QuickBooks. The Windows version, meanwhile, can connect directly to most banks from within the application itself.

I'm happy to report that QuickBooks 2009 for Mac fixes that. It now works seamlessly with more banks (I tested it with Chase and Citi) and imports transitions directly from within the app.

New Mac-centric features include the ability to sync contacts with Address books, back up files to MobileMe, and add reminders directly to iCal. QuickBooks 2009 for Mac also allows you to share your data with your accountant who, if he's like mine, is probably running the Windows-based version.

Surprisingly there are still several glaring omissions from the Mac version of QuickBooks that are available on Windows, including credit card processing, multi-user capabilities and online bill pay. None of those are deal breakers for me though, I'm just happy to have my banks supported within the app.

QuickBooks 2009 for Mac normally costs between $170 and $200 but Intuit is offering a promotional price of $120 that includes a free learning CD (a $40 value). Not a bad deal.