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quickbooks for mac review - cover

QuickBooks For Mac 2021 Review

QuickBooks For Mac remains the most powerful accounting software available on Mac. However, as the desktop version gradually gets phased out, you're much better off using QuickBooks Online which has far more features and also works out cheaper.
Still the most powerful accounting software on Mac
Double entry accounting
Works on both Mac desktops and online
Desktop version lacks features compared to Online version
Desktop client gradually being phased out
Annual upgrade is expensive

When it comes to accounting software, QuickBooks is still one of the most well known packages out there.

Although it now faces strong competition from other Cloud based accounting apps, it’s still one of the best accounting software solutions for Mac users.

QuickBooks has been expanded in recent years too and now offers integration with QuickBooks Payroll its own powerful Payroll software for Mac too.

However, the old desktop version of QuickBooks for Mac has now been accompanied by a Cloud version as more accounting apps move online.

In fact Intuit is gradually moving all of its software online and has announced that the desktop version of its apps will probably be phased out from June 2021.

As an incentive to use the Cloud version, Intuit is also offering 50% off QuickBooks Online for new subscribers and as we’ll see in this review, most Mac users will find it makes far more sense to use QuickBooks online than the desktop app.

Here we take a closer look at QuickBooks for Mac 2021 and see what’s changed.

Is QuickBooks For Mac Discontinued?

The desktop version of QuickBooks for Mac is still available to download from Intuit. However, Intuit has announced that support for older versions of QuickBooks 2018 will be discontinued from June 2021 onwards.

The standard desktop version of QuickBooks Desktop for Mac 2021 is still available for an annually recurring payment of $399.99. You can still buy both single user and three-user licenses.

However, it does seem like Intuit is gradually putting less resources into supporting desktop versions of its software which is why you’re much better off going for QuickBooks Online which not only works out cheaper, but is where Intuit is now focusing most of it’s attention.

To confuse Mac users further, on Windows there are two other desktop products: QuickBooks Desktop Pro and QuickBooks Desktop Premier which are not available for Mac.

The reality is that QuickBooks Desktop For Mac 2021 is similar to QuickBooks Desktop Pro for Windows although it’s still not as complete or powerful and this is a major gripe with Mac users.

QuickBooks Premier however is Windows only and aimed more at medium to large companies as it can generate tailor made reports for specific industries. QuickBooks Premier also supports 5 users whereas Pro only allows 2.

There’s also an Enterprise version of QuickBooks that can track up to 1 million customer, vendors and items but again, it’s not available to Mac users.

QuickBooks For Mac is therefore clearly aimed at small businesses with no more than 3 users whereas the Windows and Online versions are aimed at bigger businesses.

However, the fact is that Intuit is moving QuickBooks towards the Cloud and it’s likely that eventually the desktop versions of QuickBooks For Mac and Windows will probably be phased out.

Note that there is no desktop version of QuickBooks Payroll but you can use it on your desktop via QuickBooks 2021 by subscribing to the QuickBooks Payroll within it.

What’s The Difference Between QuickBooks Desktop For Mac vs PC?

In most respects, QuickBooks works the same on Mac as it does on Windows. The same features in QuickBooks Desktop Pro for Windows are available in QuickBooks Desktop For Mac 2021.

The latest version of QuickBooks For Mac 2021 is less buggy and more stable than previous versions too although there aren’t any special additions compared to QuickBooks For Mac 2016.

Like the PC versions of QuickBooks, you can track all of your business income and expenses in the desktop version of QuickBooks for Mac.

The standard features include:

  • Invoices and estimates
  • Expense tracking
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Chart of accounts
  • Check printing (although there’s plenty of other better check printing software for Mac)
  • Contact management
  • Accounts payable
  • Time tracking
  • Project management (check out some of these other project management tools for Mac for more advanced features)
  • Budgeting
  • Inventory
  • 100+ reports
  • Journal entries
  • Purchase orders
  • Credit memos
  • Receipts
  • Class tracking
  • To-do lists
  • Sales tax groups
  • Tax forms – (although there are better tax filing apps for Mac for this)
  • Deductions
  • Job costing
  • Importing and exporting
  • Text search (QuickBooks For Mac will automatically OCR scan receipts and PDFs you upload via a phone or from your Mac)
  • Accrual and cash based accounting

Payroll and Payments Integration

Although there is some confusion about Payroll integration, QuickBooks Payroll now also integrates with the 2021 Mac version of QuickBooks.

Simply go to the Employees > Payroll Menu and when you configure the payroll, it will communicate to upload and download accounts, employees, paychecks and tax payments.

The same goes for QuickBooks Payments which you can integrate with QuickBooks For Mac by going to QuickBooks > Preferences.

When you’ve signed up for an Inuit account, you’ll be able to receive payments for invoices and sales receipts via credit cards, online ACH and e-check payment options via a “Pay Now” button.

You will also be able to send out e-invoices via Intuit’s online portal. There are 31 invoice templates available so you can send out professional looking invoices from your Mac. You can batch-send invoices and send progress invoices by email. Note however that there’s no way to issue recurring invoices.

quickbooks mac invoicing

Other useful payment related tools include the ability to turn estimates into invoices and there’s even a system for warning you if a check has bounced.

quickbooks for mac bounced checks

There’s a contact management feature where you can add credit limit, sales taxes, customer credits, location and other customer specific data.

Overall though, you’ll find that both Payroll and Payments integration is much better in QuickBooks Online than the desktop version of QuickBooks For Mac.

There are also other payroll solutions for Mac worth considering too.

What’s The Difference Between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online?

Intuit is encouraging users to switch to the online version of QuickBooks so it’s no surprise that the online version of QuickBooks offers significantly more features and tools than the desktop version.

If you scroll down here you can see all the many features that are included in QuickBooks Online for free compared to QuickBooks Desktop for Mac.

The other obvious advantage of QuickBooks Online is that it’s accessible anywhere on any device with a browser.

The desktop version can only be accessed on your Mac although you can add integration with Right Network to access it anywhere for an additional cost.

Mac users should also be aware that you can also now connect QuickBooks For Mac to iCloud which is probably a quicker and easier way of sharing QuickBooks accounts between Macs.

You still definitely get more for your money with QuickBooks Online versus the desktop versions which is why we strongly recommend Mac users to consider using QuickBooks Online instead of the desktop versions.

quickbooks online vs quickbooks desktop for mac


Is QuickBooks Desktop For Mac A One Time Purchase?

No. QuickBooks Desktop For Mac 2021 requires an annually recurring payment of $299.95 but unlike the online version, you will not receive any free updates during that time.

Compare this to the Online version which is continually updated for free and costs a standard price of $25 dollars per month although this is 50% off for the first three months.

QuickBooks Desktop For Mac Pricing

QuickBooks Desktop For Mac costs $299.95 per year for a single user. Additional users cost $299/each. Other features have an additional cost too.

If you want Payroll features, it’s an additional $29/month plus $2/month per employee. If you want phone support, it’s $89 for 3 months. Live bank feeds cost $10-$15/month depending on your bank.

Intuit does offer a 60 day satisfaction guarantee so that you can get a full refund if you’re not satisfied.

Again, from a pricing perspective it makes much more sense to go with QuickBooks Online as some of these add-on features are included for free.

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop Features

As already mentioned, QuickBooks Online offers many more features than the Desktop version. However, there are some usability differences as the desktop version is better integrated with macOS.

Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop For Mac are easy to use although the online version is a little easier.

For example, the desktop versions of QuickBooks feature a handy QuickView feature which sit in your Menu Bar and allow you to get an instant overview of activity on your accounts without actually opening the app.


quickbooks mac review 2020 - quickview

Management of QuickBooks Desktop for Mac is also slightly easier in the desktop app too as you can have multiple QuickBooks windows open rather than multiple browser tabs which isn’t quite as easy to manage.

quickbooks for mac review

There are also other macOS specific touches in the desktop version such as Dark Mode which was introduced in macOS Mojave.

quickbooks for mac dark mode

There’s also a useful new and improved company snapshot in the desktop version which gives you a very good overview of where your money is coming from and where it’s going. You can customize, drag and drop charts around and there are over 15 charts available.

quickbooks for mac company snapshot


Drawbacks To QuickBooks For Mac

QuickBooks For Mac desktop doesn’t connect with any third party services.

QuickBooks Online has the advantage that it can connect to over 300 other third party apps which is far more than the desktop version of QuickBooks.

The Mac desktop version of QuickBooks is far more limited although it can connect to the following software:

  • Microsoft Word and Excel integration requires Office 2010 SP2 – 2016, or Office 365 (32 and 64 bit)
  • E-mail Estimates, Invoices and other forms with Microsoft Outlook 2010 SP2-2016, Microsoft Outlook with Office 365, Gmail, and Outlook.com, other SMTP-supporting e-mail clients. Integration with QuickBooks POS 12.0 or 18.0.
  • Transfer data from Quicken 2016-2019, QuickBooks Mac 2016-2020 and Microsoft Excel 2010 SP2, 2013, 2016, Office 365 (32 or 64 bit).

You can see all the various changes and differences between QuickBooks For Mac 2021 and previous versions here.

Other drawbacks to QuickBooks For Mac include:

  • QuickBooks Desktop for Mac does not support multi-currencies whereas the Windows and Online version do.
  • QuickBooks For Mac does not have Live Bank feeds – you have to refresh to get the latest data.
  • The annual upgrade is expensive at $299.95 per year.
  • It’s not really suitable for small to large sized businesses as it only supports 3 users.
  • Customer support is generally acknowledged to be poor although you can use phone support, live chat and there’s a help center.

QuickBooks For Mac System Requirements

QuickBooks For Mac 2021 is compatible with macOS 10.14 Mojave and above including Catalina and Big Sur.

However, it’s also important to be aware that there have been issues migrating data across to the latest macOS Catalina compatible version of QuickBooks for Mac.

When Apple released macOS Catalina, some QuickBooks users found data had been corrupted.

This is another reason why the online version of QuickBooks is a safer bet when it comes to future updates of macOS.

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