The Dirty Little Secret in Quicken Essentials...You Lose Your Data

A year ago I upgraded from Quicken 2007 for Macintosh to Quicken Essentials 2010 for Macintosh. I wrote about that upgrade in my article entitled Quicken Essentials for Mac – The Bare Minimum. In that article I went through my upgrade experience and got the reader setup on Quicken Essentials. I then went over the decision criteria between Quicken Essentials and iBank 3. I made the decision to upgrade to Quicken Essentials, but only by the smallest of margins. It was basically the best of two bad options. I had been a Quicken user for over a decade and Quicken Essentials maintained the feeling of a Macintosh personal finance application. iBank 3 was different and had some performance problems that weren’t apparent in Quicken Essentials.

But there was a flaw. A fatal flaw that I’m feeling now. My data should be my data and Intuit has stolen it from me. Decades of transactions and purchase behavior and past transactional histories. Gone. You see, I’m trying to move away from Quicken Essentials, and I cannot. Quicken Essentials no longer provides ANY useable export function for your data. It is a data black hole.

I’ll say that again: Quicken Essentials no longer provides ANY useable export function for your data.

Exporting Your Quicken Essentials Data

There’s an Export menu found under the File menu in Quicken Essentials, it looks like this, and gives the user hope:

Quicken Essentials Export MenuExport Menu Choice

At this point, you actually believe you’re going to be able to move your data to another financial application. The next step is where things begin to fall apart. The next dialog box you see provides your export options, they’re bad.

Export DialogQuicken Essentials Data Export

I want to point out how bad this is…

  • Your choices of transactions are: All Visible, Selected, and Unselected. There is no All. In order to get all transactions, you have to manually change your settings in your Register to allow all transactions in your account to be visible. If you forget to do that, you’ll only get a subset of transactions.
  • You only have one choice for output format: CSV (Comma Separated Value)

The second bullet is the important one. CSV is a nice cross-platform format. You’d think it would be a great way to export and import transactions. Unfortunately, Intuit chose to use CSV as a reporting format, not an export format. This is how your export looks in Excel:

Quicken ExportQuicken Essentials Export

Unfortunately, that’s not terribly useful. There are column headers, filter criteria, blank lines, balances, totals, it’s a mess. Looks nice in Excel, but a disaster to try and import. Oh and if that wasn’t bad enough, the values in the CSV are formatted as ($X.XX) for negative values and $X.XX for positive. What crap! Why didn’t Intuit just give us a clean CSV file of the transactions? Better yet, allow us to export via QIF like every other financial product on the market. No such luck here…

So, this was the straw. I’m done. Goodbye Intuit. Goodbye Quicken Essentials 2010 for Macintosh.

It will be a difficult transition. I’m going to have to re-enter every transaction from the last year, by hand. I’m lucky though, I found my old Quicken 2007 Data File from last February. Had to install Rosetta in order to re-install Quicken 2007, in order to re-export all of my transactions again. It was nice running a program that actually worked as you expected. Too bad it’s over 5 years old and Intuit abandoned it and every Macintosh user with this latest atrocity.

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