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Moneydance review: Personal finance Mac app offers good tools with a few UI quirks

Jeffery Battersby | June 12, 2014
Several years have passed since I last reviewed Moneydance, a Java-based personal finance application created by The Infinite Kind. While Moneydance hasn't changed much in the intervening years--it's still a good personal finance application--in its latest iteration, The Infinite Kind have enhanced and upgraded Moneydance, adding iOS syncing using Dropbox to make managing your money that much easier.

Several years have passed since I last reviewed Moneydance, a Java-based personal finance application created by The Infinite Kind. While Moneydance hasn't changed much in the intervening years — it's still a good personal finance application — in its latest iteration, The Infinite Kind have enhanced and upgraded Moneydance, adding iOS syncing using Dropbox to make managing your money that much easier.

Moneydance centralizes your personal finance information in a single window. A sidebar on the left provides links to all your accounts and budgets, and a list of reports. A toolbar at the top of the window allows you to select and display budget information and when you select an item from the sidebar, the data in the main window changes to reflect the item you've selected.

The Moneydance interface will be familiar to anyone who has ever used any computer-based financial app. You add and edit your banking data in what looks like a double-lined checkbook ledger. The first line displays the specifics of each transaction, including the date, how the transaction occurred (check, transfer, EFT, etc.), who the transaction was paid to, how much the check was for, and your account balance. The second line is for other details such as transaction category and associated check number.

While entering transactions in Moneydance is easy, I did encounter some unexpected behavior. When entering category information, adding new categories from the category field rarely worked correctly. Newly downloaded transactions that you've yet to confirm appear in the main window. Each displays a small dot in the description field indicating that they're waiting for you to confirm them. When you click the unconfirmed transaction, a new sidebar appears on the right displaying details for the selected transaction. When this sidebar opens, rather than expanding out to the right as a normal sidebar might, Moneydance's sidebar expands in, and resizes the ledger portion of the window. This does two things: it moves the place you clicked in the ledger away from your cursor and, often, info appearing in the ledger window gets compacted so that the ledger text appears underneath the little blue dot indicating that the transaction has not been accepted. You can resolve this by resizing the window, but this is less than optimal.

Moneydance offers automatic downloads of your banking data, but in order to use this feature you'll have to subscribe to your bank's download service, which, in the case of my banks, means I have to pay each of them a fee. Setting up online banking is simple and I was able to connect to my banks and download transactions in a matter of minutes. But this feature has limitations. Even though my bank offers the option to download information on my mortgage accounts, Moneydance doesn't support this feature. These are basic features that apps like iBank 5 and online services such as Mint.com and Personal Capital handle with ease and which should be available in Moneydance as well.

 

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