How to Get the Most Out of Quicken

Quicken has been the default personal financial manager for Mac users for many years. Quicken is ubiquitous, but I still see Quicken users who don’t get the most out it. This is because they don’t know how to make it more user-friendly. This is my top-ten list with tricks that every Quicken user should know, from novices to professionals. Quicken has a variety of keyboard shortcuts that you can change or create your own. Hold down the 1 key, then select the item that you wish to modify from the menu bar. You can also enter your preferred shortcut in the Edit Command Key dialog box.

The key to tracking your spending is Quicken’s categories. Although some Quicken default categories might not be applicable to you, they will still show up whenever you open the Categories & Transfers window. You can get rid of any categories that you don’t use by selecting Lists: Category & Transfers: Get rid Of Unused Categories.

Quicken makes it easy to create categories for all your financial transactions–perhaps too easy. Let’s take, for example, the case where you want to track your spouse’s individual medical quicken services expenses. There are two possible subcategories to the Medical category. What about your children? Is it really necessary to have a separate Medical subcategory for each member of the family? If you think so, and apply the same logic for your other expenses, then you will soon have an inordinate number of categories or subcategories.

It is smarter to create Quicken classes. Because classes are different from categories, they can be used to further delineate transactions that have been assigned to a specific category. You might, for example, create a class to represent each member of your family. Select Lists: Classes and click the New button. Then, add a class name. You can then assign a class for a transaction using data entry by adding a forward slash to the category name and a name to it. You would enter Medical/Bob to pay for one of Bobs medical expenses.

You don’t need to reach for your calculator while entering data into the account register. Quicken’s QuickMath function gives you an easy “paper-tape” calculator that looks like an old add machine. Press the operator key between each number to enter the numbers you wish to calculate. Once you have entered all the numbers, click the Total but-ton button at the bottom of your paper tape or press enter. Quicken calculates the number and then places it in the field.

A backup of your Quicken data file, which is one of your most important, is essential. Quicken will automatically back up this file, but you have the option to choose where to store it. It is a good idea to have a second hard drive. Select Quicken: Preferences and then move to the File Backup pane. Select Automatically Backup the Data File to Disk. Next, click on Choose to navigate to a folder on an external hard drive. You can also backup to your iDisk if you have a.Mac Account. The backup file is encrypted and compressed with a password to ensure security.

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