iBank 4: Ideal Mac Money Management

In my search for the ideal money management application, I keep coming back to iBank. I reviewed Jumsoft Money here on Mac.AppStorm a few months back, and mentioned a few other options I’ve tried. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect – there are important features that I can’t use, and others that I don’t make use of – but on the whole it’s been stable and easy to work with, and I’ve not yet found an alternative that beats it.

We reviewed the last version here a while back, but now IGG Software has released a major update, so it’s time to revisit iBank and let you know how it works and what you get for your money.

How It Looks

Between iBank 2 and iBank 3, the UI received a big polishing – between iBank 3 and iBank 4, the same has happened again. Overall, this is down to an effort to simplify and clarify the interface in the new release.

iBank Interface

iBank Interface

Some are not going to like the changes – perhaps it’ll feel like a dumbing-down – but I feel that information is easier to read and quicker to identify in this new form.

If you prefer a more visual display of your transactions, you can switch to a Cover Flow inspired version, though it’s hard to see how this will really make it easier to work with your figures:

CoverFlow seems a little superfluous...

CoverFlow seems a little superfluous...

Returning to the first screenshot, then, let’s walk through the main interface features. The window is divided into two main sections, a left-hand panel that includes a list of your Accounts and their associated websites, your Reports and Budgets, and a Manage section that lets you control things like your Categories, Securities, and Transaction Templates.

The Manage Section

The Manage Section

The up-and-down-pointing-arrows button in the bottom row toggles display of a Summary Panel, which can be switched between a Net Worth or a simple Summary of money you own and money you owe.

How It Works

Getting your information into iBank 4 is easy. The first time you run the app, it will offer to import from the Mac or Windows versions of Quicken, Microsoft Money, or other finance applications. The ability to import your data in QIF, OFX, and QFX formats means that you should be up and running quickly whatever app or service you’ve used previously.

iBank 4 can also directly connect to many institutions to import your statement data directly from your bank. Sadly, this is one of the features that I’ve not been able to use, since none of my account providers allow this access – users in the UK are likely to have a similar experience, since it appears very few, if any, institutions here offer this kind of service. Still, though I know direct access would be quicker and easier, I’ve managed to get by fine for several years without it.

A middle step between direct access and importing from statement data saved in QIF or another format is using iBank’s built-in browser to access your bank. Simply enter the URL in the account settings and then click on Web Download in the toolbar, and iBank will bring up the site and catch any statement downloads as they begin.

The In-Built Browser

The In-Built Browser

If you do have to resort to importing from QIF files, iBank makes the job easy. The import window lets you see which transactions are already logged (items in the screenshot below with a green tick icon are new), so it’s easy to avoid duplication:

Importing a QIF File

Importing a QIF File

Once you’re set up, adding new transactions is simple – just click on the + button at the bottom of your list and you can enter information directly. Personally, I mostly rely on the iOS app, which I’ve found to be very effective (despite recent issues with it running extremely slowly…), and I would say the easiest and best thought-through of all the apps I have tried in this genre.

Reporting

One of the areas improved in the new version of iBank is its reporting features. The app has always been strong here, but the new implementation makes things even easier and clearer.

Setting up a new report is straightforward – just hit the plus button at bottom-left and select ‘Add Report…’ and then set criteria and select from different types of report, and you’re done:

Creating a Report

Creating a Report

Reports are interactive, so clicking on a heading or a section of a pie-chart will let you view associated transactions.

Associated Report Details

Associated Report Details

Budgeting

One of the new features in this version of iBank is the introduction of ‘envelope’ budgeting. This approach to keeping a budget is quite popular, and there are apps and online services that are specifically designed to help keep track of things following this methodology. You can read simple introductions to the approach here and here.

Setting up a new budget in iBank 4 is straightforward: you begin by choosing a name, frequency, and which accounts are to be included in the budget, and then select from the income categories you have set up, set your desired spending for each of your outgoing categories, and establish starting sums for each category, and you’re set.

Straightforward Budgeting

Straightforward Budgeting

This is a very effective and proven approach to budgeting, and the implementation here is straightforward and clear. I’m hoping that the iOS app is updated soon to allow users to carry their budgets on the go.

Other Features

iBank 4 can also be used to track your investments:

Investment Tracking

Investment Tracking

This is not a feature that I have used, so I can’t assess how it compares to other applications. If you have experience of working with this aspect of iBank, please chime-in in the comments so we can hear how it’s worked for you.

Exporting from iBank 4 is nicely handled – just set the date range, the accounts you want to export from, choose the location for the file, and you’re done.

Export Away!

Export Away!

In Conclusion

iBank 4 is a good upgrade of an app that was already quite solid. At $59.99 it’s not exactly cheap (upgrade pricing is available), but for its ease of use and its excellent reporting features, it’s hard to beat. In my experience over the last two major upgrades, the app is reliable and meets my needs better than any other finance app I’ve tried.

What do you use to keep track of your spending? If you’ve tried iBank in this or previous versions, let us know how you’ve found it.


Summary

iBank 4 delivers a new standard for intuitive, full-featured personal finance software. Monitor account balances at a glance, track your investments, maintain budgets, and manage your credit cards, savings, checking and loans — all in an easy, powerful, familiar Mac interface.

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  • http://www.infrasoundkids.com L1

    I’ve tried most of the banking solutions for Mac. But alls that I want is something that I can list current money and add an expense or more money. I don’t need all these extra features. Any reccomendations.

  • http://www.timstringer.com Tim Stringer

    I’m quite happy with Quicken Essentials…especially since they updated it to include, among other things, password protection. I find QE does everything I need and has as clean and generally well thought-out user interface. I especially like the way transaction confirmation and account reconcilliation are handled. I’m also a fan of the budget summary that is displayed on the main screen – it makes it very easy and intuitive to track spending.

  • ChrisM

    I recently switched over from PC to MAC. While there are many financial packages out there, iBank seems to be the most feature rich for the MAC.

    HOWEVER: it still can’t hold a candle to Quicken on the PC. Many more features, reports, views, and integration features than iBank. I have to keep a PC around just for Quicken 2010. And don’t even bother with Quicken for MAC. It’s just silly.

    • Juz

      I’d recommend you just splash out for VMWARE or Parallels. Much cheaper than maintaining a whole PC.

  • Ivan Rodriguez

    The new list view in iBank 4 is extremely difficult to read. Overall its a great app but there was a bit of a loss of UI control from iBank 3 to iBank 4. Personally I stuck with iBank 3 for now and will probably start using iBank 4 when this small tweak is made.

    • Jeff J.

      I totally agree with you on this. I Installed iBank 4 and spent 30 min. looking for a way to change back to simple list view of iBank 3. I have reverted back to version 3 and too am waiting for them to allow the old view again.

  • Terence

    I too have tried many of the money programs for mac, and agree that none of them hold a candle to Quicken for Windows. I gave Ibank 3 a strong running, using it for about 6 months and finally went back to Quicken for Windows. My biggest complaint with Ibank was it just being extremely slow. I don’t see in this review any mention of that. I also liked being able to budget by categories, not simply income and expenses. Looks like that may have been addressed. I also found investment tracking to be very lacking.

    I agree that for mac apps, Ibank is the best of them for money management, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to Quicken for Windows, and I am probably spoiled. I have also tried QE but it doesn’t do what I want either.

    Then again, if all I wanted was simple money management, Ibank would certainly do the trick.

  • Juz

    After lots of pain trying Mac apps for many years, I settled on MoneyWell a few years ago, and have been happy ever since. A bit light on prebuilt reports, but the system has some ingenious touches, uses very modifiable “flows” (filling your envelopes each month, or a few times amonth) and you can cut and slice many different ways all in the main interface (e.g. show me all transactions against budgeted cash for these three categories for this month).

  • Leonardo

    Nice review! I’m going to take a look on iBank.
    But for now I use MoneyWell and I’m extremely satisfied, especially with their new iPhone App to synchronize my account.

  • Freshmen

    For all the different products I’ve used and seen for mac I think it comes down to iBank 4 and MoneyWell. iBank 4 is nicer for building reports (really well to) and ease of use (for downloading). MoneyWell is generally a more complex look but is easier to manage. iBank has so many cool features it can be hard to keep track of. There are some ease of use features in MoneyWell like the duplicates view and being able to view all unassigned bucket transactions (or categories in iBank) for viewing all transactions that have not been assigned.

    I’m using iBank because I was introduced to it first however each have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s completely up to what you wanna use.

  • Christine

    I am upgrading my computer and am frustrated finding a new “quicken” version for snow lepoard. I am considering Ibank or an old version of Quicken. I need a program that can print checks on my home printer. Any ideas?? Thanks

  • http://vanessamacleod.com Vanessa MacLeod

    Does anyone know if iBank offers multi-currency support?

    • JLO

      Yes it does Vannessa

  • http://www.visionar.co.za Linda

    iBank is a really stylish and useful application. It gets 10/10 for looks and usability, the only issues I have with it are:
    - Categories & Subcategories:
    You can have subcategories under budgets (i.e. Under ENTERTAINMENT you can have MEALS or MOVIES) however the amounts spent in transactions labeled with these subcategories do not reflect in the main Budget.
    - Comparing previous month’s spending with budgeted amounts:
    You cannot create a report, comparing budgeted amounts and expenses for the previous month. You can only see the current month under budget. I import my bank statements at the end of each month, then allocate transactions to categories. There is no way to see how I under/over spent.

    • Megan

      I am also finding this to be a very frustrating aspect of this application. If I miss printing or analyzing on the last day of the month, the data is done.

  • AJ Crowner

    In my experience using both Quicken and iBank 4 the big difference has been in the support for the Mac user. I feel comfortable that 2 years from now iBank 4 and future additions for the Mac will be supported and have a strong community where I feel with Quicken we are an after thought.

    iBank 4 Reviews

  • Terence

    I have been a long time user of Quicken for Windows. Last year I tried switching to Ibank 3, but after a few months, I switched back to Quicken. Ibank 3 was way to slow, and I did not like the budgeting, handling of loans, and some other stuff. Now that Quicken is forcing me to upgrade, I decided to take a look at Ibank 4. So far, getting it is much improved. It is far faster, importing from Quicken was a breeze this time. Budgeting has improved, but it still needs some work compared to Quicken. I was able to figure out the loan procedure, and some of my accounts will now download. My only real complaint this time is budgeting, and not being able to set varying budget amounts for an item (say the water bill, higher in summer than winter).

    Overall I would give Ibank 4 a thumbs up, and I will likely stick with it this time.

  • rhart

    I have used Quicken Basic on Mac for my simple business for many years. It requires printing checks, catergory and subcategory of income and expense, year end detailed report for accountant, as needed minimum. Will iBank4 do all this for me in Lion?
    BTW: No further mention of password protected access after raised by one writer. Is it?

  • Frogger

    iBank4 is not yet ready for prime time. I am a heavy user with multiple accounts and securities, including many unquoted bonds and other securities. iBank4 suffers many delays (spinning wheels) while I work on my data. In addition, its reporting detail capabilities, scheduling of future transactions, and other features are not sufficiently detailed or robust. I dislike Quicken, but must stay with it for the time being until iBank4 becomes considerably richer, more robust and more stable.

  • Pingback: iBank – Ο προσωπικός σου λογιστής για Mac — S. F. Dimas

  • Sarath Bulathsinghala

    I Bank 4 ‘s report formats are rigid and does not allow for horizontal scrolling in Income and Expense report, nor does it allow to see the full description of the categories. To see further down the timeline it is necessary to scroll down instead of across. The data on categories is sometimes marked zero, when actually there are values attached to them. This makes on the whole the report inaccurate and not useful. Until such time I Bank 4 makes these changes I am inclined to return IBank 4 before money back guarantee date.

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