Many of us have been using Mint’s web app to manage our finances online for years now. It even makes it easy to keep up with our spending on the go with full-featured mobile apps. But until recently, Mint hasn’t had a presence on the Mac.
All that’s changed with Mint QuickView, Mint’s first time out on the Mac App Store. A lot of what’s inside is going to look familiar, but there’s enough that’s new here to really make it a useful addition to the Mint family of financial tools.
A Fresh Start
You’ll need to login to Mint or signup when you open the application for the first time. Logging in is simple, but if you’re signing up for the first time, the process is going to be a bit complicated. To get the full benefit of Mint, you’ll want to connect all of your bank accounts, your credit cards, and any other financial accounts. It’s also helpful to set up a budget. Go ahead, we’ll wait. (You can also finish this stuff up later.)
All done? Once logged in, Mint QuickView will load your most recent transactions and a pie chart of your spending. Your spending is broken down into major categories, like automotive or bills & utilities. If any of your spending is miscategorized, you can fix it either on the Mint website or right in the app. Clicking the icon for the menu, right next to the preferences gear in the lower right, will allow you to edit and recategorize transactions, or even add cash transactions.
Where Does the Money Go?
If you want to get a breakdown on any one spending category, click that section of the pie chart or select it from the Spending drop-down list. That category will be highlighted in the chart, and only transactions in that category will be displayed beneath. To view all transactions, click See More, and the transaction list will expand to fill the entire window.
Click the arrow to the right of the pie chart to see the Net Income view. Here, Mint QuickView compares your income to your spending and lets you know how you’re doing over all. Everything is laid out in a bar graph, and you can compare month to month.
To see the change over time, select a month by click in the graph or selecting it from the drop-down. The transactions from that month will be listed below the graph. Click Go to Trends beneath the graph, and Mint QuickView will take you to a new window where you can generate reports on your spending habits and income.
Click to the left again to see how all of your accounts are doing. Lots of green is good, because that means you have more money than you owe. It can be disheartening to see a huge red bar, and I took my mortgage off for a while, because I’m never going to have as much cash on hand as I owe the bank for my house, and it was just a bit overwhelming to see it spelled out for me in mini-inforgraph style.
To avoid loan anxiety, though, you can choose to see only your cash, credit cards, or loan accounts, and Mint QuickView will break down how much is in each account or owed to each lender. In your transactions list, you’ll see a breakdown of exactly where that money’s going, too.
Beneath all of this, Mint QuickView gives you advice on how to save money, like moving to a lower interest credit card or using a rewards card if you buy a lot of groceries or gas. Mint’s keeping this great service free by offering “deals” to its users, but really they’re just ads for credit, so keep that in mind.
Preferences and Features
Clicking the gear icon in the lower right gets you the preferences, but there’s not a lot to see here. You can change how the window acts and unpin it from the menubar icon, or choose to hide either the menubar icon or dock icon. The passcode options allow you to create a passcode to use Mint QuickView and set a timer, so that after a few minutes of inactivity, you’ll have to enter your passcode again to keep using the application. While I don’t really see a way of getting your bank account information out of Mint and stealing all your money, an underhanded or careless person could at least get a pretty good peek at your finances, so allowing a passcode isn’t a bad move for Mint.
The menu icon next to preferences allows you to launch pretty much any of the other Mint web features, but in the application. Rather than running the website in the app, which I can do in a browser and don’t need to download a separate application for, I wish they had given us a way to use all of Mint offline. Just to be sure, I turned off my WiFi, and it was a no go.
The utility in Mint QuickView comes from, well, giving a quick view of your Mint account. For actually working with your Mint budget, editing your transactions, or updating your financial accounts, Mint QuickView is really no better or worse than the webapp. In fact, it is essentially the webapp in a different package. It’s just that now that package is directly on your Mac, and that’s nice, I guess.
What’s missing is offline access. I had expected to be able to sync my accounts and view and edit my transactions offline, but this just isn’t the case. The QuickView account snapshot window does work more or less offline, and that’s what I liked best. I can just leave it running, and when it syncs every couple of hours, I’ll get account status updates. In between, I can get a good look at how my finances are doing. The rest of it, though useful, is nothing new.
Would I still recommend Mint QuickView? Sure, without reservations. There’s absolutely nothing bad here, and I hope in future we’ll get more offline features. Even without offline, Mint QuickView is still a really good, useful finances app. It’s just not as much as it could have been.