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>> Hi, this is Rafe Needleman from CNET with a First Look at Quicken Essentials for the Mac, the first new Mac version of Quicken released since way back in 2006. What do patient Mac users finally get on this platform? First, Quicken Essentials is a thoroughly modern Mac app. It's been written from the ground up, and Coco, it looks and feels like a Mac app, not a Windows port. This is good. Here's what's also good; the software is simple to start using. You give it your online account info, and it will download all your data right in. It supports a lot of financial institutions. The app has a very strong categorization engine, so it knows what you're spending your money on, and this leads to a nice and simple system for setting up and tracking budgets. It also analyzes your expenses over time and can warn you of upcoming bills based on payments you've made in the past. So it's very good at keeping track of how much you are spending and what you are likely to spend in the near future. Quicken Essentials will also read in data from investment accounts so you can tell how much your stocks and mutual funds and 401Ks and 529s are worth at any moment. Unfortunately, the app doesn't give you any way to analyze investment data at all. The Windows versions of Quicken have a lot more in the way of investment features. Quicken for Windows also lets you pay bills from within the app, which Quicken Essentials for the Mac does not. Bill payment and investment tracking may come in future versions of the application, though. Since a lot of people who might want Quicken on the Mac are using other apps, including Quicken for Windows running in virtual machine on their Mac, Quicken Essentials has a robust file import application to move them over. The importer can read data from any recent version of Quicken or from Microsoft Money. Quicken Essentials looks and acts a lot like Mint, the online financial app that Intuit acquired last year, and that's no surprise since Aaron Patzer, who was the CEO of Mint, is now running the Quicken Group at Intuit. In fact, if you like what Mint does, but don't feel comfortable giving an online service all your financial passwords, you'll probably be very happy with Quicken Essentials. It has most of the same important features as Mint, and it's a pleasure to set up and use. People who have grown accustomed to all the features in Quicken for Windows might find Quicken Essentials on the Mac just a little bit limiting, but for people new to the financial software category, it's a very strong showing. Quicken Essentials goes on sale on February 25 at a retail price of $59.99. For CNET, I'm Rafe Needleman.
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