GnuCash Vs Quicken – Which is Best?

screenshot of GnuCash vs Quicken

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We compare GnuCash vs Quicken (affiliate) side by side to see how their features stack up.

There is a Q&A section at the bottom for frequently asked questions, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with GnuCash. 

This guide will help you decide which is the best personal financial software for your needs. If you are not familiar with GnuCash – it is an open source account software that works on multiple platforms.  It’s packed full of features and rivals some of the best paid for software out there.  We’ve been using it for our business for about 2 years now and are not going back to paid versions.

First, let’s take a look at the features compared to Quicken.

Feature Comparison Table

FeatureGnuCashQuicken Starter
Setup
PriceFree$34.99/year
Operating SystemMac OSX, Windows, LinuxMac OSX, Windows
Security
Local File SecurityNot built in. GnuCash recommends using encrypted files and folders.256 bit password protected
Budgets
Create budgets on previous dataYesNo - Must buy Deluxe or Premier version
Customized BudgetsYesNo
Envelope BudgetsNoNo
Support
WikiPhone
Backup Options
DropboxYesYes
FileAuto backup version with each saveBackups created through menu command
Accounting
MethodDouble entryCategory
Suitable for businessYesNo
Mobile Support
AppAndroid app but it only exports data to desktopYes
Reporting
Graphs and chartsYesYes
P&LYesNo
InvoicesYesNo
Cash FlowYesYes
PayrollYesNo
Balance SheetYesYes
Export to ExcelYes - through HTMLYes - Direct
Bills
Online Bill PayNoNo
Debt
Track LoansYesNo
Investments
Track StocksYesNo
Multiple CurrenciesYesYes

As you can see from the table, GnuCash can do almost everything even the most popular money management software can do.  All of this and it’s totally free.  What’s also cool about this is that it handles business accounting needs that Quicken is unable to do.

Here are some frequently asked questions about GnuCash.

If you need further help, search the Gnu Cash Wiki in the search box below.

Q&A

A double entry accounting system is similar to the category reporting of other financial programs.  The difference is that a double entry system provides the same level of reporting but it is more flexible and can track both personal and business transactions.

Yes.

GnuCash can download individual bank and credit card accounts directly into the registers.  However, it cannot do so directly with investment accounts.

Investment account data is  imported from OFX files.

See this guide at gnucash.org for more information.  I have also provided some tips for importing that show how to improve import rule accuracy.

Get support  through the GnuCash wiki or online support forums.  One on One support is not available.

No.

It is not difficult to install GnuCash.  There are package installers on the download page that will setup the software for you.  You don’t have to have advanced technical knowledge to install the software.

Quicken will sync data between desktop and mobile application.  GnuCash does have an Android version, but it will not automatically sync the data. 

The mobile app has the ability to export data to the desktop.  The mobile app is a helper for the desktop version.

One of the biggest changes between the two is that GnuCash displays the information differently than Quicken.  GnuCash’s double entry accounting method shows familiar Quicken categories as their own account.

This could be confusing in the beginning so there is some adjustment required.

Money flows between accounts in GnuCash so you have to picture that as transfers.

GnuCash is capable of importing Quicken data, but you need to format your accounts correctly so that it will work.  It’s best to test first before switching.

You should encrypt all financial data with a password.

On a Mac, this is easy.  You can either encrypt the entire drive automatically, or you can create encrypted and password protected disk images to store the GnuCash data.

Bottom line.

Both programs can be configured to protect your data.  GnuCash requires an extra step.

In order to export to Excel, first export the report in HTML.

Next, use Excel’s HTML import feature from File-Import, then select the HTML option.

screenshot showing how to import gnucash reports into excel through html

Give GnuCash A Try

Still not convinced?  Go ahead and give it a try yourself.  Since it’s free you can’t lose anything except your time.  I’d call that a deal any day.  If you’d rather stick with Quicken, here is where you can download it.

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