Cloud Accounting QuickBooks

The QuickBooks App for Mac

Written by Charlie Russell

Intuit announced on June 12, 2014, the QuickBooks App for Mac, a native Mac app that will provide an improved experience for Mac users who subscribe to QuickBooks Online.

The Intuit Business Operating System

In my October 2013 article “The Intuit Business Operating System,” I talked about how Intuit believes that its future is “in the cloud,” and that Intuit wants to provide QuickBooks on every platform. Figure 1 is a diagram Intuit provided, indicating the intended direction for QuickBooks:

QuickBooks on every platform

Figure 1: QuickBooks on every platform

At that time, there was a lot of discussion about what the future would hold for QuickBooks for Windows and QuickBooks for Mac if everything was going to be “cloud based” – but the above diagram shows both Windows and Mac as being a part of Intuit’s plan? What did that mean?

My interpretation at the time was that Intuit intended to build a “hybrid” system for Windows and Mac users. That is, you would have a “native” app running on your computer, rather than accessing your data through a browser. You would be accessing the QuickBooks cloud database rather than a locally stored QuickBooks company file. Think about it – if you’re using an iPad (for example), which do you prefer to use? A web-based application that works through a generic browser interface, or an app that runs natively on your device, that takes advantage of the specific features of that device, but still accesses your online data? As an iPad user myself, I always prefer a native app over a browser-based product.

The QuickBooks App for Mac

This “hybrid” app is exactly what Intuit has introduced with the QuickBooks App for Mac. It’s a native app that Mac users can download – starting June 12, 2014 – from the Mac App Store. It runs on your Mac, it provides you with the kinds of features the Mac user wants and expects, but it’s accesses the QuickBooks Online database.

Intuit’s goals with this product are to:

  • Provide the Mac user interface and experience that Mac users need.
  • Improve the speed of the user experience.
  • Provide menu bar notifications.
  • Convert users to QuickBooks Online.

Let’s take a quick look at how the QuickBooks App for Mac will meet these goals.

The Mac User Experience

If you’re a Mac user, there are certain features you expect to see in an application running on your computer, which you won’t see if you’re working with a program in a browser. That’s one of the advantages of working with a native app – it should feel like a Mac.

Here’s the QuickBooks App for Mac, showing information very similar to what you would see when using a browser to look at QuickBooks Online, but with a distinct Mac flavor. You’ll find your standard Mac navigation features, menus, and more (Figure 2).

QuickBooks App for Mac

Figure 2: QuickBooks App for Mac user interface

Multiple windows are supported. Double-clicking on a transaction will open it in a new window, reports will automatically open in new windows, and more (Figure 3).

Multiple windows

Figure 3: Multiple windows

Support for the common Mac keyboard shortcuts also will be included.

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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been writing for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. He retired from accounting and QuickBooks activities in early 2018.

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


  • Hi Charlie,
    I wrote a review of this as well, on the Intuit Accountant blog.

    I’ve been using it exclusively to access QBO for the past several weeks. To answer some of your questions:
    – it is LOTS faster. A desktop like experience.
    – I stay logged in as long as my computer is on. I occasionally ( every 3-4 days) have had to re log in due to updates. Yes anyone can get into my account, just like they can if I stay logged into the desktop version.
    – Converting from a desktop Mac file presents most of the same issue as converting from a Windows file. (After having done several of these, I think in the future I’d do a clean file and use TPI to move data. Its just too hard to clean up)
    – I found Version 1 to be rock solid. As far as apps go – I use several apps with different QBO files, and accessing them from the browser is my normal workflow anyway. If you aren’t the Master Admin on the QBO file, it is really hard to get to the app from the App Center anyway.

    Basically if you have a Mac, I’d recommend installing this ASAP from the App Store. (which is the other reason that Intuit did this – they’ve wanted to have QB in the Mac App Store for a while but there have been technical and revenue implications they couldn’t work out.)

  • I finally upgraded to Mavericks to try this app. It was worth it. Given version 1, there’s got to be a catch somewhere, but for the routine work the improvement is amazing. Thanks to both Charlie and Victoria for letting us know!

    • Wayne, were you using QuickBooks for Mac prior to this? Or were you already on QuickBooks Online? I’d be interested in hearing what you think about the product after using it awhile.

      • I support Mac clients on a Mac mini, Windows clients on a PC. I was doing QBO on the PC, but I think I’m going to switch my QBO work over to the Mac using this app.

  • If you are a Mac user, you already have QBO and you download the Mac app that’s OK…but if you are traveling, you don’t have your mac with you, will you be able to acces your QBO from any other non mac computer ?

    • You are working with a normal QBO account so you can access it from any browser as before. You just won’t have the Mac user interface, shortcuts and such. In fact, if you are using any add-ons, at this time you will have to go through the browser to use them, as the App doesn’t support them yet.

  • Charlie:

    The dichotomy that I find most disturbing with this is that they’ve put an app for sale in the Mac App Store, are marketing it to Mac users, but when I went to export the data was told that I needed to use Internet Explorer.

    I moved away from 2012 for Mac desktop to this because I thought this *was* a native Mac app. As I’ve gone through the process I’m a little disappointed learning that it is not.

    The release notes for 1.0.1 do show that it is “preparing the way for native Mac app” (not the exact phraseology but what is implied) so we’ll see what that holds.

    Anything else that you can glean from their side (why they would sell it in Apple’s store and not allow it to all function in OS X) would be most welcome.

    • Scott, the “export” function that you refer to is primarily intended for use when someone is exporting their data from QuickBooks Online back to QuickBooks Desktop (on Windows), so I’m not sure why you were using that. That is a holdover from the QBO product itself, not something that was designed for Mac use.

      This isn’t fully a native Mac app, it is the QBO product with a Mac wrapper to get it to be a bit more comfortable to use QBO on the Mac. As far as your comments about OS X – I don’t have a Mac myself so that isn’t something that I can really look into. Sorry!

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