What is Different between QuickBooks for Windows and QuickBooks Mac?

| July 14, 2011

Intuit has a version of QuickBooks Desktop for the Mac – and several versions for Windows. While the products are very similar, there are big differences that you should know about. Here is a quick list of some of the significant changes – not that this is not a complete list.

Note that in Windows we have three versions: Pro, Premier and Enterprise, with different features and capabilities. On the Mac there is only one, and it tends to be more like the lower end of the Windows versions.

 Third Party Add-On Programs: A big difference. There is no programming interface that works with the Mac products at this time. So, any program that uses the SDK, WebConnector or the IPP interface (App Center) won’t work with the Mac version.

There are many more reports in the Windows versions. Some key ones seem to be missing in the Mac version.

There is no multicurrency support on the Mac version.

Inventory in the Mac does not support inventory assembly items (used in manufacturing companies) nor is there any support for units of measure.

Progress Invoicing, where you can create multiple invoices out of a single estimate, is not supported in the Mac.

The Accountant’s Copy feature is not supported in the Mac. This can be a major issue. This allows the Windows users to provide a copy of their file to their accountant, who can make changes while you continue to use your file. The accountant can then give you a file that has just the changes that were made. This is one of the important advantages of QuickBooks over other systems.

If you want to use an integrated Payroll program, look carefully at the options offered for the Mac. They are much more limited.

Downloading your online banking statements is not as easy with the Mac. Fewer financial institutions support the Mac version, and the integration process isn’t as simple.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, just enough to give you an idea of the differences. IN GENERAL, when a new feature comes out for the Windows version, it isn’t available in the Mac version until much later, if at all. So make your decision carefully. Note also that you can run the Windows version on a Mac with products like VMWare Fusion and others, although not everyone is thrilled by that approach.

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He’s been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70’s, focusing on inventory and accounting software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor.

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Comments (14)

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  1. William "Bill" Murphy - Oklahoma City says:

    Wow Charlie – you are back to writing for YOUR OWN Blog again. Almost had forgotten the ambience of ‘the old place’. Its kind of like going to ‘visit somewhere you haven’t been for a long time……’


  2. Charlie says:

    Thanks Murph (or is it Bill, I’m never sure what to use). Most of my writing will be in QuickBooks and Beyond (http://www.sleeter.com/blog/ ), sometimes I’ll also have things here.

  3. JERRY says:

    With regard to the Mac version of Quickbooks; several years ago I made the mistake of investing in a couple of Macs with the intent to run QB because I liked the Mac computers. The differences were greatly disappointing and led me to return to PC’s and windows versions. NEVER AGAIN!!!

  4. Sandy Lenner says:

    As a QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor, I prefer to work with PC’s not Mac’s and for this reason using QuickBooks Online(QBO),eliminates the inherent problems of not having accountant’s copy in the Mac version as well as a hot of other problems. Also, with QBO companies that have PC’s and Mac’s can collaborate their data providing these use QuickBooks Online. More importantly, some small business really like QBO, while some miss the robust feature of QB Pro or Premier.

    Sandor Lenner

    • Charlie says:

      Sandy, it is true that web based products like QuickBooks Online Edition tend to be browser and computer system agnostic (but not always). However, QBOE is a very different product than QuickBooks Desktop. It has some nice features that aren’t found in the Desktop version, but also many features are missing there. It is unfortunate that they are so very different.

      QuickBooks Desktop users can use a “Hosted” solution if they want online access, and that gets away from computer type as well.

  5. Howard says:

    As a life-long Mac user dating back to 1985, Apple never took that giant (dedicated)leap into the business world. Mac are and have always been great for the publishing industry (including video) and consumer needs. But when it comes to running my business, I’ve been using a PC since the early 1990s and QuickBooks since v5.0 So much easier to transfer and share files in the Windows environment.

  6. Shelly King says:

    Thank so much for working to get the word out to users about the differences. If your readers would like more detail, here are a couple of articles that can help:


    Shelly King, QuickBooks for Mac team

  7. dkzody says:

    I have just recently been introduced to QuickBooks as I have taken over the finances of a nonprofit on whose board I serve. Blah!

    And now, after reading this I can understand my feeling. I am a total Mac user, but have had to load the QuickBooks on a PC (old one at that), and it’s NOT intuitive. Phooey on any application that does not want to be Mac friendly. Even a bigger phooey if it’s an accounting application.

  8. Mark Chapman says:

    We have transferred our Mac clients to a hosting environment so that we can use a windows version on QuickBooks, and they can still access and use all the functionality from their Mac. It has worked great for us and is far more powerful than the online versions of QuickBooks. The key is to connect with a reliable hosting company or purchase your own hosting server if you have the abilities to maintain it in house.

  9. Mike says:

    I rather fancy changing from a PC to a Mac 21.5” desktop but it has to be able run my Quickbooks Pro 2001 with many years data or the 2010 PC version I have just purchased but not used yet. I would also like Quickbooks to produce reports into Excel.

    As far as I can discover it may be possible to install Windows XP or 7 into Bootcamp and then install Quickbooks and Excel. I don’t need to go on line when using QB so assume I need not worry about a virus problem. For on line use I would reboot into the Mac OS and would need MS Office for Mac including Outlook for my emails. I am hoping the Outlook PST file from the PC would convert.

    Does anyone have experience of doing this or am I talking rubbish and there is a better way of doing it e.g. don’t buy a Mac?

    • Charlie says:

      Mike, if you are using Pro and not any add-in products, you might consider getting the Mac version. It is closer to the PC Pro version.

      If there is some feature in Pro that isn’t in Mac that you need, or you are contemplating moving to Premier, then there are several ways to set up Windows to run on the Mac, then run PC/QuickBooks under that. I can’t make specific recommendations because I don’t have a Mac.

  10. Mike says:

    Thanks Charlie. I plan to visit an Apple store and will ask the questions about setting up Windows XP or 7 on a Mac.

    I don’t have any add-in product like payroll but would like to be able to refer to my old finance records that I have carried forward from Quicken for Dos to QB Pro 2001.

    The other worry is can I go from PC/QB 2001 to PC/QB 2010 I have just bought for Win 7 in one stage or do I have to use a version in between.

    I don’t know anything about the Mac version of QB but read of the difficulties people have with it compared to the PC version. These would be transfering their old PCQB records as well as the Mac version being very different from the
    PC one.

    • Charlie says:

      Mike, I don’t know what the folks at the Apple store might say. There are several products that would do this, I’m not sure that Apple approves of any.

      You can move from the PC 2001 version to the PC 2010 version, some people have success in doing it in one step and some people find that they need to do an intermediate step (like 2006). It depends on how “clean” your 2001 database is.

      Most of the complaints about the CURRENT Mac version of QB tend to be from people who have been using the PC versions, particularly Premier. The Mac version is not as fully functional as Premier. It is roughly comparable to Pro. Also, transfering data from the PC version to the Mac version can be done, but people find mixed success. Sometimes it works well, sometimes not.

  11. Mike says:

    Charlie. I am in the UK and gather QB for Mac is not supported.