Review: QuickBooks 2011 for Mac

QB 2011 for Mac adds multi-user access, spreadsheet export, and more. (November 10th, 2010)

QuickBooks 2011 for Mac refines the interface. It adds new features including multi-user access with individual permissions access, spreadsheet export, and mileage tracking. It renews its status as a solid business tool for Mac users.

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Intuit Inc.

Price: $229.95, Upgrade $199.95 US

The Good

  • Multi-user access.
  • User permissions.
  • Export report data to Excel or Numbers ’09.

The Bad

  • Doesn’t match Windows feature set, but costs the same.
  • Lack of interoperability with Windows version makes it difficult for businesses that run both platforms.
  • No create an accountant copy function.
  • Expensive.

Anyone who must create invoices, pay bills, or manage expenses may find it all easier to organize with accounting software. Intuit QuickBooks 2011 for Mac is a standard for small business accounting on the Mac. It is hard not to compare QuickBooks for Mac with its better-endowed Windows sibling, and we expect QuickBooks 2011 to be on par with its Windows stable mate. While QuickBooks 2010 for Mac was a major revamp of the QuickBooks interface, QuickBooks 2011 brings some useful and welcome enhancements to the current package. If you own the 2010 version, you may consider the changes essential when deciding whether to upgrade to the new version. The real issue is whether the Mac version is finally the equivalent of the Windows version.

Box Shot

QuickBooks 2011

New and Improved Features

QuickBooks 2011 brings with it several useful and oft requested enhancements over QuickBooks for Mac 2010. The first is Multi-User Access, which allows up to five employees to simultaneously view and edit QuickBooks data files. This feature could be useful for your small business, but for larger or medium size businesses, it is essential. To set up the function, the Administrator needs to select Enable Multi-User Mode from the File menu. The Administrator can set up their account, while the software initiates a QuickBooks server, which runs in the background.

Multi-User Access

Multi-User Access

The User Permissions function supplement the multi-user Mode feature and allows the Administrator to easily set the parts of the business that an authorized user is permitted to view and edit. It allows more than one user to hold Administrator access, if that is what is desired. You can turn individual permissions off with simple checkboxes. Custom users can only access areas of the organizations account that the Administrator sets, such as Accounts Payable or Inventory. A Custom user can access this information on-site or from a remote site, as long as the remote computer is connected to the same network and has a licensed copy of the software separately installed.

User Permissions

User Permissions

These welcome additions make QuickBooks 2011 suitable for medium sized organizations for the first time. The User Permissions function also supports iChat, which allows users logged on at the same time to communicate with each other easily, to ensure that people do not inadvertently double-up on the same job regardless of their location in the company. If you are using a Windows PC that does not support iChat, you are out of luck. The assumption here is that all users are using a Mac, whether they plan to use iChat or not. In a world where Mac users are quite used to working with and sharing Office for Mac files on a regular basis, for example, with Windows users, this sort of limitation seems bewildering in the year 2010.

QuickBooks 2011 for Mac also lets companies easily track employee travel with its new Track Mileage function. This database function makes it easy for employees to track their job-related auto mileage for reimbursement on customer invoices or at tax time. Mileage related reports can also help your business track its automotive costs, including servicing and gas consumption more readily than in the past without having to set up a separate Excel spreadsheet.

Track Mileage

Track Mileage

Among improvements to existing functions, QuickBooks 2011 has continued in the vein of the 2010 version by making its tools and interface more Mac-like. Its enhanced Layout Designer is a good example. New tools allow you to create customized forms for estimates and company invoices that are simple to use. Users can access ready-made templates, design their own from scratch, or modify existing templates, which can help to ensure that all the documentation it produces bears a similar corporate look and feel. The way the tools work will be familiar to users of Apple's iWork suite.

Improved Layout Designer

Improved Layout Designer

Intuit has also set up a special page on its website called Little Square for Mac users to congregate and learn tips for using the software or share ideas with each other. You can find a number of QuickBooks 2011 resources on the site, including videos, articles, and other items created by advanced users and the QuickBooks for Mac product team. It is still in its infancy, but is developing into a useful tool for users new to the QuickBooks franchise.

Little Square

Little Square

Missing Features

While QuickBooks 2011 brings some useful product enhancements that fans of the software will appreciate, it is still lacking several features that make the Windows version a more well rounded product. For example, in addition to the difficulties in sharing QuickBooks files between Mac and PC users because of file format incompatibilities, it is missing functions. For example, you cannot set different prices for the same item and the ability to track international sales and expenses in multiple currencies. Perhaps even more frustrating, is that the very useful Create an Accountant Copy function is still absent from the Mac version, although it does now allow you to export data easily to Excel 2004+ or Numbers '09. Also, you can back up to Mobile Me, which the Windows version does not support. We can hope some of the missing features will find their way into the next iteration of QuickBooks, but most probably, the Windows version will continue to march ahead of the Mac version.


QuickBooks 2011 for Mac requires a Macintosh running Mac OS X v10.6 with at least 1GB of RAM and 120MB of free space. It offers a solid business accounting package for Mac users that continues to improve and evolve in the right direction, albeit not as quickly as we would like. As a value proposition, it has increased $30 over the 2010 version, yet costs the same as the more feature rich Windows equivalent. As for my 3.5 star rating, it would warrant more if the file compatibility issues between the Windows and Mac versions was properly resolved.

Overall, if you are a small to medium business that needs an easy to use accounting package, the user-friendly QuickBooks for Mac 2011 has a relatively easy to learn user interface, even for the non-mathematically minded. It has some powerful tools and allows users to keep track of their business health at the click of a button. It is certainly worth a look.

Related Review

QuickBooks 2010 for Mac

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Sanjiv Sathiah


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