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Best Accounting Software for Macs 2021

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In earlier days, a big part of choosing the best accounting software for Macs involved finding out which programs were compatible with which systems. Now, things are much more universal — especially for online, cloud-based accounting software. But some accounting software packages do have features that are a little friendlier for Mac users, such as desktop versions for Macs, iOS apps, iCloud compatibility and even Apple Watch apps.

Our top picks for accounting software for Macs

Best free option: Wave

The best accounting software for Macs helps small businesses keep their books accurate in an Apple ecosystem. These programs use double-entry accounting, create meaningful reports, offer live support on demand, work with other business apps and can grow with you. If you’re thinking about hiring expert help, you’ll also want to choose a package that accountants and bookkeepers know and use.

Here are NerdWallet’s picks for the best accounting software for Macs.

Best accounting software for Macs 2021

QuickBooks Desktop for Mac price: $399.99.

  • Works with iCloud Document Sharing.

  • Full suite of reports, including profit and loss statements and balance sheets.

  • Doesn’t integrate with QuickBooks Payroll or QuickBooks Payments.

  • Intuit discontinues software updates on desktop programs after three years.

  • No mobile app for Desktop for Mac.

  • Can take a little effort to learn.

  • Can be difficult to work with your accountant (if they use a PC) or scale to another version of QuickBooks.

FreshBooks Accounting price: $15 per month and up.

  • iOS app available.

  • Supports Apple Pay for U.S.-based customers.

  • Ease of use.

  • Billing includes unlimited estimates and invoices.

  • Option to add advanced payment processing.

  • Phone and online support.

  • Each pricing tier includes one user; each additional user adds $10 per month.

  • Limited features (no advanced budgeting or tax support).

Wave Accounting price: Free.

  • Can use Apple Pay to make secure payments with Wave Money in iOS apps, on iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac.

  • Ease of use.

  • Unlimited income and expense tracking.

  • Unlimited partners, collaborators or accountants.

  • Relevant iOS apps are for Wave Invoicing and Wave Money (but not Wave Accounting).

  • Not suitable for larger or fast-growing companies.

  • Not ideal for companies that handle foreign transactions.

Xero price: $11 per month and up.

  • iOS app available.

  • Apple Watch app.

  • Unlimited users in all pricing plans.

  • Inventory management.

  • Full reporting included with all subscription levels.

  • Automated bill and receipt capture.

  • Accepts Apple Pay only via Stripe integration.

  • No live phone support.

  • Limits on bills and invoices with the entry-level plan (five and 20 monthly, respectively).

Zoho Books price: $0 per month and up.

  • iOS app available.

  • Apple Watch apps available for time tracking, mileage tracking, business report tracking and other functions.

  • Ease of use.

  • Can integrate with a family of other Zoho products and several third-party apps.

  • Ability to automate workflows.

  • Phone and email support.

  • Specialized versions for nonprofits and startups.

  • Third-party app integrations are more limited than other choices.

  • Even the top-tier plan is capped at 10 users (additional seats can be added at $2 each per month).

QuickBooks Desktop for Mac: Best overall accounting software for Macs

Price: $399.99.

Why we like it: 

QuickBooks for Mac has solid accounting features, such as invoicing, billing, inventory tracking, reporting, budget creation, sales and customer management. Several new features for 2021 simplify payment collection, including automated reminders, the ability to combine multiple invoices in one email, and an online payment portal. Self-employed freelancers or creatives who prefer Apple products could do well with this version of QuickBooks, especially if they do all of their own bookkeeping.

Xero Accounting: Best for unlimited users

Price: $11 and up per month (50% off for first two months).

Why we like it: 

Xero stands out by allowing unlimited users at every subscription tier, a potentially valuable feature for businesses where several users may need at least limited access to the system to run reports or analyze performance. You can also set up different permissions for each user so employees have access only to what’s relevant to their job. By contrast, QuickBooks Online Advanced allows just 25 users and three accounting firms. The New Zealand-based company, which has accounting software that is a market leader in some parts of the world, is also working to make inroads in the U.S. It offers a full certification program for accountants (like QuickBooks does), with more than 100,000 accountants and bookkeepers using Xero — which makes it easier for Xero customers to find outside help.

FreshBooks: Best Apple Pay-friendly option

Price: $15 per month and up (60% off for first six months).

Why we like it: 

FreshBooks’ mobile app is intuitive and feature-rich, making it a great choice for entrepreneurs who spend more time on the phone than at a desk. Aside from general accounting functions, the mobile app also allows you to respond to clients’ questions and get notified when they view or pay invoices or when invoices are overdue. With FreshBooks’ relatively recent addition of double-entry accounting, it’s also now a candidate for a larger spectrum of companies, getting generally strong industry reviews for its intuitive, easy-to-use interface. Entirely cloud-based, it covers the basics and includes some attractive automated features and reports. If you need to have more than one person access the system, be sure you factor that into the price.

FreshBooks Accounting

Zoho Books: Best for low cost, high value

Price: $0 per month and up (with discounts for annual billing).

Why we like it:

Zoho Books packs an impressive collection of features and reporting capabilities for an affordable price. The free version is only for businesses that have less than $50,000 in annual revenue; it allows one user and one accountant. Its interface is easy to learn and use, and the option to automate workflows — for example, to send an email alert if an invoice exceeds a certain amount, or to apply a discount or late fee in certain cases — makes it stand out as an attractive choice. (You can create five automated workflows under the basic plan and up to 10 under the higher tiers.) Zoho is perhaps best-known for its customer relationship management, or CRM, and productivity apps, which integrate well with its accounting software. It’s possible to create contacts on Zoho Books based on new leads in Zoho CRM, for instance.

Wave: Best free option

Price: Free (Wave makes money via payment processing).

Why we like it: 

Unlike some “freemium” software products, Wave doesn’t put out a bare-bones free product as bait, then load it down with costly upgrades. Even the free version has things like the ability to add unlimited collaborators, along with unlimited bank and credit card connections. Its separate invoicing product (also free) adds unlimited invoices and automated invoice reminders. The company, which was purchased by H&R Block in 2019, makes money through payment processing, a service you can add (starting at 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction). It’s also among the best accounting software for payroll, as it offers a payroll add-on that starts at $20 per month ($35 in tax service states).

Accounting software features that Mac users should consider before buying

Consider the following when choosing the best small-business accounting software for your Mac-based business:

  • Accessibility: Most new accounting software is cloud-based, meaning you can access it from any device with an internet connection, through either a browser or app for your iOS-enabled device. If wide accessibility, collaboration and integrations are important to your business, then a cloud-based option may be your priority. However, if you prefer your accounting software to be locally hosted, QuickBooks for Mac may be your best option. Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to access it from other devices and your integrations will be limited.

  • Collaboration: If you plan to work with an outside accountant or bookkeeper, choosing a software they can work in is paramount. While QuickBooks is one of the most ubiquitous options on the market, QuickBooks for Mac is much more niche and, as a result, may not provide easy collaboration.

  • Scalability: Your accounting software should be able to grow with your business. That means looking at whether you can upgrade your accounting software when you need to and whether there are limits on the use of certain features.

  • Feature set: Beyond the standard accounting features, what else does your business need to run most efficiently? You may also find inventory management, built-in payment processing, multicurrency capabilities, integrations and more in today’s accounting products. Be sure the one you choose has everything you need. On the flip side, don’t pay for “extras” you won’t use.

  • Cost: Price probably isn’t the only deciding factor in your accounting software choice, but it’s important to know what to expect. Monthly and annual subscription fees vary a lot, and add-ons could raise the price.

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