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Xero Review: Best Accounting Software for Mac

Xero Review: Best Accounting Software for Mac
Credit: Xero

Our 2017 research and analysis of accounting software leads us to again recommend Xero  as the best accounting software for Mac. We chose Xero from dozens of accounting software options. To understand how we chose Xero, you can find our methodology and a list of accounting software vendors on our best picks page.

Xero, which works on both PCs and Macs, is our best pick for Mac because it offers the best pricing and is packed with features for Mac users. It is also extremely easy to use. The problem with most Mac accounting software is that the programs are basically stripped down versions of their Windows counterpart. Xero, however, brings all the best parts of its accounting software to Mac, without making compromises.

Xero starts at $9 per month. There are no contracts and users can change or cancel their plans any time. Xero currently has introductory offers starting at $6.30 per month for the first six months, and then $9 per month thereafter.

Xero offers the best bang for your buck. Unlike many accounting software programs that base pricing on the number of features, Xero's subscription plans come with all the standard functionalities.

There are three available plans to choose from: Starter, Standard and Premium.

  1. Starter: The Starter plan costs $9 per month and is limited to five invoices and five bills. For unlimited invoices and bills, check out the Standard and Premium plans.
  2. Standard: The Standard plan costs $30 per month and comes with payroll features for up to five employees.
  3. Premium: The Premium plan costs $70 per month and includes payroll services for up to 10 employees.

Whereas many accounting software also charge for additional users, all Xero plans come with free unlimited users. There are also no setup fees or hidden fees, so you won't run into any surprise charges.

There are also no contracts. This means you can cancel or change your plan to a cheaper or more expensive option to fit your business's needs without incurring any extra costs, and you won't be locked down for years using the software you don't like unless you pay hefty early termination fees.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on accounting software for your business? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information and quotes you need:

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Xero is one of the easiest accounting software we've ever come across. To find out if Xero is as easy as advertised, we tried the software ourselves by signing up for a business account. Registration was a breeze and we were able to start using Xero right away.

When we tested Xero, we were impressed by its simple, yet extensive, user interface and how we were able to get started right away. It is so intuitive that we were pretty much able to teach ourselves how to navigate the software and use its core features.

We like that Xero didn't take much of a learning curve, which means your business will save tons of time and money from having to train users who aren't tech savvy. It comes complete with an informative, aesthetically pleasing dashboard with a simple tabbed navigation, so it's easy to add data, connect accounts, create reports and find what you're looking for.  

The dashboard is also where Xero shines. The layout is very clean, making it a lot less overwhelming compared with other software we tested. Xero eliminates the clutter by presenting key information using at-a-glance widgets right when you log in. It includes snapshots of bank balances, invoices owed, total cash in and out, outstanding bills, tasks and more.

To try Xero yourself, check out the company’s free 30-day trial. We like that the free trial doesn't require a credit card, which allows anyone to try the software risk-free.

When we asked small business owners what made the "perfect" accounting software, there were two resounding requirements: The best accounting software saves business owners time and doesn't add to the already stressful nature of small business accounting. We've found that Xero easily lives up to that expectation by automating tasks and making accounting as easy as possible.

In addition to standard accounting capabilities, here are just some of the time-saving features Xero has to offer:

1. Invoicing: Set up and send automatic invoices that customers and clients can pay online. You get paid instantly, and balances are automatically reflected in your books. You can also set up overdue reminders, so you don't have to spend time chasing payments.

2. Bill payments: Schedule payments or set up batch payments to save time manually paying bills and avoid past due bills.

3. Bank reconciliations: Easily connect bank accounts and automate reconciliations. From invoices to bills, purchases and other data, Xero can automatically import bank and credit card transactions and sync them with the rest of your accounting. The software can also reconcile transactions in bulk based on rules, eliminating the need to individually categorize transactions.

4. Expense claims: Quickly record, manage, claim and reimburse expenses. Amounts are automatically entered into your books, including expenses that are billed to customers.

5. Inventory and quotes: Manage inventory and find out your most profitable items and automatically provide the most accurate quotes to customers based on inventory data. You can also track quotes and turn them into invoices for fast, streamlined sales.

6. Purchase orders: Create and email purchase orders right from the software, and then copy the data to generate bills for payment.

7. Contact lists: Add contact lists to integrate emails and automatically track correspondence, quotes, invoices and payments with individual customers.

8. Payroll: Track hours, pay employees, approve leave requests and more with self-managed payroll services. Payroll features also include automatic tax calculations, filings and payments.

9. Reporting: Xero takes the headaches out of financial reports with a comprehensive range of reporting options, custom formulas and budgeting tools.

10. Mobile access: Manage your accounting, access your dashboard and get real-time views of your cash flow with mobile access on most tablets and mobile phones.

Xero also offers an extensive and comprehensive range of third-party integrations. The platform can connect to more than 500 apps that small businesses already use to automatically import and streamline data in real time. This includes payment processors, time trackers, CRM software, inventory management, payroll, e-commerce and other tools, as well as custom integrations.

Additionally, if you’re a QuickBooks user looking to switch to Xero (dubbed the "QuickBooks alternative"), the software makes it easy to import all your QuickBooks data into Xero. This eliminates the legwork of recreating customer accounts and manually entering data. Import time is estimated at 3 hours.

Quality customer support is key for any type of business solution, and accounting software is no exception. Based on our experience, Xero offers a customer service that is one of the best and most reliable.

Whereas many accounting software have limited customer support — or worse, charges for support — Xero offers free, 24/7, one-on-one support by phone, email or live chat. Its support teams are located throughout the world, so there is always someone to help, no matter what time zone you're in. The company also prides itself on providing prompt responses, so there are very minimal hold times and you don't have to wait the following business day to resolve issues.

We also like that Xero makes customer support convenient for its users by offering scheduled help times via email, or calling customers at a time that's best for them.

Speaking to a Xero representative was a great experience for us. We called the company as a small business looking for accounting software. We asked a long list of questions about Xero's features and if it's the right solution for us. Not only did the representative answer all our questions in great detail, but the rep also asked several questions about our business so that our questions could be better answered to help us make a decision. Based on this information, the rep also helped us find the right subscription plan, without being too sales-y or pushy to get us to sign up.

If you're more of the DIY type, Xero also offers self-help options. This includes a searchable database of step-by-step guides, a FAQ section, video tutorials, training opportunities and a community forum.

One drawback to Xero is that is that not all accountants use it. This is an only issue if you decide to hire an outside accounting firm; for instance, to manage your books or handle your taxes. You may find your choices are more limited. To resolve this issue, Xero does provide accountant access to business accounts and provides users access to partner accountants and accounting firms that use the software. The company also offers resources to help businesses and accountants easily export Xero data for QuickBooks users. Xero has a list of accountants who use its software on its website. 

Ready to choose an accounting software? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.