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Xero Accounting

Best Accounting Software for Mac

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

The problem with many Mac accounting applications is that the programs are basically stripped-down versions of their Windows counterparts, so for this category, we looked for easy-to-use, full-featured accounting software that works equally well on both PCs and Macs.

After much research and analysis, we recommend Xero as the best accounting software for Mac in 2018. Xero is web-based, so the software is the same across both platforms, and it has a comprehensive suite of features, making it suitable for most small businesses, including nonprofits. Additionally, its mobile app caters to Mac users, as it can be used on not only the iPhone and iPad but the Apple Watch as well.

If you have multiple users, Xero offers the best value for your money, as it supports an unlimited number of users for no extra cost. Also, most of its features come with all of its plans, including inventory tracking, which is often only included in premium plans. Xero has a 30-day free trial that allows you and your team to try out all its features before deciding if it's the right accounting software for your business. One nice thing about the trial is that it gives you the option of using a demo company, in case you'd rather not take the time to import your data before you try it out.

Unlike many accounting software programs that base pricing on the number of users supported with each plan, all of Xero's subscription plans support as many users as you wish to add, so as your business grows, you can add new employees to your account for no additional cost.

All plans include most features – even estimates, inventory tracking and recurrent invoicing. The exceptions are multicurrency, expenses and projects, which are only included in the top plan. Here's an overview of the subscription plans Xero offers, along with costs and notes about what each plan includes.

  • The Early plan costs $9 per month. It's limited to five invoices and quotes, five bills and 20 bank transactions.
  • The Growing plan costs $30 per month. It has unlimited invoices, bills and bank transactions.
  • The Established plan costs $60 per month. It also has unlimited invoices, bills and bank transactions but also supports multiple currencies, which may be useful if you have an international clientele, and has expense management and project tracking features.

There are no long-term contracts when you use Xero. You can change your plan to a cheaper or more expensive option to fit your business's needs without incurring additional costs. Being able to cancel your plan at any time without penalty means you won't be locked into a service for years using software that doesn't meet your needs or that you don't like, unless you pay early termination fees. There are also no setup fees or hidden costs.

The company no longer provides payroll services with its mid- and top-tier plans, but instead recommends adding Gusto to your plan. Pricing starts at $39 per month, plus $6 per month, per person. 

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.

The user interface is intuitive and gives you getting-started tasks that help you explore the software and use its core features. Plus, many pages have videos or guides you can click on that provide a quick tutorial on how to use that feature.

The dashboard uses simple dropdown menu navigation, so it's easy to add data, connect accounts, create reports and find the tasks and information you're looking for. It displays key information, using at-a-glance widgets that show you snapshots of bank balances, invoices owed, total cash in and out, outstanding bills, tasks, and more.

One unique thing about Xero's dashboard is that these widgets are movable, so you can organize the display to your liking. You can also click on them to quickly navigate to certain parts of the software.

When we asked small business owners what the "perfect" accounting software should do, the resounding answer was that it should save you time. Xero meets this requirement by automating processes, making accounting tasks as easy as possible to accomplish. In addition to standard accounting capabilities, here are some of the timesaving features Xero offers:

  • Invoicing. You can send electronic invoices, and your customers can pay them online. If your business provides customers with quotes or estimates, you can convert them to invoices with just a few clicks. You can also schedule the system to automatically send recurring invoices and reminders so you don't spend time chasing payments.
  • Bank reconciliations. When you connect your bank accounts to the system, Xero automatically imports bank and credit card transactions. The software's smart reconciliation tool matches transactions and learns how to predict matches as you use this feature. You can also set it up to reconcile transactions in bulk based on rules, eliminating the need to individually categorize transactions.
  • Inventory. The software includes inventory-management tools and can track items in real time, showing you how many products you have in stock when you're creating an estimate, quote or invoice. It can help you identify your best-selling and most profitable items, and you can create and email purchase orders directly from the software and then copy the data to generate bills for payment or invoices for customers. Integrations are available if you have advanced inventory management needs.
  • Mobile access. Using Xero Accounting & Invoices app for iPhones and iPads, you can create and send quotes and invoices, attach documents to invoices, reconcile transactions and see a real-time view of your cash flow. The iWatch version of the app shows you how many new transactions you have, your account balances and indicates whether your balances have gone up or down. Xero also has an app for capturing and submitting expenses, and another for tracking projects.

Xero offers free, 24/7 customer support by email or live chat. Outbound phone support is available, if, for example, you have an issue that can't be resolved by chat or email. Its support teams are located around the world, so there's always someone available to help you, no matter what time zone you're in. The company prides itself on providing prompt responses and wait times are minimal.

We chatted with the company, posing as a small business looking for accounting software and asked a long list of questions about Xero's capabilities. The representative we chatted with was helpful and knowledgeable. He answered our questions, offered links that could give us more information and encouraged us to take the free trial for a test drive.

Xero offers self-help options on its website, including a searchable database of step-by-step instructions, small business guides, video tutorials, podcasts, training opportunities and a blog. For example, if you're a QuickBooks user looking to switch to Xero, you can read an article with detailed instructions that walks you through the process, showing you how to import your QuickBooks data into Xero so you don't have to manually enter data and recreate customer accounts.

In addition to its timesaving features, Xero has an impressive selection of tools that help you manage your finances and run your business.

Reporting. Xero takes the headache out of financial reports with a variety of reporting options, including a general ledger, aged receivables and payables, profit and loss, and a balance sheet. The reports are customizable so you can track the data that's most important to you. The software also includes budgeting tools.

Expense claims. With the Established plan, you can record, manage, claim and reimburse expenses. The software allows you to add billable expenses to invoices and attach receipt images, making it easy to pass on expenses to your customers. The Xero Expenses app can snap pictures of expenses, assign receipts to a customer or project and submit expense claims.

Bill payments. The system allows you to schedule payments, set up batch payments and recurring bills, helping you avoid past-due bills. When entering a new bill, you can start from scratch or save time by replicating and editing a previous bill.

Manage contacts. Xero's profiles show you contact details and an activity history. For example, you can see a customer's sales history with an overview of how much they've spent with you, if any invoices are open and their average remittance time. You can connect to Gmail to add email correspondence to the activity stream, and you can add contacts to groups, helping you create targeted email marketing campaigns.

Track projects. Included with the Established plan, the Projects feature allows you to track tasks, billable time and expenses, budgets and payments to ensure the work you've done for clients is profitable. You invite users to projects only, or allow them to access other accounting features like invoicing. The Xero Projects mobile app can track time and job progress and create simple invoices.

Integrations. Xero offers an extensive collection of third-party integrations, connecting to more than 700 applications for small businesses, such as payment processors and POS systems, time trackers, CRM software, inventory management programs, payroll and HR, e-commerce platforms and other tools. It has an API so you can have custom integrations created if you work with a developer.

As mentioned above, the Early plan is very limited, so even very small businesses will likely need to subscribe to the Growing plan.

If you want to customize the look of an invoice beyond adding your logo and changing the font, the process is more complex than other programs that give you a choice of premade templates.

Another drawback to Xero is that not all accountants use it. However, this is only an issue if you hire an outside accounting firm, as you may find your choices are more limited. To alleviate this issue, Xero provides a list of accountants who use its software on its website. The company also offers resources to help accountants export Xero data into QuickBooks, which is helpful if your accountant prefers to use that program.

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

Lori Fairbanks

Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes for Business.com and Business News Daily about financial systems and services for small businesses, such as accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems.