After much research and analysis of accounting software, we recommend Xero as the best accounting software for Mac in 2018.
Xero, which works on both PCs and Macs, is our best pick for Mac. It offers the best value for your money, is packed with features and is extremely easy to use. The problem with many Mac accounting applications is that the programs are basically stripped-down versions of their Windows counterparts.
Xero, however, is cloud-based, bringing all the functionality of its accounting software to Mac users, without compromising features or ease of use. Its mobile app caters to Mac users, as it can be used on the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. This accounting software is well suited for most business types, including non-profits.
Xero starts at $9 per month. There are no contracts, and users can change or cancel their plans anytime.
Unlike many accounting software programs that base pricing on the number of features included with each plan, all of Xero's subscription plans are full-featured. Additionally, its mid- and upper-tier plans include payroll, which is often an expensive add-on.
There are three available plans to choose from: Starter, Standard and Premium.
- Starter: The Starter plan costs $9 per month and is limited to five invoices, five bills and 20 transaction reconciliations.
- Standard: The Standard plan costs $30 per month, has unlimited invoices, bills and reconciliations, and comes with payroll features for up to five employees.
- Premium: The Premium plan costs $70 per month and includes payroll services for up to 10 employees. If you have more than 10 employees, this plan can be adjusted to accommodate them. This plan also supports multiple currencies, which may be useful if you have an international clientele.
All of Xero's plans support an unlimited number of users. This may save you money if you want to add several employees to the system since many accounting software applications limit this number, requiring you to choose a more expensive tier if you want to add more staff than what the less-expensive plans allow.
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 any extra costs. Being able to cancel your plan at any time without penalty means that you won't be locked in to a service for years, using software that doesn't meet your needs or that you don't like, unless you pay hefty early termination fees.
There are no setup fees or hidden costs. You won't run into any surprise charges while using this accounting software.
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Ease of use
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 that you can click on, if you want a tutorial on how to use that feature.
The dashboard uses simple drop-down 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.
To try Xero yourself, check out the company's free 30-day trial. It doesn't require a credit card, so you can try the software risk-free.
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 time-saving 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 items you have in stock when you're creating an estimate, quote or invoice. It can also help you identify your best-selling and most profitable items. Integrations are available if you have advanced inventory management needs.
Purchase orders. You can create and email purchase orders right from the software, and then copy the data to generate bills for payment or invoices for customers.
Mobile access. Using Xero's app, you can create and send invoices, add receipts and attach billable expenses to customer invoices or submit expense reports, reconcile transactions, access your dashboard and see a real-time view of your cash flow. Xero's app is available for iOS and Android. Xero also has an app for your employees that they can use to submit time sheets, request time off and view paystubs.
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 called the company as a small business looking for accounting software and asked a long list of questions about Xero's capabilities. The representative we spoke with was helpful and knowledgeable. He answered our questions in great detail and asked several questions about our business so he could help us choose the right subscription plan.
If you're more of the DIY type, Xero offers self-help options on its website, including a searchable database of step-by-step guides, a FAQs section, video tutorials, training opportunities and a community forum. For example, if you're a QuickBooks user looking to switch to Xero, you can watch a video course 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 comprehensive range of reporting options, including a general ledger, aged receivables and payables, profit and loss and a balance sheet. You can customize reports and the software includes budgeting tools.
Expense claims. Xero helps you to quickly record, manage, claim and reimburse expenses. It also allows you to add expenses to invoices and attach receipt images, making it easy to rebill customers.
Bill payments. The system allows you to schedule payments or set up batch payments, helping you avoid past-due bills.
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.
Payroll. You can track hours, pay employees, approve leave requests and more with Xero's self-managed payroll services. Additional payroll features include automatic tax calculations, filings and payments. This service is available in most states, and the company notes on its website that it plans to expand its services to additional states.
Integrations. Xero offers an extensive collection of third-party integrations, connecting to more than 600 applications for small businesses, such as payment processors and POS systems, time trackers, CRM software, inventory management programs, payroll and HR, ecommerce 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 Starter plan is very limited, so even very small businesses will likely need to subscribe to the Standard plan, even if they don't require payroll capabilities.
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 accounting software? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- How to Choose Accounting Software
- The Best Small Business Accounting Software 2018
- Best Small Business Accounting Software
- Best Accounting Software for Mac
- Best Accounting Software for Really Small Businesses
- Best Small Business Invoicing Software
- Best Free Small Business Accounting Software
Additional reporting by Sara Angeles.