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Quicken tips

Quicken is a program for organising ones personal or family finances. Its competitor is Microsoft Money (there is a UK version as well). Having used Quicken for more than 10 years (since version 3 for Windows), I have found ways of doing things that may be of help to others. These tips were all found using the UK versions of Quicken. The UK version has now (31. January 2005) been discontinued, but I don't see why it should not be possible to use most these tips with the American version.

You may also be interested in viewing my personal finance blog.

Entering split transactions in foreign currencies:

7. July 1997
The UK version of Quicken can handle foreign currencies (and nowadays, so can the American version). I have always found it a pain when entering a foreign currency transaction that I wanted to split. Say for example I am on holiday in Denmark and I buy petrol and a CD in one transaction. I used to enter the transaction, immediately convert it to my "home" currency, and then entering the split. Doing it that way meant that the splits were now in my home currency, but the receipt obviously lists the items in the foreign currency. Here's the way I found of getting Quicken to do the dirty work:

Transfering data to a spreadsheet

12. March 1998
This method will only work if your spreadsheet can open "tab delimited" or 1-2-3 prn files. To transfer the data to a spreadsheet, you must first generate a report with the data you require. Then "print" your report either as a tab delimited or as what quicken calls a 1-2-3 prn file. Save it to your harddisk. In Excel, here is what you would do: Start Excel and choose all files (*.*)  from the drop down list at the bottom. Find the file you saved, Excel then starts a wizard to import the file - choose *delimited* in the first box, click on next, choose tab if you saved as tab delimited in Quicken or comma if you saved as a *.prn file. Click next, then click finish and your report will then open in Excel.
(This tip was found in the newsgroup comp.os.ms-windows.apps.financial, but the posting did not show who wrote it)

Problems with Quicken when used with non-UK/USA regional settings for Windows

Decimal symbol

24. July 1997
In Windows one has the option to choose regional settings, these control how dates, time and currency are displayed and handled. The idea is of course that, rather than setting these items individually for each program, the programs interrogate Windows about these settings.
Some countries use the comma as the decimal separator. For example choosing Denmark for regional settings changes the the decimal separator key on the numeric keypad to generate a comma (,) rather than the point (.). Some places within Quicken, the program has obviously been hardcoded to accept only the point as the decimal separator, other places it uses whatever settings Windows has been set to. So much for consistency in programming. This has affected Quicken at least since version 3, and is still affecting Quicken in its current version 9 (or 2000).

3. December 1998
This following partly working work-around for the above mentioned problem may have existed in older versions of Quicken. I currently use Quicken 98 and discovered it a few weeks ago. In your WINDOWS (or WINNT) directory is a file named QUICKEN.INI. The first few lines look like this:

Version=7,Quicken Deluxe 98 UK R3
Notice the "sDecimal=," and "sThousand=." lines. The entries after the equal sign used to be swapped around, but the way they look now gives me what I wanted. Quicken accepts a comma as the decimal symbol.

29. December 1999
The above mentioned "solution" didn't work everywhere within Quicken, but I found another solution. Martin Djernæs has written a small program which, when loaded, sits in the system tray of Windows (the system tray are all the small icons sitting in the lower right corner of the screen). Double-clicking on this icon makes it show either a dot or a comma. Whatever it shows is what the decimal separator key to the left of 0 on the numeric keypad will show when hit.

The link to Martin Djernæs' programs: http://www.djernaes.dk/martin/program.html

Quick keys

24. July 1997
Quicken has so called "Quick keys" for speeding up data entry. Two of these are the + (plus) and - (minus) keys which increase or decrease a date or cheque number. Selecting a non-UK/USA regional setting within Windows changes the action of these keys. In a date field, pressing the + key moves between the date/month/year part.

Supervalidating data files

Considering the emails I have received over time, this is probably the most important tip on this page. Several people have written, telling me about how this tip saved their Quicken file... According to Intuit, Supervalidate will re-index your data. To Supervalidate your datafile, while holding down the CTL & SHIFT keys: select File Operations, Validate. After selecting the *.QDF file to validade, you should see a pop-up window that says "Supervalidating..."

Moving transactions from one account to another

11. January 2000
I sometimes mistakenly enter a transaction into the wrong account. I will have been entering transactions for one credit card, and then I mistakenly enter a receipt paid with a different card into the same account. Since I use splits heavily I don't want to reenter everything again in the correct account. For many years I have chosen to copy the transaction, paste it into the correct account, go back and delete the original transaction. Irritating, I always wished for the "move" feature in Microsoft Money. Then a few days ago I discovered that I could open the calendar, select the offending transaction there and easily choose a different account for it. This has of course been possible for years, I just never thought of using it that way.
Well, it is always possible to learn new stuff. One day I discovered that the menu that pops up when you right-click on an entry has a "move" option. I'm sure it wasn't there in the beginning...

Other Quicken related links:

Trademarks by Intuit and other companies are of course acknowledged.
Created: 7. July 1997, Last modified 5. October 2004
© Copyright by Bjorn Graabek


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