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QuickBooks Comparison: Online, Pro, and Quickbooks for Mac

April 9th, 2021 15 min read

The Quickbooks family of accounting products from Intuit has maintained a vastly high portion of the small business market share for over a decade. The company offers multiple versions of its product to serve different user populations. Quickbooks for Mac, as the name suggests, is a desktop tool for Mac users, Quickbooks Pro is a desktop accounting tool for small businesses, and Quickbooks Online is a subscription-based cloud accounting tool.

However, Quickbooks Online has been Intuit’s clear focus for a number of years, along with mobile. Much of the recent development effort has been on bringing the online version up to feature parity with the desktop products. As of writing, Online now offers nearly all the features of the desktop software and several additional ones. 

So what will the future look like? To many in the Quickbooks community, the inevitability that the desktop products will eventually be discontinued in favor of online products is obvious. This is a trend that has been discussed far beyond Intuit products. QuickBook’s own website heavily emphasizes the online version of the product. The desktop version is rarely mentioned. . 

TrustRadius has collected dozens of user reviews of all three versions, so you can easily discover the common use cases and pros & cons of each product. Here is a brief summary of each product based on user feedback.

Quickbooks on a desktop, tablet and phone
Image via Intuit

QuickBooks Comparison

This section gives an overview of the pricing structures and features of the various Intuit products.

 QuickBooks OnlineQuickBooks ProQuickBooks For Mac
Price$15-150/Month$299.99/Year Base Price
OR
$399.99 One Time Payment
$399.99 One Time Payment
OSOnlinePCMacOS
Users1-251 in Base Version, Up to 3 with Added CostSingle and 3 User Licenses Available
Mobile AccessYesNoNo
Cloud AccessYesAdditional CostAdditional Cost
trScore8.0/108.3/107.3/10
Biggest ProOnline Functionality Expands AccessFamiliar for Long-Time QuickBooks UsersOne-Time Payment
Biggest ConSlower PerformanceDrawbacks That Come With Desktop Apps in 2021UI Not as Good as PC Version

What Is Quickbooks Pro?

Quickbooks Pro is actually one of three versions of desktop products currently offered by Intuit, the other two being Quickbooks Premier and Quickbooks Enterprise. Under the Quickbooks Pro umbrella, Intuit maintains a few different options. There is the basic Pro application and the Pro Plus model, which includes the Quickbooks Pro software with unlimited 24/7 support, automatic back-ups, and upgrades.

As mentioned above, the layout of the QuickBooks website shows the focus on the online version. In the image above, if you were to click on the “Plans and Pricing” tab at the top, you would be directed away from the desktop version. This takes you to the pricing and overview of QuickBooks Online.

Despite the lack of emphasis, QuickBooks Pro is a very capable accounting software. It is the highest-rated Inuit product on TrustRadius. The pricing model is competitive and its features are category-leading. You will be able to track expenses, income, and simplify your tax season.

Orders can be placed automatically, and the inventory tracking functionality is strong. For those who need it, the payroll package is a considerable but worthwhile investment.

Users Frequently Praise These Benefits:

Users Say These Features Need Work:

  • Customer support is reportedly lacking. 
  • Custom reports—particularly when it comes to inventory—may be hard to satisfactorily create.

Quickbooks Pro is most commonly compared to: Sage One Accounting, GoDaddy Bookkeeping, and Zoho Books.

What Is Quickbooks Online?

The desktop versions of Quickbooks date back at least as far back as 2000—before the rise of modern cloud technology. Quickbooks Online was developed as a response to that movement. The benefit to this is that you can share access with multiple users or devices. It also means you get real-time updates, so there may be fewer versioning problems and automatic updates. 

The online product is offered via a subscription model. This you won’t have to purchase new software anytime you want to get access to the newest features. However, you’ll need to budget for a monthly fee.

One of the biggest benefits of this pricing structure is the ability to customize to your needs. There are several different tiers, aimed at different use cases and budgets. TrustRadius has an article explaining these price points and their different features.

The different versions allow for use cases ranging from single-user freelancers to enterprise levels. Both contractors and contracted employees can make use of this tool. The bulk of the users will be small business owners and mid-size organizations looking to bolster their accounting abilities. 

Manufacturing organizations looking to track inventory and estimates can pay for the tier that gets them what they need. The inventory management systems are offered at the higher pricing tiers.  Service-based groups who need to track income and generate estimates may find the Simple Start Tier a cheap alternative. Intuit even offers special pricing to nonprofits. 

Users can track expenses, bill vendors directly, and snap photos of receipts. The mobile app support for this version is a standout feature of the online tool. 

Another benefit that comes from the reality of cloud-based software is the data security aspect. All your transactions, purchase orders, and other info is stored off-site. This data can be accessed in more places and is safer from physical dangers. The online version offers strong integration support as well. 

The full overview of QuickBooks Online can be found here

Users Frequently Praise These Benefits:

Users Say These Features Need Work:

Quickbooks Online is most commonly compared to: GoDaddy Bookkeeping, Sage Business Accounting, and QuickBooks for Mac.

What Is Quickbooks for Mac?

Quickbooks for Mac, as you might have already guessed, is Intuit’s Mac-compatible version of their Quickbooks desktop software. According to TrustRadius users, this software is best for the Mac user who prefers an on-premise desktop accounting solution to one hosted on the cloud. 

Following considerable speculation, Intuit announced that their 2016 version would be the last one. This has not been the case. You can explore the QuickBooks for Mac 2021 page here and see the rumors of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. With that said, the question is present, as it is for its PC brother. The fact they considered it, and that the same “Plans & Pricing” tab redirects you to the online version is telling. 

With all of that said, this is still a strong software choice for Mac users. You will have access to similar inventory tracking, tax tools, invoicing, and accounting capabilities as the other versions. Users can track expenses, 

Users Frequently Praise These Benefits:

  • Easy to convert from Mac to PC and vice versa.
  • Offers the majority of the features available in the PC desktop version.
  • The robust invoicing feature allows you to create professional-looking custom invoices.
  • Simplified process for linking to financial accounts.
  • The UI looks “Mac-like” but is easy to navigate for PC-literate users.

Users Say These Features Need Work:

  • Data backups feature may create data losses if a user forgets to restore to the most recent version.
  • May be tricky or time-consuming to migrate data from previous accounting software.
  • Users accustomed to the PC version may see some minor loss of functionality.
  • Often charged for phone support

Quickbooks for Mac is most commonly compared to: Quickbooks Online, Quickbooks Desktop Pro, and Sage One Accounting.

Comparing Accounting Software

Of course, you may want to look outside the Quickbooks family for your next accounting tool. Visit the Accounting & Budgeting Software Overview to find alternatives and compare products.

For a video description of QuickBooks Online versus Desktop, check out the video below. While it does not cover Mac, remember that version is very similar in features to the PC, though not identical.

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