Technology & Innovation

Mac accounting software guide for small businesses

Find out how the cloud has enabled Mac accounting software today and what you should look for when deciding on cloud accounting software.

If you’re running your own business, you may have already asked yourself this question when handling finances: is Mac accounting software a good option?

For any small business, accounting software is invaluable.

It allows you to manage your business at every step, from invoice sending and tracking to taking care of tax and compliance, forecasting cash flow, or paying your people.

But before buying any software for your small business, the question is – Mac or PC?

Here’s what we cover in this article:

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Mac vs PC for accounting software

Ok, the overall Mac vs PC debate will clearly rage on forever, and we’re not going to settle it here.

But maybe we can shed some light on which could be the best for your business when it comes to accounting software.

Back when everything ran on desktop, you certainly had more options of accounting software if you were a PC user.

This is because PC was always the dominant system in terms of handling numbers, so vendors often developed their solutions with this in mind.

This did cause a bit of an issue though, as there were still Mac users that needed accounting software, and many vendors tried to serve them by creating secondary versions of their main products.

This meant the Mac accounting software felt a little like an afterthought and porting the software across often lead to a few common issues, which we’ll go into later on.

The only other option to using these clunky versions was virtualisation, where you would emulate a Windows environment on your Mac to run the native version of the accounting software.

However, doing this required so much technical fiddling, it was barely worth your time when you had a small business to run.

You might be thinking “why didn’t businesses ditch Apple devices and just stick with PCs?”  Well, accounting wasn’t the only thing they needed computers for, and many other Apple benefits were too good to pass up.

Why small businesses choose Macs

No matter what industry you’re in, Apple computers have a lot of qualities that make them an attractive choice for your small business.

A few reasons you might favour Mac over PC are:

  • Easy-to-use operating systems that simplify everyday office work.
  • Premium brand attracts employees that prefer the Mac experience.
  • Low maintenance devices known for reliability and simple troubleshooting.
  • Built-in security that makes devices less susceptible to hacking.
  • Many specialist software solutions are built for Mac operating systems, especially those used by creative professionals who are fiercely loyal to the brand.
  • Compatibility between multiple Apple devices and applications is seamless.

Mac accounting software challenges

Now, we’re not advocating that any small business chooses one platform over another. The hardware and operating system that best meets the needs of your business should influence that choice.

Plus, there are other considerations such as how much you want to spend, and what may be used as standard throughout your industry.

But when it comes to accounting specifically, it’s worth knowing what challenges you’re likely to face when using a Mac version of a desktop software product that was originally built for PC.

Here are five…

1. Features missing

Mac versions of PC-built software sometimes have fewer features, limiting what you can do with them in comparison to the full versions.

2. Features overflowing

In contrast to the last point, some Mac versions of accounting software include too many features—ones you’ll never use or need.

This just adds confusion and makes for a more cluttered user experience.

3. Doesn’t play well with Windows

If your internal teams or external partners (such as your accountant) run on PC, there will likely be issues when trying to share and collaborate on files.

Even if they are formatted right, the switch between platforms adds time, risks inaccuracy, and makes working together harder.

4. Lack of Mac support

PC-first software providers may not have trained customer support teams enough on how to help Mac customers with any issues they’re facing.

This often results in a poor customer experience, and you might be waiting longer for your issue to be resolved.

5. Doesn’t link up to your other apps

Limited integration with other programs your business uses (such as resource planning software, HR tools, or other financial apps) means more manual work to copy data between apps, adding tedious and time-consuming steps for your teams.

All of these challenges quickly add up and make accounting tasks on your Mac system more hassle, labour intensive, and time consuming than they should be.

So why do we see so many businesses today confidently using MacBooks, iPads and iPhones to carry out day-to-day financial tasks?

Because the root cause of these five challenges is the fact the software is desktop based.

Enter… the cloud.

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The cloud: Enabling seamless accounting on Macs

Cloud-based and software as a service (SaaS) solutions eliminate the challenges of desktop accounting on a Mac.

This is because they’re accessed easily through your web browser, rather than relying on the hardware and operating system specific to your machine.

In other words, it makes your choice of system way less important.

That means you can use a Mac for whatever other reason (such as its intuitive design, or if it’s the industry standard) and enjoy the same experience of managing your finances that you would on a PC.

Another important advantage is the friction this removes from collaboration across platforms. If your accountant is on a PC, cloud-based accounting software will allow you to work together as if you were too.

Using only a browser, you’ll be able to upload documentation and share data without worrying about file conversion or formatting.

Similarly, you can work directly with HMRC through the Government Gateway.

Interacting straight through a web browser means it doesn’t matter whether you’re on a Mac or PC, you get the same convenience and ease of use either way.

This accessibility is also available across any device that has a browser, which means you can complete accounting tasks on the move using your smartphone or tablet.

Priya Radosevic, a senior content strategist at Sage, was self-employed before joining the company. She ran her finances on her Mac with Sage Accounting.

“I’ve been a Mac user since 2010, as I feel Apple provides a much sleeker machine cosmetically, and it’s the standard choice for the creative software I use,” she says.

“For accounting, I’ve been using Sage Accounting Start, which is web-based, so being on a Mac hasn’t hindered me in any way in terms of meeting my financial and business needs”.

What to look for in Mac accounting software

1. Access anywhere, at any time, on any platform

It would help if you had cloud accounting software that allows you to do your finances from anywhere, at any time.

In industries such as construction, you don’t want to be tied to the office, which means your files must not sit on a local drive.

You can work on any machine or device that has a web browser.

2. Reduces paperwork

With traditional desktop accounting software, there was still a need for paperwork, data-entry and admin. Having to print paperwork all the time is time-consuming, and frankly boring.

Mac users using cloud accounting software will reduce their reliance on paperwork, as any device with online access will let you easily find, search and send invoices.

You don’t even need to keep paper copies, as all documents will be digitalised and stored safely online.

3. Easy installation and upgrades

One advantage that many people see from using a Mac over a PC is the simplicity you get from installing software and things working ‘out of the box’.

Mac cloud accounting software does just this, without you needing to play around with files.

And instead of worrying about backing up your software, all updates are done automatically.

4. Safe and secure

Mac users often boast that their systems are more secure than PCs. That’s not always the case, but vendors of note ensure online accounting software protects your financial data, encrypted, and served in onsite servers.

There is also no issue over financial data if your MacBook, iPad, or iPhone becomes inoperable or gets stolen. It won’t cause delays because you can choose a separate device to re-access your accounts.

That means if you happen to misplace your device or it’s stolen, while that will be a hassle, you won’t face a dreaded situation where you’ve lost years of business admin information, or are exposed to fraudulent activity.

5. Collaborative features

In the past, whether you were using a Mac or PC, it wasn’t easy to collaborate if you used desktop accounting software.

With the cloud, Mac accounting users from any business can access the same numbers and information, no matter where they are in the world.

It also makes it much easier than ever before to send files quickly to your accountant (if you have one) when required.

6. Easy to use

Beautiful design and an intuitive user experience are probably reasons you chose a Mac in the first place.

Your accounting solution should be no different.

Look out for those that are simple and come with only the features you’ll actually use.

7.  Knowledgeable customer service

No matter which software you go with, you’ll need customer support at some point.

As mentioned above, a cloud-based solution means your choice of platform is less important here. But it’s still best to choose a provider with a proven track record of stellar service.

As well as reading reviews, you can also look to see how much material they put online to help you, such as troubleshooting videos, product tutorials, and guides.

8. Integrates with other apps

As your business evolves and grows, you’ll inevitably add new apps that become part of your everyday work.

Accounting software that directly integrates with these tools saves you significant time, gives you more control, and enhances employee experiences.

A lack of integration creates the exact opposite of these.

9. One place for data

One of the biggest killers to productivity and efficiency is different teams or people having to spend time looking for information they need to be able to do their jobs.

This happens when you have multiple places that data is stored, so choose an accounting solution that puts everything in one place.

Most cloud-based options do exactly this, providing a single place to access everything from invoices and payroll to financial reports.

Mac accounting software FAQs

Does Mac have an accounting program?

Yes, there are several options available to you as a Mac user, including Sage Accounting, which works through your web browser.

Can you do bookkeeping on a Mac?

Yes. Cloud-based accounting software allows you to record transactions, run reports, and more, all through your web browser.

Can you use Sage Accounting on an Apple Mac?

Yes. As a cloud-based solution, Sage Accounting delivers the same intuitive experience and features, regardless of which system or device you use it on.

The final lowdown on Mac accounting software

It’s probably fair to say that if you’re using the cloud, there’s no such thing as accounting software that only works on Macs.

There used to be a clear difference between Mac and PC software when desktop software ruled the roost.

But cloud-based software has expanded to such an extent that it’s actually quite difficult to find a top-quality cloud accounting program that doesn’t do a good job with Mac computers.

So, if you’re a small business Mac user looking for accounting software, relax.

You have a choice between a lot of good cloud options, so make sure you pick the software that works best for your own specific business needs.

Editor’s note: This article was first published in February 2021 and has been updated for relevance.