When including transfers, reports include transfers even though they don't match the category

I want to do reports that show me a summary of transactions that belong to a specific list of categories. Unfortunately, when I tell a report to include transfers, it includes *all* transfers regardless of the category of the transfer. Is there a way to have the transaction filter apply to all transactions including transfers?
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Best Answer

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Accepted Answer
    Transfers don't have categories. Well, technically they shouldn't, although if you enter things in a specific order in Quicken Mac, you can create a transaction which has both a category and a transfer. But this is really a violation of accounting rules. Quicken originally allowed it because in prior years Quicken Mac couldn't show transfers in reports. The product manager has said they are working to entirely remove categories on transfers moving forward. (I have no idea how they'll deal with existing transactions like that which users have created.)

    So, that said, you're trying to do something Quicken can't do, because it's really a loophole in the first place. When you tell it to include all transfers or include transfer with accounts outside the report, it's going to include all such transfers, irrespective of the category(ies) you have selected. Interestingly, I found that if you try do do the same thing by limiting to only some Payee or Payees, Quicken does search for the selected Payee(s), and includes only the transfers involving those Payees. But it doesn't work with Categories, at least in any testing I did.

    I think your only alternative is to generate the report, export it to a CSV file, and then delete the transfers you don't want.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993

Answers

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Accepted Answer
    Transfers don't have categories. Well, technically they shouldn't, although if you enter things in a specific order in Quicken Mac, you can create a transaction which has both a category and a transfer. But this is really a violation of accounting rules. Quicken originally allowed it because in prior years Quicken Mac couldn't show transfers in reports. The product manager has said they are working to entirely remove categories on transfers moving forward. (I have no idea how they'll deal with existing transactions like that which users have created.)

    So, that said, you're trying to do something Quicken can't do, because it's really a loophole in the first place. When you tell it to include all transfers or include transfer with accounts outside the report, it's going to include all such transfers, irrespective of the category(ies) you have selected. Interestingly, I found that if you try do do the same thing by limiting to only some Payee or Payees, Quicken does search for the selected Payee(s), and includes only the transfers involving those Payees. But it doesn't work with Categories, at least in any testing I did.

    I think your only alternative is to generate the report, export it to a CSV file, and then delete the transfers you don't want.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Robert Lynch
    Robert Lynch Member ✭✭
    I stopped using transfers for many transaction types and assign the category I want for each side of the transaction (some cases different categories and one of them is a hidden category to exclude from reporting).

    I do this for tracking my automatic savings amounts I transfer -- I consider this as a reduction of my income for budgeting purposes as well as a few other types.

    Hope this helps. :)
  • Bart Hickman
    Bart Hickman Member ✭✭
    Transfers can't have categories? That seems like an arbitrary limitation. If some of my transfers go under the category of "Savings", I don't see why I shouldn't be able to mark them as such. This is something I could do back in the 90's on Quicken for Windows and reports worked just fine.

    I think there should be *some* way of categorizing transfers in reports. Whether it's by categorizing accounts (and then filter transfers based on the category of account) or using tags probably doesn't matter, but the feature is useful.
  • Chris_QPW
    Chris_QPW Member ✭✭✭✭
    Transfers can't have categories? That seems like an arbitrary limitation.
    It isn't arbitrary.

    First off let's talk about why Quicken Essentials "allowed" it.  And because the new Quicken Mac was created from that code inherited that behavior.

    Quicken Essentials didn't have transfers, at least not in the "modern" sense of "linked transfers".
    Basically Quicken Essentials was doing exactly what @Robert Lynch is doing.  It each transaction had a category and you could put in something like Transfer for the category, but there wasn't a "link" between the two accounts.

    This is perfectly good accounting.  In the old double book accounting before computers existed you would literally have multiple books.  In one book you would have a withdraw and in the other a deposit.  You "balanced the books" by adding up all the totals of the books and as such one book's withdraw balanced out the other books deposit.  If you forgot to put in an entry, or put in the wrong amounts, the books wouldn't balance, and you knew you had a problem.

    With linked transfers you are putting in both "books/accounts" at the same time.  So you already have them "balanced".

    So if I run a report with both of those accounts the total will be as expected, where both of sides of the transfer balancing out the other side.

    So lets say in account run a report and a I have a withdraw if $100, that will be in the numbers totaled.
    Now say I allow having a category too on that same transaction that category is also going to be in the numbers that are totaled, and as such that one transaction will have been double counted.

    This is why you can't have this.

    I think there should be *some* way of categorizing transfers in reports. Whether it's by categorizing accounts (and then filter transfers based on the category of account) or using tags probably doesn't matter, but the feature is useful.

    As I noted in this other thread it seems that Quicken Mac is lacking some of the needed support for this.  Because you are right, there should be a way to filter by transfer.
    https://community.quicken.com/discussion/comment/20175471

    BTW your idea to filter by tags probably would work even in the current Quicken Mac.
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  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Transfers can't have categories? That seems like an arbitrary limitation. If some of my transfers go under the category of "Savings", I don't see why I shouldn't be able to mark them as such. This is something I could do back in the 90's on Quicken for Windows and reports worked just fine.

    I think there should be *some* way of categorizing transfers in reports. Whether it's by categorizing accounts (and then filter transfers based on the category of account) or using tags probably doesn't matter, but the feature is useful.
    If you set up your report to not include the savings account, then your report will show Transfer to Savings as an outflow of money.

    It might help if they implemented the interface used in budgets, where you can select Transfers In and Transfers Out by account. But the downside to that is for people with very many accounts, it's a lot to scroll through in a category list. 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tandzed
    tandzed Member ✭✭
    This is a real problem for many people.
    I can understand the history of old bookkeeping and balancing books, but that's a real headache and waste of time today to have to input two transactions separately. I see no reason why Quicken can't just create this ability to run a report containing ALL transactions that match a specified category, like Savings, even if some or all of those transactions are transfers. It should be easy enough to create this option, even if it doesn't work for true bookkeeping purposes or gives a net zero total.
    But since there apparently isn't a way currently, then is there a way to link two transactions together, while NOT using Transfer?
    For example, I (in real life) transfer money from my checking to my savings account and would categorize it as Savings. Currently, if I want to run a report on this in Quicken, then I'm expected to create an entry in BOTH registers (withdrawal from checking, deposit into savings) instead of just creating a transfer? Is there some way to do it in one step instead of two, and link the two transactions together so they point to each other, as opposed to looking like two independent transactions. It is, after all, a transfer, not a withdrawal followed by a deposit.
    Otherwise, what is the purpose of using Transfers in Quicken?
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    @tandzed  It sounds like perhaps you may be misunderstanding a few things about transfers.

    First, a transfer should only need to be entered in one account, not both the originating and receiving accounts.  In most cases, it doesn't matter which one. By using the Transfer field, or alternatively, using the Category field with the special syntax of "Transfer:[Account Name]", you create a linked transfer -- one transaction which shows up in both accounts.

    Income & expense reports typically omit transfers, because transfers are neither revenue or expense. For instance, moving money from a checking account to a savings account isn't an expense; it's a shift of funds between two assets. But if you set aside money for savings each month, then it feels like an expense, especially for budgeting.

    So Quicken Mac allows you to selectively include transfers in reports and budgets with a little extra set-up. For a report, the key is to select accounts and to include only one of the accounts involved in the transfer you want to include. In your example, you'd probably include the checking account but exclude the savings account. Then in the Advanced tab, you'd select "Include only transfers with accounts outside of report". This will cause your transfers to or from the Savings account to show up in your report. In budgets, the set-up is a little different; in Edit Categories, scroll down to Transfers In and Transfers Out, and check the appropriate account transfers you wish to include in your budget. In this example, you'd include Transfers Out:To Savings.

    Although there is currently a way to in some cases add a Category to a Transfer, the product manager has confirmed that this will be removed in the future because it violates rules of accounting and can cause various problems in reports. So my advice is that if you have been categorizing transfers, you might want to stop (because it will go away at some point anyway) and adapt to the way reports and budgets have been designed in recent years to include transfers. If you do it as I described above, it will accomplish what what you say you wanted: a single linked transfer transaction between two accounts, which can be included in reports or a budget.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tandzed
    tandzed Member ✭✭
    Thank you @jacobs for the reply.
    I do understand how transfers work and that's why they are so much more convenient, because we don't have to input the information in two places. The problem is that if we use this transfer function, then it doesn't, as you know, show up in a transaction report by Category (like Savings, or Retirement Contribution). If we want it in the report, then we DO have to input it separately into each account and NOT as a transfer (even though we ARE just transferring money from one account to another). We just want a quick report that shows us, for example, how much was put into savings or into retirement accounts. It seems like Qiucken should be able to integrate this into reports, even if Transfer was used.
    I've tried as you explained, but whenever we click to include Transfers, the report shows loads and loads of transfers that don't even match the Category for which the report was generated. This is the problem that the original question in this thread was getting at. Why would it include Transfers that don't match the Category?

    If they take away the ability to add a Category to a Transfer, then how would you create a report by Category that includes transfers? The transfers would not have Categories. So wouldn't we then have to input the transaction separately in both accounts so that we can include a Category? It seems like there should be a much easier solution.
    For example, under the Advanced tab of the report edit window, we currently have three bullet options for Transfers:
    1. Exclude All
    2. Include only transfers with accounts outside of report
    3. Include all transfers
    Couldn't there be another option to
    4. Include only transfers that match the selected categories of this report. ???
    Then I think your method would work correctly and it wouldn't include all of these other transfers that don't match the Category at all.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    tandzed said:
    I do understand how transfers work and that's why they are so much more convenient, because we don't have to input the information in two places. The problem is that if we use this transfer function, then it doesn't, as you know, show up in a transaction report by Category (like Savings, or Retirement Contribution). If we want it in the report, then we DO have to input it separately into each account and NOT as a transfer (even though we ARE just transferring money from one account to another). 
    No, that's not correct. The idea is for you to include the transfers in your report. They don't show up under a category you specify, but there show up so you can see your total expenses, or your savings or whatever you're aiming to see. The key is to stop thinking of these transfers as belonging to a Category; categories are for income and expenses, and transfers are neither. But when a transfer feels like an expense, such as paying down a loan or putting money aside for savings, Quicken provides a way to include those transfers on your report, even though they aren't expenses in an accounting sense.

    If you do transfers from your checking account to your savings account, and you want to see these in your report of income and expenses, then you still use a Transactions by Category report (or Summary report). On the Accounts tab, de-select the Savings account. On the Advanced tab, select "Include only transfers with accounts outside of report". So this tells Quicken to include transfers to your Savings account. At the bottom of the report, after Expenses, you'll see the Transfer section, where you'll see your transfer to Savings as a negative number. And this is reflected in the total at the bottom.

    Or if you want to create  a "savings report", you'd include the Savings account but exclude the Checking account, so the report will show your Transfers In to the savings account.

    I'm not saying it's perfect system, but I think it works for most situations when people want to see selected transfers.

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Bart Hickman
    Bart Hickman Member ✭✭
    In my case, I want the savings report to encompass several mutual fund accounts plus a 401k. You're saying the correct way to do this is include all of those accounts in the report and then carefully filter for only the transactions within those accounts that are considered savings (which would just be the transfers into those accounts). Sounds fine--I know how to do that.

    But I want the same report to show me taxes, groceries, and housing. 25 years ago Quicken let me quickly do a pie chart with those four super categories (it's just an example--I had more categories than that). Further, you could click the pie pieces and it would expand another pie chart showing a lower level of detail (for instance, showing all of the transfers that comprise savings or showing all of the withholding payments that comprise taxes.) This was possible because I *only* included the checking and credit card in the report. Transfers considered savings were properly filtered. I'm struggling to do this right now. Forget about the pie chart--I'm fine with the outline style report.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    So if you set up a report which includes…
    • includes only your checking and credit card accounts
    • includes only the categories for taxes groceries and housing
    • includes transfers outside of the report
    …don't you get exactly what you want? This report contains expenses from checking and credit cards in the categories you want PLUS transfers to/from savings and 401k accounts.

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • tandzed
    tandzed Member ✭✭
    Yes, you're correct, it does include those things, but it ALSO includes all sorts of other transfers that are NOT in the selected Category. This is the problem. For example, it includes transfers that have no Category assigned other than Transfer, or transfers with other Categories, like Credit Card Payment. These do not meet the chosen Categories for the report, so why are they being included?

    And they're not nicely organized in the report. It's a mess of information that would need to be exported and organized in a spreadsheet. There's no reason that Quicken can't give this type of function in reports for users.

    I think it does make sense for Transfers to have Categories so that people can keep track of things, which is what we're trying to do here. There's a reason that money was transferred to a savings account or a retirement account, and that's the purpose of assigning a category, to keep track of those reasons, and the purpose of keeping track of them is so that we can run a report, quickly and easily. Quicken can do better here, even if it doesn't fit into traditional accounting standards of income and expense. This is personal finance, after all. And this is 2021.

    The report we're trying to generate is (should be) a simple one, to answer a simple question - How much did I move into Savings (or Retirement, or ....). That's it. So it just needs to show every transaction with that Category, simple. Without all the separation of transfers, just put it all together, nice and neat. We shouldn't need to export it to a spreadsheet to do this. The spreadsheet doesn't care if it's a transfer or not, it will quickly and easily give you a total by Category, why can't Quicken?

    If you had an assistant and you asked that assistant to tell you how much was put into your savings, and that assistant brought you a long list of data, some of which wasn't even relevant, you'd tell them to go back and do it again, or get a new assistant. Simple task here. Doesn't need to be complicated.
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    You keep describing the way you wish it worked, and I keep explaining that it doesn't work that way. ;)  You say "it just needs to show every transaction with that Category, simple." But it's not that simple, because transfers don't have categories. The more you fight that, the more frustrated you'll be. 

    Could it be programmed to work differently? Sure. But they only relatively recently added transfers to reports, so I'm not sure it's likely they'll completely revamp this. Quicken Windows apparently has a way to not categorize transfers, but specify an intent, which allows reporting along the lines of what you want. 

    Meanwhile, I'm trying to help you find ways to get the data you want with the way Quicken Mac works. If you want a report to show you money moved to Savings, do the opposite of what I described earlier: create a report which includes the savings account only, and includes transfers from outside the report. This will show all your transfers into the savings account. It won't include the credit card accounts. Want to include a 401k account? Add it to the report, and exclude categories for Investment Income, so you only get the transfers. You might need to have two reports to do everything you want, but that's not too problematic. 


    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Bart Hickman
    Bart Hickman Member ✭✭
    I appreciate you're trying to help. Thank you. When I initially asked you made it sound like this feature isn't even something I should do even if I could because it's a violation of accounting rules and there were correct ways of looking at what I want to look at it. I can see now I was confused.

    So summing up, we've verified that Quicken for Mac can not currently generate the type of report I'm asking for because the category field for transfers isn't really a completed feature yet (or something like that.) I'm hoping this is the case--clearly their database has a category field for transfers so all they need to do is allow the report generator to access this info.

    I did figure out that the report generator can filter transfers based on tags (earlier poster suggested this should work.) So I can tag all appropriate transfers as "savings" and I can get this info. Unfortunately this then removes all of the other transactions because they are required to have both the tag AND category to appear in the report. If Quicken allowed a filter for tag OR category, that'd be another solution to this problem.

    In the meantime, the answer to my original question is I have to have two saved category reports--one that includes tagged transfers and one that has categorized transactions.
  • Bart Hickman
    Bart Hickman Member ✭✭
    Argh--you know even the tag idea doesn't work as easily as I thought. Many of my savings transfers are inside of a split category and I don't see a way to do a search and replace allowing me to tag just those items. Those transfers show up at the top level over in the savings accounts so I could tag them there. Now it's getting to be one of those situations where I'm working for the tool rather than the tool working for me.

    Search and replace is another feature that was outstandingly powerful about 20-25 years ago on the Windows version (if any Quicken product planners are reading this.)
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    So summing up, we've verified that Quicken for Mac can not currently generate the type of report I'm asking for because the category field for transfers isn't really a completed feature yet (or something like that.) I'm hoping this is the case--clearly their database has a category field for transfers so all they need to do is allow the report generator to access this info.
    No, sorry, they've said they're going the opposite of what you want. They will make it impossible to categorize a transfer, because it violates the fundamental rules of accounting. They will provide other ways to include transfers in reports and budgets but categorizing a transfer is what they've said they  are eliminating.

    Search and replace is another feature that was outstandingly powerful about 20-25 years ago on the Windows version (if any Quicken product planners are reading this.)
    Its highly unlikely that any Quicken engineers or product development managers are reading posts like this. Sorry, that's just the reality.

    Find and Replace is partially implemented in Quicken Mac; it works well, except for transactions with splits. They really need to fix that. There's an Idea thread here which needs user votes to elevate this concern. 
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Bart Hickman
    Bart Hickman Member ✭✭
    If they provide another way to include it, that's fine. I upvoted that find/replace thing. Thanks.
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