How do I get my .QDF file for Quicken Starter to sync on Apple iMac & Apple MacBook Air

I'd really appreciate some help and advice on how to get my .QDF file to sync between my Apple iMac and Apple MacBook Air. I have Quicken Starter installed on both, but I have not been able to get the data file to sync.

I'm not an expert in IT so if you can help with simple steps, I'd be extremely grateful.


  • Greg_the_Geek
    Greg_the_Geek SuperUser ✭✭✭✭✭
    You can't sync the 2 data files. You need to backup from one computer and restore on the other and then reverse the process.
    Quicken Subscription HBRP - Windows 10
  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta
    Please clarify something. You refer to a .QDF data file, which is a Quicken Windows data file. Are you moving from Quicken Windows to Mac? Or were you just calling it "QDF" as a shortcut for your data file? (Quicken data files in Quicken Mac end with a ".quicken" extension.) I'm going to assume you're not using a Windows data file for the rest of this answer, but if you are, please post back so we can point you to directions for correctly importing your Windows file.

    Next, you can't sync a data file between two different desktop computers. You can sync between the mobile app or web interface and a desktop Mac, but the desktop Mac contains your authoritative and complete data file.

    One option is to move your Quicken data file between the two Macs. The key to doing this successfully is to only move a compressed version of the file between two Macs. What's "compressed" file? (a) In the Finder, click on your data file and select File > Compress. This creates a copy of your file with a .zip extension which is safe to move between machines. (b) In Quicken, do File > Backup to create a Quicken Backup file with a .quickenbackup extension, and this is safe to move between Macs.

    How do you move such a file between the Macs? Any number of methods. (1) Use a flash drive to copy from one Mac and then drag onto the other Mac. (2) Upload the compressed file to an online storage service, such as Dropbox or iCloud, and then download it on the other Mac. (3) Use Apple's built-in Airdrop to transfer the file, if the two computers are in fairly close proximity to each other. (4) Turn on File Sharing on one Mac so the two Macs can exchange files. (5) Email the file to yourself from one Mac, then open your email on the other Mac and use the file you emailed yourself. 

    This may sound like a lot of work, but once you do it a few times and get a system you like, you'll find you can generate the compressed file and move it to the other machine in just a few seconds.

    The key is to make sure you always know which machine has the latest file, so you aren't updating an older copy and wiping out your most recent work. If you use the two Macs relatively interchangeably, my suggestion is that at the end of every Quicken session on either machine, you make your compressed copy and move it to a common location both Macs can access (such as iCloud or Dropbox, or a shared folder if you're using file sharing, or a flash drive if that's how you're moving the file). The next time you want to use Quicken, always start from the copy in this shared location, so that you will always be starting from the latest file. On the other hand, if you primarily use the iMac and only occasionally use the laptop, you can just use it on the iMac until the time comes where you'll want it on the MacBook, and copy it then -- being careful to copy it back before you use the iMac again.

    Another option, if you mostly use the iMac and sometimes need to access Quicken from the MacBook, may be remote access software. In this set-up, Quicken would only live on the iMac, and you'd use screen sharing software so that the MacBook can see the screen of and operate things on the iMac. RemotePC is just one example for remote access software which can make this one-click easy once installed on both computers. This assumes that when you want to access Quickness's on the iMac, no one else will be using it.

    Another option is to not use Quicken on the MacBook, and just use the Quicken web interface for data entry or lookup from that machine. The Quicken data file would remain on your iMac, and once you have Sync turned on, you'll be able to access most of your data (but not the full functionality of reporting and all features) via the web login to on the MacBook.

    There's a lot of information here, so I'll stop there and let you absorb it. ;) Post back with any follow-up questions, and if you do, please provide a little more context about how you aim to use the two Macs (e.g. 50/50 or 90/10) so the advice can best be tailed to what you're trying to accomplish.
    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
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