Unfortunate change in memo/note behavior in Quicken Classic for Mac subscription.

It's tax time, and I'm very frustrated over what seems to me to be new memo/note handling in Quicken reports. I'm ending up with many report entries with blank memo/note fields, even though all the transactions have either a transaction memo or a split note entry. I believe Quicken used to include a memo or note in a report for any transaction with an entry in either the transaction memo field or the split note field, and used to include both if both were entered. Now, if the transaction is split but only the transaction memo field has an entry, then the memo/note field on the report is blank. A list of Amazon transactions in a report with most of the memo/note fields blank is completely useless (and Amazon's are almost all split transactions due to sales tax that we track for Schedule A).

Adding to the frustration, an empty new transaction in the register now renames what was previously the "memo" field for the transaction: now called "Note." And the empty split note fields are called "Notes." What a counterproductive change! I find too that searching Quicken Help for any discussion of how to handle Note, Notes, or Memos so that a meaningful label of some sort shows up both in the transaction register as well as in reports is completely missing. Quicken seems to regard notes and memo as such a low priority that no useful mention in Quicken Help is even justified. So my conclusion is that it's a trial and error matter. After doing my due trial and error task It now looks to me like the only way to have a memo show up both in the register memo field AND in reports consistently is to enter a redundant memo in BOTH fields for every split transaction.

Yes, I've seen and turned on the new little switch on report options to include memo/notes or not. This switch also seems like a change, but it's a good one.

I have about 25 years of Quicken experience (PC, then Mac), but I am just three years back to Quicken after a 6-year Banktivity period (both swaps due to download problems). I hope my Quicken recollections are not fraternizing with those of Banktivity, but I am 70.

Any insights would be appreciated.

Comments

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta

    Adding to the frustration, an empty new transaction in the register now renames what was previously the "memo" field for the transaction: now called "Note." And the empty split note fields are called "Notes." 

    @Steve68 I think your memory is mistaken. 😉 Here's a blank new transaction in Quicken Mac today:

    Note that under the Memo/Notes column heading, the field itself is called "Notes" in gray text.

    Then I went back and fired up an old copy of old Quicken 2017. Here's a blank new transaction:

    You can see that the name of the field here is "Note". Nothing has changed in this regard in the past 7 years. 😀 (I checked Quicken 2015, too, and it's also the same going back to that original version of modern Quicken Mac — so it's really unchanged in close to 10 years!)

    I've never understood why they mixed the terminology of "Memo" and "Notes"; I think it had something to do with Quicken Windows labeling them differently in a main transaction and split, but I'm not sure about that. But in Quicken Mac, you can seemingly use the terms interchangeably. for instance, in this QuickFill rule screen, it's called Memo, note Notes:

    Go figure!

    I'm ending up with many report entries with blank memo/note fields, even though all the transactions have either a transaction memo or a split note entry. I believe Quicken used to include a memo or note in a report for any transaction with an entry in either the transaction memo field or the split note field, and used to include both if both were entered. Now, if the transaction is split but only the transaction memo field has an entry, then the memo/note field on the report is blank.

    I'm not seeing what you're describing. Here's a simple transaction with a Note on the main transaction, and no Notes on the two split lines:

    Now, I created a Transactions by Category report for today, and you can see that it shows the two split lines of the transaction, and the Memo/Notes field displays the note from the main transaction even through there is no Note on the individual split lines.

    Then I tried the opposite: no Note on the main transaction, but Notes on the individual split lines:

    The report again shows exactly what I'd expect: the individual split line Notes appear in the report:

    And finally, I tried it again with Notes in both the main transaction and the individual split lines:

    And again, the report shows what I'd expect: a concatenation of the main transaction note with each individual split line note:

    As far as I can see, this is all operating exactly as I'd expect, and how it has operated for many years.

    Yes, I've seen and turned on the new little switch on report options to include memo/notes or not. This switch also seems like a change, but it's a good one.

    Hmmm, this line in your post makes me wonder if you are using the old "Category Summary" report, which is listed in the Reports menu under "Other". If so, you should stop using that report immediately! This is a holdover from the original reports engine in Quicken Mac. The reports engine was rewritten about 7-8 years ago, but the developers have left the old report in the program to apparently avoid inconveniencing users who had old reports. But there are known issues with that report (under certain circumstances, it can omit transactions, giving you a wrong report) which have never been fixed. I did not repeat my tests using that report because it's deprecated and really shouldn't be used. Use any of the modern transaction reports, as I did in my example above, and I think you'll find things work just like they should.

    Please post back and let us know if this resolves your problems.

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Steve68
    Steve68 Member ✭✭

    Thanks so much for your thorough response, jocobs!, You solved my problem, but not my frustration with Quicken. This morning I selected a new report with a bright colored icon with a capital letter on it, and I found that the memos were handled exactly as you describe in your comments — exactly the manner I have considered and expected as normal report behavior. Looks like I have recently been using a GREY-iconed report type because I had never heard that there were two separate classes of report. I have never paid any attention to the icon colors before, and your dates indicate that I was most likely learning my way around Banktivity at the time when Quicken's new report generator was released.

    But you say that was about seven years ago! What possible sense could it make for Quicken to continue offer legacy reports that use an old dysfunctional report generator, and — much less excusable — just mix the grey problematic ones right in with the colored ones making no obvious functional distinction. I occasionally have a need to refer back to an old tax-time report, but I would naturally and logically expect that Quicken would simply use the parameters I selected for the old report and update the report using the current report generator that works properly. There's really nothing all that precious about an old Quicken report, and it's certainly not rocket science to create a new one, assuming the software does its job properly.

    Even if there were a compelling reason to keep the old report generator for people with old reports they want to preserve untouched, it would still be hard to see the need to continue to offer users the option of creating new reports that use the legacy generator. At the very least, Quicken should show its customers the courtesy of segregating the old style reports in a completely separate folder clearly and boldly marked as legacy ones with a warning window popping up whenever someone tries to use a legacy report type one to create a new report. Who wants to keep track of two different report generator behavior patterns from the same software program?

    I'll bet most Quicken users are unaware of the legacy class reports; if so, there must be quite a few other users having to waste their time at tax season trying to figure out why their reports have a bunch of blank memo fields. And surely most people don't read the instructions for reports — one just picks a report type, sets his parameters, and goes for it.

    Clearly you must be right and I wrong about my impression that the name of the memo field in blank transactions had changed. Still, as you noted, "memo" is used is other places as the presumed equivalent of "note" or "notes" (I think also a "comment" field shows up somewhere as another equivalent, but I don't want to waste even more time trying to find where.) Just another example of sloppy programming that could easily be cleaned up in order to reduce frustration and wasted time for users. Anyway, thanks again for your time and help; all my future reports will have the pretty icons!

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta

    What possible sense could it make for Quicken to continue offer legacy reports that use an old dysfunctional report generator, and — much less excusable — just mix the grey problematic ones right in with the colored ones making no obvious functional distinction.

    The old reports are intentionally now segregated under the "Other Reports" heading; they're not mixed in with other ones under headings like Transaction, Summary, Comparison, Net Worth, and Popular. The only place you'll see them mixed together is if you actually use one of the old reports, then it will show up under My Reports and Recently Opened.

    The old reports are inferior to the new ones. You'd identified one such area: how Memo/Notes are presented. There are many, many other improvements in the newer reports engine. The old reports are mostly functional, but there's an issue with dat being omitted in some cases; I think it has to do with transactions assigned both a transfer and a category, but it's been a long time since I've looked at the issue. I just tell fellow users to avoid using the old reports, for both accurate data presentation and all the advantages the new reports provide.

    As for why Quicken continues to leave the last of the old reports in the program, I can't speak for the developers. I know it was something they stated they were going to remove at some point. My guess is that it's fairly complex to migrate old reports to the new reports engine automatically without user involvement, and they want to make sure not to disrupt users who are still using the old reports. Or perhaps there's some small, specific functionality which can't yet be accomplished in the new report engine (I'm not aware of that that might be).

    Quicken should show its customers the courtesy of segregating the old style reports in a completely separate folder clearly and boldly marked as legacy ones with a warning window popping up whenever someone tries to use a legacy report type one to create a new report.

    The old style reports are already segregated in a separate folder labeled "Other Reports". I think discouraging or preventing users from creating new reports using the old report engine, as you suggest, is a good idea.

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Steve68
    Steve68 Member ✭✭

    I disagree regarding the adequacy of Quicken's current segregation of legacy reports. There are several GREY ones scattered in with the colored ones. Having an "Other Reports" folder says nothing about the risk or functional differences associated with use of the reports in that folder. Most users wanting to make a report will hit the report tab and then select a report type, most likely with no knowledge of dysfunctional legacy reports. The grey icon color and the bottom location of "Other Folder," in the absence of any meaningful label or ready-to-eye explanation, connotes a simple, plain, basic report — much like choosing the blank or basic template in spreadsheet software. But opting for a basic template never means that one's spreadsheet will operate by a different set of functional rules.

    In Quicken, a grey report is not a basic or simple option at all. Especially at this time of year, Quicken's manner of offering grey reports, though certainly not intentional, amounts effectively to a trap that sucks unsuspecting users into a big waste of their time futzing around trying to get their Quicken reports to work as needed and expected, instead of spending that time more productively in TurboTax.

    Simple solution: move ALL grey reports to a folder: "Legacy Reports - functionally different - see Quicken Help before use."

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta

    I disagree regarding the adequacy of Quicken's current segregation of legacy reports. There are several GREY ones scattered in with the colored ones. 

    Only if you're looking at your old customized reports. If you create a new report, the deprecated reports are segregated away under Other Reports.

    Most users wanting to make a report will hit the report tab and then select a report type

    So if you click the Reports tab, you will only find the old reports under Quicken Reports > Other Reports… unless you have customized saved old reports, in which case those will be visible under My Reports and All Reports.

    So if a user wants to make a report and selects a report type, selecting Transaction, Summary, Comparison, Net Worth, Crosstab, or Tax to create a report will not show any of the old reports. Similarly, a user who users the main menu and pulls down reports, Other Reports are segregated. If a user clicks on New in reports, Quicken will guide you through the selection of a report type and customization without showing any of the old reports. Or if you select Reports > EasyAnswer to generate a new report, it will only use the modern reports.

    So most users wanting to create a new report will actually not bump into the old reports unless they stumble into Other Reports. It's only users who have old, customized reports from before the new reports engine was introduced around 2017, and who have continued using the same old reports for all that time, who are likely to stumble into using an old report.

    Again, you and I agree that they should just get rid of the old reports. And short of that, it would be good if they did something to alert users to switch to a new report. But at this point, I don't think they're going to invest any programming time into building new features to separate old custom reports into a new area with bells and alarms; I think when they devote any programming time to the old reports, it will be to simply get them out of the program rather than building better fencing around them.

    My guess is that this is on their future plans list, but it repeatedly slips down in priority compared to adding new functionality users are clamoring for. Unless they're getting lots of feedback from their Quicken Support team about this being an area that is causing user confusion and pain, it probably languishes somewhere down their priority list.

    If you want to try to get this on the developers' radar, us debating it here won't accomplish that. 😉 Instead, what you can do is create a new "Idea" post in the Product Ideas > Quicken Mac > Reports area of this forum. Idea posts allow other users to add comments and to vote for features. Once Ideas get a certain critical mass of votes, the thread is forwarded to the developers — who aren't otherwise reading posts on this community forum — for consideration. It's typically a long slog from creating an Idea post to getting it accepted by the developers to getting it implemented in the program, but the developers definitely are guided by users' Idea topics.

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Steve68
    Steve68 Member ✭✭

    Hi again jacobs. Thanks for your response. And let me thank you again for having enlightened me a few days ago about the existence of the evil grey legacy report class. If you were my neighbor I would have brought you a bottle of wine.

    I'm a little baffled though by your most recent comments about our second horse — the nearly dead one regarding segregation. It sounds like you are looking at a different screen or different version of Quicken than I am. So let me clarify my baseline perspective: I'm using subscription-based Quicken Classic for Home and Business for Mac. The Quicken version is 7.6.1, and the MacOS version is 14.4.1. The oldest reports I have were created and saved in Quicken in 2021 when I returned to Quicken from Banktivity; several of those reports were originally grey and probably based on the grey "Category Summary" template. My tax-time focus this year happened to land on those saved grey reports, and that led to my frustration over blank memo fields and to my initiation of this discussion. After I learned about the problems with legacy reports from you, I quickly created new blue-T reports to replace the dysfunctional grey reports, and deleted all my grey ones. My "My Reports" folder now shows only blue-T reports.

    On my screen this morning — after double checking due to your most recent comments — I again find the following, starting from the Quicken program home screen top tabs or buttons (not the top MacOS menu bar):

    Reports > All Reports (highlighted by default): a long list of all reports, including my customized ones from My Reports and non-customized ones from Quicken Reports — including, of course, and with no distinction other that icon color — all the grey ones. All sorted together by report title.

    Reports > My Reports: all my saved reports (previously a mixture of blue and grey ones sorted by customized title with no distinction between legacy and normal, except for icon color; NOW all blue-T since I deleted all the grey ones)

    Reports > Quicken Reports (the main heading that seems to be a likely click target for a user about to start a new report): a long list of all new report selections, including all eight grey ones (the six from the Other Reports subfolder plus the two additional grey ones (one from the the Summary subfolder and one from Net Worth subfolder). All these new report choices are simply sorted by title - with the wicked grey booby traps mixed right in there with the normal functional colored options.

    My conclusion: normal and known-faulty report offerings mixed together with no meaningful segregation.

    I'm not inclined to do Quicken's job by repeating the gist of our discussion in the "ideas" section or elsewhere. If Quicken is not already doing it, I think Quicken and its users could benefit if Quicken were to assign staff to monitor Quicken Community discussions and put a high priority on addressing identified and verified problems that continue to make their customers angry by wasting their time. Such frustrations were exactly what caused us to leave in 2014 after using Quicken for nineteen years. I assume Quicken still has the highest market share, but I know after six years of personal experience with Banktivity that Quicken has at least one very strong competitor which has clearly equaled and in some ways surpassed it (e.g., on the basic task of transaction entry). We would never have left Banktivity had there not developed a protracted period of a new problem with downloading banking activity from USAA where most of our accounts have long been. The way I imagined it was that Quicken and USAA execs must have met on some golf course and then gotten into bed together and then decided to form a monogamous relationship based on a new improved account download protocol that cut out the competition. For us, after months and months of download problems with Banktivity, we seemed to be confronted with the painful choice of abandoning either our 45-year history with USAA or our 6-year history with Banktivity. We chose the less painful route: return to Quicken. We think Quicken is a very good program, but after the many years they have had to refine their software, plus their certain knowledge of the emergence of at least one highly competent competitor, it's disappointing to find that easily fixed pot holes still remain in Quicken. After doing it twice, we plan never to change financial software again. One of Quicken's greatest strengths must be the great disruption that its customers correctly assume would result from any such change. Kind of like Windows vs MacOS.

    Anyway. I respect your opinion and value your help, but it's time for me focus on TurboTax.

  • jacobs
    jacobs SuperUser, Mac Beta Beta

    Reports > Quicken Reports (the main heading that seems to be a likely click target for a user about to start a new report): a long list of all new report selections

    Ah, got it now. You're clicking on the heading "Quicken Reports", while I was referring to clicking on any of the subheadings, where only clicking on the "Other Reports" subcategory would show the ones to be avoided. I don't think I ever clicked on "Quicken Reports" before because of the visible subcategories. And if one uses the Reports menu in the main menu bar, there is no "Quicken Reports" heading on that menu.

    Anyway, we agree it would be better if Quicken either segregated the old reports better or warned users who select them; I just don't think it's likely they'll spend another minute on the old reports except to some day exorcize them from the program. (Quicken executives don't read comments on this forum, but the Quicken moderators here can reach out to the appropriate teams when they perceive there's a hot topic. But this issue with the old reports is one which comes up in a trickle, not a river.)

    Quicken Mac Subscription • Quicken user since 1993
  • Steve68
    Steve68 Member ✭✭

    Best regards. Over & out.