Last week I mentioned that there are some things that Quicken does get right. Looking at the things that Quicken does right is helpful, in that it can be the basis for evaluating Quicken alternatives.
Keeping your finances in order isn't something that many of us enjoy doing. One of the things that makes Quicken successful is that there are some features built-in that make data entry quicker. QuickFill transactions, mentioned last week, are helpful in that they automate redundant data entry, like the grocery store or the gas station -- something you wouldn't necessarily make a scheduled transaction, but which come up frequently enough.
I'm a big fan of keyboard shortcuts, and Quicken has a few I use all of the time:
Check numbers. Use the plus key (actually, you can use the equals -- no need to use shift) to get the next check number in sequence. You can also use the minus key to go back one number in sequence. This gets a little out of whack if you've wound up entering any checks out of order, but is generally very useful. In fact, what it's sometimes most useful for is finding those times when you've written a check but forgotten to enter it -- the sequence number doesn't match, alerting you to a missed entry.
Dates. Hit the letter 't' to change the date to today's date. As with check numbers, you can use the plus (really, equals) and minus key to go up and down dates. If you're entering a date manually you can usually leave off the year. The only time this doesn't work well is if it's early January and you're entering a transaction from late December -- it'll assume December of the new year, not the one that just ended (boy, that'd be a nice little fix). There are other shortcuts for beginning or end of week, month, or year, but I don't use those nearly as often as jumping to today.
QuickFill. As I mentioned last week, if QuickFill has matched an entry that's close but not quite there, you can use the up and down arrow keys to cycle through other entries that match the letters you've typed in so far.
Categories. The up and down arrow key trick that works for QuickFill also works when entering categories. If you've got sub-categories, once you've got the main category matched, enter a colon to bring up the first subcategory. You can either start typing to match the sub-category or again use up and down arrows to cycle through.
Forgetting changes. If you're in the middle of entering a transaction and you realize it's all a big mistake, before hitting return to record the transaction, hit escape and all is forgotten.
Math. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Quicken's ability to do math when entering a dollar amount. For example, if you've got a few numbers to add up for an amount field, type in the first one, then hit plus -- a little adding-machine-like tape pops up and you can do math. When you've got the figure you need, hit return and it will be entered. This feature came out with Quicken quite a number of years ago, and I used it all the time when it first came out, but I must admit I don't use it very much anymore.
Those are my favorites -- any more out there?