Splasm Software's CheckBook Pro is a basic, inexpensive personal finance Mac application that helps you track your income and expenses and provides minimal reporting capabilities. While not as full featured as applications such as iBank and Moneywell, CheckBook Pro does offer everything essential to tracking your finances.

Like the paper register that comes with your checkbook, CheckBook Pro offers a simple, one window view that displays each of your transactions in a single, sequential spreadsheet-like row. Like a spreadsheet, you can sort your transactions by simply clicking one of the headings‚ (date, check#, to/from) Unlike iBank, older versions of Quicken, or even your paper register, CheckBook Pro cannot display each transaction on two lines. While this isn't necessarily a problem, such an option would make it easier for your eyes to follow your transaction information.

Like most applications of this type, CheckBook Pro makes it easy to import your existing banking information from your banking site. I had no problem importing the most common types of files you'll find at banking sites, including QFX, QIF and text files.

Once imported you'll have to go through the usual drudgery of applying categories to each of your imported transactions, but CheckBook Pro's Spotlight-like search tool allowed me to quickly find and select all the transactions from a single vendor and then apply the appropriate category to that group of transactions.

If you've used nearly any other personal finance application you'll find CheckBook Pro to be very limited when it comes to reporting tools. While CheckBook Pro's reports are adequate enough to help you gather the information that you need, they're nowhere near as extensive or as customisable as what you'll find in nearly every other personal finance application.

In fact, two spreadsheet programs, Numbers and Excel offer better graphs and the potential for better analysis than does CheckBook Pro. That said, using CheckBook Pro you can create Smart Folders that will display a running tally of the money you've spent determined by criteria you've set for that folder. Selecting the Smart Folder in the program's account's drawer displays only those transactions that you've defined in the Smart Folder. I found this to be a useful way to gain quick insights into where my money was going.

My chief complaint about CheckBook Pro is that it lacks the depth and refinement you'll find in almost every other personal finance application. Then again, CheckBook Pro is, in most cases, less than half the price of these programs.

OUR VERDICT

While it doesn't provide the depth of features that programs such as Moneywell or iBank do, CheckBook Pro is sufficient to meet your basic personal finance needs. Smart folders and basic reporting options offer you enough detail to get a good idea of what your financial situation is, although, even with just a little effort, you can probably use your favorite spreadsheet application to get the same or better information.