Hacking Quicken to Import QFX Files on OS X

Quicken LogoIntuit is not a Mac friendly company. They make an OS X version of Quicken, but it is artificially crippled in order to try to get banks to pay them money. Intuit will only let you import files from banks that pay extra to let their customers download transactions into Quicken for Mac. The fact that you paid for Quicken and the bank paid for a Quicken server isn’t enough. They want the banks to pay another fee for their Mac users–even though there is no additional hardware or software involved. The end result is that Mac users get a product that will only work with a handful of banks. This article discusses a method to get around this limitation.

When I used a PC I was a heavy Microsoft Money user. When I switched to a Mac, I assumed that after all the good things I had heard about Quicken that I’d be better off. This did not turn out to be the case. I bought a copy of Quicken, installed it, headed over to my bank’s website and downloaded the QFX file using the WebConnect button and told Quicken to import it. I was greeted with the following error box.

Cannot Locate

“Unable to verify the financial institution information for this download” makes it sound as if there is a technical problem that should be cleared up soon. I waited 30 minutes and tried again with the same results. The next day I tried it again and got the same error message. After about a week of following the instructions telling me to “try again later”. I gave up and called tech support.

Me: Why can’t I import a QFX file into Quicken Mac.
Quicken: Because your bank doesn’t support Mac QFX files.
Me: But they are both text files based on the OFX standard.
Quicken: But banks decide which formats they want to support.
Me: Are you telling me that there is a difference between an QFX file for a Mac and one for a PC.
Quicken: Yes they are different.
Me: Why would people use OFX if it was limited to only one platform?
Quicken: I don’t know.
Me: Ok on a bank that supports the “Mac format” there is only one link to download. How can it be a different file?
Quicken: I don’t know, but banks have to support the Mac format for Mac users.
Me: I’m looking at a QFX file right now from a bank that supports Macs and one that doesn’t. The file format is identical.
Quicken: No they are different.

It was at this point that I realized I was not going to get anywhere with tech support. So I started trying to figure out what was causing the problem myself.

I don’t know what it is like to use their PC product, but from an OS X standpoint Quicken is Evil. It isn’t that their product is bad, it is that they follow absurd business practices that will make your life miserable if you are using something other than Windows. If you go to the Quicken site and look at their list of supported banks, it looks very good and reassuring. Most major banks are listed, so it should be no problem to download and import transactions. The problem is in the fine print. Very few of the banks support “Quicken for Mac”. This seems odd because the OFX, QFX and QIF file formats are completely independent of the operating system. In fact that is the whole point of OFX–to have a platform independent way of representing financial data. It should work on PalmOS, OS X, Windows, Linux, HPUX, anything.
In older versions of Quicken and other money management software, you’d simply download a .QIF file and import it. QFX can work the same way, but it contains additional information about your account and bank. Most banks have upgraded to using QFX (WebConnect) because it helps prevent repeat transactions so you don’t have to be as careful about selecting the exact dates for import.

It turns out that when you try to import a QFX file, Quicken looks at the ID of the banking institution in the file and then goes to the Intuit web site and asks if it should allow you to import the file. Intuit’s site sees that the request is coming from a Mac and then checks to see if the bank with that ID is listed as supporting the Macs. If they don’t Intuit sends back a message telling Quicken to not allow the file to be imported. Banks have to pay Intuit extra money to say that they support Mac. Since the number of Mac users is smaller than PC users, many banks don’t pay the extra fee. In my opinion this amounts to artificially crippling their product for Mac users. The files are identical for any type of computer.

There is a way around this stupid limitation. You simply tell the QFX file to use a different Bank ID number. If you choose a bank that supports “mac format”, Intuit will let you import the file.

First download the QFX (webconnect) file from your bank and then open it in a text editor. You should see a section that looks something that looks like:

intu.png

INTU.BID stands for the Intuit Bank ID. and INTU.USERID is the bank’s user id. These two numbers function as the username and password to allow or disallow Mac users from importing files. Intuit allows Washington Mutual (shown above) to let their customers use Quicken on a Mac, so by replacing your INTU.BID and INTU.USERID sections with what is shown above you can import the file.

It can be a little tricky to get the file imported because you’ll need to make sure Quicken associates it with the correct account. You may need to change the name of the bank on your account before you import the file. The easiest way is to create a new account when you import the file as shown in the image. You can then go in and edit the name of the account, but you’ll need to leave the name of the bank set to Washington Mutual.

Import

I think it is stupid that you have to do a work around like this to do something as simple as importing a file of text data, but evidentally it is part of Intuit business model. It should be fairly easy to write an automator script or use folder actions to automatically replace the necessary lines. If you are interested in seeing a future article about how to setup automatic conversion, leave a note in the comments. (update: automated method article)

Another possible way to work around the limitation is to redirect all traffic to Intuit to your local machine and return the proper codes to authorize the transaction regardless of which bank a QFX file comes from. Ideally someone could setup their own server to act like Intuit’s server and return affirmitive responses to all requests.

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Update: more information in a new article

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52 thoughts on “Hacking Quicken to Import QFX Files on OS X”

  1. I’m very interested in what you have setup for automatic converstion. Your instructions worked fine and got my file to work with Quicken 2005 for Mac. Thanks!

  2. Whenever the Quicken application transmits a ‘Request for Authorization to Permit’ (call it a RAP) to Intuit, it takes time for the message to travel to Inuit, more time for Intuit to process the message and formulate the response, and still more time for the responding message to travel back to the user’s computer and be gated into the application.

    During all that time, the application sits idle awaiting Intuit’s message. When it does arrive, the application compares what it receives with its built-in rules to decide whether it is authorized to proceed with the download. Once authorized, it will stop watching for a ‘letter from home’, and it will proceed with the download.

    Any conversation that goes on between the Quicken application and Intuit must follow standard OS X communications protocols and travel on the same internal hardware bus that is used by every software application that talks over a modem port So:

    What if a hack where designed to:
    • Detect whenever Quicken sends a RAP to Intuit;
    • Whenever such is detected, the hack Immediately puts the desired response onto the bus, addressed to the Quicken application.

    It would seem that Quicken would process the message just as if it came from Intuit. By the time Intuit’s transmission arrived, it would be too late — the Quicken application would already have smiled upon the OFX file and would be busy with the download. Intuit’s message would probably not even reach the user’s Mac until it was all over.

    Would that be practical?

  3. I think that is definitely something that would work. However injecting something back into the running program without crashing it seems like it might be pretty difficult.

    As far as I can tell the easiest solution would be to setup a server that will respond to any request as if it was Intuit saying that the bank supports Macs. This server wouldn’t even need to look at the contents of the request, it would just need to respond “yes” in whatever manner the client is looking for.

    Once the server was in place, users would just need to trick OS X into routing the requests to this server instead of to Intuit. This is fairly trivial and amounts to adding a line in the hosts file. Something like:

    auth_server.intuit.com 67.123.123.123

    where the ip address is the address of the server that will allow any bank code.

    Once this type of server was in place, everyone could use it by simply adding a single line to their host file.

  4. I have the windows version and also have a problem. Do you know if the described solution will work with windows?

  5. incredible that intuit is so evil – but the hack works well and doesn’t add much to the workflow…

  6. how can we do the same for investment accounts. i’m not having any luck using this hack in these cases, but i also don’t have details on an investment account that works.

    thanks,
    shane

  7. Excellent article..wondered about this a long while.

    If you have an Automator script for this, please share. :)

  8. That is an incredibly evil, greedy business practice. So much for transparent cross-compatibility. It seems that Intuit would recognize that many users don’t purchase Quicken for the Mac as it has limited bank support (and for good reason – I don’t see why they should be able to extort additional money from banks just to support their Mac clients).

  9. I have an investment account. It appears there is a different tag
    ENG
    5550

    Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
    5550

    I can’t tell if there is another user id tag that needs to change. Quicken doesn’t accept changing the bid and the fid to 3350. If anyone has an investment acct strategy please post. Thanks

  10. Sorry the tags are bracketLANGUAGEclose bracketENG
    bracketINTU.BIDclose bracket5550
    bracketFIclose bracket
    bracketORGclose bracketMerrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
    bracketFIDclose bracket5550
    bracket/FIclose bracket

  11. I tried changing the ofx file as indicated, using Merrill Lynch for Vanguard. I did not change broker id which is long. I continue to get the financial institution cannot be verified message. I cannot import a qfx file, or open the qfx file, only import a webconnect file that is on my desktop, but the message seems to indicate it is going to the institution on the web., Any ideas?

    Thanks for the info so far. I’ve just switched to Mac and except for the quicken problem, I’m very happy. But quicken is a real disadvantage. I’m keeping my windows pc just to be able to use quicken on windows to manage my finances. But I keep trying to get mac quicken to at least minimally work.

  12. After replacing the <INTU.BID> and the <INTU.USERID> with 3350, and 5431, respectively, I am still encountering the same problem. Could someone who has gotten this to work post what they have between the <FI> and </FI> tags? Or, more specifically, what do you have for the <ORG> and <FID> fields?

  13. This is great info. I just spent 1.5 hours with Chase Bank and they didn’t give me a clue. Intuit was equally clueless. However I just download the R4 update for Quicken 2005 for Mac and now I can’t even get the .qfx file on my desktop to hack into I just get a bad server response. I can download qfx files from Bank of America and CitiCards just fine. I wonder if their R4 update prevents the qfx from even being downloaded.

  14. It sounds like people are having trouble getting this method to work with investment accounts. My first guess is that the numbers I provided in this article are for a checking/savings account. Investment accounts may require using the BID and USERID for a company that is setup for Quicken and uses Investment accounts.

    Also, Melanie, you have to manually download the QFX file from Chase Bank’s website. You don’t want Quicken to automatically open the file, so you’ll have to do a “Save As” or “Download File” from your browser.

  15. So, my bank says it DOES support Mac, and I downloaded the appropriate file, but it still gives me the identical “unable to verify” message.

    I found the first line of your formula above and changed the number, but the second line, userid, I couldn’t find in text edit. So I changed the first line, and lo, my info imported.

    This is so weird.

  16. I don’t get how the renaming-the-account thing is supposed to go, though. How can one do this on a regular basis? I’m too tired, and I’m very unhappy with how much I spent on this tangle of a product.

  17. I use Quicken Mac 2005 and had this problem. I have investment accounts at an unsupported institution, so I replaced the id with that in an ETrade qfx file and it works fine. – Just comes up under etrade in the download window.

    9999
    4513

  18. I take that back — it will only work once, and afterward it is impossible to associate the account in Quicken with a new downloaded QFX. Oh, well. Back to Windows for my finances? A curse on Intuit!

  19. I’m getting a different error when trying to import to mac from Windows — errors says I have too many categories. Does anyone know a way around this? I don’t want to omit categories…

  20. Finally a better solution for investment accounts (for me, at least).

    There’s a shareware program mentioned in a Macworld article — find it here:

    http://www.thewoodwards.us/sw/QIFMaster/index.shtml

    It requires some first-time setup and may have some quirks to be found. But for me, at least, it’s a lifesaver. It will let me take the downloaded QFX file from my investment account and convert it to a QIF file that I can then import into Quicken.

    Much better than manually entering 20 transactions or more each month. I think this guy has earned his shareware price from me.

  21. Many thanks – the Wash Mutual info did the trick for my checking account. I too despise Intuit’s business model and have looked for alternatives to it for Mac, such as iBank and Moneydance, but they are not there yet. Too bad, because Quicken [and Quickbooks, which I use for business] make no attempt to serve Macs. Their updated programs seem to be half-hearted patches – rotten meat for an unwanted pet that can’t break free rather than juicy steaks for a pet that is so loved it doesn’t want to run away!

  22. Mark,

    Thanks for this information. I was able to load my checking and savings account information from my institution. However, it did not download my credit card information. Would you happen to have a solution for this?

    Mike V.

  23. Using either of the above BID / USERIDs, I got halfway through, Quicken verified them as valid. However, I’m trying to import data from a UK bank account, and got the message ‘Downloaded data does not match the currency of your Quicken account’. Does anyone have a BID / USERID for a UK bank?

  24. So, there is a program that can really help with this conversion.
    http://www.xs4all.nl/~csmale/mt2ofx/en/

    It even has an option for adding a custom bank ID to the file as it converts it from OFX to QFX. It takes some digging to find it, but you bascially have to set one of the parameters to the ‘OFX’ default script to the BID you want in the file.

    I am also having trouble with UK currencies.

    FYI. There’s a sweet list of ID’s ALREADY on your HD. C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Intuit\Quicken\Inet\Common\Localweb\Banklist\fidir.txt

    Thanks to this guy: http://www.cobbie.com/blog/2005/12/21/importing-ofx-data-into-quicken-20052006/

  25. Blessings on you!!! You have saved me hours of data entry.

    This hack works great with Quicken 2006 and our E-Trade accounts, including checking and savings. Brokerage and securities appear to work with Mac (no hack) but other accounts don’t.

    Thank you! Let’s hope Intuit will improve their ethics and stop crippling the program we bought from them.

  26. Stop using Quicken. Use and support Moneydance. They allow you to import OFX, QFX, QIF, and text just fine.

    They also just released a new 2007 update, which improves on a lot of things. There are some missing things (budgetting needs some more features), but it beats the hell out of giving money to crooked Intuit.

    Boycott them. Put your money where your mouth is.

  27. Intuit has disabled QFX import for older versions of Quicken (I’m using 2003 for OS X). I tried switching the BID but it doesn’t seem to work.

  28. The download into OSX for an investment account using the E-Trade numbers 4513 & 9999 worked a couple of times at the end of 2006, but stopped working. Intuit verifies the account, but then Quicken makes me create a new account and then I get an error message:

    Data has been downloaded for an account () that is not defined in your Quicken data file. Contact Quicken customer service [OL-362].

    It worked so well the first few times for investment accounts! Does anyone know what happened?

    Adam

  29. Why not boycott Quicken?
    Would it not be more beneficial to find a programme that works with the Mac and not fool with Quicken — let them go soak.

    Bob

  30. Just a FYI I tried the above hack and couldn’t get it to work. However I found a free download program that converts qfx files to qif…and then voila it will import and work! Had problems making it download to the account I wanted but if anyone else is stuck like I was this may be able to help you.

    The program is called qif master and I found it on versiontracker.com

  31. E*Trade’s download gives a QFX with INTU.BID as 9899 instead of 9999. Edit & change to 9999 and it works. My account is really with E*Trade and E*Trade advertises Mac Quicken support so I will report this to E*Trade as a Bug in their file.

  32. I went through that tech support nightmare four years ago — Bank of America said it was an Intuit issue. Intuit said it was a Bank of America issue… They adamantly denied it was any problem of Intuit’s, which I could just not see. The missing piece was the extra fee the greedy buggers charge.. Now it makes sense. I attempted this hack myself, but didn’t have the codes right to trick the server.

    I’ve used QIFMaster for three years now. Works great once you set it up. There is a big setup time as you train QIFMaster on how to read and then export the transactions in the data file. But once you do that, it makes things really quick. I tried letting it run on auto a couple of times, but I prefer to manually review each entry as QIFMaster converts it for the small things (getting the date right).

    One thing of note about QIFMaster is that it is just a translator — if you give it bad data, you’ll get bad results. I’ve d/l the transactions from my bank on occasion with overlapping periods with the result of having duplicate entries end up in the Quicken file. Not QIFMaster’s fault, mine, but something to watch out for.

    I appreciated the article MacWorld did showing alternatives to Quicken. I want a viable alternative to Quicken. Intuit bought out and then drove out all decent competition on the mac and then let the product rot… > : | They fail to follow Apple user interface guildlines routinely — the print dialog anyone?

    The current version I’m using will be my last version of Quicken — it came with my last iMac I bought 4 years ago. I’ve already received the eol notices from Intuit — upgrade or be exiled/left out in the cold/excommunicated….

    I need to look at iBank again and check out Moneydance…. just hate converting to a new system. oh well.

    Now, if only Intuit had not bought up ItsDeductible!, I’d be ready for an Intuit free world… However, we donate too many things to not use ItsDeductible which is tied to MacInTax, oh no wait, TurboTax for the mac… grrrrrrrrrrfffffffff

    Thank you for the informative article!

  33. I have Quicken 2002 and an content with what I use it for, but now that it has pas its “sunset” date, I can no longer download from my fianacial institution.

    I tried the OFX to QIF converter and it did not make any difference for me (I got the same message).

    Quicken advises me that the only solution is to purchase 2008… yeah right. I can think of several other solutions that does not invlove Intuit.

    Would anyone know why it would not work 2002? Is it bank specific?

  34. Ooops, I found one problem… I did not select QIF as the output format. Now that I converted my QFX file to QIF, it seems to read it and not complain about anything, but nothing shows up in Quicken.

    Any thoughts.

  35. I have Quicken 2002 Deluxe for Windows. I download Web Connect Files (files ending with QFX) onto my computer hard drive. Then I open Quicken, click on a suitable account and click on File…Import…Web Connect File… and navigate to and click on the QFX file. The last time I was able to do this was in Nov2007. I tried this again on 03feb2008 and Intuit CRIPPLED my Quicken program.

    Here is how it happens. After I navigate to and click on the QFX file for Financial_Institution_1 (FI#1), Quicken (that is QW.exe) connects thru the internet to ofx-prod-brand.intuit.com, and then thru the internet to a web site for FI#1. Then a message from FI#1 (really it from intuit.com) that says “…INTUIT HAS DISCONTINUED ONLINE SERVICES FOR QUICKEN 2002…”. Then another message that says “Quicken is unable to verify financial institution information for this download. Please try again later.”

    Now my Quicken is CRIPPLED for FI#1. After that, whenever I navigate to and click on a QFX file for FI#1, Quicken does not connect thru the internet, and only the 2nd message appears. But if I navigate to and click on a QFX file for FI#2, the complete process as described above is repeated. Now my Quicken is CRIPPLED for FI#2.

    Here is how I recovered from this unfair and unethical action of Intuit. I had a BACKUP of key Quicken Files. I restored 5 files (Q3.DIR, files ending with QEL,HCX,QSD,QDF). I download QFX files onto my computer hard drive as before. I instructed my firewall to block Quicken (QW.exe) from connecting to any address on the internet. Then I open Quicken and import the QFX file for FI#1 into the Quicken account for FI#1. Another way to block Quicken from connecting thru the internet is to disconnect the internet cable or the phone cable from your computer before opening Quicken for importing the QFX file.

    Alas, I suspect the majority does not have a BACKUP. Then perhaps an uninstall and reinstall of Quicken might work. This is speculation on my part as I have not tried it.

  36. First, it wouldn’t let me choose to associate the download with an existing account. I had to edit the account and choose Download transactions: not enabled.

    I was also getting the error:

    Data has been downloaded for an account () that is not defined in your Quicken data file. Contact Quicken customer service [OL-362].

    so I had to add the substitution:

    | sed -e ‘s/sharebuilder.com/etrade.com/’

    to get it to work.

  37. Quicken is retarded for doing this. Your hint worked great for Quicken 2006 on a MacBook for an E*Trade checking account. Thanks!!!

  38. SOLVED!

    However, I was getting that error about “Unable to verify financial institution” and noticed also that my instition did not appear under Online->Financial Institutions. This was even though I verified that my bank (EZCardInfo) does support Quicken for Mac by looking hear:

    http://web.intuit.com/personal/quicken/details.cfm?type=basic&fidetails=EZCardInfo%2Ecom&qwid=qw1700&qmid=qm1600&qbid=qb1800&qbmid=qbm1700

    I called Quicken Customer Service (excellent…they have you fill in a web page and call you back within 30 minutes; call 1-800-811-8766) and they had me update to the latest “patch” using Quicken’s Check for Updates. Once I did this, installed the update, restarted Quicken, and clicked “Update List” twice (??) under Online->Financial Institutions, the insitution (EZCardInfo) magically appeared. So try this. And don’t forget to Update the list twice…I don’t know why this was necessary. Maybe it was just human error (mine).

    I was skeptical that the list for R6 would be different for R3, but it is. Apparently the financial institution list is different for different updates. I’m now at Quicken for Mac 2006 R6 and can use EZCardInfo just fine with Quicken for Mac 2006 (though they support Web Connect only, not Direct Connect…but at least now I can import a QFX file).

    It was nice to have a positive customer service experience for once!

  39. Hi everyone,

    Am a Quicken 2004 (UK version) user for many year but had to replace my laptop a few weeks ago and want to use Quicken with 4 years data on my spanking new HP with Vista installed. The problem is i also moved recently and have somehow lost my installation disk :(

    If anyone can please, please, please be so kind as to send me a copy of their UK version disk, that will be most helpful, as i am sure with all the helpful posts here i would be able to install on my HP vista machine as long as i have a copy of the disc.

    I have my own registration key and all, so i dont see how this will infringe any copyright issues.

    The best way to do this is for someone to use a program like – http://www.magiciso.com/ to make an exact copy or exact image of the disc or use any other program that can create iso disk images and then upload it to one of those free file sharing website, the best i think being rapidshare – check here – http://rapidshare.com/freezone.html and then send me the rapidshare iso link to my email please –

    .

    Thank you very very much!

    Scarlett.

  40. First rate research, and crystal clear explanation. Thanks so much! I’ve been baffled by not being able to import .ofx files from the NASA credit union for months, and just went back to importing.qif files. But today I decided to search online.

    What an idiotic practice by Intuit. I am going to look for alternatives for Quicken and Turbotax.

    Thanks again!

    Piet

  41. Re Piet saying: “What an idiotic practice by Intuit. I am going to look for alternatives for Quicken and Turbotax.”

    I had used TurboTax for many years, until last year when I found TaxAct. I used them last year and even used the FREE version. It worked great. I highly recommend visiting http://www.taxact.com/

    Bob

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