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Getting Started Guide for Quicken 2012

Updated: 3/12/2012 | Article ID: GEN83292

Thank you for choosing Quicken!

This guide is for new Quicken users to get up and running, but returning users are more than welcome! Keep in mind, this is not an all-inclusive guide. 

If you need help with a specific topic or message, please utilize the search tool at the top of this page.

If you are upgrading from a previous version to Quicken 2012 and need some guidance, go here.

You can download and save this guide in PDF format by clicking here.

Find out how to:

Use the Home tab - what is it and why do I care?

The Home tab is a dashboard you can use to track important aspects of your financial picture. It helps you see where your money is going, stay on top of your bills, and track how well you’re sticking to your budget goals.  If you are new to Quicken or have recently created a new data file, the Get Started button (in the program, not below) takes you to wizards that help you get set up.

 Once you have completed the Get Started wizard, find out more on how to use the Home tab.

Set up your first account

Watch the video below or follow these simple instructions and you will be up-and-running with Quicken in less than 10 minutes. Seriously!


Take a tour of Quicken

Quicken is designed to make your day-to-day tasks as easy as possible. Here is a quick introduction to the controls you will use most often.

  • To download new transactions from your accounts linked to Quicken, click the blue circular arrow.  This will open the One Step Update window. You can also update the Quicken software when updates become available.
  • The Account Bar lists the accounts you have added to Quicken. You can click on each individual account to show its register, a list of transactions within an account.
  • Click an account name in the Account Bar to open its register.
  • Selecting the gear icon opens the Account List, where you can view, edit and make other changes to all of your accounts in one place.
  • Tabs along the top give you access  to tools and features organized around common financial activities.
  • Click on Add an Account at the bottom of the Account List to set up more accounts in Quicken.
  • In your account's register, you can click on a single transaction to make changes, or click on a blank line to enter a new transaction.
  • Also while in your account's register, you can click on the Account Actions menu of tasks, preferences, and reports related to the account you are working with.
  • Click Help to connect with other Quicken users in our Live Community forum.

Update your accounts

Now that you’ve set up an account, you’ll want to keep it up-to-date. To display and update your Quicken accounts:

  1. Click the One Step Update icon. (Or choose Tools menu > One Step Update.)
  2. Enter the account password.
    Tip: If you want Quicken to remember the password, click Manage My Passwords.
  3. 3. Click Update Now.
    Quicken downloads any new transactions and updates your account balance.

Categorize your transactions

Categorizing your transactions lets you see where you're spending your money. The good news is that Quicken does most of this work automatically for you!

Quicken assigns categories to your transactions when it downloads them from your bank. For example, if you used your ATM card at Kroger, Quicken knows that Kroger is a grocery store and it automatically assigns the category Food & Dining:Groceries to the transaction.

In most cases, Quicken can accurately guess the category. In some cases, however, it won’t recognize the transaction the first time it sees it -- for example, your rent check. Quicken also might assign a category to a transaction that you don’t want -- for example, during that trip to Kroger you may have bought pet food, which you want to track under the category Pets:Pet Food & Supplies instead of Food & Dining:Groceries. Naturally, you'll want to assign the correct categories to your transactions. Here’s how…

Use the Spending tab to categorize transactions

The steps below use the Spending tab to assign a category to a transaction. The process is identical if you use a Quicken account register. However, a key advantage of using the Spending tab is that it alerts you if you have any uncategorized transactions. Nice!

Set up your bills and income

OK. So now you have a one or two accounts set up in Quicken and you can download transactions and use categories to see where your money is going. What’s next? What more could there be? Beyond tracking your spending, Quicken actually makes it easier to spend your money. And we mean that in a good way!

If you’re like most people, you have pretty much the same bills every month and you get paid on a regular schedule. If you tell Quicken what your bills are, and when you expect income, it can remind you when your bills are due, and project your account balances into the future. This will help you avoid late fees and overdraft charges, and perhaps put some of that “extra money” you might have into your savings account. Imagine that! Here’s how in a video and some step-by-step instructions…

Create a simple automatic budget

If you’ve been following along and setting up Quicken as you work through this guide, you now know where your money is going, and where you stand regarding your upcoming bills and income. Knowing these critical facts about your finances sets the stage for the next huge benefit of Quicken: keeping your spending in line with your income. And relax, you don’t need to track each and every penny; tracking just a few critical spending categories is usually enough to keep your expenses under control.

How does Quicken do it? This will sound familiar: a section on the Home tab makes it easy to see if you’re coming in under your target or if you’re in danger of blowing your budget.

Get more out of Quicken

When you start to feel more comfortable with Quicken, here are some things you might want to check out.

  • Pay your bills online: You can set up Quicken to pay your bills online without needing to go to your bank’s website. For more information, in the Quicken Help Contents, choose Stay on top of your bills > Personal bills, expenses, & income > Paying bills online.
  • Manage your investments: You can add brokerage accounts to Quicken and track your investment performance from within the Investments tab. (Quicken Premier, Quicken Home & Business, and Rental Property Manager only.)
  • Track your business: If you own a business, you can track your income and expenses and performance. (Quicken Home & Business and Rental Property Manager only.) If you have a rental business, you can keep track of your properties. (Rental Property Manager only.)
  • Plan for tax time: The Tax Center in the Planning tab helps you keep track of information you’ll need for tax time.
  • Report on your finances: Take a look at the reports and graphs in Quicken. You’ll find reports like Income vs. Expense and Spending by Category – both very helpful when you’re trying to figure out where you stand. Choose Reports menu > Reports & Graphs Center.
  • Add your paycheck: The Paycheck Setup wizard helps you enter all the income and deductions listed on your paycheck. Quicken uses this information in tax-related planners and calculators. Click the Planning tab, click the Tax Center button, and then click Add Paycheck.
  • Use the All Transactions register: The All Transactions register lets you review and work with transactions from all your spending, asset, and liability accounts in one place. This helps you easily identify uncategorized transactions, and edit your transactions in one place.
  • Set your preferences: You can configure Quicken so that it works the way you do. Choose Edit menu > Preferences.

Get help when you need it

We want to make sure you get the help you need. If after reading this guide you have questions, you can turn to the following resources.

  • In product Quicken Help includes explanations about how features work and steps on how to do most tasks. From the Help menu, choose Quicken Help.
  • Quicken Support If you run into a bug or other malfunctions in Quicken, contact support at quicken.com/support.
  • Quicken Live Community An online forum where you can get answers from other Quicken users and experts.  Click the Help button in the lower right corner of Quicken.  You can also access Live Community at qlc.intuit.com.
  • McGraw Hill's Quicken: The Official Guide Offers a more thorough introduction to Quicken and all of its features.  Available at many bookstores and online.

Thank you again!

We sincerely hope this short guide gets you up-and-running with Quicken. We really appreciate your business and work hard every day to make Quicken the best personal finance solution on the market.

The Quicken Team

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