Account Tracker (iOS)

help

This user guide describes both the default or CLASSIC version of Account Tracker and Account Tracker PRO (Why Upgrade?).

If you are new to the app, the Getting Started section will give you a quick overview.

There are sections covering the five main application screens: Accounts, Budgets, Transactions, Reports and Settings. Plus more detailed sections on Adding and Editing Transactions, Splits, Subcategories, Multiple Currencies, Reconciling Transactions, Importing Transactions, Exporting Transactions (CSV), Backups and Database Syncing.

All users should read my Top Tips, even (especially?) if you have been using the app for some time.

For support, PLEASE DO NOT use the App Store as reviews are left anonymously and I have no way of contacting you if I have questions. Start off with my support page, where known issues and any workarounds are posted as soon as I find out about them. Or contact me directly and you will get a very quick response.

Getting Started


The application uses a tabbed interface, with five tabs or buttons at the bottom of the screen.

Start off by creating an account in the app for each account you want to track. From the Accounts screen tap the + button at the top right, give the account a short name, set its currency, and set an opening balance on a date of your choice. To go back and change any of these settings, select Edit then the account, or swipe across the account right to left.

Accounts can be arranged into groups, for example to separate your personal and business accounts. To move accounts between groups, select Edit then drag each account into position.

Next add your salary and bills as recurring transactions using the + or Transaction tab. The top bar lets you choose between income (+), spending (-), spending refunds (left arrow) and transfers between accounts (right arrow). The details field is basically the payee, shop or location for spending transactions, or the payer, employer or bank for income. Set a category, the start date, amount and repeat interval. Transactions can be repeated every day, week, month or year, or more complex periods (e.g. every 2 weeks, or the last Friday of the month) using the custom row. For monthly and yearly transactions, you can set a weekend adjustment, to automatically move the occurrence to the Friday or Monday.

Back on the Accounts screen, selecting an account row will show you that account’s transactions and running balance, out into the future.

The Budgets screen lets you set budgets per category for spending, income or transfers. To add a new budget tap the + button at the top right. The horizontal bars show your transactions vs your budget, together with your transaction total / your budget, and the budget remaining. The current date is shown with a small white square, and this lets you see how your budget is tracking vs the period selected. To change dates, tap the left and right arrows, and to change the period tap the date itself.

On the Reports screen, there are actually 7 separate reports, and you can switch between them by scrolling/swiping left and right. The Balance report shows a graph of your end-of-day balance throughout the selected period, together with starting, ending, maximum, minimum and average balances. Weekends or months are shown in grey, and the current date is the vertical green line. The dashed line is the average balance, and the horizontal red line is either 0 or if you are viewing a report for a single account, your alert limit. The dates and accounts are changed in exactly the same way as the budgets. The cash flow report shows amounts for incoming, outgoing and any increase or decrease. The 5 pie charts show spending by category, spending by detail, income by category, income by detail and transfers by category. You can select which accounts to run the reports on using the All button at the top left.

Finally, Account Tracker is highly configurable, and this can be done from the Settings screen.

Accounts


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The accounts screen shows a summary of all of your accounts, their current balances, the total balance for each account group and your overall balance.

To add a new account, select the + button at the top right (you might have to select Edit first – see below). Give the account a short name, set its currency, opening balance, alert limit and add any notes. You can enable cheque/check numbers for this account and choose whether it should be hidden or excluded from the budgets, reports and totals. To save, select the Save button.

To add, remove or re-order your accounts or to move them between groups, select the Edit button. To remove an account, select the red minus (-) button next to the left of its name and confirm with the Delete button. To re-order your accounts or to move them between groups, tap and hold the “three horizontal bars” icon to the right of each account row and drag them into position. To stop editing select the Done button.

If you have set any accounts to be hidden, the + button at the top right is replaced with a Show/Hide button. To add a new account, select Edit first.

The left arrow scrolls to the beginning of the account list and the right arrow to the end.

To change the balances shown, tap on the actual balance at the top of the screen. Today’s balance is the default, Available is today’s balance minus your alert limit, Minimum is the lowest balance to the end of the following month, and Reconciled is today’s balance but only counting reconciled transactions.

The colours show the state of each account: red means the account is below its alert limit, yellow the account will be below its alert limit in the next 1-14 days, and green for all other accounts. The transaction rows are blue.

Account alerts or things that need attention are shown below the account name: !! shows the number of days before the account will be below its alert limit, the “time” symbol shows the number of days before transactions are due, and the tick count shows the number of transactions that need reconciling.

To view an account and manage its transactions, select the account name or row itself. To change the settings of an account, select Edit then the account, or swipe across the account right to left. The latter also lets you quickly set the current balance.

If you have foreign accounts, the exchange rates used to calculate your group and overall totals will be updated in the background (periodically). To force an update, simply scroll the accounts list down (from the top account) until you see the “Rates updated” text. Keep pulling down until you see the text “Hold and release” then let go. Your rates will be updated and the screen will refresh after a few seconds.

As you add accounts and transactions, up to three special transaction views are included at the bottom (of the accounts screen). The All view shows all transactions up to the end of next month (useful for searching across all accounts), Recurring shows all recurring series based on their repeat intervals, and Reminders shows all (unreconciled) transactions with the reminder switch set.

Transactions


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Each account screen shows transactions that have happened or will happen in future, depending on your settings. The most recent day is highlighted in blue.

For each transaction, its payee/payer details, category and notes are displayed, as well as the transaction amount and running balance. Transactions that are reconciled are shown with a tick. Future transactions that have reminders enabled are shown with the “time” symbol.

To add a new transaction, select the + or Transaction tab at the bottom of the screen. More details on this are shown below.

To generate a file in CSV (comma separated values) format, select the CSV button. This can then be exported (by AirDrop, email, or directly to other apps) or printed.

The left arrow scrolls to the beginning of the transaction list, the balance itself scrolls to today and the right arrow scrolls to the last date, and then forwards a month at a time up to 24 months ahead, and then a year at a time.

The search icon lets you search for transactions based on payee/payer details, category, notes or amount.

The tick icon lets you show or hide reconciled transactions, or manually reconcile them (if Reconcile by Transaction is enabled in the settings).

To edit a transaction, select the row itself. Tap the blue i buttons to do some common tasks quickly, e.g. copying the transaction to today’s date, or moving the transaction to today, tomorrow or Monday. Note that this menu is being replaced by row swipe options, to give more space for additonal features. Simply swipe across the transaction from right to left.

Adding and Editing Transactions


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Choose whether the transaction is income (+), spending (-), a spending refund (left arrow) or a transfer between accounts (right arrow). For income, spending and refunds, you can set the account and payee/payer details, and for transfers you can select the from and to accounts.

For all transactions set the category, date, amount and any notes. For spending and transfers, you can also set a cheque number if enabled in the account settings (for transfers this applies to the from account only).

For recurring transactions, set the repeat interval, or use Custom for more complex periods.

Finally turn on the reminder switch to be reminded about a transaction.

When editing a recurring transaction you can change the date, amount and notes of each occurrence, as well as modifying the whole series.

To delete a transaction, select the red Delete button at the bottom of the screen.

Splits

Selecting the Category button enables splits. This feature lets you use multiple categories against one transaction. For foreign currency transactions, it is best to set the transaction amount first, that way you can configure the exchange rate.

When entering splits, you will see a running total, as well as a “remaining” amount to use for your last split. If the sum of your splits is more than the transaction amount, the latter will be updated.

Note that for transactions that are split AND recurring, changing an occurrence or series amount is not supported.

Subcategories

If you would like more control over your budgets and reports (see below), subcategories are supported. Simply enter your per-transaction categories in the format “category:subcategory”, e.g. House:Utilities.

For budgets, you can set these at the category and subcategory level, and your transactions will be counted against any matching budgets. If you don’t set your “all” budgets but have set category or subcategory budgets, your subcategory budgets will only be included in the totals if you haven’t set matching category budgets. This is to avoid double counting transactions.

On the reports screens, the pie charts will roll up the subcategory amounts into their respective categories, and the List view will show you a category and subcategory breakdown.

Multiple Currencies

These are supported when setting the amount of a transaction.

For transfers between accounts in different currencies, you can set the sending and receiving amounts separately. If you only know one amount, you can either enter an exchange rate or double tap the rate button to lookup the latest exchange rate. You can always go back later and enter the exact amounts when reconciling.

For non-transfer transactions, you can change the transaction currency, e.g. if you are spending money abroad on holiday. You can then set the foreign and account amounts separately, or enter/lookup the exchange rate as above.

Enter both amounts to automatically calculate the exchange rate, or enter one amount and the exchange rate to automatically calculate the other.

Reconciling Transactions

Reconciling is where you compare the data on your device with your actual bank or credit card statements, “ticking off” transactions as they are seen. Two modes are supported.

By date assumes everything today or earlier is reconciled. When comparing against your statements, if a transaction has not happened yet, it can quickly be moved to tomorrow or Monday using the quick edit functions (described above), or to a later date by editing the transaction. If you do this for all such transactions, your application data will match your statements.

By transaction gives you more control, but you have to manually tick off each transaction yourself. To do this, use the tick button to start reconciling, then select a transaction to tick it or select a ticked transaction to untick it. The reconciled balance (to today) will be updated at the top of the screen. Tap the blue i buttons (or swipe right to left) to view and edit transactions while reconciling. Select Done when finished.

Importing Transactions

If you have a record of previous transactions you have made, perhaps in a spreadsheet or from another app, you can import these as a CSV file. This needs to have one row per transaction with NO header row, and they should ideally be in date order (oldest first). There should be exactly eight columns as follows:

  • account name – this must match the exact name of an account you have already created in the app (e.g. Mastercard)
  • date – this needs to be in the format dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm:ss. You can leave out the :ss, or simply use dd/mm/yyyy if you like, as long as all rows in the CSV file are the same
  • details – the details field of the transaction (e.g. payee); can be left blank
  • category – the transaction category; can be left blank
  • notes – any notes to add to the transaction; can be left blank
  • cheque/check number; can be left blank
  • amount – the amount in the currency of the account; for spending this should be negative
  • reconciled – either Y or N, indicating whether or not the transaction has been reconciled

A sample row might read …

Mastercard,28/05/2010 09:00:00,Apple,Gadgets,iPad,,-429.00,Y

For transfer transactions, simply replace the details column with the other account name enclosed in [], e.g. [Visa]. A negative (or 0) amount is a transfer from column 1 to column 3, a positive amount from column 3 to column 1. You can also import transfer or split transactions using multiple rows – see my support page for details.

Note, if your region uses a comma as your currency separator, the amount needs to be included in quotes, e.g. “-429,00”.

Once you have a CSV file in the right format, get the file onto your device (examples below) then select it and choose Copy to Accounts (Pro).

If you email the file to yourself, use your email application (on your iPhone or iPad), find the attachment, select it and choose Copy to Accounts (Pro).

If using the Dropbox app, find and select the file, choose the elipses (…), then Export, then Open In …, then Copy to Accounts (Pro).

Other apps should support a similar export/open in/copy option.

Exporting Transactions

To generate a file in CSV (comma separated values) format, select the CSV button (top right) whenever you see a list of transactions. This can then be exported (by AirDrop, email, or directly to other apps) or printed.

Note that this is NOT suitable for copying data between devices. If this is your intention, use the backups feature.

Budgets


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The budgets screen can show you how your spending, income and transfers are tracking against the budgets you set. Budgets can be tracked per account, per account group or across all accounts using the All button.

The screen is split into four sections, depending on the budgets you have set: All, Spending, Income and Transfers. You can use the “all” rows to set overall budgets by swiping right to left and selecting Edit. To add individual per-category budgets, select the + button, and to delete a per-category budget, swipe right to left or simply set it to 0. If you haven’t set your “all” budgets, but you have set per-category budgets, the sum of your per-category budgets will be used instead (i.e. you can track just budgeted categories rather than them all).

Note that for transfers, the budgets can be set as either incoming or outgoing. You should choose which to use based on the category and the account or group you are budgeting for. When looking at all accounts, transfer budgets don’t make sense since there are no incoming or outgoing transfers.

Once budgets are set, you will see your spending or income as a horizontal coloured bar. For spending and outgoing transfers, green is what you have spent or transferred and the grey background shows the rest of your budget for that period. Yellow shows you are within budget, but if things continue you will exceed it. Red shows an overspend.

For income and incoming transfers, green shows what you have received and the grey background shows the rest of your income target for that period. Yellow shows you are within budget, but if things continue you will not meet it. Blue shows income in excess of the budget.

When viewing the current date, a small white square shows how far you are through the budget period.

To change dates, use the left and right arrows, and to return to the current date, select the date itself. When viewing the current date, selecting the date again lets you choose the budget period (daily, weekly, biweekly/fortnightly, monthly, yearly or your own custom dates). For custom dates, use the left and right arrows to set the start and end dates, then for budgets set an annual equivalent to be pro-rated across the dates you choose.

Selecting the actual row of a budget entry will show all the transactions that make up that budget, and these can be edited like any other transaction.

When viewing transactions, these can be exported in CSV format by selecting the CSV button.

Reports


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Once you start adding transactions and assigning them to categories, the reports screen can show your balance, cashflow, spending, income and transfers. Reports can be shown per account, per account group or across all accounts using the All button.

There are actually seven screens in total and you can move from one to another by scrolling/swiping to the left and right.

The first screen shows your running end-of-day balance for the selected period, as well as starting and ending balances, the increase or decrease in balance (and percentage), and the maximum and minimum balances. The dotted line shows the average balance, and the solid red line is either 0 or if you are viewing a report for a single account, your alert limit. Weekends or months are highlighted in grey. You can also tap and hold the graph to display actual end of day balances at different points in time.

To change dates, use the left and right arrows, and to return to the current date, select the date itself. When viewing the current date, selecting the date again lets you choose the report period (daily, weekly, biweekly/fortnightly, monthly, yearly or your own custom dates). For custom dates, use the left and right arrows to set the start and end dates.

The second screen is a bar chart showing cash flow, with breakdowns of incoming, outgoing and the increase or decrease. When viewing a whole year, you can view daily or monthly averages using the 1/12 button, the latter showing a breakdown per month too.

The next five screens show breakdowns of spending and income by category and payee/payer details, and transfers by category, all as pie charts. To drill down into actual transactions, select the List button at the top right.

When viewing transactions, these can be exported in CSV format by selecting the CSV button.

On the balance and (non-yearly) cash flow screens, selecting the PDF button will generate a report for the selected period (account balances, budgets, graphs or transactions). This can then be exported (by AirDrop, email, or directly to other apps) or printed.

Settings


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The Help button lets you view sections of the User Guide, and it links to my support page where known issues and workarounds will be documented, and feedback can be given. You can also leave a review on the AppStore. The Advanced button takes you to the Advanced Settings screen (see below).

The rest of the settings screen is split into five sections: “Accounts and Transactions”, “Backups and Syncing”, “Budgets and Reports”, Manage and Security.

You can set the advance notification period for accounts and reminder transactions. Transactions can be displayed in ascending or descending date order. The default look ahead period can be set to off (i.e. don’t look forward in time at all) or from 1 to 24 months. Reconciling can be by date or by transaction.

The Backups screen is described below. In the PRO version you can automatically back up to your selected schedule, REMOVING your oldest backup (if you have at least 5). Otherwise you can set the reminder period for backups (the number of days since the last backup is shown as a red button on the Settings tab). If you have a Dropbox account, this can be used to export/import backups. This makes it very easy to move your settings and data between devices, e.g. your iPhone and iPad. You can also use iCloud to share backup files between devices. If both iCloud and Dropbox are enabled together, iCloud will be used in preference.

For monthly budgets and reports, you can select the month start date (1st through the 28th). For weekly or biweekly/fortnightly budgets and reports, you can also select the week start date (Monday through Sunday). For biweekly/fortnightly budgets and reports, if the pair of weeks the app is using is wrong, you can choose to use the other pair.

You can manage account groups, categories and payee/payer details. Groups lets you edit the names of the three account groups, as well as add, remove or re-order groups. Categories lets you quickly edit category names across all transactions, either by spending, income or transfers. Details lets you quickly edit payee/payer details across all transactions, either by spending or income (transfers don’t have a details field).

Setting a default email address lets you export backups and statement data by email more quickly. For security you can set a PIN to prevent unauthorised access and if enabled, set a lock period (0-60 minutes), during which you won’t need to re-enter your PIN. For devices that support Touch ID or Face ID, this can be enabled.

Advanced Settings

The advanced settings screen is split into three sections: Appearance, Behaviour and International.

Transactions can be grouped by day or by month. On devices other than the iPad you can choose the relative size of the running balance field, either bigger or smaller than the transaction amount.

Credits can be displayed in green. Debits (or negative numbers) can be displayed in red or in (). Account names for transfers can be enclosed in [] to make them easier to recognise.

In the PRO version, you can configure other themes (currently classic, blue and slate) and dark keyboards.

Transactions that fall on the same day can be processed in many different orders, e.g. recurring first, or income before spending … etc. The icon badge can be used to show unreconciled transaction counts (updated automatically). You can set the default date for new transactions. You can switch between showing and hiding reconciled transactions by touching and holding the tick button (i.e. a long press on). When reconciling you can choose how to handle each side of a transfer.

You can override the default currency used across your accounts, and for currencies with decimal places, choose whether these should be hidden.

You can set the default week start day when entering dates. For the PDF feature, set the required paper size. Also the default timezone to use within the app.

The Reset button lets you start again with the app, by deleting selected transactions or restoring the default settings.

Backups


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The backups feature is a more reliable way of backing up and exporting your data than Apple’s full device backup (e.g. to iCloud or iTunes). Should the worst happen, it is very easy to import and restore your data from a backup.

To make a new (manual) backup, go to the backups screen, select Backup Now and an entry will be added to the list of files displayed. Backups are shown in reverse date order (most recent first), and the date and time they were made is included in their names …

atYYYYMMDD@HHMMSS.atb

To delete a backup, swipe across it from right to left and select Delete.

Exporting Backups

A backup on a single device won’t protect you fully, e.g. you might lose it or need to restore factory settings (e.g. if there is a hardware fault). So periodically you should get your backups off your device. There are many ways to do this, e.g. AirDrop, email, Dropbox or iCloud.

To export a backup (e.g. by AirDrop or email), select it and choose Export.

On the settings screen, you can choose to have new manual backups copied to either Dropbox or iCloud. Any backups shown in red are likely NOT on Dropbox/iCloud. To manually copy a backup, select it and choose the Copy option.

Importing/Restoring Backups

If the file is already there in the app, go to the backups screen, select it and choose Restore Backup.

If it is on another device, use the Export by Airdrop option (on the other device).

If it is in an email, choose the attachment and open it in Account Tracker (PRO).

If it is on Dropbox or iCloud, choose the same backup setting (i.e. Dropbox or iCloud), go to the backups screen and the file will be visible. iCloud can be slow to copy things in the background so you might have to tap the refresh button at the top left (give it a few minutes if it is a new backup). Once there, select the backup to restore it.

Database Syncing


This is supported in the PRO version, and previously via one of two in-app purchases: Personal Sync (iCloud) and Family Sync (Dropbox). If needed, purchases can be restored by turning on the Syncing switch on the Settings screen.

In the Backups and Syncing section, first ensure iCloud is enabled (if that is your preference), or iCloud is disabled and Dropbox enabled (if you prefer to use Dropbox). Then enable Syncing.

Syncing requires you to identify one PRIMARY device and one or more SECONDARY devices (up to 9 in fact). It doesn’t really matter which is PRIMARY but clearly choose the device with your most up-to-date data!

On your PRIMARY device, enable syncing. On each of your SECONDARY devices, do the same. If it only gives you the option of being the PRIMARY, select Cancel and try again. It can take a while for your PRIMARY to become visible.

Your SECONDARY will then wait to get an initial sync from the PRIMARY device. Make sure your PRIMARY is running, and give it time (up to a minute or so, even on WiFi). The initial sync will OVERWRITE the data on the SECONDARY, making sure the two devices start off with the same data.

With syncing enabled, any changes to your accounts, budgets, groups and transactions will be saved and passed to other devices when you close the app.

If a change is detected on any other device, you will be notified via a red Sync button on the Settings tab at the bottom right of the screen. Simply select this and confirm to merge changes. I could do this all automatically, but it is nice to know when a change has happened, especially for Family Sync.

To view changes and who made them (i.e. which device), tap the Help button at the top left of the Settings screen and choose Sync Log.

To disable syncing on a SECONDARY device, simply turn it off in the settings. If you do this on your PRIMARY device, syncing is disabled on all devices. If your PRIMARY device is unavailable (e.g. lost), you can disable syncing on ALL devices from any SECONDARY by enabling syncing and selecting Reset.

Syncing Restrictions

Changes to your account order, group order and settings are NOT synced.

While changes are timestamped and applied in the correct order, the granularity is at the account, the main (all accounts) budgets, the group and the transaction level. If two devices make changes to the same object, the latter change will always win (unless a sync happens in between). Note that a recurring transaction and all its occurrences is one object.

Changes are only made available for 92 days (3 months), so if a device has been offline for longer than this, I recommend disabling and re-enabling syncing.

Why Upgrade?


Account Tracker PRO is a similar but separate app, and includes the following additional features:

  • Automatic backups to your selected schedule.
  • Database syncing over iCloud or Dropbox built in (no in-app purchases required).
  • 3D Touch support, to quickly launch into adding a new transaction or searching across your accounts (just push on the app icon on a supported device).
  • Apple Watch support, showing up-to-date account balances, your most recent and future transactions (+/- 1 week) and a snapshot of your main budgets on the glance view
  • Enhanced transaction searching, giving the sum (total), transaction count and average transaction value.
  • Account balances (PDF) report.
  • Budgets (PDF) report.
  • More colour scheme(s) and dark keyboards.
  • Split screen (multitasking) on supported hardware.

Once installed, there are many ways to migrate your data, e.g. by sharing a backup over iCloud.

Top Tips


One of the challenges of designing such a powerful mobile app is getting the balance right between helping new users and not cluttering the limited space with help buttons and text. I have chosen to keep the UI as clean as possible, however there are a few “more subtle” areas that need some explanation, hence these tips.

A second (and even bigger) challenge is getting people to read a manual, so thank you for getting this far!

  1. On the main Accounts screen, tap the total at the top to change the balances shown (between today’s, available, minimum and reconciled).
  2. When you select Edit, you will see three horizontal bars to the right of each row. Touch, hold and drag these to change the order of your accounts. This technique can also be used to move accounts between groups.
  3. If you have added multiple accounts, use the all transactions view to search across all accounts.
  4. On the individual account screen, the left arrow scrolls to the top of the list, the balance itself scrolls to make the most recent transaction visible and the right arrow scrolls to the end of the list. Tapping the right arrow again will add a month at a time.
  5. To manually reconcile (i.e. tick off) transactions, turn on Reconcile by Transaction in the settings, then tap the tick button. Your reconciled balance will be shown as you do this.
  6. On the Budgets and Reports screens, you can change the period (e.g. to daily, weekly, biweekly/fortnightly, yearly or even custom dates). Simply tap on the date(s) at the top of the screen. Use the arrows to step through each period (or to set custom dates).
  7. The Reports screen includes 7 separate reports, and to switch between them simply scroll or swipe left and right. The small dots at the bottom tell you where you are.
  8. When viewing the pie charts, only the top categories/details are shown due to space limitations. To view all categories/details, tap on the List button at the top right. To return to the charts, tap on the Charts button (again, top right).
  9. Most things in blue are tappable.

Finally use the Help button on the Settings screen to view this user guide, and also to link to my support pages. If in doubt, please get in touch for help!