GnuCash Free Personal Finance and Accounting Software

GnuCash screenshot

 Shelley Elmblad

GnuCash is free thanks to the open source movement. This financial software can be used to track personal finances and also works nicely with small business accounting software. GnuCash tracks a variety of account types, stocks, income, and expenses. There's no iPhone app at this time, but Android users will find a very simple and free GnuCash app in the Google Play app store.

Supports Multiple Operating Systems and Multiple Currencies

GnuCash runs on the following operating systems: Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, *BSD, and Solaris. Other platforms are supported but require Gnome 2, guile and slip (see download link below for details). GnuCash has been translated into 21 languages and it handles multiple currency exchanges.

Easy to Use

GnuCash walks you through setting up accounts. Transactions for checking, credit card, income, and investment transactions are entered into an on-screen checkbook register, similar to most financial software applications.

GnuCash Account Types

You can set up a variety of account types in GnuCash, suitable for personal finance and small business accounting. Choose from asset account types such as Cash, Bank (includes credit cards, brokerages, savings and loan institutions, and credit unions), Stock, Mutual Fund,​ Account Receivable and Asset accounts. Liability account types are Accounts Payable, Liability (long-term loans) and Credit Card. Income and Expense accounts will vary depending on your spending patterns.

Automatic File Backups and Crash Recovery

GnuCash makes a backup copy of your data each time your data file is saved. Program preferences let you set how many in a series of backup files are saved. Keeping multiple backups never hurts, and definitely, helps if you need to restore a file going back weeks. GnuCash saves log files to document changes made to data in the current session so it is possible to recover work in the event of a power outage or system crash.

GnuCash Small Business Features

GnuCash is based on double-entry accounting, which is important for business financial books. The small business accounting features can also be used for personal finances if you like to get into the real nuts and bolts of managing your money.

  • depreciation
  • accounts receivable and accounts payable
  • customer and vendor tracking
  • invoicing
  • bill payment
  • tax and billing terms
  • payroll

Financial Reporting

A decent range of customizable financial reports for personal finance and small business finance are included with GnuCash, such as cash flow, income, and expense, equity, taxes, net worth, and register reports. Small business reporting includes income statements, trial balance, general ledger, journal, balance sheet, receivable aging, vendor reports, and payable aging.

Download and Import Transactions

GnuCash will import data from banks as well as other software packages using QIF (Quicken), OFX (Microsoft Money) and HBCI files. You can view what changes will be made to accounts before completing a data import.

Help Documentation

GnuCash offers online tutorials, a migration guide which is useful if you are moving data from another financial software package, and a how-to Help feature. The more technically advanced user will also want to review the GnuCash wiki.

Is GnuCash Right for You?

GnuCash works with double-entry accounting, which is perfect for small businesses but introduces a new concept to many personal finance software users. The documentation and user guide are easy to understand, and complete knowledge of double-entry accounting is not required. To get an idea of how GnuCash works, download the GnuCash User Guide PDF.

GnuCash is worth a try as a personal finance software, but many home users will be confused about installing the software. For example, the GnuCash download page includes unstable testing versions as well as the stable version (you want the stable version). Windows, Linux, and other setup file downloads are specified with icons, so be sure to choose the correct download for your operating system.

Many small businesses do well with GnuCash but should consult an accountant to ensure reporting requirements are met.