Difference between revisions of "FAQ"
(→Q: Can I exchange Gnucash file with any other version of GnuCash? - Add info re 2.6.21)
(→Q: Can I exchange Gnucash file with any other version of GnuCash?: more recent first; link referenced features)
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:* You can always upgrade to a higher release. In most cases you can go back and forth between adjacent major releases.
:* You can always upgrade to a higher release. In most cases you can go back and forth between adjacent major releases.
::There have been some exceptions:
::There have been some exceptions:
::* To go back from 3.x to 2.x, you should first go back to 2.6.21.
::* To go back from 3.x to 2.x, you should first go back to 2.6.21.
===='''Q:''' Can a new GnuCash release still read my old data file?====
===='''Q:''' Can a new GnuCash release still read my old data file?====
Revision as of 10:11, 28 May 2020
If you are having trouble with GnuCash, please note that our primary support channels are our mailing lists. The lists are the best place to read about the experiences that other users have had with GnuCash, and there are many experienced users who monitor the lists and answer questions posted there. GnuCash has mailing lists in several different languages.
There is also an IRC channel which is usually monitored by at least one developer during business hours in European and American time zones. (Usually isn't always. Our developers are all volunteers and sometimes have real-life things to which they must attend.) Note that the IRC channel is almost entirely in English.
- Please do not use wiki talk pages to ask for help; use the mailing lists or IRC channel.
- 1 General Questions
- 1.1 Getting Help
- 1.2 Contributing
- 1.3 Troubleshooting and Improvements
- 1.4 Mailing List Questions
- 2 Installation
- 2.1 All Operating Systems
- 2.1.1 Q: What can I do if my Antivirus Software says my Gnucash download is infected?
- 2.1.3 Q: Why doesn't online quoting work?
- 2.1.4 Q: How do I fix a "system error" or "unknown error" when getting stock quotes?
- 2.2 Versions of Linux and other *nix OSes
- 2.2.1 Q: Are there no (more recent) precompiled rpms for my distro?
- 2.2.2 Q: Why does GnuCash start incredibly slowly on a FreeBSD system?
- 2.2.4 Q: I'm having trouble getting GnuCash running on Slackware
- 2.2.5 Q: Why does GnuCash run incredibly slowly on a Unix system using X?
- 2.3 MacOS
- 2.3.1 Q: How to install on macOS?
- 2.3.2 Q: How can I get context menus on macOS?
- 2.3.3 Q: I just installed GnuCash and all the labels are in Japanese
- 2.3.4 Q: I want to remove GnuCash from my Mac. How do I do it?
- 2.3.5 Q: How do I install Finance::Quote on a Mac?
- 2.3.6 Q: I copied my GnuCash data to a network drive. How do I open it from my Mac?
- 2.4 Microsoft Windows
- 2.5 All GnuCash versions
- 2.1 All Operating Systems
- 3 Configuring and Managing
- 3.1 Basics: Filenames, Directories, ...
- 3.1.1 Q: What's the GnuCash file extension?
- 3.1.2 Q: Where is my GnuCash data file?
- 3.1.3 Q: What are the .LCK and .LNK files?
- 3.1.4 Q: What are all these .gnucash and .log files filling up my directory?
- 3.1.5 Q: Why is my file name getting longer and longer?
- 3.1.6 Q: Gnucash crashed and lost a bunch of my edits. How do I recover them?
- 3.1.7 Q: GnuCash says that it can't obtain the lock for my file. What should I do?
- 3.1.8 Q: I moved/renamed my data file and my reports disappeared. How do I get them back?
- 3.2 Questions about Backups
- 3.3 Customizing the Appearance
- 3.4 GnuCash Localization (L12N) and Font Issues
- 3.4.1 Q: I want to use GnuCash in my own language
- 3.4.2 Q: I want to use GnuCash in a different language than my monetary/decimal separator
- 3.4.3 Q: I'm a Mac user and I want to use Gnucash in a language different from my system settings.
- 3.4.4 Q: How get I rid of strange unreadable characters?
- 3.4.5 Q: I dislike some of the new currency symbols of GnuCash 2.6
- 3.5 Using Different Versions, Up And Downgrade
- 3.6 Multiple Computers, Users, ...
- 3.6.1 Q: Can I use GnuCash with multiple users? Maybe via the SQL backend?
- 3.6.2 Q: I'm running GnuCash under GNU/Linux. Can I give another user access to my GnuCash files?
- 3.6.4 Q: I just got a new computer. What should I copy over from my old one?
- 3.7 SQL Database
- 3.7.1 Q: Is there a database backend?
- 3.7.2 Q: Should I use the XML or database backend?
- 3.7.3 Q: Is the Postgres DB / SQL backend supported?
- 3.7.4 Q: Can I open my GnuCash SQL database with another program, perhaps Microsoft Access?
- 3.7.5 Q: Opening an sqlite3 datafile which is on a smb network drive crashes GnuCash
- 3.7.6 Q: Saving to sqlite3 on a smb network drive gives locking errors
- 3.8 Security: Encryption, Password Feature
- 3.9 OS/Distribution Specific Issues
- 3.9.1 [Novell|open]SuSE
- 3.9.2 Windows
- 22.214.171.124 Q: When I try to open my datafile on Windows, I get "Parse error". What happened ?
- 3.1 Basics: Filenames, Directories, ...
- 4 Questions about Using GnuCash
- 4.1 Q: Can I have multiple data files open at the same time?
- 4.2 Q: Somehow I managed to close the account view tab. How can I get it back?
- 4.3 Q: Where is the Gnucash Register?
- 4.4 Q: How can I count the accounts or transactions in my GnuCash file?
- 4.5 Q: Is there a way to merge two accounts into one?
- 4.6 Q: How can I reorder accounts in the account tree?
- 4.7 Q: How do I order transactions in a register so deposits are before withdrawals?
- 4.8 Q: The View menu has an option to not show voided transactions. How do I void a transaction?
- 4.9 Q: I'd like to write my own custom reports. Where should I start?
- 4.10 Q: How do I save the options I have set on a built-in report as a custom report?
- 4.11 Q: GnuCash won't let me save my customized report
- 4.12 Q: How can I save my custom check printing configuration?
- 4.13 Q: How do I set up and track budgets?
- 4.14 Q: When I print a cheque/check, the memo area remains empty... how do I fill that?
- 4.15 Q: Is there book-closing support?
- 4.16 Q: How do I use variables and formula in scheduled transactions?
- 4.17 Q: How do I enter a Return of Capital transaction in GnuCash?
- 4.18 Q: How do I enter ISOs (Incentive Stock Options) that I exercised for a nonpublic company, which are valuable only on paper?
- 4.19 Q: The fiscal year is July 1-June 30, how can I change that?
- 4.20 Q: How can I look at income/expenses/etc. on a monthly basis?
- 4.21 Q: How do I resize my register columns? Why can I not shrink the description column?
- 4.22 Q: I corrected a mistake and now my reconciliation balance is off. How do I fix that and reconcile my account?
- 4.23 Q: I would like to add transactions from the command line with "gnucash --evaluate something". How do I do this?
- 4.24 Q: Why does the Transaction Report 'Sign Reversal' setting not work on subtotals
- 5 Importing/Exporting Data
- 5.1 Q: How do I import my data from ...
- 5.2 Q: How do I get the most benefit from the Bayesian learning algorithm while importing?
- 5.3 Q: Can I import historical prices or quotes?
- 5.4 Q: My bank offers OFX Direct Connect. How do I use that?
- 5.5 Q: Can I connect GnuCash to stock or mutual fund accounts using OFX Direct Connect?
- 5.6 Q: How can I export data?
- 6 Using Business Features
- 6.1 Basics
- 6.2 Set Up, Opening
- 6.3 General Handling
- 6.3.1 Q: Why doesn't the discount from the billing terms show up when I pay an invoice?
- 6.3.2 Q: How can I delete an Invoice, Customer, Vendor, or Employee?
- 6.3.3 Q: Will I be able to delete an Invoice, Customer, Vendor, or Employee in the future?
- 6.3.4 Q: Can I pay multiple bills/invoices/vouchers with a single payment?
- 6.4 Tax Handling: Goods and Service Tax (GST) or Value Added Tax (VAT)
- 6.5 Appearance and printing of Invoices etc.
- 6.5.3 Q: How do I remove the Tax column?
- 6.5.4 Q: My business does not charge tax. How do I remove the Tax total line?
- 6.5.5 Q: I have turned off the Tax Total line. How do I remove the Sub Total line?
- 6.5.6 Q: Can I print Invoices through LaTeX from GnuCash?
- 6.6 Using Multiple Currencies
- 6.7 Country/Region specific
- 6.8 Other known business issues
- 7 Accounting Questions
- 7.1 Q: Can you recommend a book on Accounting?
- 7.2 Q: What are debits and credits?
- 7.3 Q: How do I record my income tax installments and year-end payment/refund?
- 7.4 Q: How do I use GnuCash to calculate VAT?
- 7.5 Q: How do I use GnuCash to do depreciation?
- 7.6 Q: Is there a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who uses GnuCash in my area?
- 7.7 Q: What's a T-account? What's double-entry?
- 7.8 Q: Is there a way to schedule billing the same way we schedule transactions?
- 7.9 Q: How do I account for loaning/borrowing money to/from a friend?
- 7.10 Q: How do I keep track of capital gains with stocks?
- 7.11 Q: What is meant by year-end closing procedures?
- 8 Developing GNUCash: Source Code Overview
- 8.1 Q: I heard it is too hard to compile GnuCash!
- 8.2 Q: Ok, what devel packages do I need in order to compile GnuCash?
- 8.3 Q: Why is GnuCash written in C?
- 8.4 Q: Why don't you rewrite GnuCash in programming language xyz so that I can contribute easily?
- 8.5 Q: Can I read the doxygen files documenting the API offline?
- 8.6 Q: Can I run GnuCash already in the build dir?
- 8.7 Q: How do I run GnuCash under gdb and get a stack trace?
- 8.8 Q: Why does GnuCash depend on Gnome?
Q: I'm having trouble with GnuCash. Where can I ask for help?
- A: First of all, have you studied the Tutorial and Concepts Guide? If you have and you still have trouble, our primary support channel is our mailing lists, and support is available in several languages. We also have an IRC channel which is usually monitored by at least one developer during business hours in European and American time zones. The IRC channel is almost entirely in English.
Q: How can I contribute to the GnuCash project?
- A: See Contributing to GnuCash for tangible ways you can contribute to the project.
Q: How can I make a donation to the GnuCash project?
- A: See the Donation page for information about how you can financially support the project.
Troubleshooting and Improvements
Q: What are the basics of reporting bugs and requesting enhancements?
- You can find information about reporting bugs at Reporting bugs.
- You can information about enhancement requests at Enhancement requests.
- If you are new to these processes, you might find it useful to consult How To Ask Questions The Smart Way.
Q: Something bad happened; how can I help debug?
- A: First, check some basic system information:
- Do you have enough free space on your saving media?
- Do you have read and write access granted on your data file and its directory?
- For both questions you can usually find the answer using your preferred file manager.
- In the event that GnuCash does crash, experienced users might be interested in examining a Stack Trace. See Stack Trace for more information.
- Besides operating system details, GnuCash has three primary ways of reporting technical detail:
- The user interface itself with
- a status line at the bottom of the main window,
- tooltips, if you hover the mouse over control elements, and
- message boxes and similar dialogs.
- Terminal statements, which are printed to the terminal from which Gnucash was run. To access this information on Windows, KDE, or Gnome, you must run GnuCash from a command shell:
- On Windows, run cmd.exe,
- On KDE, run Konsole,
- On Gnome, run Terminal.
- From this command line, enter gnucash. GnuCash will place any messages in this command line window.
- On macOS, statements which would be sent to the terminal on other systems appear instead on the Console. Run Applications:Utilities:Console and select Console Messages to view any console messages in the right pane of the window. Scroll to the bottom. Look for a message like ....Gnucash Application Path /Applications/Gnucash.app/Contents/MacOS/Gnucash-bin. This is the first of the GnuCash terminal statements.
- GnuCash logs, which contain most error messages. These are placed in a file called gnucash.trace. See Tracefile for more information.
Q: I think I found a bug. How do I report it?
- A: See Bugzilla for an explanation of the bug reporting process.
Q: I really want feature XYZ but GnuCash doesn't have it. How do I get it added?
- A: See Enhancement requests for information on this.
Mailing List Questions
Q: When I try to browse or subscribe to the mailing lists, my browser warns me it's unsafe. What's up?
- A: The GnuCash project uses a self-signed digital certificate to protect your access to the mailing lists site at . This is necessary because the site asks you to type in your email address, and maybe a couple of other things, when you sign up. The project doesn't pay to register the digital certificate with a Certificate Authority, and as a result web browsers don't recognize the certificate and think it's unsafe.
- So in summary: if your browser warns you about this site: please go ahead and enter, it's safe.
Q: Can you please configure the mailing lists so that Reply mails the list?
- A: The administrators of the GnuCash mailing lists are of the belief that Reply-To munging is harmful. Please encourage the authors of Your Favorite Mail Client to respect List- headers, or train yourself to use the "Reply-To-All" command (available in every email client) when ever you want to reply to all parties; note that this works even on CC'ed / non-mailinglist email, too.
Q: I can't join or leave the mailing list.
- A: Some people sign up to a mirror of the GnuCash mailing lists, rather than the GnuCash lists themselves. A mirror is a separate server which duplicates the content of another. Common examples of GnuCash mailing list mirrors are Nabble (nabble.com) and Gmane (gmane.org). Joining these systems does not sign you up with the Gnucash lists, and leaving these systems does not remove you from the Gnucash lists. If you join a mirror, but not GnuCash, your posts will go to the mirror first, and then be redirected to the GnuCash list server. However, because you are not subscribed at the GnuCash mail server, your message must pass through moderation before being released to the list. This can cause delays in responses to your request. Many users will consequently subscribe directly to the GnuCash mail server as well. If you have signed up at more than one server, you will need to unsubscribe at them all to stop receiving mail. In other words, if you unsubscribe with GnuCash, but neglect to do so with the mirror, the mirror will continue to send you mail. If you choose to sign up with a mirror site, you will need to manage both subscriptions yourself. Read Mailing Lists for some more information.
All Operating Systems
Q: What can I do if my Antivirus Software says my Gnucash download is infected?
- A: This is a situation which you should treat very carefully, but calmly. Because the scanners sometimes give false positive results, you should collect more opinions, e.g. by using a service like virustotal.com.
- If your bandwidth is very low, use the URL tab to enter the download link instead of uploading your file.
- In the rare case that the service confirms the result of your scanner, let it do its work to isolate or remove the file. Then inform the GnuCash community, preferably with both:
- the full URL of the download source (sourceforge, github, mirror ...), and
- the signatures (SHA checksums) from both the source website and the calculated checksum of your downloaded file.
- The first checksum should be available on the source website (e.g. README.txt at the bottom of https://sourceforge.net/projects/gnucash/files/gnucash (stable)/<version>). The second checksum must be calculated from your downloaded file (e.g. run
- Verifying the checksum of downloads is always good practice.
Q: I'm trying to read the tutorial/help but it says that it's unable to find the url. What's up with that?
- A1: You don't have the gnucash-docs package installed. Install that to the same prefix where you installed gnucash and the docs/tutorial will show up properly.
- If your default Desktop is not Gnome, you may also need to install yelp.
- A2: You ran in an "really stable" [open]SuSE bug.
Q: Why doesn't online quoting work?
- Dependencies: You need to install the Finance::Quote (F::Q) Perl module and automatically its dependencies. So you will obviously need a Perl interpreter, Windows users see below, too.
- Environment: If you are trying to add quotes from a cron job or a non-X session, you may need to enable dbus for the duration of the retrieval.
- A Service Change: Finance::Quote works by querying financial web sites. A few of them provide CSV output, but most have to be screen scraped. In either case the web sites can change and they never tell us about it, users do. The first thing to do when F::Q has been working and stops is to check CPAN for a recent update, and to install it if there is one. That link is a search, and Finance::Quote will be the first hit; the latest version number and release date are under the name. If you already have that version installed, file a bug with Finance::Quote or report the problem on the GnuCash-user mailing list.
- On 1 November 2017 Yahoo! discontinued its csv interface, which had been the primary source that Finance::Quote used for the following stock and currency quotes:
- yahoo* (with exception of json and yql), canada, usa, nyse, nasdaq, vanguard.
- The Finance::Quote maintainers have set up a new source, Alpha Vantage, to replace most of its function. You need Finance::Quote version 1.41 or later to use it. To set it up:
- Get an API key from the Alpha Vantage website.
- [GnuCash 2.6.20/2.7.4 and newer]:
- Start GnuCash and add the Alpha Vantage api key in Edit->Preferences->Online Quotes
- [GnuCash 2.6.19/2.7.3 and older]:
- Quit GnuCash if it's running and add
- to the environment file, substituting your key for "#############". The location for this file depends on your operating system.
- On most Linux, this is: /etc/gnucash/environment
- On Windows, this is: C:\Program Files (x86)\gnucash/etc/gnucash/environment
- On macOS, this is: /Applications/Gnucash.app/Contents/Resources/etc/gnucash/environment
- [GnuCash 2.6.20/2.7.7 and newer]
- change the source to "alphavantage", "Yahoo as JSON" or "Yahoo as YQL".
- change the the type of quote source to "Unknown" and the source to "alphavantage".
ALPHAVANTAGE_API_KEY=############## gnc-fq-dump alphavantage CSCO
gnc-fq-dump alphavantage CSCO
- Alpha Vantage has throttled their free API key and it is common for quote requests to time out, which GnuCash will present as "unknown error".
- You can consider to upgrade to a premium key.
- Windows Users: Note that recent versions of Finance::Quote require more recent versions of perl on Windows. If you encounter trouble with the installation, remove whichever perl you have, both with Control Panel and Windows Explorer, then run Install Online Price Retrieval, which will install a recent version of Strawberry Perl for you.
- Windows Users: Note that recent versions of Finance::Quote require more recent versions of perl on Windows. If you encounter trouble with the installation, remove whichever perl you have, both with Control Panel and Windows Explorer, then run Install Online Price Retrieval, which will install a recent version of Strawberry Perl for you.
- To determine the version of Finance::Quote you have installed: Open a command/terminal window and run gnc-fq-check (C:\"Program Files (x86)\gnucash\bin\gnc-fq-check" on Windows). The first number in the result list is the Finance::Quote version.
- Full details are discussed in Online Quotes.
Q: How do I fix a "system error" or "unknown error" when getting stock quotes?
- A: Try the steps below. After each step, run gnucash and see if that solution resolved the problem of retrieving stock quotes.
- Note for Microsoft Windows users to run perl scripts like gnc-fq-check
- Open a command line window:
- Windows 10 (not in Tablet Mode)
- Windows 8 (or Windows 10 in Tablet Mode)
- Windows 7
- click Start button, type cmd in the Search programs and files field, press Enter
- Windows XP
- click Start button, All Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt
- Change to the drive containing the GnuCash program files (usually C drive) if that is not already the current drive:
- Change to the ...\gnucash\bin directory which contains the required gnc-fq-xxx perl script:
- 32 bit version of Windows
cd \Program Files\gnucash\bin
- 64 bit version of Windows
cd \Program Files (x86)\gnucash\bin
- Prefix any gnc-fq-xxx perl script command with perl and a space:
- Make sure you're running the latest version of Finance::Quote. On Windows or macOS you can run the Online Quote Retrieval Installation program again; from the Unix command line run gnc-fq-update. The providers periodically change interfaces and it's important to keep Finance::Quote up to date to deal with the changes.
- Run a command of the form gnc-fq-dump -v <source> <symbol> from the command line.
- Note on currencies
- You can get the exchange rate between currencies aaa and bbb with aaabbb=X at Yahoo as JSON, e.g.:
gnc-fq-dump -v yahoo_json USDEUR=X
- But by default currencies are hardcoded in Finance::Quote and use since version 1.41 AlphaVantage.
- If the output of the last command
- seems ok but Gnucash still fails to get the quote, run from a command line:
echo '(yahoo_json "CSCO")' | gnc-fq-helper
echo '(yahoo_json "CSCO")' | /Applications/Gnucash.app/Contents/Resources/bin/gnc-fq-helper
echo (yahoo_json "CSCO") | perl gnc-fq-helper
- But usually, at least under linux, it helps to run
- For Windows you should probably look at Windows Finance::Quote.
- Run gnucash from the command line with the --debug argument, attempt a quote retrieval, and then contact the developers either via email or on IRC.
- Sometimes it might help to know what module Perl does actually load.
- This command will tell you exactly that for e.g. Tiaacref:
perldoc -lm Finance::Quote::Tiaacref
- This command will tell you exactly that for e.g. Tiaacref:
- See also: #Q: Why doesn't online quoting work?,
Versions of Linux and other *nix OSes
Q: Are there no (more recent) precompiled rpms for my distro?
- A: Not here, but you can use the search at http://rpm.pbone.net/ with a search string like "gnucash-4" or its ancestor for the "more stable" distributions.
Q: Why does GnuCash start incredibly slowly on a FreeBSD system?
- A: Your copy of GnuCash wasn't compiled correctly for FreeBSD. When you compile gnucash on FreeBSD you need to set "libltdl_cv_sys_dlopen_deplibs=yes" in the environment before running the ./configure command.
Q: I'm running Debian/unstable, just upgraded, and GnuCash no longer works. How can I fix that?
- A: Contact Debian. Read the gnucash-user archives because someone else probably already reported the problem.
Q: I'm having trouble getting GnuCash running on Slackware
Q: Why does GnuCash run incredibly slowly on a Unix system using X?
- A: Please verify that the RENDER option is not disabled in your X configuration. Sometimes this is done for debugging purposes, like so:
Section "Extensions" Option "RENDER" "off" EndSection
Q: How to install on macOS?
- A: Download the dmg from the links at the top of the GnuCash website and follow the directions at MacOS Installation.
- A: In GnuCash versions prior to 3.0, users can access context menus by using Control-click.
- To access context menus in GnuCash versions 3.0 and higher, use a two-finger click on the trackpad.
- With version 3.0, GnuCash changed to use GTK3, which interprets Control-click as a normal click. This is a limitation of GTK3, as described in 797286.
Q: I just installed GnuCash and all the labels are in Japanese
- A: It's usually caused by something being not-quite-right in the language defaults on your Mac. Open System Preferences>Languages & Text (Snow Leopard) or International (Leopard and Tiger) and change the order of the languages, close system prefs, then repeat and change it back to the way you like it. Try GnuCash again.
Q: I want to remove GnuCash from my Mac. How do I do it?
- A: Note: These instructions apply to the stand-alone download from the GnuCash web page (and re-distributed by Homebrew). Users of MacPorts should consult the instructions for those distributions.
- Almost all of it is contained in the application bundle, Gnucash.app, which you can just drag to the trash. Gnucash's configuration files are in $HOME/Library/Application Support/Gnucash, which you can also drag to the trash. If Gnucash has ever crashed, there may be crash logs in $HOME/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/ that you'll also want to drag to the trash. CrashReporter log filenames start with the name of the application, so the Gnucash ones will start with "Gnucash".
- If Finder won't let you drag Gnucash.app to the trash, it's likely that there is one or more instances of dbus-daemon (a Gtk inter-process communication program) still running. There are a couple of ways to stop them:
- * The simpler if you're comfortable with the command line is to open /Applications/Utililities/Terminal and issue the command "killall dbus-daemon".
- * Otherwise, open /Applications/Utilities/Activity Monitor and type "dbus" into the filter window in the upper right hand corner. That will restrict the list to only instances of dbus. Select each in turn and click on the red octagon "Quit Process" tool on the left end of the toolbar and select Quit on the ensuing dialog box.
- There may be other configuration files in hidden folders in your home directory which you'll have to delete from a Terminal command line. Those directories are:
- * .gnucash (if you've used an older version of Gnucash)
- * .gconf
- * .gconfd
- * .gnome2
- * .gnome2_private
- * .banking (if you've used the online banking features with an older version of Gnucash)
- * .aqbanking (if you've used the online banking features with Gnucash 2.3.9 or later)
- To delete these directories, open Applications:Utilities:Terminal and at the prompt enter
- rm -rf dirname
- for each of those directories.
- Your account files are where ever you put them. There will be corresponding backup and log (suffix .log) files which start with the same name as your account file. You can drag the lot of them to the trash as well.
Q: How do I install Finance::Quote on a Mac?
- A: You must be logged in to an account "authorized to administer this computer" in order to install Finance::Quote.
- Install Xcode.app, a free download from the App Store.
- Run Xcode, open preferences, select downloads/components, and install command line tools.
- Drag Update Finance Quote.app to the same folder that you put Gnucash.app, then double-click it to open. It will open a Terminal window, request your password for root access, and run cpan to install Finance::Quote from the perl software site CPAN. It will ask for confirmation many times; accept the default every time.
Q: I copied my GnuCash data to a network drive. How do I open it from my Mac?
- A: Macs mount all network shares in the /Volumes directory, to which one can navigate in the GnuCash File Chooser.
- First, make sure that the network folder is mounted and browsable in Finder. Note its share (not host) name: When you select a shared host in Finder, the first screen/level/column (depending on which view is selected in Finder) displays the shares available on that machine. The one you select will be the name that shows up in the /Volumes folder in the next step.
- Start up GnuCash and select File->Open. On the selection list on the left you'll see entries for "File System" and "/"; they both go to the same place. Click on that, then scroll down and double-click on "Volumes". Find the share name for the remote folder, double click on that, then navigate as usual to the account file.
Q: Gnucash crashes immediately on startup
- A: This can happen for a variety of reasons.
- One that pops up from time to time and is quite hard to detect unless one knows to look is having Lilypond installed. Lilypond for Microsoft Windows is built with a different version of Guile than is Gnucash, and the Lilypond installer insists on placing its path in the global path list in such a way that Gnucash finds Lilypond's Guile instead of its own, and crashes. The solution is to remove Lilypond's directory from the global path in control panel and add it to the environment settings in the Start Menu and Desktop aliases.
Q: Is there other information regarding Windows?
- A: Yes, there is a Windows page in the wiki. In particular you can also look in the Known Issues section on that page.
All GnuCash versions
Q: GnuCash crashes on startup trying to run an SX. How do I fix this?
- A: We're still trying to track down all the various SX problems. First, you should make sure you're running the most recent release. Second, if you're running the most recent release and still having problems you should file a bug report with all the output on your terminal (you ARE running gnucash from a terminal, RIGHT???). Third, you should backup your data file because the developers may want to see portions of it to help track down this problem. Finally, run:
- then turn off the AutoRun option from Edit -> Preferences -> Scheduled Transactions . Then exit and restart GnuCash and it should open your data file just fine.
Configuring and Managing
Basics: Filenames, Directories, ...
Q: What's the GnuCash file extension?
- A: Starting with version 2.3.15, .gnucash is the file extension for new files. Existing filenames will not be changed though and the old extensions are still recognized on most systems.
- Earlier versions did not enforce any file naming conventions or extensions. However, the .xac and .gnc extensions are described in the "shared-mime-info" package used by almost every distro and desktop environment to associate applications with files, and allow the file to be opened when double clicked in a file browser.
- Note: .xac is short for "X-Accountant", the predecessor of GnuCash; .gnc is the "internal" three-letter-abbreviation of GnuCash.
Q: Where is my GnuCash data file?
- A: The answer depends in part on the file format you have chosen for your data.
- If you are using the default xml format, or the sqlite format, the data file is called something.gnucash and is stored in the folder you specified when you saved your file. Note: See the previous question for more information on file naming. For details of file formats see GnuCash XML format and SQL.
- If you are using the postgres or mysql storage formats, then there is no data file but a database in your DBMS.
- If you do not remember where you saved your file, you can figure out where the file is by clicking File > Save As…, and noting the folder in the dialog box. That is the folder your data file is located. Then, cancel the Save As... dialog box.
- If the above is not possible, search your disks for directories containing .gnucash or .xac and .log files.
Q: What are the .LCK and .LNK files?
- A: These are lock files that GnuCash creates to prevent different users from opening the same file at the same time. GnuCash creates these files when you open your data file, and deletes them when you close the file. (Note: If GnuCash crashes, these files will remain in your system, and GnuCash will warn you the next time you try to open the data file.) If GnuCash is no longer using a given file, you can remove these files safely.
Q: What are all these .gnucash and .log files filling up my directory?
- A: These are backup data files and log files (".log") that GnuCash creates to prevent data loss. GnuCash will remove them after a configurable amount of time (Preferences/General/"Days to retain log files"). In the normal case when your data file is ok and you don't need old versions of the file, you can remove these files safely.
- Note that the backup and log files have a format of <name>.YYYYMMDDHHMMSS.gnucash (or .log). These are backup (and log) files from your data file, <name>.
- Note that .log files are to be used only if you are using an XML backend for the book. With SQL storage, it is not recommended to replay the .log files. The data is always saved to the data store and the possibility of data loss is minimal in that case.
- This topic is covered more broadly in Backing Up and Recovering Data section of the User Guide.
Q: Why is my file name getting longer and longer?
- A: GnuCash creates a backup file by taking the current data file and adding the date/time to the end (YYYYMMDDHHMMSS.gnucash). So if you're using a file named "Foo.gnucash", then you'll get backups of the form:
- Now assume that instead of opening "Foo.gnucash" you open one of these backup files, you make changes to it and then save the file.
- For starters, this means you've just over-written the original backup file which is always a bad idea. Backups should never be changed.
- Secondly since you saved changes, GnuCash will create a backup file based the file you just changed using the same naming system: it adds a date/time extension. Since the file you saved already had such an extension, you end up with a backup file named:
- Repeating this process will add to the file name until it exceeds the operating system limits.
- The fix:
- 1) Don't open a backup file
- 1a) If you DO open a backup file, never simply save it out again, instead use Save As to give it a new name.
- 2) Make sure you're always using your base data file
- 3) If your base data file for some reason is bad, and you need to recover from a previous backup file, copy the backup file over your bad base file, for example:
- cp Foo.gnucash.20100719100214.gnucash.20100719112352.gnucash Foo.gnucash
- and then File -> Open the new file, Foo.gnucash.
Q: Gnucash crashed and lost a bunch of my edits. How do I recover them?
- The first thing to check is that you are, in fact, opening the right file. Look up in the title bar: If it has a long string of numbers starting e.g. 20111011 (2011-10-11, i.e., 11 October 2011) then you've opened the wrong file. If you haven't done this too many times, the right one should still be in the recent list in the File menu. Open it and make sure that you really have lost work.
- If you're sure that you got the right file and that your work is still missing, look at the log files for that data file -- and for any backup files you might have entered data into (Those will have logfiles with names that look like filename.timestamp.gnucash.timestamp.log). Quicklook works on log files, so you can browse the log files in Finder. Find the earliest one for which data does not appear in your data file and select File>Import>Replay Gnucash .log File, then select that log file. Repeat for every subsequent log file.
- Click the save button.
- Go back to work.
- Warning: The log file will not replay business actions. So if you posted invoices or processed payments or did anything else with the business functions, replaying the log will destroy your data! Do not replay a log that has transactions from business feature operations or internal data structures will be completely messed up and you will have lots of trouble cleaning up later.
- If you did lose business feature work the only thing you can do is redo the work by hand and then make sure you click save.
- Save early, save often.
Q: GnuCash says that it can't obtain the lock for my file. What should I do?
- A: There are two ways to get that message: One is to have another instance of GnuCash running with the same file or database open. If you're using MySQL or Postgresql, or if you have your file in a service like Dropbox, the other instance might not be on the same computer. The other way is if GnuCash didn't shut down correctly the last time it quit, and so didn't remove the lock.
- If you're absolutely sure that another instance of GnuCash doesn't have the same file open, click on "Open Anyway".
- Otherwise, select one of the other buttons.
Q: I moved/renamed my data file and my reports disappeared. How do I get them back?
- A: Reports are stored in a separate file in the ~/.gnucash/books directory. File name is a url-encoded path name for the main data file. To get your reports back, copy old report file over the new reports file, then open ~/.gnome/GnuCash in your favorite editor and copy section corresponding to the old file to the section of the new file
Q: Why can't GnuCash find my data file anymore? It just says: parser error : Start tag expected, '<' not found
- A: We're very sorry, but you just shot yourself in the foot. GnuCash uses $HOME/.gnucash to store metadata files. In particular, $HOME/.gnucash/books stores metadata about your data files. In versions 1.8 and earlier the metadata file was named as the encoded name of the full path to your datafile, but as of 2.0 this was changed and the metadata file is just named the same as the data file. So if you saved your data file into $HOME/.gnucash/books and updated your versions, GnuCash just overwrote your data file with the metadata file. You'll need to copy a backup file and move it somewhere outside of $HOME/.gnucash and tell GnuCash to look there by using the File -> Open feature to load the new datafile.
- Note: This should no longer happen as someday [in 2011?] the metafiles got the extension .gcm GnuCash Metafile, while by default datafiles get .gnucash. Nevertheless it is a bad idea to store your datafile in this application settings folder.
- A: The list of files you see in the File menu is the list of "most recently used" files (MRU). Strictly speaking the items in this list are still "recently used" even if you deleted the file from your computer in the meantime (you won't be able to open it anymore from the File menu). So it's really only a cosmetic issue. But if it bothers you enough and you really want the obsolete entries removed, please read on.
- Depending on your version of GnuCash, the MRU list is stored in different locations.
- GnuCash 2.6 and newer
- The MRU list files is stored in the default preferences system depending on your operating system.
- Linux and similar
- The MRU list is stored in defaults. This is accessed in Terminal via the defaults(1) command. To remove a particular file (e.g., the fourth) from the list you can say
- defaults delete --app Gnucash "/org/gnucash/history/file4"
- To change it, say
- defaults write --app Gnucash "/org/gnucash/history/file4" "/Users/john/Desktop/MyAccounts.gnucash"
- To display all of the stored Gnucash preferences, use
- defaults read --app Gnucash
- GnuCash 2.4 and older
- The MRU list is stored in an independent preferences database called GConf. GnuCash doesn't have a direct way to edit this. Depending on your operating system there are different ways to alter it:
- Linux and similar
Questions about Backups
Q: How do I backup my data?
- A: See Backup page.
Q: How do I backup my GC environment, including preferences?
- A: See Backup page.
Customizing the Appearance
Q: How do I change the appearance of GnuCash?
- A: GnuCash uses GTK to manage its appearance. GTK is a multi-platform toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces. GTK uses various resource files to manage this.
- Note: Resource files are not created by default, so none may exist on your system.
Q: How do I change the appearance of reports?
- A: The appearance of GnuCash reports can be changed under Edit->Stylesheets.
Q: How do I change the register colors?
Q: Where can I find the GTK resource file?
- A: Both the path to the GTK resource file and the file name used are different for each platform supported by GnuCash.
- Information about the GTK path is available at GTK Configuration locations.
- Information about the GTK files that may exist on your machine is available at GTK file names.
Q: I use KDE, but my fonts look ugly
- A: GnuCash uses your GTK font settings. You probably just need to change (or create) your GTK settings for Gnucash. If your KDE System Settings have no module GTK, just run the gnome-control-center from a konsole command line (or by using the Alt-F2 run command dialog).
GnuCash Localization (L12N) and Font Issues
Q: I want to use GnuCash in my own language
- A: See Locale_Settings.
Q: I want to use GnuCash in a different language than my monetary/decimal separator
- A: Then you want to set the LC_MONETARY envrionment variable different from the LANG: "env LC_MONETARY=fr_FR".
Q: I'm a Mac user and I want to use Gnucash in a language different from my system settings.
Q: How get I rid of strange unreadable characters?
- A: You need a font in which the respective characters are defined. Your system tools usually offer some font viewer to test them. See Customizing_the_Appearance for guidance on changing font settings in general.
Q: I dislike some of the new currency symbols of GnuCash 2.6
- A: If you really know a symbol is wrong or outdated,
- Don't forget to add a link to a reliable source like wikipedia or your central bank.
- In between and otherwise:
- Tools->Security editor
- checkmark Show national currencies,
- open the CURRENCY tree,
- search the ISO symbol of that currency and click edit,
- replace Display Symbol with your desired text
- and confirm it by clicking OK.
Using Different Versions, Up And Downgrade
Q: Can I exchange Gnucash file with any other version of GnuCash?
- A: Not quite.
- You can always upgrade to a higher release. In most cases you can go back and forth between adjacent major releases.
Q: Can a new GnuCash release still read my old data file?
- A: The answer depends on how much forward you want to go. See GnuCash Release Version Numbering for an explanation of the system.
- Bugfix releases
- GnuCash maintains full compatibility between Bugfix releases. So a file you created with 2.2.5 would work with 2.2.9 and the other way around.
- Major releases
- The data format between major release can change. However, the GnuCash developers try very hard to be as compatible as possible. Each major series is normally at least compatible with the previous major series. So, for example, if you have a data file created with 2.0.3, you should be able to open this with 2.2.5. Skipping a major release may cause issues though, and is not recommended. Instead, you are advised to at least open and save your file in the intervening major release first.
- Important: When moving from one major release to another, you are advised to run "Check & Repair" when opening the file for the first time in the new release. Specifically when running it after moving to a new major release, it may address data format issues that the old release ignored, but with which the new release has problems (like for example bug #340372.
- Unstable releases
- The unstable (or development) releases can make improvements to the data format or provide new data formats altogether (like storing gnucash data into a database). For unstable releases, compatibility is not guaranteed, not even between Bugfix releases. The reason is simple: these releases are to test new functionality, not for long term production use. You should therefore only use development releases on copies of your data or on separate test data.
Q: And the other way around ? Can an old GnuCash release read a data file created with a new release?
- A: Here as well, the answer depends on how far apart your releases are.
- Bugfix releases
- Again, GnuCash maintains full compatibility between Bugfix releases. So a file you have created with 2.2.9 will work with 2.2.5 and the other way around.
- Major releases
- This is trickier. In general here as well, GnuCash tries to be at least backwards compatible with its previous major release, although this may not always work. Here are some of the potential problems:
Multiple Computers, Users, ...
Q: Can I use GnuCash with multiple users? Maybe via the SQL backend?
- A: That depends on what you mean exactly. You can share your data file with others, for example by storing it on a network mounted drive. Note that this will enforce serialized, exclusive access to the data file and editing; there is no real support for simultaneous editing. File-locking is employed on this file, so it should be NFS-safe. SMB-safe locking is unknown.
- Even the dbi (SQL) backend which comes with GnuCash 2.4 is currently not designed for true multi-user access. Trying to work with multiple users at the same time in the same database will be prevented by means of a locking mechanism. Circumventing that can cause data loss. You can however share the database with different users, provided you ensure serialized, exclusive access. In other words, only one user at the time should have GnuCash open with that database. Once this users closes his GnuCash session, another user can start GnuCash on this database.
Q: I'm running GnuCash under GNU/Linux. Can I give another user access to my GnuCash files?
- A: Yes, as long as both of you do not access them at the same time. You do it the same way you'd share files of any type under Linux: put them in a folder that both of you have access to, and change the permissions so that you both can read from and write to the files. You really don't want more than one person to have them open for editing at the same time, however, as whoever saves last will overwrite the changes of whoever saves first.
Q: I use the same account on multiple computers (through a repository), how do I also transfer the reports I currently have open?
- A: Copy your book's gcm file from GNC_DATA_HOME/books to the same location on your other computers (before 3.0 that would be HOME/.gnucash/books instead on Linux and Windows).
- Alternatively you can save your report configurations. These report configurations will be found in GNC_DATA_HOME/saved-reports-x.y (again before 3.0 that would be HOME/.gnucash/saved-reports-x.y instead on Linux and Windows). If you copy that file to your other computer you will have the same reports available.
Q: I just got a new computer. What should I copy over from my old one?
- A: You need to copy the same files that you'd backup, so see Backup.
- If your new computer runs a different operating system from the old one the configuration locations will be different, see Configuration Locations.
- If you're upgrading to GnuCash 3.x from an older version at the same time as the upgrade, copy the configuration files to the older version location and let GnuCash move them to the new locations.
Q: Is there a database backend?
- A: An abstraction layer has been created using first GDA but then replaced with DBI, which has proved to work well.
This is the first step in making GnuCash suitable for simultaneous multiuser use. Until this is complete almost all users are better off with the XML backend.
Q: Should I use the XML or database backend?
- A: Until GnuCash supports simultaneous multiuser use almost all users are better off with the XML backend.
Q: Is the Postgres DB / SQL backend supported?
- A: GnuCash versions 2.4 and later releases support SQL via the DBI backend. It supports PostgreSQL, MySQL and SQLite3 databases.
- Some history
- A first PostgreSQL backend was introduced in the 1.6 code line, but it never supported any features introduced since the 1.6 release, especially the Business features and Scheduled Transactions. Even so, modulo those features, the Postgres backend should still basically function, even in the 2.2 release. However, since the 2.0 release, some user-interface elements relating to using the Postgres backend are no longer available; use a
postgres://url from the command-line to access it.
- This first Postgres backend has been considered obsolete by the core developers since the 2.0 release and has been removed from the 2.4 release.
- In 2006, work started to create a GDA-based backend to replace the Postgres-specific backend. The GDA backend was replaced with a DBI backend as of 2Q 2008. This DBI backend is what eventually has been released with GnuCash 2.4 late December 2010.
Q: Can I open my GnuCash SQL database with another program, perhaps Microsoft Access?
- A: A qualified yes. To use a PC program like Access (or Open Office's Database) you'll need the ODBC driver for whichever database you decided to use. You can of course query the database using the tools that database engine (SQLite3, MySQL, or PostgreSQL) provides, including embedded sql programming tools.
- Qualified, though, because the relation information isn't encoded in the database: there aren't any foreign keys defined at present. All of the relations are established in C or Scheme code in the GnuCash libraries. What's more, there's a lot of data stored in a single "key/value" table which has relations to almost every other table in the database. Because of these limitations, we insist that you must not write to the GnuCash database except through the GnuCash libraries.
- The table layouts are documented at SQL
Q: Opening an sqlite3 datafile which is on a smb network drive crashes GnuCash
Q: Saving to sqlite3 on a smb network drive gives locking errors
- A: It seems some smb servers don't deal well with the low level file locking required by sqlite3. It was experienced when the sqlite3 file resided on a Windows XP machine and accessed from a linux machine that mounted the Windows drive via cifs. It is very likely OS X clients will run into the same issue.
- There is a way to solve this (at least on linux): if you mount your Windows drive, add the option "nobrl" to the mount command (or in /etc/fstab). This will disable the offending low level locking mechanism. You should be aware though that this will risk file corruption if two users are using this data file at the same time. Since GnuCash doesn't support multiuser, simultaneous access anyway, this shouldn't be a problem though.
- For further details about this problem, you can check these links:
Q: I tried to start up GnuCash 2.4.1 on my SQL database and I got an error about libdbi and large numbers
- A: Libdbi is a library that we use to generalize access to the SQL databases we support. Unfortunately the default way to compile it doesn't agree with some compilers, resulting in its inability to work with large numbers... the large numbers that we use to store amounts. That means that you'll lose a lot of data if you try to use a SQL backend with the library in place. We've encountered several Linux distributions that have the buggy libdbi, so we inserted a test into Gnucash to catch it. You can read the bug report for technical details, but if this happens to you, you should file a bug report with your distribution. If you're able to build programs, you can build your own libdbi with different parameters to avoid the bug (again, details are in the bug report). Otherwise, you'll have to use the XML backend.
Security: Encryption, Password Feature
Q: Is it possible to provide security for GC data using CFS, etc.?
Q: Can you please add a password feature?
- A: The core developers – which includes those with long-term experience with well-known names/brands in computer security – believe that each app should do one thing well, and leave other concerns to other apps. This is especially "tricky" when it comes to critical concerns like data security. In this case, GnuCash would do a poor job of providing good data security. You're encouraged to use an encrypted file system to store your critical data files — GnuCash and others.
- Encrypted filesystem options:
- Loop-AES. See Example 7.3 in particular for setting up an encrypted specifically-mountable loopback partition.
- See gnucash-devel thread. Note that the link in the post does not work, but this one does: crypto.com.
- CFS is fairly old code, and has some flakiness, but does work with modern systems (e.g., see pkgsrc/security/cfs in NetBSD's pkgsrc).
- NetBSD's cgd(4), which is a cryptographic layer for an entire block device
- FreeBSD's geom-based encryption
- Other Solutions:
- That being said, there has been some discussion of a password protection feature, but neither of those discussions led to anyone implementing a solution. See e.g. https://gnucash.uservoice.com/suggestions/1547269 and the thread following of https://lists.gnucash.org/pipermail/gnucash-devel/2013-June/035754.html
- Note that if you use the online banking features within GnuCash, you should be aware that your account numbers and user IDs are stored in plain text in your AqBanking settings, which are stored in
- ~/.banking/settings.conf for old aqbanking versions and somehwere in
- ~/.aqbanking/ for newer versions (in various files below this folder)
- You should encrypt this file in addition to your gnucash data file.
OS/Distribution Specific Issues
- A: For some reason SuSE seems always to have bugs relating to the GC docs.
- You may have to use YaST to install the
- yelp and
- gnucash-docs packages.
- In SuSE 11.4 replacing the symlink
- /usr/bin/gnome-help -> susehelp
- /usr/bin/gnome-help -> /usr/bin/yelp
- allows GC Help -> Contents to show as expected.
- You may have to use YaST to install the
- For older SuSE versions: gnome-help has moved from /opt/ to /usr/.
Q: I cannot get any report to display not even the sample reports. All that displays is an empty tab.
- A: This is the subject of an open bug #645273. The solution, paraphrasing bug report comment 40:
- Click on Start Button
- click on Control Panel
- Select Network and Internet (view by category)
- Click on Internet Options
- Select the Programs Tab
- At the bottom of the tab, select Set Progams
- Select the bottom option "Set program access and computer defaults"
- You are then asked to chose a configuration:
- Extend the "Custom" configuration section by clicking on the double down arrow at the right (this step may not be necessary). If you are already using a "Custom" configuration, note the settings so you can go back to them once the problem is fixed.
- Scroll up then click on the radio button to use the "Microsoft Windows" configuration.
- Note that once this configuration has been saved once, you are free to make any change you like to the "Set program access and computer defaults" section. The first change of these settings seems to cure the issue for good. These instructions are for Windows 7 - other windows versions may be slightly different.
Q: When I try to open my datafile on Windows, I get "Parse error". What happened ?
- A: There is a peculiarity in GnuCash on Windows when you use the Opening balance tab of the account dialog. If you enter a two-digit year in that tab, the date is not saved properly. Subsequently, when you reopen your datafile afterwards, GnuCash thinks it's invalid. If you encounter such a situation, you can attempt to fix your data file manually.
- Make a copy of your data file and uncompress it (with a tool like 7Zip).
- Open the uncompressed file with a text editor such as Wordpad or Notepad++. This is an xml file. xml looks a bit like html, but uses different tag names.
- Look for transaction sections that are missing a <trn:date-posted section>. If you find such transactions, add the <trn:date-posted> section below the <trn:currency> section, like so:
<trn:currency> ... </trn:currency> <trn:date-posted> <ts:date>2011-07-06 00:00:00 -0400</ts:date> </trn:date-posted>
- Obviously, you can enter the date that suits you, but keep the format as shown.
- When all transactions have a <trn.date-posted> section, save your file.
- It should now open with GnuCash again
- You could run into the same problem when you enter opening balances via the New Account Hierarchy Assistant. The solution is the same: you will have to add the missing <trn:date-posted> sections.
- Note: This problem was reported in this bug and still occured in all versions of GnuCash 2.4.x released before 2012-06-25. It was fixed in version 2.6.0.
Q: Windows with firewall enabled won't let me save as to a MySQL/Postgresql database on the same machine. What gives?
- A: (Short version) Most likely your firewall is blocking access. Try 127.0.0.1 as hostname instead of localhost. Alternatively, you can open the appropriate ports on your firewall for MySQL access (TCP/3306) or Postgresql (TCP/5432). This alternative allows connections to your MySQL/Postgresql installation from other machines in your local network as well, which may or may not be what you want.
- A: (Long version) The special hostname localhost is supposed to point back at the local machine. In most operating systems this is equivalent to the IP address 127.0.0.1. Windows is a notable exception here: it associates localhost with the IP address of your external network card. Although this address also routes to the local machine, this is theoretically the same thing. Unfortunately it is not. The Windows firewall makes a distinction between 127.0.0.1 and the network address of your network card. Since the first is truly local, it isn't filtered. The latter is connected to the outside world and as such is filtered.
- So if you specify localhost as the hostname, you actually pretend to connect to MySQL on your machine from the outside and hit the Windows (or equivalent) firewall. By using 127.0.0.1 on the other hand, your connection remains truly internal and is not filtered by the firewall.
Questions about Using GnuCash
- We have a specific page, but a few aspects are still not built in there:
Q: Can I have multiple data files open at the same time?
- A: GnuCash doesn't support this within the same instance of the program, but you can open separate instances of GnuCash each with their own data file. There are several methods:
- The easiest way for all OSes except MacOS
- Use your preferred filemanager and double-click the data files you want to open.
- Use the command line or create shortcuts
- The procedure varies by operating system:
- from a Terminal window, enter the following command, replacing 'path/to/your/data_file.gnucash' with the full path to the additional file you want to open.
/Applications/Gnucash.app/Contents/MacOS/Gnucash path/to/your/data_file.gnucash &
- This can also be scripted with a facility such as Automator.app to provide a file selection or installed as a service or workflow to use on Gnucash data files directly.
- Method A
- GUI only, recommended for occasional use:
- Open the first instance in the usual way, and open the first file.
- Press and hold
Shift, click the GC icon or tab on the taskbar, and release
- A second instance of GC will start up. It will try to open the same file that is already open, but will display the "could not obtain the lock" message. Select Open Red-Only.
- When the GC interface appears, select File » Open in the menu and open the second file.
- Method B
- Windows shortcuts, recommended for frequent use:
- Right-click in an empty spot in your Start Menu or on your desktop and select New » Shortcut.
- In the first dialog, type the full path of the GC program and, after a space, the full path of the first GC data file. Example:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\gnucash\bin\gnucash.exe" D:\$\GnuCash\File1.gnucash
- Double quotes are required when the path contains spaces.
- In the second dialog, assign a short display name, such as File1.
- Repeat steps 1-3 for File2.
- You can now double-click either shortcut, or both of them, to work with one or both files at a time. With a file name in the command line of the shortcut, that instance of GC opens that file rather than the most recent file.
- The trailing ampersand detaches the Gnucash instance from the terminal session. You will get your command prompt back to either open an additional data file, or you can simply close the Terminal.app window.
- If you have installed multiple versions of gnucash installed, prefix gnucash by the path to the desired version like /usr/bin from distribution or /usr/local/bin for a self compiled version.
Q: Somehow I managed to close the account view tab. How can I get it back?
- A: A new account view tab can be opened from the menu. This is slightly different depending on the version of GnuCash you are using:
- GnuCash 2.3 and later
- View -> New Accounts Page
- GnuCash 2.2.9 and before
- File -> New -> New Accounts Page
Q: Where is the Gnucash Register?
- A: Go to File -> New -> New Accounts Page. You'll see a list of accounts. Click on any account and you'll bring up its register.
- If you were a Quicken user, you probably don't want to see income and expense accounts in the list, at least initially, so go to View -> Filter By... and uncheck Income and Expense.
Q: How can I count the accounts or transactions in my GnuCash file?
- A: If you use
- the xml backend
- with compression enabled: zcat $DATAFILE |grep -c "act:name"
- uncompressed: cat $DATAFILE |grep -c "act:name" on the command line
- an SQL backend: the usual SELECT COUNT(*) ...; in your DBMS
- the xml backend
- for the accounts.
- Substitute 'grep -c "trn:desc"' to get the number of transactions.  You should also replace $DATAFILE with the right name.
Q: Is there a way to merge two accounts into one?
That is, is there a way to move all transactions from one account into another? That would save a lot of time compared to moving each transaction!
- A: Kind of. If you want all the transactions in one account to move/merge into another account, you can reparent the to-be-deleted account under to to-be-moved-into account, and then delete the to-be-deleted-account. GnuCash will ask you if you want to move the transactions, and you should answer "yes".
- 2nd A: Probably no, you must manually change each transaction. However, there are some tricks that can make this process go a little faster. Open one of the account registers and select either View→Style→Auto-Split Ledger (or View→Style→Transaction Journal). This will automatically expand all of the splits for the selected transaction. In the simplest case, each transaction will have two splits, one of them to the current account. You want to change the split assigned to the current account to be assigned to the other account instead. Double click on the account name in the split, which should select all of the text. Now instead of using the drop-down list to select the new account, simply type the new account name, using the built-in auto-completion. For example, to move a split to Expenses:Auto:Repair, you might type
ex:au:r. When you then hit <enter>, the changes will be saved, and that transaction will disappear since it is no longer tied to the currently open account.
(With the XML file backend, it is possible to merge accounts by directly editing the data file in a text editor, but this is risky and not recommended)
Q: How can I reorder accounts in the account tree?
A: Parent/Child Ordering
When editing the Child account (via "Edit Account"), you can select the parent Account. Thus, you can move Accounts up and down the tree, within the bounds of the account-type constraints. Yes, it would be nicer if one could simply drag and drop in the Account Tree.
A: Sibling Ordering
The Account Code field can contain any value you wish, which can be used in the Account Tree to sort the column and thus the rows. Unfortunately, this is a pretty heavy-handed sort that applies to the whole view, not just a sub-tree.
Q: How do I order transactions in a register so deposits are before withdrawals?
A: Enter deposits (debits) first, then withdrawals (credits).
When ordering transactions in a register window (the display of transactions for a particular account), you're really ordering the splits for that account. The fields examined, in order, are:
- The Posted Date. This is the one that's visible and editable in the register window.
- The Transaction's Num field 'unless' you have selected "Use Split Action Field for Number" in the Accounts tab of Book Options (accessed by File>Properties in the menus) in which case it will sort on the Action field for the split 'in the account displayed on the register window'. Note that there is also a preference on the General tab to make that selection automatically on new files.
- The Transaction Entry Date/time: This is the date and time that the transaction was first created. It is not editable in the User Interface.
- The Transaction Description field.
- The Split's memo field.
- The Reconcile field.
- The amount of the split.
- The value of the split.
- The Reconcile Date.
- The GUID identifying the split.
Thus the Num or Action field is consulted only if the Posted Date is the same, the Entry Date/Time only if the Num or Action fields are the same, and so on.
This question is sometimes asked as "how do I reorder transactions so that they'll match my bank statement?". Don't. You're keeping your own books, not the bank's. Use the Reconcile window to reconcile the two.
If you insist on reordering, the only way to do it in the UI is to edit the Num fields on the transactions in question or the Action field for the split if you've selected that option; this might cause you problems if you're using that field for something else, like check numbers.
- A: Select the transaction. From the 'Transaction' menu select 'Void Transaction'. When prompted, type in a reason and then click the OK button.
Q: I'd like to write my own custom reports. Where should I start?
- A: See Custom Reports.
- In short, customizing reports requires some (small) knowledge of the programming language Scheme. Also, a customized report (e.g. the "multicolumn report") can be saved by clicking on the menu item "File -> Add report" (older versions: "Save report"), which will save the report into the file ~/.gnucash/saved-reports-2.0 so that it appears as a menu item at the next startup of gnucash. The saved reports will appear in the menu "Reports -> Custom".
- Alternatively, each report can be created in a Scheme file in order to show up as a menu entry.
Q: How do I save the options I have set on a built-in report as a custom report?
- A: Run the report, edit the options as desired, and be sure to change the name of the report on the "General" tab of the options window. Report names must be unique. The "Add Report" entry in the "File" menu will be disabled until after you have changed the report name.
- The report will be saved in the file C:\Users\%username%\.gnucash\saved-reports-2.4 (in case of GnuCash 2.4.x and 2.6 Windows 7 installed on drive C:). See Configuration_Locations for the location of the saved reports file in more recent versions.
Q: GnuCash won't let me save my customized report
- I have carefully customized the options for my report and now want to save my modifications so I don't have to do all this work again the next time I need this report. But the "Save Report" button and menu item are disabled. How can I solve this ?
- A: You have to change the title of your report (in the options). GnuCash will then allow you to save the report.
Q: How can I save my custom check printing configuration?
- A: Currently, you cannot use the user interface to save your custom check printing definitions. If you are comfortable making a few simple edits to a scheme file, though, you can redefine one of the existing definitions to print correctly on your checks. To do this, first use the "print cheque" dialog box to add in your custom coordinates to get a check printed correctly. (Note that these dimensions count up from the lower-left of the check. Big numbers move the text up and to the right.)
- Once you have the dimensions necessary to print correctly on one of your checks, you can edit the gnucash/scm/printing/print-check.scm file to change one of the existing definitions to print to your checks. The area that you need to change is labelled "stock-check-formats", and probably currently contains two format definitions. Change either one you like. Note that the dimensions defined here are not in the same order as those in the dialog box you were just working in. Now, you'll proabably have to restart gnucash for your new format definition to work.
- To keep track of any progress to enhance this part of the application, check out the bugzilla bug 311062: https://bugs.gnucash.org/show_bug.cgi?id=311062
Q: How do I set up and track budgets?
- A: There is budgeting support in GnuCash 2.0. Your testing and feedback is encouraged! See the budgets chapter in the concepts guide or Budgets on this wiki for more info.
Q: When I print a cheque/check, the memo area remains empty... how do I fill that?
- A: Fill in the Transaction Notes field, visible via View -> Double Line mode.
Q: Is there book-closing support?
- A: See Closing Books.
Q: How do I use variables and formula in scheduled transactions?
- A: See Scheduled Transactions.
Q: How do I enter a Return of Capital transaction in GnuCash?
- A: When a security issues a return of capital, the cost basis of the security is reduced. This affects any future calculations of capital gains.
- Remember that a debit (DR) for asset/liability accounts means an increase.
Initial purchase of security (say $1000 of Dodgy Brothers Ltd) Cash at bank (asset) 1000.00 CR Dodgy Brothers Ltd (asset) 1000.00 DR Dodgy Brothers Ltd pays $50 capital return Cash at bank (asset) 50.00 DR Dodgy Brothers Ltd (asset) 50.00 CR
- This reduces the cost basis of Dodgy Brothers Ltd to $950.
Q: How do I enter ISOs (Incentive Stock Options) that I exercised for a nonpublic company, which are valuable only on paper?
- A: Exercised ISOs (Incentive Stock Options) are stock. When you exercise the options, you create a normal buy transaction, using the exercise price as the share price.
Q: The fiscal year is July 1-June 30, how can I change that?
- A: Menu
Edit->Preferences->Accounting Period, details in GnuCash Help.
Q: How can I look at income/expenses/etc. on a monthly basis?
- A: Run the "Income/Expense barchart" report.
Q: How do I resize my register columns? Why can I not shrink the description column?
- A: You can resize columns either by:
- grabbing the border between the column headers with the mouse and stretching the column to the size you want,
- double-clicking on the column header.
- NOTE: The Balance column can only be resized by double-clicking on its header.
- HOWEVER, the Description Column is special. It's designed to always auto-fill to fit the window size. This means that you cannot just reduce the size of the description column, because as soon as you let go it will then resize itself to fill the screen. If you want to reduce the size of the description column, then you should first resize the OTHER columns that you want bigger until the scrollbar appears on the bottom of the window. Then (and ONLY then) will you be able to reduce the description column back to the "full size" of the window.
- This issue has been reported on Bugzilla.
- The behaviors described here are documented in the GnuCash Tutorial and Concept Guide here.
Q: I corrected a mistake and now my reconciliation balance is off. How do I fix that and reconcile my account?
- A: GnuCash computes the reconciliation balance on the fly from reconciled transactions. If you mistakenly (or unmistakenly!) unreconcile a transaction it will throw off the starting balance in the reconciliation process. This is completely normal and expected behavior. To correct this, just ignore the starting balance completely! All you need to do is enter in the correct ending balance and re-reconcile the transaction.
- Reconciliation is purely about the ENDING balance at a point in time. When you reconcile you're saying that at some Date (the reconciliation date) the account has some ending balance X, and you're marking all the transactions that get you to that ending balance from the beginning of time. The starting balance is there to guide you, but has no relevant meaning in the reconciliation process. Actually, that's not 100% true -- the starting balance gives you the total of the already-reconciled transactions from the beginning of time that are already included in the computation. But that's okay, you can still generally ignore it. If you unreconcile a $1 transaction then your starting balance will be off by $1, however all you need to do is re-reconcile that $1 transaction the next time to bring it back into balance.
Q: I would like to add transactions from the command line with "gnucash --evaluate something". How do I do this?
- A: This is not possible. You would need to convert the external transactions into a shared format such as QIF or OFX and import them using the existing application functionality.
- A: Something similar could be achieved by using the python bindings. You would have to write a python script to parse the information source and feed it to gnucash.--C.holtermann (talk) 19:56, 21 June 2015 (UTC)
Q: Why does the Transaction Report 'Sign Reversal' setting not work on subtotals
- A: This is an internal technical limitation.
Consider the following unrecommended, but possible account structure and transactions, and consider sample transaction report:
• Bank [Asset] • Business [Income] • Business:Sales [Income] • Business:Expenses [Expenses]
Transactions as follows:
• 1-January “Sales” • Business:Sales -$100 • Bank +$100
• 2-January “Expense” • Bank -$20 • Business:Expenses +$20
• 3-January “Another Income” • Bank $10 • Business -$10
The Transaction Report for the “Business” account and children produces the following. Note the individual transaction amounts are sign-reversed as expected, but the subtotal amounts are not sign reversed. This is by design.
Date Num Description Memo/Notes Account Amount Business 03/01/2019 Another Sales Business $10.00 Total For Business -$10.00 Expense 02/01/2019 Expense Business:Expense $20.00 Total For Expense $20.00 Income 01/01/2019 Sales Business:Income $100.00 Total For Income -$100.00 Grand Total -$90.00
If the subtotal amounts were sign-reversed, the grand total would *add* 10+20+100 = $130 which is a nonsensical number. The grand-total therefore adds up the unreversed numbers (-10 + 20 + -100) = -90 which is a sensible number indicating $90 profit. In a more complicated scenario, the selected accounts could include Income/Expense/Asset/Liability accounts altogether, and the grand total would include amounts from all relevant accounts. The current strategy of adding up *unreversed* amounts means that addition of *all* accounts within a particular period will lead to $0 due to the accounting equation.
Previously (before 3.0) the subtotals/grand totals were adding *reversed* amounts, which meant, grand total for *all* accounts would be a non-sensical number, depending upon the sign reversal strategy (i.e. credit accounts / income&expense / none). This was incorrect.
An even more complicated scenario exists whereby transactions are grouped by ‘Other account name’. eg asset accounts are chosen as source accounts, yet transactions are grouped & subtotaled according to the corresponding asset/income/expenses accounts.
There is no safe reversal strategy for the above scenarios to the author’s knowledge.
It may be easier to change the Display / Amount display setting to 'double' which will clearly separate Debit/Credit columns, and is likely to produce better subtotal amounts.
Q: How do I import my data from ...
- A: Please refer to the Quicken Migration page.
- A: At this time there is no way to import from Quickbooks, and there are no plans to add that functionality. The Quickbooks QBW data format is a proprietary, non-documented file format. So until someone documents the file format or donates a QBW file parser your best bet for importing your QB data into GnuCash would be to output your data in a CSV format and either import the CSV data directly or convert the CSV to QIF and use the QIF importer.
- Linux Weekly News includes an article with links to scripts to assist with transitioning from QuickBooks to GnuCash.
- A: Please refer to the Microsoft Money Migration page.
(USA) Discover credit card?
- A: See Setting up OFXDirectConnect in GnuCash 2. From OFX Direct Connect Bank Settings, the settings you want to use are https://ofx.discovercard.com/ for the Server URL and 7101 for the FID.
Comma-Separated Values (CSV) or similar?
- A: It is possible to import CSV files into GnuCash using File>Import>Import Transactions from CSV.
- Converting from CSV, TSV, XLS (Excel), or SXC (OpenOffice.org Calc) to QIF
- Some find that QIF files are more reliable than CSV to import, and prefer to use the GnuCash QIF importer.
- QIF is a flat text file of a specific format, only a few steps removed from CSV (comma separated values). CSV files can be converted into QIF in a number of ways. There are scripts that can do the transformation.
- See the Wikipedia article on the QIF format for more details about the QIF format.
2006-09-27,ONLINE BILL PAYMENT: Bank of Example 123938568,250.00
- The following shell script using awk will emit a suitable QIF:
- The following shell script using awk will emit a suitable QIF:
Q: How do I get the most benefit from the Bayesian learning algorithm while importing?
- A: First of all you should always assign transactions to the right accounts in the import dialog - accounts names containing Imbalance are definitely wrong.
- Next, start with a small subset of transactions (like one month) and assign the right accounts in the import dialog. The next time you import transactions, it will recognize this kind of transaction.
Q: Can I import historical prices or quotes?
- A: If your GnuCash version is built with Python Bindings, you can use the scripts shown on these pages:
- Windows and Mac builds do not include Python Bindings.
Q: My bank offers OFX Direct Connect. How do I use that?
- A: GnuCash uses libofx/aqbanking for OFX/QFX support. Information on setting up AqBanking for OFX Direct Connect in GnuCash is available at Setting up OFXDirectConnect.
Q: Can I connect GnuCash to stock or mutual fund accounts using OFX Direct Connect?
- A: Aqbanking doesn't know about stock/mutual fund purchases/sales. Instead, download your data in OFX/QFX format from your broker's website and import that into GnuCash using the File>Import>Import OFX/QFX... menu choice.
Q: How can I export data?
- A: From version 3.0, GnuCash offers the option to export some or all of your data to CSV format. Choose File>Export to see the various options available.
- In addition, there are several third party tools available.
- Note: the GnuCash data file may be compressed. External tools cannot process this directly, so the file must be decompressed before further processing. GnuCash allows a file to be saved uncompressed by unchecking the "Compress files" preference at Edit>Preferences>General. Alternatively, use gunzip to decompress the data file.
- There's an XSLT at http://xslfactory.free.fr/ which can transform a GnuCash v1.8 XML file to a big Gnumeric spreadsheet. The workbook will contain several sheets; one with all the accounts, a diary with all the transactions, and one sheet by account with all the transactions. Prior to running the transform, you'll need to edit the GnuCash XML file (preferably a copy of it) to include xmlns data. (Note however that as at 24th Apr '04 it doesn't include support for business objects, eg: invoices.)
- The xlsfactory version of the xslt spreadsheet is version 0.6. There is also a 0.7 version at https://sites.google.com/site/gnucashexport/. This version is updated to work with GnuCash v2.2.6, and may work with later versions.
- One way to easily export GnuCash data to Excel or LibreOffice Calc is to find a report (such as the General Ledger) that you can adjust to a satisfactory output, and export the report to an HTML file. Then open the HTML file from Microsoft Excel. (Using File>Open from within Excel, selecting "html" as the file type.) The Excel program will load the report into a spreadsheet, allowing filtering and other spreadsheet functions.
- There is an OpenOffice.org macro available. Download here. This macro reads GnuCash data and imports into OpenOffice.org's embedded database so that they can then be analyzed e.g. in OpenOffice.org Calc. Business accounts and multiple currencies are not supported.
Using Business Features
Q: Can you give me a high level overview for business users?
- A: Here is the GnuCash Quick Start Guide For Business Users. A short visualisation can be seen in gnucash per fatturare in ca 2 minuti.
Q: What are the usual Billing Terms?
- A: see Invoicing and payment terms.
Set Up, Opening
Q: Is there a wizard or a description to setup basic business accounts?
- A: No. There are some basic business template accounts (e.g. for DE, IN, US) in the "New file" druid/wizard. But there are no wizards/druids for setting up a business, i.e., setting up tax tables, terms, customers, and vendors. You can do all that under the Business menu.
- If Gnucash is lacking business template accounts your region and you are volunteering to share your newly created account charts, please follow the instructions at Translation#How to translate the files containing the new account hierarchies.
Q: How do I set up the individual customers and vendors, with their respective balances?
- A: There are no "opening balances" for the business features. The only way to setup an "opening balance" for a Customer (or vendor) is to create a throwaway Invoice (or Bill) for that opening balance.
Q: How do you make the organization name appear on my Invoices?
- A: You can go to File -> Properties and set your business' name and address on the Business page. The Invoice printer uses the data from this entry to fill in your business information. See also #Q: How do you make the organization name and information appear at the top of reports? on screen, and when you print?
Q: Why doesn't the discount from the billing terms show up when I pay an invoice?
- A: Billing terms is only partially supported. The date due works but discounts don't.
Q: How can I delete an Invoice, Customer, Vendor, or Employee?
- A: Quick answer: you can't. Longer answer: you can mark the item as "inactive" (just uncheck the "active" button) and it will no longer show up in standard searches. There are no plans to ever allow you to delete these objects. If you really care you can just re-use them later.
- A: Quick answer: you can. Longer answer: 1 - delete Invoice entries (GncEntry clause), 2 - delete Invoice of these deleted entries (GncInvoice clause), 3 - Customer of these deleted Invoices (gncCustomer), 4 - correct counters (count-data) for those deleted positions. Try to learn database file structure. It takes one hour for me.
- A: Longer Answer. You can delete them, but it is going to involve editing the XML file yourself. Take a deep breath, it's going to be okay. I'd also just like to note that while this seemed to work fine on my machine, I can't promise you 100% that this will work. Please, please, please backup before you do this. Alright, now that all that is out of the way, lets do it.
- I am going to suggest that you clean out all the Invoices you want to delete before you do this. So go into the invoice and delete all the entries that exist in it. That will make removing data much easier.
- First we're going to need to ungzip your gnucash file (make sure you're working in a separate directory from the directry that you ususally save your data file and that you've copied the latest version of the data file to this directory). Rename the data file to something that ends in '.gz'. So if your data file is named accounts rename it to accounts.gz.
- Then run gzip -d accounts.gz. This will create an unzipped file with the name of accounts
- Open up accounts in your favorite text editor.
- The GnuCash xml format is pretty simple, but there is probably going to be a lot of data to wade through. You're going to have to start at the top of what you want to delete and work your way down.
- If you're deleting a Job, you start with the Job, then work down to all the Invoices.
- If you're deleting an Employee, start with the Employee and then delete all the invoices.
- If you're deleting an Invoice, just delete the Invoice.
- I'm going to take the case of deleting an Employee for the example. The first thing to do is to find the GncEmployee line that corresponds to the employee you want to delete. Go ahead and search the document for the string GncEmployee. This should take you right to the first employee in the file. Scroll down until you find the user you want to delete. Don't just delete the user. Select all the text that represents that user, from the <gnc:GncEmployee version = "2.0.0"> to the final closing </gnc:GncEmployee> tag. Cut it and paste it into a temp file. Make sure you remove any extra line breaks (there shouldn't be any blank lines left). So you've just gotten rid of the employee.
- Now you need to go find all the invoices associated with that Employee. In the temp file, find the line that starts with <employee:guid type="guid". That value if the unique ID number that gnucash uses to identify that employee in the xml file. So now copy that value, return to the data file and do a search for that guid.
- Each time you seach, you should land inside a GnvInvoice block. Delete the entire block, again making sure that you aren't leaving any spaces.
- The last thing you need to do is clean up the counters in two places. You only can do this if you're deleting the LAST thing that you added. So if you have an employee and it is the last employee you added, you can fix the employee counter. If it is an Invoice and it is the last invoice you added, you can fix the invoice counter. DO NOT CHANGE THE COUNTERS IF WHAT YOU'RE DELETING ISN'T THE LAST THING ADDED.
- In SQL:
SELECT * FROM slots WHERE name="counters/gncInvoice"; ...
- Then scroll down a little farther and find the <gnc:count-data> fields. Find the one that corresponds to the counter you're decreasing and lower it by one as well.
- Save your changes.
- Run gzip to compress the file. run gzip -9 accounts. Then rename the accounts.gz to accounts
- Open the file with gnucash. Verify everything works right. You probably want to check account balances against what they used to be to ensure that they're right, etc. If it doesn't match, you messed up somewhere and you're going to have to go back and do the whole thing over again. Otherwise, you're good to go.
Q: Will I be able to delete an Invoice, Customer, Vendor, or Employee in the future?
- A: That's not implemented because the logic to determine that it's safe to do is... hard. There are so many interconnections between Invoices, Bills, line-items, Tax Tables, etc that making sure it's safe to delete an invoice without leaving dangling references was just ... a lot of work. Work that I personally didn't want to do, and nobody else has come along with a way to do it securely.
- Patches are, of course, always welcome. But be warned, it's not a simple task. Which is why it was never implemented, and why we have the "active" flag as a way to remove items from searches.
- I'm sorry you don't like it. You're welcome to help fix it.
- [from the mailing list ]
- An invoice may be reused, even for a different customer or vendor.
Q: Can I pay multiple bills/invoices/vouchers with a single payment?
- A: Yes. When you make a payment in GnuCash you are making it against an account, not against a specific bill (or invoice, or voucher). Naturally you can only pay multiple bills from a single account in this way. Any payment you make to the account will be matched against the outstanding bills in the account in date order, earliest first (FIFO order). GnuCash will also split the payment transaction to match the individual bills. Processing payments in this way can be done from any process payment option simply by changing the payment value.
Tax Handling: Goods and Service Tax (GST) or Value Added Tax (VAT)
Q: How do I handle VAT/GST on invoices, and claim VAT/GST rebates on purchases?
A: First, create one of the sets of accounts listed below, and the associated Tax Table (see Business => Tax Tables menu).
|Description||3-account Naming scheme||4-account naming scheme||Tax table|
|Claimable GST you have paid on purchases||Liabilities:GST:Paid||Liabilities:Taxes:GST|
|GST amounts you have collected from customers||Liabilities:GST:Payable|
|GST you have charged/invoiced to customers||Assets:Accounts Receivable:GST||GST|
|GST amounts you have paid to the government||Liabilities:GST:Payments||Tax Expenses:Taxes:GST|
|GST amounts that have been deferred||Liabilities:Taxes:GST:Deferred|
Note: There are also
- which might make more sense to you.
Directions for 3-account naming scheme
- GST for accounts payable is easy. Just select GST as your tax table for each transaction. This should automatically add the GST amount to the Liabilities::GST::Payable account.
- For GST for purchases, we need to create a split transaction. Say you are entering the transaction in your Cash account. Enter the total amount in the spend column, including GST, then hit the split button. You'll see a balancing debit in the receive column. Allocate this to the appropriate account, but decrease the amount to the cost before GST. You will then see a new debit line, with the GST amount in the receive column. Allocate this to Liabilities:GST:Paid account. This will show in this account as a negative amount, that is, as a rebate.
- Then, whenever you pay your GST amounts to the government, enter this in Liabilities:GST:Payments.
Directions for 4-account naming scheme
The following are things to note for the four-account naming scheme:
- Using the Transaction Journal view (This can be set as your default in Preferences). All of the following processes assume that you are using this type of transaction log, and ask you to use the one transaction to perform operations on various accounts.
- Not necessary, but recommended is full set of business accounts (of which I use the names here)
- Also, this scheme was designed by someone who understands computers, but not necessarily accounting. But it works for me :). None of it should be construed as tax advice; if you want that, see an accountant or something
- The Deferred stuff isn't mentioned in the processes below, but I'm told it's necessary for anyone deferring tax. Enjoy.
The following are directions for the processes you may follow:
- Invoices: Just select "GST" as your tax table for each transaction
- Payments (from customers): When receiving the payment, reduce the Assets:Accounts Receivable:GST by the GST amount, and increase Liabilities:Taxes:GST by the same amount
- Purchases: In your split transaction, transfer the non-GST amount from eg. your Assets:Current Assets:Savings Account, and the GST amount from your Liabilities:Taxes:GST account, placing the full amount in the appropriate expenses account
- Filling in your GST form: The amount you put in should be the current amount on Liabilities:Taxes:GST. Make a note of any rounding amount (ie. cents) as you'll need it in the next process
- Paying your GST: When you pay the GST, transfer the amount that you paid from Liabilities:Taxes:GST to Tax Expenses:Taxes:GST. If there was a rounding amount that you were required to exclude from your BAS form, transfer it to eg. Assets:Current Assets:Savings Account as part of this transaction (making a note that it's the rounding, so if you're getting audited, there's an explanation).
Appearance and printing of Invoices etc.
Q: How do you make the organization name and information appear at the top of reports? on screen, and when you print?
- A: You can edit the Style Sheet (Edit -> Style Sheets) and set your company information there. That's probably the best way of doing it. You may want to create a new Style Sheet if you don't like the existing ones. The template stylesheet (stylesheet-fancy.scm) can be found in your_gnucash_directory/share/gnucash/guile-modules/gnucash/report/ . To meet Australian requirements, include your ABN as a separate line in the business address.
- The template stylesheet (stylesheet-fancy.scm) also allows you to set how large your company logo appears at the top of reports. To set this search in the style sheet for the line ' "<img src=\"" headpixmap "\">" '. Change this to ' "<img src=\"" headpixmap "\" width=\" 300\">" ' - with 300 being the width of the logo - change this figure of 300 until the logo looks good when printed. Setting the logo size here allows you to avoid the print quality problems that will come with reducing the logo size by changing your logo dimensions in pixels i.e. resizing the image in an editing program. 300 pixels per inch is the guide for a good quality print - so a 300 by 300 pixel logo image should be printed at about 1 inch square - if your logo looks pixelated when printed see if using a version with more pixels works better.
Q: How do I customise the default invoice report options so my printable invoices always load with the options I want?
- A: The easy workaround is to change the options as you like and then leave the report open in a tab, simply changing the invoice number as necessary.
- Alternatively, you can preset the default options by editing invoice.scm (found at /usr/share/gnucash/guile-modules/gnucash/report/invoice.scm - at least that's where it is on Ubuntu 8.04) as follows.
- Please note this file controls the Printable Invoice; if you want to customise the Fancy Invoice, you need to edit fancy-invoice.scm.
- The default options are found starting at about line 241, which looks like this
(gnc:register-inv-option (gnc:make-simple-boolean-option (N_ "Display Columns") (N_ "Date") "b" (N_ "Display the date?") #t))
- and finishing at about line 325 which looks like this
(gnc:register-inv-option (gnc:make-text-option (N_ "Display") (N_ "Extra Notes") "u" (N_ "Extra notes to put on the invoice") (_ "Thank you for your patronage")))
- VERY IMPORTANT. Before you change anything, please copy the original file to a new name: If you do make a mistake you may find that Gnucash won't start any more. You may also want to keep a copy of your edited file somewhere safe as when Gnucash is upgraded the file may be over-written and you would lose your changes.
- For the boolean options from line 241 to line 319 you can choose between #t for TRUE and #f for FALSE.
- You can change the text at the bottom of the invoice from "Thank you for your patronage" to anything you like but "Pay up ****head!" is unlikely to gain cooperation from your customers.
- Jonnybal 07:57, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Q: How do I remove the Tax column?
- A: In the report options, deselect the "Tax Amount" column in the "Display Columns" tab. To make this change permanent next time you start Gnucash you will need to edit invoice.scm or fancy-invoice.scm as follows.
- Set the following section in lines 276 to 279 to FALSE (that is #f instead of #t). This means your invoices won't display a tax column for all the line items.
(gnc:register-inv-option (gnc:make-simple-boolean-option (N_ "Display Columns") (N_ "Tax Amount") "m" (N_ "Display each entry's total total tax") #f))
- Jonnybal 07:57, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Q: My business does not charge tax. How do I remove the Tax total line?
- A: It's probably better to leave the "Tax Total" line in even though it shows zero tax. Your customers need to know if your invoice includes tax as they might claim the tax back. They will look for the Tax line and if it shows zero they will know there is no tax to claim. If the tax line is missing then they have to guess whether the Amount Due includes tax or not and most likely they will phone you to ask.
- If despite this, you really want to remove the "Tax Total" line, you can do this by selecting the "Individual Taxes" checkbox in the "Display" tab of the report options. At first sight this seems odd, but it works because instead of displaying a tax total, the tax is showed as a column on each line item. If you also turn off the Tax Column as above then no taxes are shown at all.
- To make this change permanent edit invoice.scm or fancy-invoice.scm as follows. In my invoice.scm its the section beginning at line 286.
(gnc:register-inv-option (gnc:make-simple-boolean-option (N_ "Display") (N_ "Individual Taxes") "o" (N_ "Display all the individual taxes?") #t))
Q: I have turned off the Tax Total line. How do I remove the Sub Total line?
- A: In my invoice.scm, its the section beginning at line 419. You will see I have commented out some lines to remove the subtotal line.
(if (null? entries) (begin ; I have commented out the next two lines to remove the Subtotal ; (add-subtotal-row table used-columns value-collector ; "grand-total" (_ "Subtotal"))
Q: Can I print Invoices through LaTeX from GnuCash?
- A: No, not directly. However, other users have created separate tools that can do this for you: http://stefans.datenbruch.de/gnucash/gc2latex.shtml and https://bitbucket.org/smoerz/gcinvoice. The latter can create invoices from arbitrary user provided templates, not only for LaTeX.
Using Multiple Currencies
Q: Posting invoice or bill results in zero value transaction in Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable - why and how to fix this?
A: This probably happens because you have a currency conflict within your invoice or bill.
- Each invoice or bill may only use one currency. When you create an invoice for a given Customer, GnuCash takes the currency setting for that Customer and uses it for the invoice. If any of the accounts you refer to from the invoice — the Accounts Payable account, the Income:Sales account, etc. — use a different currency, then when you post the invoice, GnuCash will post a value of 0 instead of the amount from the invoice. GnuCash (as of 2.2.8) also fails to give an error message about the conflict. Similar limitations apply with Vendors and Bills.
- To prevent the problem, follow the instructions in the next answers:
Q: How can I set up a customer or supplier in a foreign currency?
A: To set up customers and vendors in foreign currencies do the following:
- Define the currency for the Customer. Select the Customer and click on Edit Customer, then click on Billing Information - that will show you the customer currency. Change it to whatever Currency you will use with that currency.
- If you use multiple currencies with a single Customer, you have two choices:
- You can make multiple Customer entries for that customer, each one with a different currency. Put something in the Customer ID or Customer Name to make it easy to tell them apart. Always select the Customer entry appropriate for the invoice you are entering. Or
- you can convert any amounts in a different currency to their equivalent in the Customer entry's Currency before entering the amounts in the invoice.
- Confirm the currency defined for each Account. Select the account in the Chart and then click on Edit Account - that will show you the account currency. Change it as needed.
- If you create invoices in multiple currencies, you will probably be best served by making multiple Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable accounts, one for each currency you work in. Similarly, you will probably want to create multiple Income:Sales and Expense:Reimbursable Expense accounts, one for each currency. Consider using a suffix after the account name to make it clear which currency that account uses: for instance, "Accounts Receivable (CAD)", "Accounts Receivable (JPY)", etc.
Q: How can I fix invoices or bills already posted in the wrong currency?
A: To correct this problem with already-posted invoices, do the following:
- Find the invoice. Edit it.
- Unpost the invoice. Click OK at the confirmation dialog
- Check the Customer's Currency value by clicking on the Billing Information... Customer... Edit... button. The Edit Customer dialog appears.
- Click on the Billing Information tab. Look at the value for Currency there.
- If this currency value is incorrect in general, i.e. you selected the correct Customer entry, but for this Customer you always use a different currency, then select a new currency value from the popup menu and click OK. Your invoice currency may now be corrected. (If this isn't sufficient, follow the steps below to select a different Customer entry, close the invoice, and then re-edit the invoice to select the original Customer entry. This will most likely reset the Invoice's Currency setting.)
- If this currency value reveals that you selected the wrong Customer entry, then don't make a change here. (This may occur if you have multiple Customer entries for one multi-currency customer, each with a different currency setting.) Instead:
- Click Cancel to dismiss the Edit Customer dialog.
- Click the "Edit Invoice" button in the toolbar. The Edit Invoice dialog appears.
- Under Billing Information... Customer... click the Select... button. The Find Customer dialog appears.
- Enter search terms, and click the Find button. A list of customers appears. Select the Customer with the correct currency setting. Click the "Select" button. The Find Customer dialog disappears.
- Click the "OK" button. The Edit Invoice dialog disappears. Your invoice currency is now corrected.
- Check the Accounts listed in the Income Account column. Verify that each one is in the correct currency for the invoice. Make this check as follows:
- Look at the name of the account.
- Then click on the Accounts tab just below the toolbar. The Accounts list appears.
- Find the account in the list. Select it.
- Click the "Edit" button in the toolbar. The Edit Account dialog appears.
- Under Identification... Security/Currency, check that the currency setting is correct.
- In the Edit Account dialog, verify that the correct currency name appears in the Security/currency field.
- Click the OK button. The Edit Account dialog disappears.
- Click on the "View Invoice – ..." tab. The Invoice line items reappear. The currency for that account is now correct.
- The currency conflict should now be resolved. The Customer and each of the Invoice Entries should now use the same currency.
- Click the "Post" button on the toolbar to redo the Post operation. The "Question" dialog appears, asking, "Do you really want to post the invoice?"
- In the "Post to Account" field, confirm that the Accounts Receivable account selected has the correct currency. If it does not, correct it as follows:
- Click the down-arrow to the right of the Post to Account. A menu of Accounts Receivable accounts appears. If one has the correct currency, select it.
- If you don't have an Accounts Receivable account, click the "New..." button. A New Account dialog appears.
- Under Identification... Security/Currency, check that the currency setting is correct.
- Back in the New Account dialog, verify that the correct currency name appears in the Security/currency field.
- Fill out the other fields (Account name, account code, etc) for the account.
- Click the "OK" button. The New Account dialog disappears.
- Back in the "Question" dialog, confirm that this account is now listed in the "Post to account" field.
- Also Confirm that the Post Date, Due Date, Description, and "Accumulate Splits?" settings are correct.
- Click the OK button. GnuCash posts the invoice.
- In the toolbar, click "Close" to close the invoice.
- Check the transactions under the various accounts to be sure that the amounts for this invoice are no longer zero, but instead have the correct values.
- GnuCash Bugzilla entries relating to this FAQ entry:
Q: I have a small business in Norway. How do I use GnuCash to meet Norwegian standards?
- A: There is a special page on Accounting your Business in Norway.
Q: Is GnuCash compliant with standards of UK Authorities?
- A: There is a special page on GB/PAS 76
Q: How do I change "Invoice" to "Tax Invoice" as required in Australia?
- A: Edit invoice.scm and change (define invoice-name (N_ "Invoice Number" )) to (define invoice-name (N_ "Tax Invoice Number" )). If you are using tax tables to calculate GST and add it as an automatic subtotal, then you should also change the line "grand-total" (_ "Tax"))) to "grand-total" (_ "GST"))). There's another section around line 630 which says (title (_ "Invoice")) which should be edited similarly. If you use fancy invoice, look around line 705 for this: (gnc:html-table-cell-append-objects! invoice-cell (_"INVOICE")) Also in Easy Invoice From ->(add-html! document (sprintf #f (_ "Invoice #%d") To -> (add-html! document (sprintf #f (_ "Tax Invoice #%d")
- A better way would be to substitute invoice.scm and the other similar files, fancy-invoice.scm and easy-invoice.scm, with files allowing editing of tax names and titles such as the ones in this gnucash devel list thread entitled World friendlier printable invoices. Make sure to close all reports before updating the files.
Other known business issues
Q: Something is messed up in my invoices/payments/credit notes. How do I fix this?
- A: Business Features Issues covers several possible issues you can run into and proposes ways to fix them.
Q: Can you recommend a book on Accounting?
Q: What are debits and credits?
- A: Debits and credits are the terms used to identify either an increase or decrease in an account. It depends on the type of account that you are talking about as to whether the increase or decrease is a Debit or a Credit. The first step in understanding debits and credits is to forget what your bank tells you. As they are looking at it from their point of view, when they tell you that they will "credit" your bank account (in other words, put money in your account) they are correct. However, to you it is a Debit. Here's why.
- Let's start with the accounting equation: Assets = Liabilities + Equity, where Equity = Revenue - Expenses (actually equity is more than just that, but for the purpose of this explanation it will do).
- Now think of each of these categories (Assets, Liabilities, etc) in terms of a T, with the name of the category above the top of the T and the transactions being recorded on either side of the vertical part of the T. Debits are recorded on the left side of the T, Credits are recorded on the right side of the T. Lets look now at the Asset accounts. Since the Assets are on the left side of our equation, any increase in assets must be recorded on the left side of our T, this means that an increase in assets is a Debit. Conversely, a decrease in an asset account must be recorded on the right side of the T, meaning that it is a Credit. Looking next at Liabilities and Equity, it is treated exactly opposite to Assets (otherwise the equation wouldn't work). Because Liabilities and Equity are on the right side of the equation, any increase in Liabilities or Equity are recorded on the right side of the T. This means that it is a Credit. A decrease in Liabilites or Equity would then be recorded on the left side of the T, or a Debit.
- Now for Revenue and Expenses. Since both of these are a component of Equity, whether they are a Debit or Credit is tied into how Equity fits into the accounting equation. Think of it this way, if you made money during the year, the net effect on your Assets would be an increase, or greater Debit balance. In order for the equation to work, this would mean that Equity would also have increased, or a greater Credit balance. In order for this to happen, Revenue would have to be a Credit, while Expenses would have to be a Debit. The resulting Revenue minus Expense would give you a Credit balance, or an increase in Equity. So Revenue is always a Credit, while Expenses are always Debits.
- To go back to the what the bank is telling you, here is why they are right from their point of view. They owe you money (your bank account balance). This, to them, is a Liability. Therefore, any increase in the amount they owe you would be a Credit on their books. However, to you, your bank account is an Asset. Therefore, any increase in your bank account would be a Debit on your books.
Q: How do I record my income tax installments and year-end payment/refund?
- A: The difficulty in recording your income tax expense is that you don't know until the year is over what your true expense for the year will be. Because of this, there is no way to accurately record the income tax expense on a monthly basis. My recommendation is to record the monthly installments to a balance sheet account, then, when you complete your tax return for the year and know the expense, record the expense to the income statement account.
- Let me illustrate by the way of example. First, I'll make some assumptions:
- Year end is December 31, 2004
- Monthly installments of $100.00 are required to be paid
- The tax return is completed and filed on March 31, 2005 along with a cheque for the balance payable
- Total taxes payable for the year are $1,300.00. This means that after the installments of $100.00 per month, $100.00 is still owing.
- You will need to add the following three accounts, if you don't already have them.
- Income taxes payable (Liability account)
- Income taxes receivable (Asset account)
- Income tax expense (Expense account)
- The first entry will be to record the first installment. Post this as a credit to your bank account and a debit to the income tax payable account. Repeat this same transaction every month. In fact, you could set it up as a scheduled transaction. At the end of the year, you will have accumulated $1,200.00 in the income tax payable account.
- On March 31, 2005, make an entry dated for December 31, 2004 to record the expense for the year. This would be a debit to the income tax expense account for $1,300.00 and a credit to the income tax payable account. As a result of this entry, the balance in the income tax payable account is a credit balance of $100.00, and the balance in the income tax expense account is a debit balance of $1,300.00.
- The final entry would be to record the cheque on March 31, 2005 to pay the balance. This would be a credit to the bank account for $100.00, and a debit to the income tax payable account for $100.00.
- The next question is what happens if I have a refund. Let's assume that you only owed $1,100.00. This time, when you record the expense (dated December 31, 2004), you would debit the income tax expense account for $1,100.00 and credit the income tax payable account. This results in a debit balance in the income tax payable account of $100.00. Since this is really a receivable, it needs to be moved to the income tax receivable account. Do this by debiting the income tax receivable account for $100.00 and crediting the income tax payable account. When the refund is received from the government, record it as a debit to the bank account for $100.00 and a credit to the income tax receivable account.
Q: How do I use GnuCash to calculate VAT?
- A: Frequently discussed on the mailing list, someone please copy answer here...
- "UK company VAT account structure, updated"
- "Handling GST and PST from Credit Card transactions"
Q: How do I use GnuCash to do depreciation?
- A: Please check the chapter about depreciation in the Concept Guide
Q: Is there a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) who uses GnuCash in my area?
- A: If you are an accountant or bookkeeper, add your name and contact info here.
Q: What's a T-account? What's double-entry?
- A: This is discussed at length in the GnuCash documentation. Also, Wikipedia's entry for Double-entry bookkeeping is good.
Q: Is there a way to schedule billing the same way we schedule transactions?
- A: No, unfortunately, the business features don't tie into the SX engine.
Q: How do I account for loaning/borrowing money to/from a friend?
- A: Money that you loan to someone represents an Asset to you. Money you've borrowed from someone else is a Liability. The general recommendation for account names is:
- Assets:Money Owed To Me:[Person]
- Liabilities:Money I Owe To:[Person]
Q: How do I keep track of capital gains with stocks?
- A: Both The Help Manual and The Tutorial and Concepts Guide include information to explain this important and complex topic. Chapter 9. Investments introduces managing investments generally, while 9.7 Selling Shares goes into detail on how to handle gains or losses resulting from stock sales.
- Capital gains can be calculated manually, or by using GnuCash's Lots feature. See 9.7 Selling Shares for examples showing how to track stock sales.
- Additional information on how the capital gains are calculated can be found in the Concept of Lots page.
- See these mailing list messages (and other messages in these threads) for further reference:
Q: What is meant by year-end closing procedures?
- A: Generally Accepted Accounting Practices include a procedure to "close" accounts at the end of a period (i.e., a fiscal year). This allows for the accumulated balances in an Income statement account (Revenue and Expense) to be pertinent to the current period only.
- The procedure is to create an offsetting journal entry in each expense and revenue account that moves the balance of the account into a Retained Earnings account. (or, optionally, into the top "Revenue" or "Expense" account, and from there into the Retained Earnings account, reducing the number of periodic entries in the R/E account to 2 - one debit, and one credit)
- The profit or loss incurred during a period, that is, the number calculated by the revenue accounts less the expense accounts, is represented in the Retained Earnings account entry for the period.
Developing GNUCash: Source Code Overview
Q: I heard it is too hard to compile GnuCash!
Q: Ok, what devel packages do I need in order to compile GnuCash?
- A: Instructions for building GnuCash can be found at Building. There, you will find references to OS-specific building instructions.
Q: Why is GnuCash written in C?
- A: The core functionality of GnuCash is written in C, but do not forget that much of this can be accessed through Guile (scheme). There are a number of reasons for why GnuCash is written in C. The first is historical, Gnucash was started in 1996 (or maybe even earlier!) and many of the OOP (C++, Java, Python) compilers were not yet mature and standarized enough on the variety of platforms considered at that time, so C was the only option at that time. A second reason is because the standard GUI GnuCash uses is GTK, which is written in C.
Q: Why don't you rewrite GnuCash in programming language xyz so that I can contribute easily?
- A: Currently we are in the middle of a rewrite to C++. If that's the language xyz refers to you're definitely invited to join in the effort. For other languages the quick answer is "We won't". The longer answer is complex but still amounts to the same. GnuCash is a large body of code maintained by a small group of developers who are comfortable in C(++). Actually, 80% of it is in C and approx. 13% is in Scheme/Lisp. The intention is to replace all of this with modern C++.
- Having said that, some kind folks have provided some python bindings to Gnucash. They are not yet very mature but can be used for basic data manipulation. Stay tuned. Also, GnuCash is using SWIG for the Scheme language bindings since version 2.1.0. These SWIG bindings can probably be adapted to include other languages into GnuCash without too much effort, but currently they are used only for Scheme bindings.
Q: Can I read the doxygen files documenting the API offline?
- A: At first make sure Doxygen is installed on your machine. After you downloaded and configured (
cmake ...) the GnuCash sources, you can callor
- and then you can open src/doc/html/index.html.
Q: Can I run GnuCash already in the build dir?
- A: Usually you will run make install first and the run GnuCash. But you can also use "gnucash-build-env" to set up the right environment to run from the build dir. So you would need to run:
Q: How do I run GnuCash under gdb and get a stack trace?
- A: See Stack Trace for instructions on running GnuCash under gdb to get a stack trace.
Q: Why does GnuCash depend on Gnome?
- A: GnuCash uses specific Gnome libraries for the following features:
- printing (gnomeprint)
- configuration storage (gsettings (since 2.6)/gconf (2.4 and before))
- graphing (goffice)
- UI support (libgnomeui)
- HTML rendering (gtkhtml)
- Help (yelp)
- We do this because we'd rather focus our energy on building an accounting system than a printing library, graphing library, html-rendering library... it's just the reasonable way to build software, and has been for years.
- There's no requirement that you use the full-blown Gnome desktop environment, or run Metacity as your window manager, or that you launch GnuCash only from the GNOME panel, or anything like that. We just need the libraries. Many users run GnuCash just fine from their KDE, XFCE or even TWM desktops.
- As for complaints about how "bloated" Gnome (and KDE and...) are, it's hard to believe a system in which every app re-implemented their own support for common tasks (such as printing, help-browsing, &c.) would ultimately be less bloated.