Accounting is a complicated mathematical science. Accountants need to be skilled not only in math but also in bookkeeping, auditing, reporting and financial analysis. Proper accounting is more than simply adding and subtracting everything correctly. Mistakes can result not only in workplace headaches but also in a series of escalating problems like financial losses, employee disputes and even legal proceedings. To help with the many tasks accountants have to master, many companies offer software packages. Some are free and open-source, while others are proprietary.

Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting

Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting is, as of October 2010, the highest-rated accounting software on the website Top Ten Reviews. Sage Peachtree gets its lowest marks for ease of set-up, as it can be time-consuming and confusing to initially configure. However, it has a huge number of features and includes free help and technical support. The software has a section for accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, inventory, billing, project costs, general ledger, fixed assets, updates and reporting. Sage Peachtree allows users to automate purchase orders and invoice customers by snail mail or by email. You can also automatically check for common accounting errors. Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting 2011 is not available for Macs, but will work with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. A demo version is available.

QuickBooks for Mac

Small business accountants using a Mac can use Intuit’s QuickBooks. QuickBooks for Mac 2011 allows users to do general ledger accounting, inventory control, reporting and organization. You can put all vendor, customer and employee information in one place and easily track sales, do payroll, track bills, write checks, create invoices and purchase orders and process credit cards. QuickBooks 2011 requires the Snow Leopard operating system for OSX, but allows users to add reminders to iCal, send back-up files to Mobile Me and sync contacts with Mac’s Address Book. It also allows users to put data into a file format compatible with Windows. As of 2010, QuickBooks 2011 costs $229.95 for new users and $199.95 for an upgrade.


Tryton is an open-source application offered under the GPL-3 license. The program is written in the Python programming language and uses PostgreSQL as the engine for the database. Tryton offers a range of functions, including reporting, invoicing, sales and purchase management, inventory and analysis. The Tryton website has full documentation and users can browse the program’s own development wiki or the source code repository. Users can download versions for Linux, Windows and Mac, along with set-up tools. If you are interested and want to try it out before downloading the Tryton files, online demos for all versions are also available.