Best free accounting software of 2019

Best free accounting software

Best free accounting software

1. ZipBooks

2. Money Manager Ex

3. GnuCash

4. TurboCASH

5. Wave

Read on for our detailed analysis of each app

Whether you're a freelancer or a full-time business owner, a graphic designer or a greengrocer, if you're running any kind of business you really need some kind of accounting software to stay on top of things – as we discovered, the age-old system of throwing everything into a drawer and panicking at tax return time isn't the best way to go.

But that doesn't mean you need to invest huge sums or learn something hopelessly complicated. The best free accounting software is easy to use and enables you to see how well you're doing and who owes you money.

When it comes to highlighting our favorites here, we considered not just available features, but also professional reviews and user experiences.

ZipBooks

ZipBooks offers a free Starter tier which is surprisingly generous

1. ZipBooks

The best free accounting software around...

Modern interface
Unlimited invoicing
Advanced features bundled into paid tiers

ZipBooks offers accounting software that has a contemporary interface along with a robust feature set. It promises to make accounting easy so the user can save time, and get on with other tasks.

The Starter tier is available for free. It provides unlimited invoices to an unlimited number of customers, making it less restrictive than some other free accounting offerings. It can also be used for unlimited bookkeeping, and can accept payments from credit cards and PayPal.

Download here: ZipBooks

Download Money Manager Ex free

Money Manager Ex is available for Windows, macOS, and even Android

2. Money Manager Ex

Straightforward enough for home use, as well as small businesses

Impressively user-friendly
Plenty of features
Can be used straight from a USB stick

Another superb open source tool, Money Manager Ex is well designed and packed with enough features to rival premium software. It's easy to understand, and you'll have your accounts and transactions set up in no time. Money Manager Ex's simplicity makes it a particularly good choice for sole traders or your own home finances.

This free accounting software is a portable app, so you can save and use it straight from a USB stick without even needing to install it. There's an Android app for updating your accounts on the move, too.

Review and where to download: Money Manager Ex

GnuCash is the best free accounting software

GnuCash is straightforward, completely free, and supported by a huge community of users, so you'll never have to look far for help online

3. GnuCash

A simple approach to bookkeeping

Hugely flexible software
Boasts some payroll features
Handles multiple currencies

GnuCash is accounting software designed for individuals and small businesses, and was initially conceived as an open source alternative to apps such as Intuit's Quicken.

This app has been around since the late 1990s, and the most recent version is GnuCash 3.4. It's available for Linux, GNU, OpenBSD, Android, macOS and Windows.

It handles invoicing and credit notes, accounts payable and receivable, employee expenses and some payroll features too, and it's quite happy with multiple currencies, cards and accounts. Its sheer flexibility makes it our top choice when it comes to accounting software for kitchen table businesses.

Review and where to download: GnuCash

Download TurboCASH free

TurboCASH might be overkill for sole traders, but if you employ a few staff you might appreciate its extra capabilities

4. TurboCASH

A heftier accounting tool that will suit owners of SMBs

Handles multiple companies
Big online community
Not for the likes of sole traders

TurboCASH is free accounting software that's been in continuous development since April 1985, and it's hugely popular in Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. It's available in 23 languages and boasts an online community of more than 100,000 users.

Designed for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), it's probably a bit much for freelancers or sole traders, but if you need something a bit more useful than a cash book TurboCASH can handle VAT, debtors and creditors, purchase orders, multiple companies and multiple users.

Download here: TurboCASH

Try Wave online

Wave is online-only, and the tools it offers make it particularly well suited to freelancers

5. Wave

Slick, cloud-based free accounting that works well for freelancers

Hugely popular service
Nicely designed and put together
Will be too basic for medium-sized firms

With more than two million users, Wave is one of the most successful online accounting services - and it's completely free for accounting, invoicing and receipts, although if you want personal technical support you'll need to pay for it. Payroll isn't included in the free service either, and you do get the occasional advert – just as you do with pretty much any free online service.

It's a very well designed and carefully thought out application, and while it's probably a little basic for medium-sized businesses it's a good option for sole traders, freelancers and small firms.

Try it online: Wave

Download NCH Express Invoice Free

Express Invoice is really a slick interface for an online accounting tool

6. NCH Express Invoice

Generate forms, invoices, quotes and orders in moments

Support for diverse range of platforms
Useful range of reports
Only free for firms with fewer than 5 employees

With versions for PC, Mac, iPad and Android, NCH Express Invoice caters for most kinds of businesses - and if you have fewer than five members of staff, you can have it for free without time limits or other restrictions.

It's designed to create invoices, quotes and orders easily, to automate recurring ones and to send them by email or fax, and there's a decent range of reports to pore over. The free accounting software is really just a front-end for a web-based service, but that's no bad thing unless your business struggles to get a decent internet connection.

Download here: NCH Express Invoice

Download VT Cash Book free

VT Cash Book is fast and easy to use, but you'll need Microsoft Excel installed too

7. VT Cash Book

Minimalist bookkeeping that uses Excel for the grunt work

No-fuss accounting
Can be used to prepare VAT returns
Graphics are 'no frills'

It's not going to win any awards for aesthetics, but VT Cash Book isn't there to look good: its priority is to record day to day cash transactions with the least amount of fuss. It uses Autocomplete to speed up data entry, supports multiple bank accounts and bank reconciliation, can be used to prepare VAT returns and enables you to create profit and loss, balance sheets and ledgers.

The free accounting software installs alongside its companion program, the paid-for VT Transaction+, but you don't need to buy the latter to use the former.

Download here: VT Cash Book

Download Invoice Expert Lite Edition

If your home business sells goods, Invoice Expert is definitely worth a look thanks to its stock management tools

8. Invoice Expert Lite Edition

A good option for anyone selling physical products

Boasts inventory and customer management
Handles invoicing and quoting
Free version has restrictions

The free (Lite) version of Invoice Expert is limited to 100 customers/products, but it retains the features of the paid-for Advanced Edition – which retails at $69.95 (about £55) – including inventory and customer management, invoicing and quoting, purchase orders and inventory management.

This free accounting software is a little bit intimidating at first glance, especially in the template-editing screens, but it's straightforward enough. It's an American program but it uses your Windows location to set the currency, so it should adjust itself accordingly for those outside the US.

Download here: Invoice Expert Lite Edition

Download Adminsoft Accounts free

Adminsoft Accounts isn't just great for tracking income and expenditure - it can also manage some payroll functions for small businesses

9. Adminsoft Accounts

A complete money-management toolkit for small business owners

Free with no strings attached
Handles stock control and more
Even has some HR capabilities

These days genuine freeware - that is, software that's given away for free without adverts, bundled software or ulterior motives - is a rare thing.  However, that’s exactly what AdminSoft Accountsis: more than 300,000 people have taken advantage of what is a surprisingly thorough free accounting system (and an refreshingly honest set of terms and conditions).

It can handle not just invoicing and statements but remittance advices, stock control, purchase orders, budgeting and some HR functions too. It's a UK program so the default is pounds sterling, but it works happily in other currencies too.

Download here: AdminSoft Accounts

Try QuickFile online

QuickFile's online-only tools are clearly presented, and you can access them from any internet-connected device

10. QuickFile

Free small business accounting in the cloud – no desktop software needed

Designed for non-accountants
Supports multiple currencies
Have to be online to use

Designed specifically for non-accountants, QuickFile offers multiple free tiers for small businesses while still delivering automatic invoicing, purchase/receipt management, quotations and multi-currency support. Add in a fully branded client area, and this makes for a professional solution at a hard to beat price.

It’s cloud-based rather than a software download, and if you like the free version you can upgrade to an ad-free, more advanced version with bulk invoicing, revision history and a host of power user features for a modest fee of $58/£45 annually.

Try it online: QuickFile