Merging categories without damaging balances

norwich2's Avatar


17 Feb, 2018 10:28 PM

I for some reasons have two of every category and want to merge the pairs. I did find this helpful discussion (link below), but when I tried it, on the final step I get a message about how 'the transactions are cleared and proceeding could mess up the balance'. Is this a false alarm or does changing a category of a cleared transaction really break the balance? It still is in the same account (bank/credit/etc) after all. Even more confusing is how the batch change thing speaks to changing the account name to change the category name instead of the category name. Please help clarify before I do proceed. I will backup in any case, but it would be nice to know how to make this work.

  1. 1 Posted by sth on 17 Feb, 2018 11:45 PM

    sth's Avatar

    It won't change the account balance but may change the "category balance". But I think that is what you want. It is a warning about changing anything in a cleared transaction.

    But make a backup of your data file and then try it as you say!

    Accounts and categories are actually the same thing. An expense in a checking account is balanced by an increase in the category. This is the double entry nature of the the program that has a balancing transaction for each action. Sometimes the names get confused.

  2. 2 Posted by norwich2 on 18 Feb, 2018 02:06 AM

    norwich2's Avatar

    Thanks, I'll give it a try. I just wonder why there is a batch change option for 'category' and another for 'account'

  3. 3 Posted by sth on 18 Feb, 2018 02:15 AM

    sth's Avatar

    Well because Account changes the primary side of the double entry and "category" changes the other side or secondary side. So if you change the category of a transaction the other end will move. If you change "account" of a transaction that transaction will disappear from the current register and move to the new one while the other end will stay put.

    Think of double entry as a string connecting the two ends of the transaction. The total for the transaction must be zero. But you can move one end of the string or the other to another category/account.

  4. 4 Posted by -Kevin N. on 18 Feb, 2018 02:35 AM

    -Kevin N.'s Avatar

    Hi norwich2,

    In an Account register, (e.g. Bank, Credit Card) when you want to move transactions from one account to another account - Batch Change > Account.

    In an Account register, when you want to change the Category of multiple transactions - Batch Change > Category.

    In a Category register, (e.g. Automotive:Gasoline) when you want to move the selected transactions to a new Category - Batch Change > Account.

    In a Category register, changing the Category field will change the actual Account (e.g. Bank, Credit Card) that the transactions are housed in. This is where some people run into trouble because of the likely unexpected results of such an action.

    It is generally recommended by Moneydance support that users steer clear of Category registers due to the somewhat backwards nature of the beasts.

    -Kevin N. (not a member of MD support)

  5. 5 Posted by dwg on 18 Feb, 2018 03:00 AM

    dwg's Avatar

    I'm a fellow user.

    Both batch change options are needed. Moneydance is built upon double entry book keeping principles and depending on which side you are looking at transactions from can determine whether you are looking to change their categorization - most likely if you are looking at them from an account point of view or if you are looking at them from a category point of view you are more than likely wanting to move them to a different category but because of the direction you are looking at them from you need to change the Account (A category is just a special type of account) - changing the category would normally change the account they are in which will usually be a bank or credit card type of account.

    Batch change is an extremely powerful tool, but because of this it can also be extremely destructive, you need to have a clear view of where you are viewing transaction from and a good understanding of what your are trying to achieve when using the tool - and also have a good backup since if it goes wrong it will go downhill quickly.

  6. 6 Posted by norwich2 on 24 Feb, 2018 04:30 AM

    norwich2's Avatar

    Thank you dwg. Its all fixed now….except for some reason I am unable to add any new categories. I’m in 2017 newest build and the add category pop-up just stays there when I clock “OK”.


  7. 7 Posted by dwg on 24 Feb, 2018 04:45 AM

    dwg's Avatar

    The menu Item Tools --> Category should bring up the category Window. Clicking on the "New" button at the bottom of this Window should allow you to create another category.

  8. System closed this discussion on 26 May, 2018 04:50 AM.

Comments are currently closed for this discussion. You can start a new one.

Keyboard shortcuts


? Show this help
ESC Blurs the current field

Comment Form

r Focus the comment reply box
^ + ↩ Submit the comment

You can use Command ⌘ instead of Control ^ on Mac