[17.10.0] Open Manager files directly when using desktop edition

There is a significant portion of users who dislike concept of Application Data folder and I get that. Application Data folder is a special folder where Manager stores all its data.


The advantage of the folder is that it abstracts away concept of the file system which is not applicable in cloud and server editions. When using Manager, you simply create new business and let Manager worry about where database should be saved on the computer or the server. You are expected to use Backup button to backup your businesses individually on regular basis.

For those who are comfortable with file system, there is now new way how you can save and open Manager files. You can avoid Application Data folder altogether.

In the latest version, you can open Manager files directly by double-clicking on the file regardless where it is. It could be on USB key, Dropbox folder, your desktop or really anywhere.


When you double-click on the file, it will be opened in Manager right away.


In this case, you will see the name of the file and the full path of the file being opened.

Previously this wasn’t possible. The only way would be to import the file which would create a copy within Application Data folder. This workflow doesn’t create a copy in Application Data folder, Manager will work with the file directly so if your file is placed in Dropbox, you will see Dropbox continuously backing up your file as you work with it.

The added bonus is that you can have custom file names so if you have multiple businesses, you can easily tell them apart.

How do I move a business from Application Data folder into my custom folder?

It’s quite simple. Open Manager as usual and click on the business you want to put into custom folder (e.g. Dropbox). Click Backup button in Manager to save the file in your Dropbox folder. Once you do this, you can just double-click on this file and Manager will directly open it.

You will probably want to Remove Business from Manager so when you launch Manager directly, it will show no businesses.


A welcome change.
One improvement needed.
After directly opening a business file, navigating to the Preferences or About Manager page and getting back to the Business tab results in a blank page where the user has to Add Business again.


Hi, Lubos.

If the Manager file is not in Application Data folder the emails do not send.
Error message is as follows:
"Sequence contains no matching element"
I can also not access the Email Settings under Settings Tab.
Error message is as follows:
"Internal Error"
As soon as I Import the Manager File {To App Data Folder} everything works

I am using dual os in my lap (windows and linux mint). This is very helpful to use manger on both os.

The list of businesses on the splash page includes only those listed in the index file of the application data folder. The point of this update was to allow you to directly open a file stored elsewhere. The release note explicitly stated this would not copy the file to application data folder. When you open a business listed on the Businesses page, you are opening a file in the data folder.

@lubos i can partially confirm the problem faced by @rhey

i did not face any problems when sending email.

but the email settings page shows the following error irrespective of whether the business file is in the data folder or elsewhere.

when working with the file directly, there is no dependency on the application data folder. so navigating between the tabs should have the same result. getting back to the business tab, even though the business file was opened directly, Manager still has application data folder dependency. so the user is either forced to import the business file or restart Manager.

if the business is removed, then navigating back to the Business tab should show the business that was initially opened and not the splash screen where the user has to browse and add the business file again.

@Tut Makes sense, but the point is that still having a list of recently opened files is still helpful. I switch between working in two or businesses daily, and as many as four on a weekly basis. Having to quit and relaunch Manager to switch between files greatly slows down my workflow.

A post was split to a new topic: Bug when opening data file stored outside application data folder

The list on the Businesses page is not a list of recently opened files. There was a point in time where it was, but when the data schema reverted back to the application data folder, this went back to just being a list of businesses that had been added.

There is no need to work with data files outside the application data folder. That is just an option now. You can leave all your businesses’ data files in the original folder and have instant access to them, just like before this recent change.

ADDITION: You can also go back to a remotely stored business using the Recent Items menu of the operating system. Or you can create aliases (shortcuts) on your desktop.

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@lubos, the troublesome characteristics with this new feature raised by @sharpdrivetek and @blitternand were not explicitly connected. But they are related and have additional ramifications, so I want to summarize them again and open some discussion about a solution:

  • The difference between a business stored in the application data folder and one stored remotely is indicated only by the path name beside the business name. This could easily be overlooked. You can, in fact, switch back and forth between the two instances, leaving open the possibility of unwittingly scattering transactions through multiple data files for what you think is the same set of books. It would be very easy to create a remotely stored version and then mistakenly enter transactions into the version left behind in the application data folder, believing that to still be the intended, primary file. I predict this will cause problems for many users.

  • @sharpdrivetek’s mention about re-importing the business does nothing to solve the problem, because it just creates another copy of the data file in the application data folder.

  • Once opened, there is no way to close a remotely stored data file except by closing the application. And if the application is left open, there is no obvious way of going back to the remotely stored business file, which has remained open in the background. (It probably isn’t really “open,” but ready to be called in some fashion.) You can (at least in macOS) get back to it by double-clicking the remotely stored file again to make it active, or by selecting it in the operating system’s recent items list, but there is no indicator these routes exist, and navigating back to the file could be laborious. (See @blitternand’s remark above about having to close and relaunch the application–that isn’t actually required, but it seems that way.)

As a first step, could the Businesses page include both businesses stored in the application data folder and recently opened remote files, possibly with data paths shown? This idea borrows a little bit from the scheme used when the application data folder was originally phased out as the necessary storage location.

I don’t pretend to have thought this all through, but my initial impression is that using the scheme requires a deeper understanding of the overall data filing structure than should be expected of a typical user. It also opens some good possibilities, though. So it is worth improving the user-friendliness.

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Yes, this still works. There was a time when changing the application data folder to a location inside of Google Drive would crash on macOS, but this seems to work properly now. My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that changing the app data folder into Google Drive is fine, but having each business data file inside the relevant Google Drive or Dropbox folder/account is more helpful. I use multiple Google Drive accounts, but I understand that this is probably rare. Thanks for taking this into consideration.

If I may, I’d like to suggest that the desktop edition of Manager do away with the application data folder concept. Users are very familiar with Documents folder and saving files on their PCs, and can certainly figure out how to open a file they have saved. Importing and exporting files makes sense in the context of the server and cloud editions, but I think just opening and saving files is much more intuitive on the desktop. Being able to open, save, and relocate Manager data files in the same fashion as a Word or Excel document would, in my opinion, simplify all of this greatly. Dropbox/Google Drive sync would just work as expected, and Recent Files lists would work as users have been trained to think for decades. Getting rid of the app data folder and “importing/exporting” concepts in the desktop edition would ensure that is much harder for a person to mistakenly work on the “wrong” copy of the data file.

I disagree with you on this @blitternand:

  • I work with multiple Manager files regularly (my business, one I use for personal use, and a few testing businesses I use when trying new things).
  • The business screen (populated by imports) makes it extremely easy to switch from one business to another. No point switching back to the file system just to open a different file.
  • From what I understand, the goal is to make Manager as consistent as possible between editions. Removing it from Desktop breaks that consistency.

The way I see it, both methods have their place. The ability to double-click on a file to open it directly works well if someone is sending you a file and you only need to see it once or twice.

In that case, even I wouldn’t bother importing it first, because I don’t need it regularly.

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@ShaneAU, I use multiple Manager in exactly the same way that you do. With the current version of the app, it is very fast to switch between companies. A “Recently used files” list on the opening screen would accomplish exactly what you have described. I see no reason for it to behave any differently than the Businesses list works today. The only difference is that the files could exist anywhere on the filesystem vs having to create/import them into some special folder. Again, that model only makes sense on the cloud or server edition because the average user cannot and should not have access to the file system of the web server.

I’m at a loss as to the benefits that this release brings if I understand it correctly.

Being able to have open the same business from two different locations is a recipe for disaster and as noted above - “You can, in fact, switch back and forth between the two instances, leaving open the possibility of unwittingly scattering transactions through multiple data files for what you think is the same set of books”

Just because “There is a significant portion of users who dislike concept of Application Data folder” doesn’t mean that they also want to be unwittingly exposed to mismanaged data files because they have switched between their opening Manager methods.

If Application Data is such an issue, then make it a sub-folder of Documents folder where almost every user is familiar with its concept, including the global backing up of the entire Documents folder.

It appears that the single benefit from this release is the ability to locate a data file elsewhere so that it can be double clicked to open it - gee whiz. Ever since I have been using Manager my data files have always been located elsewhere, albeit without the ability to double click.

The essence of Manager is data integrity, not the nuances of users.

The Manager Desktop files have always been able to exist anywhere on the file system, for instance, my business data files have NEVER been located in a special folder - so there is nothing new here.


@lubos i am no developer, but if this is the way forward for Manager development, then with my limited knowledge if i may suggest few points.

  1. Why not include the application data files a business depends on be merged and saved as a single business file. this will eliminate the need to have an application data folder altogether. I am assuming there are two 28KB files in the application data folder which is accessed by a business.

  2. If the above was possible, Manager could be just started as a service in the background when the business file is opened. This will also open the possibility to run multiple instances of Manager with different business although simultaneous access of a single business will not be possible.

What you described is basically the cloud or server editions. They are always accessed with a web browser, so you can have as many businesses and forms open as you want, just each in its own browser tab.

AFAICT, the “Application Data” folder is little more than a default save folder with a couple of extra files for housekeeping. No need to expose those housekeeping files to the user. Besides those, Manager businesses are already one per file. Currently, the default save location for Manager business files is a normally hidden directory. This “save path” is easy to change on desktop edition, but it would seem simpler to have that default to Documents minus the housekeeping files. It would also ensure that native Windows backup features like File History always backs up the business files (File History backs up Documents folder by default). Yes, Manager has a manual backup button, but you have to do it for each business, and remember to do it. Features like File History default to backing up every hour, so that’s even better than relying on a manual backup.

What you are describing is the change adopted at version 17.4.0 but phased out at 17.5.8 a short time later. The change was made because the underlying concept did not work out as hoped for the server and cloud editions, which caused the various editions to diverge. The change at 17.10.0 gives desktop users some of the flexibility back.

Don’t forget that the desktop edition is not maintained as a charitable effort. The developer makes money and stays in business only because of the paid server and cloud editions. So the desktop edition will always take a secondary position in the development process. It is, by the way, also a browser-based application. It just runs the server edition on your own machine.