How to install the Toolkit
If you’re a Mac user and the only browser you use is Safari, you’re currently out of luck. No Toolkit for YNAB extension for you! I personally prefer Safari but do have all three browsers installed and always choose Chrome or Firefox when working in YNAB. I find the usefulness of certain features in the Toolkit very much worth the effort.
Making & Viewing Changes
Once you’ve installed the add-on/extension, a new icon (green square with a white plus sign “+”) should appear in your browser toolbar (top right corner).
If you’re using Chrome and you don’t see the icon in your toolbar, click on the squiggly blob (puzzle piece?) to access the extension settings popup window and click on the “pin” icon next to the Toolkit extension. That will add it to the list of pinned extensions always visible in your toolbar.
Now that the extension (or add-on) is installed and the icon is installed in your toolbar, click on the Toolkit extension icon and then click on “Open Settings.”
Your Toolkit extension will open in a new tab. Now it’s time to choose the settings that will improve your budgeting experience. In the section below (Toolkit Settings – everything from A to Z) you’ll find links to a full list of Toolkit settings. From there you’ll find detailed explanations and screenshots for each setting.
The Toolkit settings are organized into tabs according to which part of the You Need A Budget software is impacted by the setting. Make your desired changes to the settings and then Save your changes.
The final step necessary to see your changes take effect in YNAB is to refresh your YNAB browser window. This is done by going back to the YNAB tab and clicking on the “refresh” button (a circle icon with a clockwise arrow). Once your budget reloads, any Toolkit setting adjustments you made will now be in effect.
What is the Toolkit for YNAB?
In super simple terms, the Toolkit for YNAB is a little app that, when installed and activated, adds functionality to or changes the look of YNAB. The Toolkit includes over 100 settings that you can turn on or off or choose from a range of options — everything from changing fonts to adjusting the behavior of the Enter Key when entering a new transaction.
Who’s behind the Toolkit? (and who isn’t?)
The Toolkit is an open source, community-contributed project. That means that anyone is free to dream up and write their own settings and submit them to the (volunteer) project coordinators who have the final say on which settings get added to the Toolkit. A whole bunch of additional volunteers who use the Toolkit contribute ideas for new settings, suggest edits or tweaks, and/or bug reports in existing settings.
I am not affiliated with the Toolkit in any capacity beyond being a Toolkit user and an occasional reporter of bugs.
Is it safe and what does it cost?
First of all, the Toolkit is free. Free to install; free to use.
Second, safety and privacy concerns are real — in general terms about browser extensions, plugins, and add-ons. I’m not in the least bit qualified to make a determination about this extension’s bona fides. The extension is not in any way affiliated with YNAB itself. The Toolkit is not supported or endorsed by YNAB. Each user should decide for themselves if activating the Toolkit is appropriate.
All that said, I’ve never encountered any reason not to trust the Toolkit developers. I use the Toolkit myself and there are a number of settings that I depend on to enchance my YNAB experience and improve my budgeting workflow.
Why write this guide?
This guide is a personal project. It is an unofficial guide. As I mentioned above, I’m not affiliated with the Toolkit developers. I take full responsibility (and full credit) for the guide’s content.
The way I see it, it takes all types of people to make the world go ’round. I don’t have the skills to code new Toolkit settings. But I am absolutely that person who immediately asks, “oh, what does this do?”
When I first discovered the Toolkit, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of settings and options available and found the setting descriptions to be, well, lacking. So I did what I do best — I took things apart to see what each part did.
I figured others could benefit from my experimentation.
How to use the guide?
I’ve borrowed from the Toolkit’s organization system — setting descriptions are categorized to match the tab they are located under in the Toolkit.
Everything is filed into one of six categories: General settings, Account Screen settings, Budget Screen settings, Reports Screen settings, Toolkit Reports Screen settings, and other Toolkit settings.
On the Guide’s archive page you’ll find a full alphabetical list of every single setting plus individual menus for each of the four categories.
Additionally, if the setting pertains to a specific feature in YNAB (e.g. Goals, Payees, Budget Accounts, Budget Categories, the memo field), I’ve tagged that setting accordingly. So if you’re looking for everything that affects a particular feature or function, you can click on the tag and find all of the setting that might be of interest.
Descriptions and Images
Each setting has been described as clearly as possible — what it does and how it might improve your budgeting experience. Visual aids have been provided (images and animated gifs) wherever possible and appropriate.
Assessments & Opinions
Since this is an unofficial guide, I’ve given myself leeway to voice opinions and be subjective in a number of ways:
Each setting has been classified as either primarily impacting the aesthetics (looks) or the functionality of YNAB.
Each setting has a Usefulness Rating from 1 (pretty useless) to 5 (very useful) as well as tbd (to be determined) and n/a (not applicable; usually reserved for settings rendered obsolete by changes to YNAB but still included in the Toolkit).
These ratings are entirely subjective. They are based on my own budgeting experience as well as 8+ years of coaching clients of every stripe dealing with a wide range of financial circumstances. My ratings, though subjective, are based on best practice in the context of human behavior and as the setting helps or hinders positive behavior change and reinforcement.
Used by ESH?
Finally, I also indicate whether or not each setting is activated in my own my Toolkit installation. You’ll find that my toolkit includes settings with low Usefulness Ratings while not including some with high Usefulness Ratings. Just because I consider a setting to be highly useful doesn’t mean that it works with my particular circumstances or my workflow.