Welcome to this multi-part tutorial series on the Toolkit For YNAB open source companion browser plugin for YNAB [You Need a Budget] — my preferred budgeting tool.
- Part 1: Toolkit for YNAB – General Settings walkthrough
- Part 2: Toolkit for YNAB – Account Screen Settings
- Part 3: Toolkit for YNAB – Budget Screen Settings
- Part 4: Toolkit for YNAB – Report Screen Settings
Also check out my other tutorials, articles, my YouTube Channel.
One of the few advantages to the new web-based YNAB (from my personal perspective, of course), is being able to customize many little tweaks here and there. This is accomplished with the help of a handy browser plugin called Toolkit for YNAB. The plugin is available for both Google Chrome and Firefox. It is not available for Safari.
Still write paper checks and missing the Check Number column? That’s a yes and yes from us! Or what about that handy Auto-Distribute button for split transactions in YNAB4? Don’t you miss that like crazy? I sure do. The Toolkit for YNAB delivers these missing features — and so many more.
Watch a full video tutorial here:
Prefer a text-and-screenshots tutorial? Keep reading below….
Toolkit for YNAB – Account Settings
- Add a Toggle Splits Button to the Account(s) toolbar
- Add Auto-Distribute Button To Split Transactions
- Add Check Number Column
- Allow Markdown in Memo — new!
- Assisted Clear — new!
- Auto Adjust Split Transactions
- Automatically Enable Running Balance — new!
- Automatically Mark Transaction as Cleared
- Bottom Notification Bar — new!
- Bulk Edit Memo — new!
- Bulk Manage Payees
- Change Behaviour of Enter Key on the Memo field When Adding or Editing Transactions
- Change Behaviour of Enter Key When Adding Transactions
- Clear New Transactions with CTRL+Enter (CMD on Mac) — new!
- Clear Selection
- Deselect Transactions on Save
- Easy Transaction Approval
- Edit Multiple Flags at Once — updated
- Emphasize Inflows — new!
- Emphasize Outflows
- Larger Clickable Area for Icons
- Set Custom Flag Names (with Tooltips)
- Show Available Category Balance on Hover
- Show Last Reconciled Date — new!
- Show Menu When Right Clicking On Transaction
- Show Reconciled Balance — new!
- Show Spare Change
- Striped Transaction Rows
- Swap Cleared and Flagged Columns
- Toggle Memo Column — new!
- Color for Striped Transaction Rows — new!
- Color for Striped Transactions Rows – Dark Theme — new!
- First Day of the Week in Calendar
- Height of Rows in Account Register
- Reconciled Text Colour
- Toggle Scheduled and Reconciled Transaction Buttons
Add a Toggle Splits Button to the Account(s) toolbar
A few weeks ago YNAB updated their software and added a toggle icon in front of each split transaction allowing you open and close the details of split transactions. This new toggle button appears in front of each split transaction (below, left) but each transaction must be individually opened or closed.
The Toolkit for YNAB Add a Toggle Splits Button to the Accounts(s) toolbar setting does just that — adds a button in the toolbar that allows you to open and close all split transactions with a single click (below, right). You can still open and close individual transactions using the default button in front of a specific transaction.
Add Auto-Distribute Button To Split Transactions
Miss the split transaction Auto-Distribute functionality? Me too!
Now you can get it back by turning on the Add Auto-Distribute Button to Split Transactions setting in the Toolkit.
For some reason the folks at YNAB dropped the auto-distribute function when moving from YNAB4 to the new online version. Split transactions now have only the standard 3 button options of Cancel, Save, and Save and Add Another (below, top left).
If your splits don’t exactly add up to the purchase total, YNAB pops up an error message and makes you go back and fix your numbers before you can save the transaction and move on.
The Toolkit for YNAB brings back the very useful Auto-Distribute button (below, bottom left). This feature takes the unassigned remainder and distributes it proportionally between your split entries. This feature is great if you pay sales tax or if you like to round to the nearest dollar amount when dividing up a long receipt between different categories.
Add Check Number Column
YNAB’s developers dropped the Check Number column. The Toolkit for YNAB brings it back.
Allow Markdown in Memo (new)
If you’re frustrated by the lack of Markdown abilities, then the Toolkit developers are here to help. [Even better, the Toolkit developers have added the ability to use Markdown in the Notes field too.]
If you’re not sure what Markdown is, here’s a cheatsheet.
Don’t forget, whatever Markdown changes you add will only be visible if you’re using Chrome or Firefox, you have Toolkit installed, and you have this setting turned on.
Assisted Clear (new)
Reconciling your accounts can be a headache but it’s oh, so important!! If your YNAB balance doesn’t match your bank’s balance, typically YNAB only offers to make an adjustment transaction to account for the difference. It’s the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to tap in a picture hook.
The Toolkit’s Assisted Clear setting adds an extra functionality to the reconciliation process. If your balances don’t match up, the Assisted Clear functionality will attempt to locate any transaction(s) — single or combination — that make up the difference between the amount you enter and what YNAB thinks the balance should be. If the right combination of uncleared transactions can be located, a simple click will clear them and you’re ready to complete the reconciliation process. Bada big, bada bang, bada boom!
Auto Adjust Split Transactions
The Auto Adjust Split Transactions setting is supposed to auto-fill each additional split “with the current remaining amount.”
This setting doesn’t work for me. In the screenshots below, I tried entering the same split transaction with the setting turned off (left) and turned on (right) and there was no difference in the behavior of the split transaction dialog box.
Automatically Enable Running Balance (new)
YNAB developers added the ability to turn on and off the running balance in accounts but, by default, that setting is off.
If you’d prefer the reverse to be true — that running balances are always the default and you turn them off rarely, if ever — the Toolkit has the right setting for you. The Automatically Enable Running Balance setting does just that — automatically turns on running balances in all accounts. Turn them off the same way you’d normally have to turn them on — by clicking on the View menu and unchecking the box.
Automatically Mark Transaction as Cleared
The Automatically Mark Transaction as Cleared setting in the Toolkit does just what it says — if you manually enter a transaction, it will automatically be marked as Cleared when you save it.
This setting differs from the new Clear New Transactions with CTRL+Enter setting in that this option automatically marks all new transactions as cleared while the other allows you to determine on an individual basis whether or not to immediately mark a new transaction as cleared or not.
Bottom Notification Bar (new)
By default, YNAB’s notification bar stretches across the top of the screen above the account name, balances, and the Reconcile button.
The Bottom Notification Bar in the Toolkit for YNAB account settings options moves the notification bar to the bottom of the screen. This moves it to a less prominent position but it also ensure that elements at the top of the screen are always in exactly the same position on the page whether or not you have notifications for that account.
Bulk Edit Memo (new)
The Bulk Edit Memo is one of those settings that I didn’t realize I needed until it was added to the Toolkit. Now my imagination is running amok with situations where it would come in handy. I make liberal use of the memo field and over the years have developed some ninja-level Memo Field Hacks (such as how to use emoji in memos).
This Toolkit setting adds the ability to edit the memos for multiple transactions at once. Select two or more transactions then open the Edit menu and choose Edit Memos.
Bulk Manage Payees
Best as I can tell, this feature went from being released in the Toolkit to being added to YNAB itself in just a few months. It was added to the Toolkit sometime after my original publish date in April and seems to have been added as a core YNAB feature just a few days ago.
The Bulk Manage Payees is essentially a handy shortcut from the place you’re most likely to realize your list of payees could use a little tidying up — in the Accounts screen.
When you’re entering a new transaction and you click in the Payeefield and notice multiple versions or spellings of the same payee, now there’s a link directly to the payee management tool. Click on that link, do a little housekeeping, then come back and enter your transaction.
Change Behaviour of Enter Key on the Memo field When Adding or Editing Transactions
Like the setting below, this new Change Behaviour of Enter Key on the Memo field When Adding or Editing Transactions setting changes the behavior of the return/enter key while creating a new transaction. By default, without this setting turned on, hitting return/enter while the cursor is in the memo field results in saving the current transaction and automatically starting a new transaction — in effect, the same as Save and add another.
With this setting turned on, hitting the return/enter key while in the memo field will simply move the cursor to the Outflow field — in effect, using the tab key to move to the next field.
As with some of these Toolkit options, I don’t understand the value of this setting. Using the tab key to move from field to field is the best keyboard navigation method and I don’t know why you’d hit the return/enter key while in the memo field anyway. You still have to enter the Outflow or Inflow amount, right? As always, it it fits with your workflow, turn on this setting. If not, skip it.
Change Behaviour of Enter Key When Adding Transactions
To be clear, the Change Behaviour of Enter Key When Adding Transactions is referring to the Enter/Return key on your keyboard (on PCs it’s Enter; for us Mac users, it’s Return).
The default behavior of the Enter/Return key is to Save and Add Another (left, below). By turning on this setting in the Toolkit, you change the Enter/Return key behavior to Save instead.
Clear New Transactions with CTRL+Enter (CMD on Mac) (new)
By default, transactions that are manually entered in checking, savings, and credit card accounts are left uncleared until you manually clear them. This behavior makes sense since it’s presumed that these transactions are being entered at the time of purchase and, naturally, it will take at least a day before they process through the bank. But sometimes you’re entering transactions that have already cleared the bank. And in such cases, wouldn’t it be nice if you could enter and clear a transaction in one single tap on the Enter (Return) key?
Well the amazing contributors to the Toolkit for YNAB browser plugin apparently think so. Thus, the Clear New Transactions with CTRL+Enter. Or, if you’re a Mac user like I am, that would be with CMD+Return. Simply hold down the Control (or Command) key while hitting Enter (Return) and your new transaction will be automatically cleared as you save it.
This option differs from the Automatically Mark Transactions as Cleared setting above. This setting allows you to determine on a transaction-by-transaction level whether or not to immediately clear a transaction upon entry where the earlier setting universally marks all transactions as cleared.
The Clear Selection setting adds a new option to the dropdown edit menu. This new option allows you to clear all selected transactions with a single click.
Deselect Transactions on Save
The Deselect Transactions on Save setting is a handy, and for my part, appreciated setting option.
Normally, after editing and saving a transaction, that transaction remains selected (highlighted) which requires an additional click to deselect. But with this setting turned on in the Toolkit, transactions are automatically deselected after being edited and saved.
Easy Transaction Approval
The Toolkit for YNAB makes in-line approval of transactions faster, easier, and more efficient with the Easy Transaction Approval setting. *Note the shifts between right click/left click in functionality.
In YNAB, you can approve/match one transaction at a time in register by left clicking the blue icon and clicking Approve Transaction (below, top left). [Right clicking on the icon will bring up the system/browser menu (below, top right).]
With the Easy Transaction Approval turned on, approving transactions is simple. And you can approve multiple transactions at once. Any one of these three actions will quickly approve all selected transactions:
- hitting the “a” key,
- hitting the Enter/Return key,
- right clicking the blue Approve or Match icon in front of the selected transaction(s).
The screenshot (bottom left) couldn’t capture the motion but clearing that transaction required a single right click.
Edit Multiple Flags at Once (updated)
YNAB just recently added the ability to edit multiple flags at the same time into their own software.
I anticipate that the Toolkit developers will eventually remove this setting from the Toolkit now that it’s redundant.
Having this option turned on in the Toolkit doesn’t appear to conflict in any way with YNAB’s new native multi-edit functionality.
Emphasize Inflows (new)
Emphasize Inflows displays all Inflow amounts in green font. I personally find it harder to see the green but, hey, maybe younger eyes like this option.
Emphasize Outflows adds classic accounting-style formatting to all outflows — red font and encased in () parentheses.
Larger Clickable Area for Icons
Implementing the Toolkit’s Larger Clickage Area for Icons results shifting the Clear icon to the right. The shift is minor.
Set Custom Flag Names (with Tooltips)
In YNAB you can flag a transaction any one of six colors (or leave it unflagged). The flags cannot be named though. You can assign a significance to a color but there’s no way to document your system within YNAB itself.
The Set Custom Flag Names (with Tooltips) setting provides the ability to set custom names to flag colors. And if you can’t remember what Blue was meant to signify, hovering over a blue flag results in a tooltip that displays the name you assigned.
However, note the warning the Toolkit developers provide with this setting: “Custom flag names are stored locally in the browser in which they are set and will not be carried over to other browsers/computers. Custom flag names will be lost if browser data is cleared.”
Show Available Category Balance on Hover
In the accounts screen in YNAB, hovering over a transaction results in a pop-up tooltip that simply restates the name of the category. The tooltip simply reiterates the category name.
But if you turn on the Show Available Category Balance on Hover in the Toolkit, hovering over a transaction in the Accounts screen will result in a pop-up tooltip that states the name of the category followed by the current remaining balance in that category.
Show Last Reconciled Date (new)
If you know anything about me as a money coach you know that I have very few hard-and-fast rules. One of those very few rules is Thou Shalt Reconcile At Least Once a Week.
The Show Last Reconciled Date setting in the Toolkit for YNAB is an interesting addition. I haven’t used it enough to voice an opinion on just how valuable it is but I can see the appeal of it. And the advantages. Especially for couples or partners who share a budget and share responsibilities for the care and keeping of that budget. Or if you tend to
get lazy forget about reconciling.
Show Menu When Right Clicking On Transaction
YNAB is a web-based application. So when logged in to YNAB, you’re seeing your budget but it’s delivered via a browser. This, in turn, means that some controls interact with the browser itself, not YNAB.
One case in point is the right click.
Typically, when you right click on a browser page you get a pop up menu of ways to interact with your browser or operating system (below, left).
But turning on the Show Menu When Right Clicking on Transaction setting converts the mouse’s (or trackpad’s) right click into a shortcut to the YNAB edit menu (below, right).
Show Reconciled Balance (new)
The Show Reconciled Balance setting displays each account’s last reconciled balance to the left of the standard header balances (Cleared, Uncleared, and Working). If you combined this setting with the Show Last Reconciled Date you’d have a full header but also a very clear picture of the last time your account’s data was verified and what the balance was at that time.
Show Spare Change
The Toolkit for YNAB’s Show Spare Change setting calculates and displays the “spare change” of any two or more transactions you select. [Honestly, I’m baffled by the intended or perceived value of this setting.]
Essentially, this setting takes the calculated sum of your selected transactions (a built-in) YNAB feature and rounds that amount up to the nearest even dollar amount and shows the difference as “spare change.”
Striped Transactions Rows
In YNAB’s accounts screens, transactions are listed on an all-white background with narrow light gray lines separating each transaction.
If you prefer, you can use the Striped Transactions Rows setting to change the way transactions are displayed. With this setting turned on, the rows alternate between white and light gray.
Swap Cleared and Flagged Columns
This setting is self-explanatory. If you implement the Swap Cleared and Flagged Columns setting in the Toolkit, the cleared column appears on the left side of the Accounts screen — just left of the date column — and the flags will be in the far right column.
Toggle Memo Column (new)
The Toolkit’s Toggle Memo Column setting allows you to turn on and off the memo column individually in each account by adding a checkbox in YNAB’s native View menu.
By making this setting available to you on a case-by-case (or account-by-account) basis instead of making it a universal setting (hiding the memo column across all accounts), you can strategically hide this column in accounts where you don’t include memos. That said, I’m a very strong advocate for using the memo field.
If you’re a Firefox user, be aware that there’s currently a bug in the toolkit that results in wonky columns if you have a scheduled transaction with a memo. In Chrome, this setting functions exactly as designed — whether or not your scheduled transactions have memos.
Color for Striped Transaction Rows (new)
The Color for Striped Transactions Rows is a setting that can be used in conjunction with the earlier Striped Transaction Rows to customize the look of your alternating rows.
Color for Striped Transaction Rows – Dark Theme (new)
This setting is specifically for users of YNAB’s Dark Theme. Used in conjunction with the Striped Transaction Rows Toolkit setting, this setting allows you to customize the look of your alternating rows.
First Day of the Week in Calendar
By default, the dropdown calendar function in YNAB starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday. This is a standard calendar layout in the U.S.
If you prefer your week to begin on Thursday and run through the following Wednesday, the First Day of the Week in Calendar Toolkit setting makes that change possible. You can make any day of the week the starting day on your calendar.
Height of Rows in Account Register
If your eyesight is excellent and you find the current layout of the Accounts screen a waste of space, the Height of Rows in Account Register setting is just what you’re looking for. Two options are offered in addition to YNAB’s default spacing: Compact (below, upper right) and Slim (below, lower left).
Reconciled Text Colour
Ever wish there were a way to make the reconciled transactions more easily distinguishable? The Reconciled Text Color setting makes that happen.
This Toolkit setting gives you four options for styling your reconciled transactions (in addition to the default setting which only adds a lock icon in the Cleared column.
You can choose between Green (dark green text), Light Gray and Dark Gray (gray text), and Dark Gray on a Green Background (gray text on green background).
Toggle Scheduled and Reconciled Transaction Buttons
By default, you can choose to include your scheduled transactions and/or your reconciled transactions or hide them by opening the filter menu in the toolbar and then checking or unchecking the filters (below, top left).
The Toggle Scheduled and Reconciled Transaction Buttons adds quick and easy filter toggle buttons right in the toolbar. You can choose to see icons only (below, top right) or icons and text labels (below, bottom left).
Just as with the Toolkit for YNAB General Settings, there are some Accounts Screen Setting options that add a great deal of value to my YNAB budgeting experience.
My husband, Fang, still writes paper checks so I’m happy to have the check number column again. Custom flags, striped rows, and the reconciled/scheduled toggle function all increase my productivity and I’m experimenting with the reconciled text color options. But the Acounts Screen Toolkit setting I appreciate the most is the Auto-Distribute button. I can’t imagine using YNAB without it!
Which Toolkit settings for the Accounts Screen do you use and why? I hope you’ll share in the comments.
Add your 2 cents' worth