Bank checks are compatible with Macs...aren't they?
September 12, 2008 9:56 PM   Subscribe

How do I print my own checks?

Here are things I own:

1. New iMac
2. Printer
3. Copy Paper if I CAN use it.
4. A *FEW* dollars to buy TOTALLY BLANK CHECKS.
5. A little more money to buy a commercial product that would help me accomplish this herculean task (if NECESSARY).

Here is what I DON'T want to do:
1. Use a PC.
2. Use windows through bootcamp/parallels/virtual pc through my Mac.
3. Have someone print the constant parts of the checks (my info, bank info, micr, numbering, format, etc) and then use my mac/printer to print the variable elements (recipient, amounts, date, memo, etc).
4. Use Photoshop or any graphics program to customize each individual check. No thanks

Here is what I DO want to do:
1. Use my mac.
2. Use my printer.
3. Use any kind of non-customized paper.
4. Print a LOT of them to ONE recipient.
5. Printing three checks per page would be preferable...but hey I'm more than willing to negotiate on this.
6. Save TONS of money by doing this myself.

How the heck do I do this? I've been using a Mac for 7 years now, and I can tell you what one needs to come close to counterfeiting money (not that anybody should) using a Mac. But I still have no idea about how to print checks using a Mac.

Here is what I know:
1. There are TONS of commercial programs for PCs that allow one to make checks from TOTALLY blank checks or pre-printed and customized checks.
2. The commercial programs for Macs (OS X if you want to be anal about it) that I have found only allow one to print the variable information (recipient, amount, date, memo, etc) on the checks. That is NOT what I am looking for.
3. The MICR toner/ink situation is covered.
4. I'm not worried about the security of these checks. Seriously. No worries.

So how do I do this?

I really like metafilter, and LOVE askme...but if you cannot contribute anything that would bring me closer to the solution, please do not post. I would be happier having this be a TOTALLY empty post, rather than 10 people talking about "yeah man, you should switch to PC".

I'm not doing that to be mean, I just know there's a mac fiend on here who would be so bothered by this question not being answered that he would figure it out. I have researched this issue for a LONG time, and I still can't find a solution, and I do not believe that this hasn't been solved a long time ago. I just don't know where to find the answer.

Just to make it clear, ANY help would be appreciated; bs comments like "get a pc", or "dude, you're screwed" would NOT.

Thanks mefites you guys are awesome.
posted by hal_c_on to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The third link of a google search of: printing cheques mac gives me a link to Dances with Monies - a mac/windows/linux finance manager, which says it has cheque printing abilities, although I'm too lazy to download it and test for all of your requirements. Plus, it's endorsed by Kevin Costner!

(For the record, unless you've got a crazy setup somehow, you won't be saving money doing this. Personal cheques are often free, whereas paper & ink are definitely not. And if you're using a printer that isn't yours to do the printing, then I think you should rethink your "not worried about the security" concept.)
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:31 PM on September 12, 2008

Filemaker Pro + MICR FONT + a weekend of "programming" (if you can even call filemaker that -- just layout a report with your account numbers at the bottom) = Check Printing System. Tada.
posted by SirStan at 12:57 AM on September 13, 2008

And yes -- you can use whatever paper you want. The magic MICR numbers at the bottom need to be there. Have you ever seen rebate checks?

                                        XXX 9/10/08 XXX


1234567890 || 3428903489                                        STAPLES INC
Examples of "ghetto" checks printed on anything (but used MICR ink)
posted by SirStan at 1:01 AM on September 13, 2008

If you don't want to use PhotoShop, fine, but checks don't need to be elaborate. Is there some reason you can't just set up a template in Word or whatever your Mac fanboy word processor is, and do a mail merge to populate the bits of the checks with data that will change or increment?

You could use plain paper, your own paper and get three to a page no problem.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:11 AM on September 13, 2008

Don't know if it's still true, but back in the day, you had to use magnetic ink to print the MICR "font". Because MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition.

It used to be that banks got very angry if the MICR information wasn't exactly right. It had to be printed with magnetic ink and be a certain distance from the bottom of the check (so it could run through the scanning machines properly). They would either bounce the check, or add a service charge for having to hand-enter the information.

These days, I'd imagine that it's far less of an issue. But it still *can* be. So beware.
posted by gjc at 7:12 AM on September 13, 2008

Moneydance is useless. I already wrote that:
"The commercial programs for Macs (OS X if you want to be anal about it) that I have found only allow one to print the variable information (recipient, amount, date, memo, etc) on the checks. That is NOT what I am looking for."

As for using Word, Filemaker Pro, other software to print checks...umm yeah. I said that I'd rather not use Photoshop. Perhaps I should have been more clear and said "I want to use a check making program for the mac."

As for the MICR/toner/ink situation, as I said: Its covered.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:31 AM on September 13, 2008

well, to be fair, you didn't specifically call out moneydance....

i have super googlefu. i have spent 20 minutes looking around, and have found nothing that will suit your task. there are cnet threads from 2006 about this very issue, and no one had a solution, not that things don't change in 2 years, but you know if someone had found a solution and update or new thread would have been posted.

i have to ask, why do you want totally blank checks, instead of the ones with a field for date, memo, etc?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:27 AM on September 13, 2008

Misanthropicsarah, you're totally right. I DIDNT specifically call out moneydance...BUT I did say I found tons of programs like it which would print the variable info.

My googlefu is "ok" at best, and I couldnt find anything in my 2 week research. Thanks for using your super googlefu just in case I missed anything; I really appreciate it.

To answer your question, I have found that in printing checks (on PCs...sigh), there are 2 different types of printing:

1. You already have pre-printed checks (like most of us use in a checkbook) that are printer compatible. One uses a program to print the recipient, the date, amount, memo. Thats it. You have a full check. The problem with this is that you're already paying for a pre-printed check, and the computer program is only printing in information that you need to write in by hand.

2. The OTHER kind is the TOTALLY blank check (or how some people claim that they can do it on white paper). With this kind of check, you need to print the variable information (which all programs do anyways) AND the constant information (bank name and address, sender name and address, and MOST IMPORTANTLY... ROUTING NUMBER and ACCOUNT NUMBER.

#2 is what I want to do. I can't find anything to help me out with this. Does something like this really NOT exist for Macs?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:05 PM on September 13, 2008

I've been through this over and over, and keep coming back to the same solution:
Check Printing Software 2000.

Yes, it's Windows only, but it's old enough that it runs just fine under Darwine, so you don't actually need Windows. I've been using it for the last 7-8 years; 2 of those on an Intel Mac under Wine. It does everything that you ask for.

Magnetic ink is no longer an issue as the vast majority of banks use actual OCR as opposed to magnetic reading (which is why the MICR font is still important).

The long and short is that, if you want a pure Mac solution, you or someone else with the time and inclination will need to sit down and write something, or, use the Word/Openoffice/Filemaker/whatever template solution. Otherwise, the software that I've listed above is your best bet.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:32 PM on September 13, 2008

iBank does this. I know because I just downloaded it and tried it.

You have to create a checking account, enter your info, then go to "Account," pick "Show Check Printing Setup," and choose "Custom" from the drop down menu that picks the template type. It does exactly what you want it to. The built in help warns you that if you don't use the right kind of ink the MICR might not get recognized by your bank.

Now who's got super google fu?
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:01 AM on September 14, 2008

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