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I just started using GnuCash and there is something I do not quite get how to get rid of (and whether I should try to get rid of).

When I start importing transactions, I have expenses, income, etc. As this this as "double method" system, for everything I put in as an expense, the money should come from somewhere. The thing is, GnuCash opens a new account, "unbalanced" or something like that (I don't remember, I'm at work) where doing Expense - Unbalanced equals to zero.

Is it possible to get the "unbalanced" account to zero and eliminate it? It annoys me and in fact, I do not know if having it with some money is good or not for the rest of the system.

Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

That's Imbalance-USD (or whatever your default currency is). This is the default "uncategorized" account.

My question is, is it possible to get the "unbalanced" account to zero and eliminate it?

Yes, it's possible to get this down to zero, and in fact desirable. Any transactions in there should be reviewed and fixed. You can delete it once you've emptied it, but it will be recreated the next time an unbalanced transaction is entered. Ideally, I figure it should autohide unless there's something in it, but it's a minor annoyance.

Presumably you've imported a lot of data into what's known as a transaction account like checking, and it's all going to Imbalance, because it's double entry and it has to go somewhere. Open up the checking account and you'll see they're all going to Imbalance. You'll need to start creating expense, liability and income accounts to direct these into.

Once you've got your history all classified, data entry will be easier. Autocomplete will suggest transactions, and online transaction pull will try to guess which account a given transaction should match with based on that data.

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There is in fact a way to auto-hide zero-balance accounts. View→Filter By…→“Other” tab→Show zero total accounts. –  Daniel H Nov 26 '14 at 5:03
1  
Well that's not very auto, is it? –  jldugger Dec 2 '14 at 0:15
    
It’s auto in the sense that when an account balance becomes zero the account is hidden, and when it’s nonzero it’s shown again. That doesn’t mean it’s the default setting. –  Daniel H Dec 3 '14 at 1:21

I just decided to start using GnuCash today, and I was also stuck in this position for around an hour before I figured out what to do exactly. The answer by @jldugger pointed me partially on the right track, so this answer is intended to help people waste less time in the future.

(Note: All numbers have been redacted for privacy issues, but I hope the images are sufficient to allow you to understand what is going on. )

Upon successfully importing your transactions, you should be able to see your transactions in the Checking Account and Savings Account (plus additional accounts you have imported).

The Imbalance account (GBP in my case) will be negative of whatever you have imported. This is due to the double-entry accounting system that GnuCash uses.

enter image description here

Now, you will have to open your Savings Account.

enter image description here

Note that except for a few transactions, most of them are going to Imbalance. These are marked out with the red rectangles.

enter image description here

What you have to do, now, is to click on them individually and sort them into the correct account. Unfortunately (I do not understand why they did this), you cannot move multiple transactions at once. See also this thread. Fortunately, you only have to do this once.

This is what your account should look like after it is complete.

enter image description here

After this is done, you should not have to move any more accounts, since you can directly enter the transactions in the Transfer box. At this point, your Accounts tab should look like this:

enter image description here

Question solved!

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