5.4. Creating a New Account

To create a new account go to ActionsNew Account... or click the New Toolbar icon in the Account Tree Window. The New Account dialog will be opened.

The New Account properties dialog consists of two tabs, the General tab and the Opening Balance tab.

Creating a New Account involves planning in advance several details that are used in the New Account dialog.

These details are described below.

5.4.1. General Information Tab

The General tab is used to access the basic information about the account. It provides a way of connecting the account to stock information if it is one of the currency, mutual fund or stock account types. It can also be flagged as a Placeholder account. It displays if it is flagged as a Tax Related account (which is set through the EditTax Report Options dialog).

There are seven fields in the Identification section of this tab.

  1. Account Name: The name for the account such as First Bank Checking.

  2. Account Code: The optional number code as described in Accounts codes.

  3. Description: Optional description for the account.

  4. Security/Currency:


    The Type field in the Select Security is determined by the selection of Account Type panel in the New Account screen.

    • For accounts other than Stock or Mutual Fund this should be the default currency, USD (US Dollar) or your local currency symbol. If this account is for a foreign currency then use the Select... button to choose a different currency from the currencies pull-down list.

    • For Accounts containing a Stock and Mutual Fund; first select stock or mutual fund in the Account Type panel, then the Parent Account, then use the Select... button, to choose the Type (usually the exchange the security is traded on) and security from the Select Security window.

      If the required security/fund is not on the list, and you have the correct Type you will need to create the security/fund. To create a commodity for mutual fund and stock accounts select the New... button in the Select Security screen, to bring up the New Security: screen. The options are described in detail in the Security Editor Section 8.7, “Security Editor” section. Fill in a name, symbol and type and Close to create the security. After the security is created select the Type: (usually the exchange the security is traded on) and the name in the Currency/security: drop down list and Close the screen.

  5. Smallest Fraction: The smallest fraction that will be tracked.

  6. Account Color: The color to assign to the account’s register tab. Click on the color button to open the Pick a Color screen. To reset the account color click the Default button.

  7. Notes: This is a free form text box that can be used for any additional notes about the account.

Below the panes are 3 check-boxes: one to show if the account is Tax Related, one to mark the account as a Placeholder, and one to mark an account Hidden.

The Tax Related check-box means that an account has been flagged to be included in the Tax Schedule Report. This flag is only displayed on the Edit Account dialog and is set in the Income Tax Information dialog (EditTax Report Options). See the Tax Schedule Report and TXF Export section in Reports Chapter (Section 9.3.1, “General Reports”).

The Placeholder check-box sets an account to read-only status and prevents the addition of transaction data to the account.


Setting an account to Placeholder will also hide that account in the pop-up account list in a register. Sub-accounts to the placeholder account will still display in the pop-up, however.

The Hidden check box hides an account (and any sub-accounts) in the account tree. To reset this option, you will first need to open the ViewFilter By... dialog for the account tree and check the Show hidden accounts option. Doing so will allow you to select the account and reopen this dialog.


Hidden accounts still appear in the pop-up account list in a register. To remove an account from this pop-up account list as well, check the Placeholder check box.

Below these checkboxes is a pane that contains a list of Account Types. Select a type from the descriptions in Section 5.1, “Types of GnuCash Accounts”.

The next pane contains an account tree to choose a Parent Account. To create a new account tree select New top level account.


The available choices in the Account Type pane depends on the selected account in the Parent Account pane. For example if the Parent Account is Assets you will see only Equity in the Account Type pane. This is to help maintain a proper account structure for the Chart of Accounts. Steps to enable On-line price updating

  • GnuCash relies on an external tool to retrieve online quotes. This tool is a Perl module named Finance::Quote and has to be installed on your computer independently from GnuCash. The first step in enabling online price updating should thus be to ensure Finance::Quote is properly installed.

    To determine if the Perl module Finance::Quote is already installed on your system, type perldoc Finance::Quote in a terminal window and check to see if there is any documentation available. If you see the documentation, then the module is installed, if you do not see the documentation, then it has not been installed.

    Installing Finance::Quote differs from one operating system to another. For the various supported systems, you can follow these guidelines:

    • Linux: Most linux distributions (like Fedora, openSuse, Mandriva, Ubuntu, and so on) have a package in their software repositories for the Finance::Quote perl module. So in most cases, you can simply use your preferred package manager (yum, apt, rpm, synaptics, yast,...) to install the module. The name of the package may vary from one distribution to another. It’s often called something like perl-Finance-Quote.

    • Windows: Finance::Quote on Windows requires perl to be installed already. If you haven’t done so, you should first install ActivePerl, or more recently, Strawberry Perl.

      The Windows installer from the GnuCash home page comes with a small helper program to install Finance::Quote for you. You can find it in the Start Menu under the GnuCash group and is called Install Online Price Retrieval.

    • Mac OS X: If you have installed GnuCash from the installer found on the GnuCash home page, Finance::Quote is already installed for you.

    • If none of the above applies to your setup, you can try these alternative, more generic instructions:

      1. Close any GnuCash applications you have running.

      2. Locate the folder where GnuCash is installed by searching for gnc-fq-update (without the quotes).

      3. Change to that directory, open a root shell and run the command gnc-fq-update (without the quotation marks). This will launch a Perl CPAN update session that will go out onto the Internet and install the Finance::Quote module on your system. The gnc-fq-update program is interactive, however, with most systems you should be able to answer no to the first question: Are you ready for manual configuration? [yes] and the update will continue automatically from that point.

    After installation is complete, you should run the gnc-fq-dump test program, in the same directory, distributed with GnuCash to test if Finance::Quote is installed and working properly.


    If you feel uncomfortable about performing any of these steps, please either email the GnuCash-user mailing list () for help or come to the GnuCash IRC channel on irc.gnome.org. More information is available on the GnuCash Wiki FAQ for example http://wiki.gnucash.org/wiki/FAQ#Q:_How_do_I_fix_a_.22system_error.22_or_.22unknown_error.22_when_getting_stock_quotes.3F You can also leave out this step and manually update your stock prices.

  • Create the Account for the mutual fund or stock with it listed in the Security/Currency field, as described above.


    When creating these accounts it is a good time to create income accounts to track dividends, capital gains (long and short) and expense account(s) for tracking commissions and losses (if you track losses as expenses).

  • Create the mutual fund or stock with either the Security Editor for existing stock/funds or the New Security/Currency dialog for a new stock/fund.

    Select Get On-line Quotes:, Type of Quote Source and Timezone.

    Online currency quotes require that the check-box for Online quotes and the timezone be selected in the Security screen and the Security Editor check-box for "get quote" box is checked for those currencies that are to be downloaded.

    • Get On-line Quotes: This check-box is to enable this security/fund to have quotes downloaded from an on-line source.

    • Type of Quote Source use the radio buttons to select the type of source for the Online quotes. Multiple: quote sources like Europe should be used if fail-over to multiple sites are desirable. Single: selections will only return information from the specified source.

      After selecting the type of source for price quotes, select a quote source from the pull-down menu. Currently among the supported quote sources are; Yahoo, Yahoo Europe, Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price, the Vanguard Group, the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) and TIAA-CREF.


      Note that Yahoo will provide price quotes for many mutual funds including Fidelity, T.Rowe Price and Vanguard, and that the quoted prices at Yahoo should be identical to those that may be found at the source sites.

      If you are outside the US and use one of the different Yahoo sources or multiple sources containing Yahoo, you should append the market code for the security such as PA for Paris, BE for Berlin, etc. Example: 12150.PA (a Peugeot security in the Paris market). Table A.4, “Yahoo Codes for Exchanges and Markets” below lists suffixes for various markets around the world.

      Pseudo-symbols for TIAA-CREF funds are listed in table Table A.5, “Pseudo-symbols that can be used for TIAA-CREF quotes”.

    • Timezone for these quotes: Select the timezone for the source of the on-line quotes you are receiving. For example, Yahoo normally quotes Eastern timezone, so choose America/New York if you use that quote source.

  • Select a commodity to the Price Editor.

  • Select Get Quotes in the Price Editor.

  • Check the latest price for the selected security.

If you wish to update price quotes from the command line, you can do so by the following command:

gnucash --add-price-quotes <gnucash-file-name>

The command gnucash --add-price-quotes <gnucash-file-name> can be used to fetch the current prices of your stocks. The file specified <gnucash-file-name> will depend on the name and location of your data file. This can be determined by the name displayed in the top frame of the GnuCash window, before the -. The file name can also be found under File in the list of recently opened file; the first item, numbered 1, is the name of the currently open file.

This can be automated in Mac OSX by creating a crontab entry. For example, to update your file every Friday evening (18:00) after markets close (modify the time accordingly for your time zone), you could add the following to your personal crontab:

0 18 * * 5 /path/to/gnucash --add-price-quotes /path/to/gnucash-filename > /dev/null 2>&1'

For Linux, which needs dbus, usually started by the desktop manager, to communicate with dconf or gconf:

0 18 * * 5 env `dbus-launch` sh -c 'trap "kill $DBUS_SESSION_BUS_PID" EXIT; /path/to/gnucash --add-price-quotes /path/to/gnucash-filename > /dev/null 2>&1'

Remember that Mutual Fund prices are really Net Asset Value and require several hours after the exchange closes before being available. If NAVs are downloaded before the current days NAVs are determined, yesterday’s NAVs are retrieved.

5.4.2. Opening Balance tab

The Opening Balance tab is visible only when creating a new account, and is disabled for Stock and Mutual Fund accounts. In the latter case, opening balances must be created by hand. Please see Section 8.5.1 in the Tutorial and Concepts Guide for instructions if you need to create an opening balance in a Stock or Mutual Fund account. It is used to record the beginning balance for an account. This allows it to be used for two different scenarios. If using GnuCash for the first time to record transactions, it can be used as a beginning balance. If the accounts in use are closed at the end of a period and new accounts are created, it is used to close and carry balances forward.

There are three panes in this tab. The top pane contains the Balance Information.

  • Balance: The balance to start the account with.

  • Date: The date the opening balance should be recorded.

The next pane is the Transfer Type pane.

  • Use Opening Balances Equity account: This transfers the opening balance for the account from a standard Equity account called Opening Balances.

  • Select Transfer Account: This enables the pane below so a different account can be used to transfer the opening balance.

The last pane is the Transfer Account pane. Select the account to use for opening balances from the list of accounts in this pane.