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Installing Actual

The Actual Budget project is made up of two parts: the client and the server. A server is not required for Actual to function but it is strongly recommended as it provides increased functionality. Below is a table of features of Actual and if those features work with just a client or if a server is needed.

FeatureWithout ServerNeeds Server
Import transactions from filesX
All budgeting features (budgets, reports, schedules, etc)X
Import or Export budget filesX
Use Actual on a mobile deviceX1
Use Actual in a web browserX1
Sync budget between devicesX
Use bank syncing (GoCardless or SimpleFIN)X
Use the Actual APIX

The standard way of using Actual is to set up a personal server and use a web browser for the application. For quick testing or getting to know Actual before setting up a server, the demo or a desktop application are a good place to start.

Server-Optional Client Options

Desktop applications are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. These can be downloaded from GitHub. The desktop apps have the following benefits:

  • Can connect to a server (this gives them the ability to use the server-based features)
  • Automated backups
  • Offline use is ready out of the box

Server-Based Client Options

The server provides a web-based version of Actual. This web app can be used in a browser as a standard web page to view and edit your budget. The web page can also be installed on your device. For mobile devices, an installed web page will work offline.

Running a Server

While running a server can be a complicated endeavour, we’ve tried to make it fairly easy to set up and hands-off to maintain. Choose one of the following options to get started:

  • If you’re not comfortable with the command line and are willing to pay a small amount of money to have your version of Actual hosted on the cloud for you, we recommend PikaPods.2
  • If you’re willing to run a few commands in the terminal:

Once you’ve set up your server, you can configure it to change a few of the ways it works.

If you're coming from the original, managed Actual subscription service, you may want to migrate your data.

Additional Installation Options

In addition to our officially supported options listed above, some community members have written guides for using other platforms or tools:


Content contained on external links is not managed or maintained by the Actual Budget team, if you run into issues with instructions on a third party site, please contact the author in the first instance or ask in discord where a member of the community may be able to help.

  1. You technically don't need a server instance for this. You need to run either a web-based client or a server, but a server is the same effort.
  2. A portion of the cost to host on PikaPods is donated to the Actual Budget Project. With that said, PikaPods is a very simple, and cost-effective way to host your server.