How To Use AutoCat But Manually Review What It Does

Overview

Here’s a workflow that makes AutoCat work better for me. It uses the time-saving automation of AutoCat but adds a layer of manual review.

Before using AutoCat, I manually categorized all of my transactions. I liked knowing I was reviewing each of my transactions when I categorized them. Nothing would slip thru the cracks since all transactions that were categorized were also reviewed.

But AutoCat is a powerful tool that saves time and handles the repetitive task of categorizing transactions. So I decided it was worth a try.

Still, I wanted a way to check that AutoCat was working correctly and to review each of my transactions.

Here’s how I was able to achieve that goal.

Installation

  1. Install AutoCat if you haven’t already and set it up.
    Here’s a help article to do that: AutoCat for Google Sheets | Tiller Help Center

  2. Add a column to your Transactions sheet called Receipts. I use this both for confirming transactions and added a URL for a receipt. If you don’t want to keep track of Receipts this way, you could just call this column Reviewed? or something like that.

  3. When you added AutoCat to your sheet, a column called Categorized Date was automatically added to your Transactions sheet. This gets filled with the date AutoCat enters the Category for each row. Make a note of the column letter. If you don’t see this column, it might be hidden. Here’s how to Hide and Unhide a Column.

  4. Add a Conditional format rule to your Category column. (Format → Conditional format.) Use the Single color format and apply the rule to the range of my Category column. For me, that’s C2:C.

Where is says Format cells if…, select Custom formula is.

  1. The custom formula should be something like this:

=AND(C2<>"",E2="",Q2<>"")

In this example, C is my Category column, E is my Receipts column and Q is my Categorized Date column. Adjust the letters to match your sheet as needed.

The formula will apply a custom formatting style when Category is not empty, Receipt IS empty and Categorized Date is not empty. This will be all your unreviewed AutoCat transactions.

For the custom format, I made the cell background light yellow but you can pick whatever color or format you want.

Usage

Now when AutoCat runs, all the latest AutoCat transactions will have their category name in a yellow background cell.

I can then review these transactions and if I approve them, I can put some text in the Receipts column. I use a M for matched. Or I put in the URL of the receipt. Or you can put any text so it is no longer blank.

When you do that, the yellow background in the category cell will go away.

Once I have reviewed all these yellow category rows, I know that all the AutoCat transactions have been reviewed and confirmed.

Tell us in the comments if this works for you or if you have a way to improve it.

Jon

That’s pretty slick!! Great way to tackle the problem

My system is way more simple because I check every day so the number of transactions is never that high. I set my transaction sheet to paint empty category cells yellow. So first I fill any of those in. THEN my check is a simple stop at @yossiea 's Transaction Tracker. I keep the search set for everything ‘this month’ and it gives me a very fast and complete of the latest for review.

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Thanks for the feedback @susandennis .
It shows the importance of adding a review process into your workflow, no matter how you do it.
And simply is usually best.

I just read my original reply and realize it reads exactly the opposite of what I meant.

Your solution is robust and sophisticated and also creates the easy collection of other interesting data points.

My solution is the pre-school version for those of us who don’t need quite that much.

But, I am very impressed and appreciative of both what you did and your explanation.

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Looks good, one thing to FYI is that for some reason I already had a categorized date on my sheet and it’s filled out when AutoCat runs.

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Thanks @yossiea ,

On further research, i see AutoCat adds this column on install. I’ll update the instructions.

This is cool, @jono! I have built up confidence— maybe overconfidence!— in Autocat over time but this is a clever way on signing off on the changes it makes. Thanks for sharing!

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@randy Thanks! You are right. Autocat works very well. I don’t think it has ever made a mistake.

But the user (me) who sets up the rules for Autocat can mess up. :slight_smile:

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