A payee is a description of the source of a transaction. Actual provides a powerful way of managing payees.
When importing transactions, by default it will create new payees based on the given name. Usually this ends up with some ugly names like
Target Debit Crd Ach Tran Co Id:Xxxxx15170. With payee management, you can clean these names up, set rules for how payees are resolved, and even set a default category to use.
To manage payees, either select the File > Manage Payees menu item or click the Manage Payees button when editing a transaction's payee.
When importing transactions from a file, the system tries to automatically match the given names to existing payees. It does this by running through rules that you can edit. If no existing payee is found, it will create one.
If a payee is found with an exact match as the given name, it will always use that payee.
Otherwise, it will look for payees with rules that match it. These rules specify whether it should match a string exactly, or if it should contain a string. For example, a Target payee might have a rule that says "if a name contains 'Target', use this payee", and the ugly payee above would be resolve to this Target payee.
When a payee is matched, if it has a default category the transaction will automatically be assigned it.
A powerful feature is merging payees. You may already have months worth of data and a lot of ugly Target payees that all vary slightly. You want to merge all of these together into one payee.
You can individually select payees and merge them if you like, but filtering & merging is a powerful way to quickly clean up your payees.
Transfers are just special payees that indicate which account to transfer to/from. Since they are payees, you can create rules like normal which will automatically create transfers. Find them at the bottom of the Manage Payees screen if you want to create custom rules.