It’s a great feeling (in a nerdy kind of way) when you run a report in QuickBooks and you get exactly the information you are looking for.

Sometimes the key to that is using the right filter.

Filters in QuickBooks simply restrict the data that appears on your report. This enables you to fine-tune your reporting results, getting to the crux of what you are looking for much faster.

To add or change a filter in a report, you run the report, then click the Customize Report button. Select the Filters tab. Here is the filter control for Transaction List by Customer:

The report filter dialog box in QuickBooks

You will see the report’s current filters in the right pane of the dialog box. You can change or delete those if you wish.

If you want to add a new filter, pick the field you want to filter in the drop-down filter list on the left. Commonly used filters are date (a specific date, or a range), name, account, transaction type, class, job, and paid status, but there are many more filterable fields you can pick from.

Once you pick the filter field you want, QuickBooks is pretty smart about how you specify your choice of information from there. For example, if you specify Transaction Type, it will offer you a drop-down list of all the transaction types. You can specify one Transaction type, or you can click “Multiple Transaction Types” and click away on the types you want to see in the report.

If at any point you want to go back to the report’s default filters, just click the Revert button.

When you are ready to apply your filter to the report, click the OK button. QuickBooks will apply your filter to the report results and refresh the screen.

Using filters is great for finding a needle in a haystack…when you know just one or two bits of information about what you are looking for, and don’t want to wade through pages and pages of detail to find it.

Filters are also great to find anomalies in your data…transactions with amounts, dates, or numbers that are outside the normal ranges.

Do you have any tips to share on using report filters?

I hunted around to find you the best articles and short videos on QuickBooks 2012′s new features. Enjoy.

Charlie Russell / Sleeter

Excel Integration Improvements
Improvements for Accounting Professionals
Miscellaneous new features
Inventory Control Center (Premier and Enterprise 12)
Enhanced Inventory Receiving (Enterprise 12)
Automatic Cost and Price Updates (Enterprise 12)

Cordasco & Company P.C.
Document Management Changes in 2012

Laura Madeira
Notable New Features in 2012
Accountant Center (Video)
QuickBooks Accountant 2012 – File Manager (Video)
QuickBooks Accountant 2012 – Starter Copy (Video)

Nancy Smyth / Sunburst Software
Batch Timesheets (Video)

Reesa McKenzie
QuickBooks 2012 Accountant Statement Writer (Video)

AppleInsider Forum
New Features for QuickBooks for Mac 2012
More on QuickBooks for Mac 2012

Have you seen other good content online that highlights new features in QuickBooks 2012?

taipei skylineUntil 2010, Taipei 101 was the tallest skyscraper in the world. How do you build a structure like that to be safe in a land of earthquakes and typhoons? You hang a big ball inside the top of it.

Taipei 101 uses a device called a “tuned mass damper” to minimize the motion of the building during adverse conditions. This device is a ball. It weighs 660 tons, is made of steel plates, and hangs by steel cables inside the top of the building.

If, for example, a typhoon came roaring over Taiwan, the gales would push against the skyscraper. The big heavy ball would resist the push and, in effect, push back. It would reduce instability.

I visited Taipei 101 last summer, and bought a ticket to ride the (world’s fastest!) elevator to the observation deck. And by simply walking down a couple flights of stairs from the top, you can behold the big ball. It was painted sparkly gold and almost looked decorative unless you knew of its engineering function.

There was a second aspect of the tuned mass damper that impressed me. It was how they used the big ball to brand their skyscraper.

Damper Baby, or Taipei 101
Damper Baby in front of Taipei 101's Tuned Mass Damper
Truly! They had designed a ball-bellied character to represent the tuned mass damper. They call it “Damper Baby” and it’s all over Taipei 101. It’s kind of the building’s mascot. In the skyscraper’s gift shop, they sell Damper Baby calendars, fridge magnets, wind-up toys.

To the left is a picture of “Damper Baby”, and behind it you can see just part (it’s big) of the real damper. The pistons you see are part of the “push back” system.

Why am I telling you all this on a QuickBooks-oriented blog? Because we want to be, in effect, like a Damper Baby for your QuickBooks. That’s right.

There are lots of things that push against the stability of your QuickBooks data file: the data traffic on your network, your electrical system in your office, your computer hard drives, Windows, your security and firewall settings…lots of things can influence how QuickBooks performs.

There are two ways we can help “push back” if one of those elements goes awry. One is to reduce your file’s size to a level that will make it more stable. The other is to repair or reconstruct your file if it somehow gets corrupted. We’d be glad to help in either case; just give us a ring.

So…anyone else been up to the top of Taipei 101? What did you think?

Veterans support organizations can sign up for free QuickBooks payroll training. The training is scheduled for November 3 and is in the form of a one hour live online seminar called “QuickBooks Payroll Essentials”.

Intuit Trainer Network presenter Stacy Kildal will be conducting the training session. The focus of the seminar will be on verifying the accuracy of payroll figures and making sure everything is correct before submitting payroll data to the government.

AccountingUsers, Inc. is making the free QuickBooks training available to veterans organizations as part of its Community Connect public service initiative.

The seminar is available to QuickBooks users everywhere (not just veterans orgs) and will be recorded and made available afterwards to all who register for the seminar. The number of seats is limited.

Click here for details.

Do you ever wonder if a transaction got changed? When it was actually entered? What its history is? Who made an entry or a change?

The Audit Trail report is handy for those situations.

You access the Audit Trail report through Reports / Accountant & Taxes / Audit Trail

The default sort order for the report is by user, transaction type, and transaction date.

In this Audit Trail report for a sample company, you see transactions entered or changed by the Admin.

quickbooks audit trail report sample 1

The third entry down shows when the date of a previously entered invoice was changed. You can tell because of the boldfacing on the date.

Here’s another section of the same report:

quickbooks audit trail report sample

Here you can see that changes were made to the terms of the invoice, and in the second grouping, the amount. If you could see the next column to the right, you’d see the particular G/L account line item that was changed.

By clicking the Customize Report button, you can change what columns of information you want on the report.

The Audit Trail report only shows changes that could possibly have accounting implications.

This is great in the following situations:

  • Tracking down “lost” transactions
  • Determining who entered what, when
  • Accounting audits (obviously!) and accounting forensics
  • Evaluating effectiveness of existing accounting controls

The Audit Trail function in QuickBooks used to be an optional one — you could turn it on or off. But it has been “on” all the time now over the last few releases of QuickBooks.

Any other tips on using the Audit Trail report to help businesses?

We all know that certain kinds of assumptions are dangerous, whether in life, relationships, or business. Here are three assumptions that it would risky to make about QuickBooks:

1. Assuming QuickBooks is easy and you can do it all yourself.

A lot of people think that because you can buy a copy of QuickBooks Pro 2012 for under $200, it’s a simple program. The assumption is that inexpensive software is simple to use, and anyone can set it up and operate it. It’s like Quicken for business, right?

That’s not a very good assumption. QuickBooks addresses the most fundamental financial aspects of your business: cash flow, invoicing, payments, inventory, payroll, and indirectly, taxes and credit. You want all that done right.

If you have an experienced bookkeeper or accountant on your staff, you should be in good shape. If not, it’s probably best to find one who can help you set up and maintain a proper set of books in QuickBooks. You can find a find a local QuickBooks ProAdvisor here.
They can scale the level of help you need — it need not be a terribly big budget item for you.

2. Assume that all the numbers are always right.

This goes along a bit with number 1 above. You’ve heard the old data processing chestnut, “Garbage in, garbage out”? That is as true in QuickBooks as it is in any information system. You can plug pretty much any kind of numbers into QuickBooks that you want. Because of that, there is no built-in guarantee of correct financial reporting. There’s always the human factor.

A while ago I was talking with a QuickBooks consultant who had a client with a problem: their books were off in accounts payable by $600,000. That’s a little bit of a problem, eh?

It’s an extreme case. But it illustrates how if the bookkeeping processes aren’t correct, and mistakes are repeated over a long period of time, it can make a mess.

There are online training seminars available to help users master the skills they need to use QuickBooks correctly. Or refer to point 1 above and let a pro take a look at your books and see if there are issues.

3. Assume that your computer, and QuickBooks, will start up every time you want it to.

This is an easy assumption to make — I make it myself every day.

But computers are machines, and software is a kind of logical machine itself, in a way. No machine will work right every time forever.

So every day, some QuickBooks user somewhere turns on their computer and Windows fails to boot. Or the network server RAID drive fails in the middle of the day. Or a QuickBooks company gets corrupted.

THEN what happens? Hopefully, a contingency plan is put into motion that had previously been thought through and prepared. One that involves current backups.

But believe me, a lot of people never think this through in advance.

p.s. I hate to be the cup-half-empty guy, but dealing with empty to half-empty cups is a big part of my job.

Favorite things about QuickBooks 2012QuickBooks 2012 editions just went on sale to the public. While the list of new features is perhaps not as extensive as in the 2010 and 2011 upgrades, there are still some things that might be quite helpful to you, depending on how you use QuickBooks:

* Better interfacing with Excel. If you export a report to Excel and then run the report again with new information, you can now update that previously created worksheet, instead of having to recreate it from scratch. This is a big help if you did some reformatting in the worksheet — you won’t have to redo that reformatting work.

* Document management. Online document management has been available to QuickBooks users (for a fee) over the last couple of versions. But with the 2012 edition, local document management is built in (the documents are saved on your computer, instead of the cloud). Best of all, it is free. So you can easily attach scans of purchase orders, bills, etc. to corresponding transactions in your QuickBooks file. QuickBooks will keep these documents in a folder called Attach under your QuickBooks file. Nice!

* Lead Center. If you want to manage leads — people who aren’t customers yet — you can add them here and convert them to customers later. This lets you keep your customer list cleaner.

* Lots of Inventory improvements in Enterprise 12: A new Inventory Center, similar to the Customer and Vendor centers. Support for FIFO costing. Serial numbers. Lot tracking. Automatic price increases. Product images. Expanded number of price levels.

Have you tried out QuickBooks 2012 yet? What do you like best about it?

Most adventures are meant to be shared.

Think: The Three Musketeers. Han Solo and Chewbacca. Holmes and Watson.

It’s just more fun to have an adventure buddy.

In life, my family members are often my adventure buddies. This usually (but not always) works out well, and makes for great family memories. Here is my daughter and my pooch, pausing during our climbing adventure up the west face of Mount Yale, in central Colorado.

mt yale colorado

In business, it is good to have adventure buddies too. My first adventure buddy in business was Leif Haug, co-founder with me of AccountingUsers, Inc.

Leif was first my friend, then my boss, then, as we went into business together, my partner. We weathered lots of storms together in the software consulting market. It was fun learning how to make a business work during the infancy and maturation of the PC accounting software world. These days, Leif is working on new challenges elsewhere, so our relationship has come full circle — now he is just my friend again.

These days, I have new companions in business adventure. In particular, I’ve partnered up with some Quickbooks training professionals to offer a new series of online training seminars specifically designed for QuickBooks users. We’re just finishing up our first wave of classes. This is great fun, and it’s gratifying to work with people who share a bit of that sense of adventure.

Who are your companions in adventure?

Getting ready to install a newer version of QuickBooks? Take a few minutes to prepare and you might save yourself some grief.

* Pick a good time. The installation will take a little bit of time, as well the data conversion when you first open your company file under the new version. Don’t do this right before your employees will be expecting their payroll to be run, etc. Pick a “down time” so that if there are any complications, it won’t result in an immediate crisis.

* If you are “downgrading as you upgrade” (moving from Enterprise 10 to Premier 2012, for example), coordinate the file conversion in advance to minimize or eliminate downtime.

* Set a Restore Point in Windows. It’s just good practice to do this before installing or uninstalling software. If for some reason you need to revert your Windows settings to their pre-install condition, you’ll have that option.

* Check your disk space, and defrag your hard drive. Computers have monstrously big hard drives on them these days, but even so, you can fill them up after a while. If your computer is a bit old, make sure you have several GBs of free space on your computer before installing a new version of QuickBooks. Simply click Start / My Computer, and then right click on your C: local drive to see the properties of your drive. If it has been a long time since you defragmented your hard drive, you can click the Tools tab and see an option to defragment your drive. That can speed everything up, including your install time.

* Test your company data. Successfully upgrading your QuickBooks company file to a higher version will require that the file’s data integrity is good. Upgrading sometimes brings data integrity problems to the surface — problems that are not evident in your day to day use of QuickBooks. The upgrade process will probably verify your company, but you don’t want surprises. So verify and rebuild your company in QuickBooks before upgrading to make sure that the data is in ready condition. If there are problems, your file can be repaired and converted for you.

* Backup your company data. QuickBooks will force you to do this when you first try to open your company under the new version, but it’s important that you do it correctly.

You can back up your data to your local drive or to an online resource like IDrive or Global DataVault where your files are not subject to localized problems on your system or office.

I’ve always found it helpful to name your backup something like “pre-upgrade backup” with today’s date as part of the backup name. If something goes awry with the upgrade data process, it’s much better to have a pre-converted backup available than otherwise. It’s also great in those circumstances to know exactly which backup is the last pre-converted one. This backup should be kept around for awhile, even after a successful upgrade.

* Have your install codes ready. Hopefully you will not have any issues registering your product, but if you do, have your software install codes at your fingertips so your time on the phone with support will be as short and painless as possible.

Anyone have any other suggestions for prepping an upgrade?