Thinking about moving from QuickBooks desktop editions (Enterprise, Premier, Pro, Accountant, Mac) to QuickBooks Online? How does the data move from the one to the other?

QuickBooks has changed the process recently of getting data from your desktop file into QuickBooks Online. These days, you export your data from your desktop version with the help of a command in the Company menu, and you are then presented with the QuickBooks Online log in screen to import that data.

Here are guides (with screenshots) provided by Intuit for migrating from different desktop editions to Online:

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Enterprise

QuickBooks Mac

That gets your data into the Online system. You might encounter some issues getting your Online data connected correctly to other online services. Ed Lieber discusses this issue here.

How about coming back the other way? That’s another story, perhaps for another article.

Did you migrate from QuickBooks Desktop to Online? How did it go?

What did QuickBooks users read about in 2015? Of the more than 230,000 views our blog received in 2015, here are the most-read articles from this year:

  1. How to Transfer QuickBooks from One Computer to Another
  2. How to Open QuickBooks When It Won’t Open
  3. How to Restrict User Access in QuickBooks
  4. What to Do When QuickBooks Is Not Responding
  5. Can Older Versions of QuickBooks Open Newer Versions’ Files?
  6. How to Change an Email Template in QuickBooks
  7. My QuickBooks File Is HUGE! What Can I Do?
  8. 13 Steps to Implementing Job Costing in QuickBooks for Contractors
  9. A Hidden QuickBooks Tool for When Reinstalling Doesn’t Work
  10. How to Transfer Files from Older Version to Newer Version of QuickBooks

Thanks for reading us in 2015!

Who are they? Increasingly, they are cloud users.

Intuit posted their latest quarterly results a couple of weeks ago, as reported in BusinessWire. There were some interesting details that the company shared.

  • Subscribers to QuickBooks Online grew 57 percent in the first quarter
  • Of the new subscribers to QuickBooks Online, over 80 percent were new customers to Intuit
  • Total subscribers to QuickBooks Online are now at 1,159,000
  • Intuit’s president and CEO, Brad Smith, said that their momentum comes as the company’s “intense focus on our global cloud strategy takes shape.”

Do the math backwards. In three months, the number of QuickBooks Online users grew by around 421,000. That’s amazing. And those aren’t one-time software purchasers…those are monthly subscribers. And 80%+ of them were new customers gained in the market, not customers cannibalized from the QuickBooks desktop user base. Just imagine the expansion of customer lifetime values going on there.

   RELATED: Self-Employed? Intuit Likes You

So that’s great for Intuit. What does it all mean for QuickBooks users themselves?

Well, in my opinion, it would be logical that Intuit’s “intense focus on their global cloud strategy” would include an intense focusing of their development resources. And therefore, more development for cloud services (including, of course, QuickBooks Online), and less development for desktop products. And therefore, more innovation in QuickBooks Online, and less innovation in the QuickBooks desktop editions. Again, this is just my opinion, but that line of thinking makes sense to me.

Another thing. Earlier this year, Intuit announced that they were putting their Quicken product up for sale and were seeking the right buyer. But Intuit said they would retain, their cloud-based personal finance solution. Sell the desktop division, keep the cloud division. To me, this seems like more realignment towards the cloud and away from (even successful) desktop products.

From the desktop users’ point of view, maybe a focus shift — even an innovation shift — is not altogether a bad thing, as long as maintenance and support continue. I have heard over the years a lot of people say “leave well enough alone” when it comes to QuickBooks desktop editions. Well, what if that happened? What if Intuit left well enough alone?

Even if the desktop products stay largely the same in the years to come, I am wondering if their desktop licensing will stay the same. You probably know that Intuit changed their subscription model for Enterprise users last year, making it so you have to pay an annual subscription fee in order for Enterprise to keep working. I’m wondering if a time will come when Intuit brings all their desktop editions (Pro, Premier, Accountant, Mac) to a subscription based model like Enterprise (and like QuickBooks Online).

   RELATED: What Are the Options Now for Enterprise Users?

If they got to that point, all their accounting products would be subscription-based and lined up in the same direction from a strategic revenue model point of view. Tidy.

So, who are QuickBooks users these days? Increasingly, they are QuickBooks Online users. And even when QuickBooks users aren’t cloud customers, more than ever, they are recurring subscribers.

If you’re in danger of something, you want to know. So I wish that QuickBooks had an early warning system. It would be great if QuickBooks would tell you, for example, that you are about to hit a hard capacity limit in the software. But there is no early warning, only an error when you’ve hit the limit.

This is a problem with Pro, Premier, and Accountant editions — Enterprise has much higher limits, and Online doesn’t have a hard limit. But for Pro, Premier, and Accountant, you can only have a sum total of 14,500 names. That includes customers, jobs, vendors, accounts, classes…any kind of name. And separately, you can only have a total of 14,500 items, including inventory, non-inventory items, service items, etc.

When you hit that 14,500 limit, you get an error message that says that you have reached the maximum number of names and you can’t add any more.

This takes people by surprise. We hear from them! They find themselves up against a limit they didn’t know they were edging up to.

It would be better, don’t you think, if you got a warning message when you reached 13,000 names? And another warning at 14,000 names? And another at 14,250? Then you would have time to take action to address the problem before it shuts you down.

Just a thought.

In the meantime, here’s what you should do, without delay: Press the F2 key in QuickBooks. Just do it! You’ll see in the right-hand column of information that appears how many total names you have in your file.

If you are pushing the limit, what can you do? Read on…

I’m About at My QuickBooks Limit for Customers. Help!

Are You Pushing the 14,500 Limit in QuickBooks?


It’s that time again…the beginning of football season…aspens turning yellow in the mountains… and a new version of QuickBooks gets released. QuickBooks 2016 was just released last week to end users.

Here is a quick cheat sheet of some of the best new features found in QuickBooks 2016:

  • Batch deletion is possible for checks, bills, and invoices (Accountant edition)batch_deletion_screenshot
  • Bill tracker dashboard to quickly see accounts payable informationbill_tracker_screenshot
  • Custom field filtering for many item reports now possible
  • Reset the “Email later” checkbox on transactions with one step
  • Report date range for This Fiscal Year to Last Monthdate_selection_snapshot

There are a few other enhancements, but these are, to me, the most useful of them. What do you think? Are any of these “must-have” features for you?

Here are some files that have been sent to us recently. They are pretty big! (You can find out how big your QuickBooks file is by pressing F2 in QuickBooks.) How does your file compare?

Enterprise 14. 5.7GB. File fails verify and needs supercondensing.
Enterprise 13. 1GB, but 61,000 customers. Sluggish.
Enterprise 14. 1.8GB. Repeat customer, file had grown large again after a couple years.
Enterprise 15. 3.2GB. 30,000 items. Footing errors.
Enterprise 11. 8GB. Sluggish.
Enterprise 15. 700MB. Not big, but unstable.
Enterprise 15 Canadian. 750MB. Bloated lists.

Premier 2014 Canadian. 390MB, pushing the 14,500 limit on items.
Premier 2015 Nonprofit. 2GB. Slow in saving transactions and reporting.

Pro 2015 Canadian. 750MB. Too big to migrate to QuickBooks Online.
Pro 2014. 420MB. Sluggish.
Pro 2014. 300MB. Customer and item list bloated.

And the biggest kahuna of them all: QB Pro 2013, 9GB. File fails verify. That’s right, this is a Pro file! This file had over 30 million transaction links in it — the most we’ve ever seen in any QuickBooks file.

RELATED: Interview/Case Study: QuickBooks User with Large File

What did the users do? They sent us the files to be supercondensed and/or repaired. Sometimes rebuilding and condensing files within QuickBooks works. When it doesn’t we can (most of the time) repair and supercondense a file even when the built-in tools in QuickBooks fail.

Is your file’s size of concern? How about list size? How does it perform?

We frequently hear from people that they can’t backup their QuickBooks file:

* The verification stage of the backup process fails

* The backup command crashes

* Regular backups can be made, but portable files cannot be created

The problem might be media related, but it’s most often caused by data corruption. Here are the DIY fixes:

* Rebuild your company data (File / Utilities / Rebuild Data) and try again. The Rebuild command can often fix things in the file that prevents a verified backup from being created.

* Try backing up to a local hard drive, instead of to a network server, cloud drive, external drive, or USB drive. All those kinds of drives, besides a local hard drive, could possibly have connectivity or speed issues that would prevent a successful backup being made. Try backing up to your Windows Desktop and see what happens.

Still having problems? Then your data is probably corrupted to the point where the Rebuild command can’t fix it. If that is the case, you have three options:

1. Restore your last good backup and go forward from there. That might or might not require a good bit of data rekeying.

2. Get your current, damaged data repaired.

3. Ignore the problem. There are some obvious risks with doing this, but sometimes data can be damaged enough to prevent a verified backup being made, but that otherwise doesn’t cause errors in the operation of QuickBooks. If you choose this option, you can turn off the verification option in the backup command so that you can still make backups. Please note, however, that you are backing up damaged data.

Any other thoughts on this? Any other options or workarounds to consider?

Thinking about migrating from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online Edition? What if your file is too big?

There is a way around this obstacle, but first, a little background.

It used to be that if your QuickBooks file was bigger than 200MB, it wouldn’t migrate to QuickBooks Online…too big. You’d get an error when you tried to create the QuickBooks Online export file.

Then the limit changed, and it was a limit on the total number of transactions that your file contained.

As of today’s writing, the limiting factor is on how many “targets” exist within your file. A “target” is basically a line of detail within a transaction. If your file has more than 350,000 targets in it, it’s too big to migrate to QuickBooks Online.

You can find out how many targets your file has by opening your company in QuickBooks and pressing the F2 key.

F2 screen in QuickBooks
F2 screen in QuickBooks

In the screenshot above, the total targets is less than 6,000. This is from a sample set of data, and an actual working set of data — particularly with lots of inventory or jobs transactions — will have a high total targets figure.

So if you have a ton of transaction detail in your file — move than 350K lines — but you want the advantages found in QuickBooks Online Edition, what can you do?

The first thing to try would be the built-in Condense command in QuickBooks. Try it on a copy of your file. If the Condense command is found in your version of QuickBooks, it’ll be in the File / Utilities menu (the command is not in all versions).

Why would you want to run Condense on a copy? Because sometimes the Condense command will freeze and you’ll have to exit QuickBooks abnormally. If that happens, you don’t want it happening on your live data. But when the Condense command works well, it works well, so try it and see what happens.

If the Condense command succeeds, then you can strip out lots of old transaction lines, and possibly bring the file down to the point where you can successfully create the export migration file.


If the Condense command doesn’t work, or doesn’t get enough reduction to make the data migration possible, then you could consider getting your file prepared for migration. This is an external process we provide that can reduce your file’s size (and targets) by 50-80%. We remove all but the last 1-7 years of data (your choice), and create the export file (OE.qbw) that is ready to send into QuickBooks Online.

Learn more about the file preparation service here.

QuickBooks permissions let you permit — or restrict — your users’ activities in QuickBooks. If you have more than a couple of employees’ who use QuickBooks, you probably take advantage of this feature.

When I posted “How to Restrict User Access in QuickBooks” a few years ago, it elicited scores of questions and comments. My thanks go out to all those commenters. Here’s a summary of those comments and answers:

What is possible to restrict in QuickBooks (partial list):

You can restrict…

  • Access by module (Sales, Payroll, etc.)
  • Reporting
  • Ability to change or delete existing transactions
  • Access to especially sensitive information like bank accounts, customer credit cards
  • Access to financial reports

What is impossible to restrict in QuickBooks (any edition):

You cannot restrict…

  • Name-based access (e.g. you can’t allow transaction entry or reporting for some customers / jobs / employees / vendors / sales reps, while restricting others)
  • Changing other users’ entries, but allowing you to change your own entries
  • Access to only selected reports (as opposed to whole categories of reports)
  • Access based on payroll group, weekly vs. bi-weekly, for example
  • Date-based access (e.g. running reports or viewing transactions only data before or after a certain date)
  • Account-type access (e.g. able to view P&L accounts but not BS accounts)
  • Viewing of the item list
  • Access to bank accounts without access to paychecks
  • Field-level access, e.g. disallowing a sales rep from changing the sales rep field, or disallowing access to inventory cost while retaining access to QOH
  • Allowing the entry or reconciliation of some bank accounts or credit cards, but not others
  • Entering a transaction without being able to see the previous entries also

There are many examples of restrictions that are possible in Enterprise edition but not in Pro or Premier editions. Here are a few differences that came out of the comments.

What is possible to restrict in Enterprise, but impossible to restrict in Pro or Premier:

  • Preventing the viewing the Employee Center’s list of employees
  • Allowing access to estimates without also giving access to other sales/receivables functions
  • Allowing access to payments without also giving access to invoicing
  • Allowing creation of purchase orders but no other A/P entries
  • Creating classes
  • View-only mode for non-financial reports, without also giving the ability to enter transactions (e.g. you can’t keep access to A/R reports without also giving access to A/R transactions)

Which of the “impossibilities” listed above do you think Intuit should definitely address in a future version?

What? Support for all versions of QuickBooks 2012 will be discontinued. This means that any add-on services won’t work anymore:

  • Payroll
  • Tech support
  • Payments
  • Online banking

When? Support ends after May 31, 2015.

Which? 2012 versions of QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Enterprise Solutions, Accountant Edition, Mac.

How? You can continue using your product, but any connection between your QuickBooks 2012 product and outside services (e.g. payroll) will stop working. You won’t be able to sign up for tech support, or any services, for your product.

Why? According to Intuit’s website, it’s because they are “committed to developing easy, straightforward financial tools that help you today and grow with you tomorrow. But it’s a balancing act – making QuickBooks better and easier to use while still supporting older versions.”

If you are using a QuickBooks 2012 product now, you can upgrade to a more recent version, and your data should automatically convert up when you first open your company with the newer version.

RELATED: What Are the Options Now for Enterprise Users?
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