If you want help while using QuickBooks, you’ve got some pretty good built-in resources:

* Context-sensitive help. Wherever you are in QuickBooks, you can press the F1 key to bring up a side panel of help for the QuickBooks function you are in. On entry screens, there is usually a Help button you can click that brings up the same side panel help.

* If you don’t know how to do something in QuickBooks (or how to get to the right screen), click Help on the top menu, and then click QuickBooks Help. Then click the Search tab. Enter the topic you need help on and click the right-arrow that serves as Enter. It will bring up a list of topics related to your search word(s). Click the topic that looks closest, and QuickBooks will display help content in the sidebar.

If you need “big picture” type help, you can click Help / Learning Center Tutorials. This pulls up a window with built-in video tutorials on various sections of QuickBooks (e.g. Payroll, Inventory, etc.) Here’s what the beginning of the “paying employees” tutorial looks like:

This is the beginning of the "Paying Employees" tutorial

Each tutorial video is several minutes long and has standard video controls for pausing, fast forwarding, and volume.

If you need help beyond what is built into QuickBooks’ internal help system or tutorials, you can access free online help at the Intuit Live Community or the independent QuickBooks Forums. For live help (fee based), call 1-800-999-9209.

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quickbooks jobs employmentGot QuickBooks skills? There are jobs out there for you.

Our QuickBooks Jobs Forum lists dozens of job openings every month for people with QuickBooks skills. Those listings consist of permanent part-time or full-time jobs requiring a background in QuickBooks. (There are other places to find temp or contract jobs; see below.)

In 2010, the average pay for data entry work was $10-15 per hour. Supervisory positions and ones requiring stronger accounting backgrounds were seen in salary ranges up to $40K per year.

Forum job listings peaked in 2010 in October with 105 listings. Most of the listings were in the US, but some were in Canada or the UK or elsewhere.

If you want to use your QuickBooks skills in a temporary position, check out the listings on accountemps.com and jobing.com. Some of the most popular sites for short-term contract positions are elance.com, donanza.com, and freelancer.com.

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Do you want your A/P clerk having access to your payroll records? Or your billing clerk having access to your profit and loss statements? Maybe so, but maybe not.

If not, then you can configure your QuickBooks company so that each user has access only to the information they need.

Set this up through the top menu: Company / Set Up Users and Passwords / Set Up Users. Click Add User or Edit User, depending on whether they are already existing users. Then you’ll see this screen:

Click on “Selected areas of QuickBooks” to begin the process of specifying authorized functions for that user.

The first screen that appears gives you control over the user’s access to Sales and Accounts Receivable functions:

You see that control can be broken down between data entry, transaction printing, and reporting. Select the functions that your user needs access to. You can also click (or not) on the checkbox giving the user access to customer credit card numbers.

This level of control in QuickBooks is great — it introduces accounting controls to your use of the software, and potentially reduces the risk of fraud and error.

You can set up controls for these areas in QuickBooks:

* Sales and A/R
* Purchases and A/P
* Checking and Credit Cards
* Inventory
* Time Tracking
* Payroll and Employees
* Sensitive Accounting Activities (like journal entries and online banking)
* Sensitive Financial Reporting

Finally, you can control the ability to change or delete transactions:

This is an important accounting control. If you open this capability to a user, they will be able to delete or change previously entered transactions. Limiting this capability to only staff that truly need it could help lower the possibility of bookkeeping crime in your office, because it makes it harder for users to cover their tracks if they are making entries they don’t want others to see.

Also, you can prevent users from making changes to the books after the close date. Your accountant will really like it if you restrict that.

There are news stories coming out all the time about embezzlement and fraud taking place in offices where QuickBooks or other accounting software is used. Want to lower the chance of it happening to you? Just limit your employees’ access in QuickBooks to the functions they need to do their jobs.

Do you have any tips or advice on using access restrictions in QuickBooks?

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Occasionally, QuickBooks users find themselves in a Catch-22: They need to restore a backup in QuickBooks, but they can’t get QuickBooks itself to open.

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This can happen if your company file got damaged during your last session in the program. Perhaps the power went off and your computer turned off without closing out QuickBooks first, or there was a network hiccup, or some other kind of hardware problem.

So the next time you run QuickBooks, QuickBooks automatically tries to open that data file. But if the company file is corrupted enough that it can’t be opened, then QuickBooks will give an error and shut down. What do you do then?

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Here’s the workaround if this (unfortunately) happens to you: Simply hold the CTRL key down while you are launching QuickBooks. Doing so will bypass the automatic opening of your company file and put you at the No Company Open dialog box. You’ll then be able to click “Open or restore an existing company” and restore a good backup, if you have one. (If not, give us a call at 1-800-999-9209; we can probably repair your damaged file.)

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People restore QuickBooks backups for several reasons: to get rid of data errors or corruption in their current file, to bring a different computer up to date with the most current version of the data, or to recover from a computer crash.

A common question at restore time is “What should I name the restored file?”

You can restore it to its original name, or to something different.

If you restore to your original name, then if a copy of that file is already resident in your restore location, QuickBooks will ask you if you want to overwrite the existing file. It will make you confirm that decision, because it is an important one.

You see, once you overwrite an existing file with your backup, then the contents of the original file are gone for good. Even data recovery service companies, or so-called file recovery software cannot bring back the original contents once they have been overwritten.

That might sound a little scary, and I have talked to dozens of people over the years who have made a mistake in this process and accidentally overwritten their current data with old data. It’s a tough place to end up.

To avoid that, you can restore your company file and give it a new name. That name might include, for example, today’s date as part of the file name. That way, you are not overwriting what was there before, and it is clear what your restored file is.

But without a standardized name it is possible that you or some other QuickBooks user on your network might get confused later and open a different (and older) version of the company by mistake.

I’ve talked to a lot of people in that situation too; there was more than one copy of their data on their server, and somehow people started opening and using the wrong one and several weeks went by before they realized their mistake. That’s tough too…there’s no straightforward way to merge the two semi-current files together. (You can use third party software to do it, but it costs both time and money.)

You can avoid these potential problems by sticking with one file name and doing a bit of quick work in Windows before you restore your backup.

Your standardized file name can simply be your company name. You’ll always open and work in the file that has that name.

Create a folder under the main folder where you keep your data, and call it Old Copies. Before restoring a backup, make sure that everyone is out of QuickBooks. Then open up My Computer (or your network drive where your QuickBooks data resides) and click and drag your company data file to the Old Copies folder. (Your company data file will have a QBW file extension or file type.)

Then open the Old Copies folder and confirm that the file is there. Then rename your company file to include today’s date (e.g. MyCompany_march_21_2011.QBW)

At that point, your work is unambiguous — you’ve made clear by moving and renaming the file that this file is outdated and not to be used anymore. But it’s still available in case you ever need it.

Then you’re ready to restore. Open QuickBooks and restore your backup. Choose the normal drive and folder where you keep your data. Restore the file to the original, standard file name. It should NOT ask you if you want to overwrite an existing file, because you had already moved the previously used file elsewhere.

If it does prompt you about overwriting, something is wrong — cancel the restore and figure out what is going on before continuing.

With this method, you should be able to avoid potential points of confusion either during the restore process, or afterwards when people are using the file.

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