It’s not that version 13 is unlucky in itself. It’s just that Intuit is about to retire that version, and you won’t be able to get Intuit support for it anymore, or get it to connect to online services anymore.

If you’re using version 2013 and you always upgrade to the latest version every three years — to stay within that 3-year support window — then your time has come to get a new version.

The sun sets on QuickBooks version 2013 on May 31, 2016.

Which editions are affected? QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Accountant, Mac, and Enterprise (although with Enterprise, you’ll be able to continue using what you have until the expiration of your service plan).

QuickBooks Online lives outside the world of desktop versions and does not face version sunset issues.

The online services that are affected include credit card processing, online banking, bill pay, QuickBooks payroll services, and Intuit tech support. (You will still be able to get data services support for version 2013 through AccountingUsers, Inc., however.)

If you get a new version of QuickBooks, your version 2013 data should upgrade fine just by opening it in the new version (but contact us if it doesn’t…)

RELATED: How to Transfer Files from Older Version to New Version of QuickBooks
RELATED: “QuickBooks File Wouldn’t Upgrade…”

Maybe you’ve found yourself in this situation:

* You use QuickBooks 2016 and your client uses QuickBooks 2017. They want to send you their file for review.

* You have an old computer with an old version of QuickBooks on it, and you want to open up your current QB file on that computer.

* Your computer crashes and dies. You buy a new computer. When you go to install QuickBooks, you can only find your install disk for an earlier version. You install it anyway. You restore the backup you made to the cloud (whew!), but it was made by a later version of QuickBooks.

In all of these cases, you are trying to use an old version of QuickBooks to open a new file.

It doesn’t work.

QuickBooks is backwards compatible — it can open and convert files made from earlier versions — but it is not forwards compatible. If you think about it, there’s no way it could be. The version of QuickBooks you have installed on your system today doesn’t know what future releases of QuickBooks will be like, including their revised data structures.

You see, most new releases of QuickBooks come with internal changes to the database. That’s why the size of your QuickBooks file changes when you upgrade to a newer version. It almost always grows. And that’s why, when you upgrade your file to a newer version, QuickBooks gives you a warning that that change to your file is irrevocable.

So the bottom line is that, unfortunately, you can never use an older version to open a newer file. You can never open a QuickBooks 2017 file with QuickBooks 2016, as one example.

The solution is simple, if not free: get a version of QuickBooks that is equal to or later than the version of the QuickBooks file you are trying to open.

First of all, it won’t look exactly the same. But you can make it look a lot more like QuickBooks 2012 (or prior) than it does by default, which looks like this:

Here’s what you start with

Some (many?) folks don’t like the monochromatic look that was one of the most obvious changes in the 2013 version.

To make it look more like it used to, first of all make sure that you have R6 update (or later) installed. Prior to R6, you were pretty much stuck with the black/white/gray mode. To check for updates, just click Help / Update QuickBooks… and let it check for more current updates than you currently have installed.

So after getting R6 or later installed, click Edit / Preferences. Click Desktop View in the left pane. You’ll see this:

Click the checkbox for “Switch to colored icons/light background on the Top Icon Bar” and then click OK.

Now click View, and click “Top Icon Bar”.

Voila! This is what your QuickBooks desktop will then look like:

Looks a bit more familiar, doesn’t it?

It’s a beauty, ain’t it? Nice, colorful icons up top, just like you’re used to. They changed the graphics for the icons, and I think the font is a little different, but it’s a lot more like the look you had in 2012 and prior versions.


A picture is worth 1000 words. So we’ll save a bunch of time and just let you see what some of the most important screens look like in QuickBooks 2013. You “visual people” will like this.

RELATED: QuickBooks 2014 Screenshots

The redesigned screens and home page are the main new things in the 2013 version. These are taken from the QuickBooks 2013 Premier edition. You can click the image to see the whole thing.

QuickBooks 2013 home screen
QuickBooks 2013 home screen

QuickBooks 2013 shortcuts
QuickBooks 2013 Shortcuts, AKA icon bar

QuickBooks 2013 View Balances window
QuickBooks 2013 View Balances window

QuickBooks 2013 Customer Center
Customer Center

QuickBooks 2013 Reports Center
QuickBooks 2013 Reports Center

QuickBooks 2013 Enter Bills Screen
QuickBooks 2013 Enter Bills Screen

QuickBooks 2013 Checks screen
QuickBooks 2013 Checks screen

QuickBooks 2013 Check Register screen
QuickBooks 2013 Check Register screen

Some people like the new look of the screens and some don’t. How do you feel about them?

There’s always a little excitement when you install your new version of QuickBooks. You’re eager to see what the new interface looks like, and check out some of the new reports and features. So if your data won’t upgrade, eagerness can turn into frustration.

Let’s back up a step. Normally, QuickBooks is designed to automatically convert your file to the new version simply by opening the file. Let’s say that you have been running QuickBooks Premier 2012 and you now install QuickBooks Premier 2013. Your data will automatically be updated to 2013 format just by opening your company data in the new version. The software will make you create a backup and tell you that your data will be irretrievably converted to 2013 format (you can’t go back). With your approval, QuickBooks converts your file to version 2013, and you’re good to go. That is the normal user experience.

But what if that doesn’t work?

RELATED: Case Study/Interview: QuickBooks Won’t Verify or Rebuild

Sometimes QuickBooks doesn’t encounter problems with a company file until it tries to upgrade it to a newer version. Some kinds of data problems don’t get exposed until all the information in the file has to be touched, which is what happens when you upgrade your file. If there is just one bad record buried down in the file, it can throw a wrench in the file upgrade process.

Only a small percentage of upgrading users encounter this. If it does happen to you, your file can be repaired and upgraded in almost all instances, and overnight turnaround is available. Here’s a comment from someone who experienced this:

We had a client with a corrupted QuickBooks file that wouldn’t upgrade to QuickBooks 2012 and had some other issues. We uploaded the file and a few days later had a working file. This is a great service when (not if) there are problems with QuickBooks data files.” — Scott Scharf, Catching Clouds LLC

Have you ever had any difficulty upgrading your file to a newer version? Tell your story.

QuickBooks 2013 - reviewsI recently posted my wishlist for QuickBooks 2013. Well, the reality is now here; QuickBooks 2013 was announced yesterday. Here are some of the current reviews/analyses of it:

QuickBooks 2013 Announced – Sunburst Software Solutions Inc.:

“According to Intuit, this year, a top request that they heard from customers like you was to make the product easier to use so you could work more efficiently – no additional features, just a better experience.  As Intuit began planning for the release of QuickBooks 2013, they determined that updating the look and feel was a key way to deliver on their objective to make QuickBooks easier to use.”

Intuit: QuickBooks 2013 is Designed for Efficiency – Small Business

“What if business software makers took the same care and attention to the user experience that Apple does?
Intuit offers a glimpse at the polished interfaces and the hyper-efficient workflows that the future holds for small business software users with today’s launch of QuickBooks 2013. And according to Pamela Bailey, experience design leader for QuickBooks, the makeover is more than pixel deep.”

Small Businesses Get Smart With QuickBooks 2013 –

“A reimagined and improved design helps small businesses complete financial tasks faster than ever so they can spend more time building their businesses. QuickBooks Pro and Premier 2013 deliver all existing QuickBooks features, plus new enhancements requested by users, in a clean and simple experience that’s optimized for efficiency, and that makes adding functionality, such as third-party applications, as easy as one click.”

Small Businesses Work Smarter with a QuickBooks Designed for Efficiency – Intuit Small Business Blog:

“Today, Intuit unveiled QuickBooks 2013, the latest version of QuickBooks desktop software for Windows. Our millions of small business customers will be delighted to experience a completely reimagined and improved design that will help them work smarter by saving time managing their finances.”

QuickBooks Gets a Major Redesign – PCWorld:

“Intuit’s annual refresh of QuickBooks this time around is less about steak than sizzle. The QuickBooks 2013 family doesn’t offer much in the way of new functionality, but it definitely looks a lot different than its predecessors.”

Small Businesses Find More Time With QuickBooks 2013 (Canadian) – Intuit Canada Limited:

“With the new QuickBooks® 2013, Canada’s number one selling financial management software,2 these entrepreneurs have a new resource to help them run and grow their small businesses.  From smart new features to a sleek new look and feel, the 2013 version of QuickBooks® from Intuit Canada is the easiest, most efficient QuickBooks ever.”

Intuit Debuts QuickBooks for Mac 2013 – Macworld:

“Intuit has unveiled QuickBooks for Mac 2013, the newest version of its small-business accounting software package. According to Intuit representatives, the new features in QuickBooks 2013 are designed to help users get started quickly, to organize records more effectively, and to simplify common tasks.”

Look out Freshbooks, QuickBooks 2013 for Mac Includes Online Payment Integration – ZDNet:

“QuickBooks 2013 for Mac’s new features are designed to help users get started quickly, get records organized, and to help simplify common tasks. For example, the new version allows you to import contacts from Address Book and add items (that you buy or sell often) from a spreadsheet.”

What do you think about QuickBooks 2013? Are you planning on getting a copy?

my quickbooks wishlistQuickBooks 2013 hasn’t been released yet, but it probably will be pretty soon (new versions usually come out in the early fall). Here’s my wishlist for the new version:

  • Faster, using more processing power and memory for intensive tasks. I’ve watched my Windows systems resources performance monitor while running 2012 Enterprise and Premier. It seems that QuickBooks sometimes leaves a lot of computing resources on the table during intensive processes. Better resource use = faster processes, usually. Seeing less of the “(Not Responding)” message would be nice too.
  • Better performing Condense command. This command crashes a lot of the time. (We are happy, though, to provide our supercondensing alternative which shrinks the file down more than the built-in condense does anyway.)
  • Allow more networked users to be licensed under the Pro and Premier editions. These editions currently max out at three and five users respectively. I think it would be a good thing if Premier users didn’t have to upgrade to Enterprise when they want to add a sixth QuickBooks user on a network, unless they want to.
  • Enhanced dashboard/snapshot. Add trending gross profit or net profit, and multi-year date comparatives
  • Enhanced user permissions control. In particular, an “enter-only” permission where you can set up a user to be able to enter original transactions but not revise them later. And more total lockout of users who don’t have module permission. Three cheers for accounting control! By the way, I got both of these ideas about permissions from some comments by my wonderful readers — thanks!

Maybe some of my wishes will come true in the 2013 version, or if not, the 2014 version. What’s on your list?