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QuickBooks 2013 Barcode Support

September 14, 2012 | By | 39 Replies More

Inventory management using Barcode  scanners and printers has been a key element of many businesses for a long, long time. There are a number of very good QuickBooks add-on products that provide support for barcodes, but Intuit has always ignored this feature. Until now.

If you purchase the Advanced Inventory option for QuickBooks Enterprise V13, Intuit is introducing support for barcodes. This won’t provide everything that every business could need, but it is a good start.

This is a VERY large article, my apologies, because it is a very large topic, and I keep finding new features relating to barcodes!

This article was updated to add some information on barcode scanners on 9/24/2012

Using Barcodes in QuickBooks

This isn’t a tutorial on barcodes in general, or on how you can accomplish many of these steps in QuickBooks on your own. I may write that article in the future. In this article I’m focusing on the new feature in QuickBooks Enterprise V13. However, I need to lay some groundwork.

When we say “barcode” keep in mind that there are many different kinds of barcode “symbologies” – that is, the actual printed format of the scanable code. The information that you want to publish in a barcode format is translated to a graphic representation that can be “scanned” by a barcode scanning device. Different kinds of symbologies are used in different situations. Some symbologies can only handle numbers, some can handle numbers, letters and some symbols, others can be used for complicated data like a website URL.

Barcode samples

Different industries use different codes, and there is a WIDE variety of codes with many variations. The Intuit solution encompasses only certain specific symbologies, so this might not work for every business.

Before you jump into barcodes, it is important to define what it is that you want to accomplish. Just saying “I want to use barcodes” doesn’t get you very far. Are you trying to label your outgoing boxes with barcodes that are compliant with your customer’s requirements? Are you trying to track the location of an item as it moves through your warehouse? Do you want to speed up your annual physical inventory count? Do you want to improve accuracy when creating invoices? There are many ways to use barcodes, and many different kinds of scanners and programs available. Think about what you want to do, first.

In a very, very general sense, there are two main issues with working with barcodes and QuickBooks:

  • How will you print or create the barcodes using your QuickBooks data? Until now you had to either export your data to an outside tool, use a third party add-on to print your QB data with barcodes (such as the WaspLabeler), or futz around with “barcode fonts” in your forms, which can be a pain to deal with. With this release Intuit is providing you with a simple barcode printing feature within the program.
  • How will QuickBooks read your information from the barcode? Before now you either had to import your data from an external source, use a third party add-on to get the data into QuickBooks, or futz around with a scanner that just inserts the barcode value into a field, one at a time. With this new feature Intuit has started to support easy data entry.

What Intuit is providing is a simple way to print bar codes, and a  some aid in using them to get your data into QuickBooks. This is beginning barcode management, which may be enough for some businesses, but it isn’t a complete and sophisticated solution.

Enabling Barcode Support in Enterprise V13

Please note that I highly recommend that you make a backup copy of your company file before enabling this feature, in case you don’t like the results of the conversion. Not that there are problems – it is just that you might not be able to easily set the barcodes to a different value without restoring a backup.

In your QuickBooks Preferences select Items & Inventory, and click on the Advanced Inventory Settings button in Company Preferences. You will have to purchase the Advanced Inventory feature to be able to use barcodes. Select the options as shown below (note that the Advanced Inventory preference window has changed quite a bit from prior versions).

Enabling QuickBooks Barcodes

A new field has been added to the QuickBooks item record, barcode number, and this is a special field. The value in this field must be unique for each item in your item list (or, it can be empty). The question is, how do you get a value INTO this field? One way is to let QuickBooks place a value for you, as a part of the barcode setup wizard.

You have several options at this point, to let QuickBooks create a new value for you, or to have it copied from one of the existing fields.

QuickBooks Barcode Wizard

The options here are fairly clear:

  • I don’t currently track barcodes in QuickBooks: QuickBooks will generate a barcode value for you.
  • Copy barcodes from the Item Name field: This is straight forward, QuickBooks will use the item name that you have assigned this item in the list.
  • Copy barcodes from Manufacturer’s Part Number: Again pretty straight forward, instead of using YOUR part number, use the MANUFACTURER’s part number.
  • Copy Barcodes from Purchase Information: This will use the purchase description, or if it is a single sided part just the description. I doubt that many people will be using this option.
  • Copy barcodes from ‘custom field’: If you have been playing with barcodes in a third party product already, this may be the option for you. You will see a listing for each of the custom fields that you may have in your item list.

QuickBooks creates what I call auto-generated barcode numbers, where QuickBooks creates its own value in a specified format. I’ll discuss details of that format later in this document. The important thing to note at this point is WHEN you will see these auto-generated barcode numbers.

  • If you select the I don’t currently track barcodes option.
  • If you select ANY OTHER option, and for some reason the value in that field doesn’t meet the QuickBooks criteria, an auto-generated code will be created.

After you have selected the field to use the barcode setup wizard will ask you which item types to use.

Choose items to barcode

In most cases you wouldn’t normally select All Items, as that is going to set up barcodes for things like sales tax items and payment items. However, there are times when you might want to do this. For example, group items are not a choice in the selection list . I wish they were! Very often businesses will treat a group item just as they would an inventory part, for invoicing or purchasing. The only way to include a group item is to select all items, which might not be what I want to do. Heck, why not just list all of the item types in this window? There is plenty of room, and that would be more flexible. However, it shouldn’t hurt the system if you set barcodes for ALL items.

The barcodes aren’t generated until you actually close the Preferences window. However, before you do that, you might want to check on one more thing. In the My Preferences tab you want to check the Enable my barcode scanner box. You’ll also have to check this setting on the other user accounts later on. However, only enable this if you are going to use a USB or Bluetooth enabled scanner. If you are using another kind, you don’t want to select this, because (1) it won’t do you any good, and (2) it might slow down data entry (although I’ve not noticed a problem).Enable the barcode scanner

When you close the Preferences window QuickBooks will generate the barcode values. You may, depending on circumstances, get a notice about what was done, similar to the following:

Barcodes Created

You aren’t told WHY some were skipped, or WHICH items were skipped. QuickBooks has a set of criteria that the information must fit if a barcode will be created, as I’ll describe later. In this case it was because I selected the option to use the item name, and some of the names were shorter than 6 characters.

QuickBooks will then create an automatically generated barcode for those items that were skipped:

Auto Barcodes

Now you will see the barcode number field in the item record:

Edit Item window

Note that you CAN edit the barcode number in the Edit Item window. If you try to edit on item’s barcode number and make it a duplicate of one that is used by another item, QuickBooks will warn you that this is already in use (more on this later, in the “bug” section).

You can see the information in the item list if you customize the columns to add the barcode and/or barcode image. Note that in this display I left the barcode image column too narrow, so the full barcode doesn’t display and you get an ellipsis (…).

Item List with Barcodes

QuickBooks will generate barcodes for top level items as well as sub-items.

QuickBooks Barcode Format

When you create barcodes in the barcode setup wizard QuickBooks can either generate a barcode number for you (what I call “auto-generated”), or it will take a value from a field you select. If you work with a value in an existing field that value must meet certain criteria. If it doesn’t, then QuickBooks will create an auto-generated barcode number.

The main criteria are:

  • The value must be at least 6 characters long, and no more than 30 characters long.
  • The value must consist entirely of digits, letters and any of the following special characters: space, minus, plus, period, colon or forward slash (/).
  • The value must be unique – that is, only one item can use this value.

Another criterion comes into play when scanning codes, although I’m still working out the details on this.  If you are scanning serial or lot numbers, the scanned barcode cannot have a space (since lot/serial numbers can’t have spaces), and the scanned barcode number cannot be entirely digits and a length of 6 to 13 digits (that is, the format for UPC and EAN-13 codes).

Auto-generated barcode numbers will be created in the following format (note that this may change in future revisions):

QB:vkttccccccrrrr

  • QB: is a prefix that they wanted to use. There isn’t a particular requirement for the values to start with this, I believe that they just wanted something that would be unique.
  • v is a “version number”, currently 0, but that can change as the program is updated.
  • k represents the kind of barcoded value – in this case, a 1 represents that it is a “list”, I believe
  • tt represents which type of “list” this is – in this case, 03 represents the item list.
  • cccccc should be the “company’s unique number”, which is a numerical value derived from the company file name. The idea is that this will give you a different barcode for each QuickBooks company file that you have.
  • rrrr is an internal record number for the specific item record. This actually will vary in length.

QuickBooks barcode

When QuickBooks prints or displays a barcode it will use the Code 128 symbology, which is a commonly used format. It allows upper and lower case letters, digits, and a fairly reasonable selection of special characters. Not a bad choice for a generic barcode product.

While QuickBooks prints using Code 128, you should be able to scan values from any other barcode symbology that your scanner can accommodate.

I’m sure that I’ll find more things to say about this as time allows me to play with it in more detail. A few observations/questions:

  • The barcodes that are automatically generated do not have a uniform length. This does bother me a bit, but it isn’t a big issue. Just with my 20 or so items, some are 14 characters long, some are 15. If I had over 99 items it would get longer. If I sort this list by the barcode field the numbers won’t sort sequentially, which is annoying.
  • I would have liked to be able to provide some form of control over the format – such as the length of the code, the prefix, and so forth? I might have to squeeze my codes into a small space? I might have some business requirement for the format? I guess that if I want that kind of control I would have to import my chosen values into a custom field and then used that as the basis of the barcode.
  • I wish that they didn’t include a colon {:) in the auto-generated code. Sometimes this interferes with QuickBooks, particularly if you have a scanner that doesn’t work smoothly with this feature. The colon is a separator between the main and sub item in a QuickBooks ID. So scanning “QB:ABC” sometimes gets translated as looking for item ABC that is a subitem of item QB. Not smooth.

Other Ways To Enter Barcodes

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of ways to add data to the barcode number field in QuickBooks at this time. You can add your own barcode data directly to the barcode field by using the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries feature – the barcode field can be added to the item display. This only works for service, inventory part and non-inventory part items.

Adding QuickBooks Barcodes in Add/Edit Multiple List Entries

At this time they have NOT supported any of these other options:

  • While Intuit added the barcode field to the Excel export of the item list, they did not add it to the Advanced Excel import. That would have been useful.
  • I do not see this supported in the IIF import/export (which you should avoid anyways). It is very unlikely that you’ll see it added here.
  • At the time this is being released Intuit has not released an updated SDK or programming toolkit for developers to use – so the barcode field cannot currently be directly updated using a third party add-on. I hope that this will be taken care of VERY quickly.

This is important to consider. If you have an outside value that you want to import, you CAN use the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries feature, but note that this only lets you work a limited number of item types. Another way to deal with this is to import your value into a custom field BEFORE you enable barcode support, and convert the value from there.

Barcode Scanners and QuickBooks

Initially Intuit is saying that this will support most USB and Bluetooth scanners. This is a key issue. When I first tested this I had what is called a “keyboard wedge”, which means that it plugs in via the keyboard. Sorry, that isn’t a USB or Bluetooth scanner, so it didn’t work in the way that I expected. I was hoping that QuickBooks would do something special with the scanned value, but with this scanner the value comes in just as if it were typed from the keyboard (which is how these scanners are supposed to work). Unfortunately, if you are using the auto generated codes, this creates a problem. The “QB:” prefix interferes.

 

Barcode scanning error

My second scanner is a portable device that holds the scanned information internally until you dump it to the computer (perhaps as a text file to import). Sorry, this won’t work either. No way to get the data into QuickBooks easily.

OK, so a USB scanner. Heck, those are cheap, easy to find. I purchased a CCD USB Barcode Scanner SC1B-H that seemed to fit the bill. Probably not the best choice, but heck, it was just $28.00! A CCD scanner is a “contact” scanner, you have to hold it in contact with the page and it has a limited width of code it can scan. I’m going to save the manual to show people, it is a hilarious translation to English. Sadly, this scanner wouldn’t work with QuickBooks any differently than my first scanner. I’m not sure why at this point, although it may have to do with the slowness in which the scanner works.

This scanner works as a QuickBooks Barcode ScannerFinally, I acquired a Handheld USB Automatic Laser Barcode Scanner, also a low cost scanner. This is a laser scanner so you can hold it out from the page, which makes it easier to get different widths of barcodes. Success!

What I’ve learned so far is that not all barcode scanners will work. Intuit hasn’t published a list of “accepted” or “approved” scanners at this point. So, try one before you buy a bunch, and get them from a place with a good return policy in case you run into issues. My friend Bill Murphy said that the scanner that he has with his QuickBooks POS system seemed to work just fine.

I have only been able to test this on my local computer running Windows directly. There are two setups that I have not tested this with, and I’m not sure if there will be a problem. QuickBooks sees this scanner as a “second keyboard”, in addition to your normal keyboard. In some situations this may not be the case, and it may cause some confusion (that is, QuickBooks might not recognize the scanner). I have not tested this, so I’m speculating here.

  • If you are using a Remote Desktop environment, such as in a Windows Server environment. These environments may not present the data as two separate keyboards, so it could be harder for QuickBooks to recognize data as being scanned.
  • If you have a hosted QuickBooks environment – it is not clear to me how the scanner will work in that environment.

Update on 9/24/2012:Recently the folks at Wasp Barcode Technologies completed some early testing of their scanners with the QuickBooks barcode feature. They found that for their scanners to work it must be programmed to enable sending a carriage return character at the end of the code. Normally this is a default setting for their scanners. They tested several of their scanners, and these have all been proven to be compatible (other Wasp scanners may also work, they just haven’t been tested yet):

Using the QuickBooks Barcode Feature

OK, earlier I said that, in general, there are two aspects to barcode success. Printing the barcodes, and then scanning them. Let’s see how this new feature works.

Printing Barcodes

So far I’ve only found three reports where you can add the barcode number or barcode image: The Item Listing, the Physical Inventory Worksheet and a new report, Item Barcodes.

QuickBooks Item Barcode Report

These are great places for the barcodes to print, but a very limited choice. I would hope that they will add these fields to other reports in the future. How about on the open purchase orders by detail report? How about an option to print labels, not just a report? I would also see great value in being able to add these to purchase orders and invoices.

There are many good add-on products that can fill many of these needs. WaspLabeler is a great barcode label printing program (there are several others). CCRQInvoice can be used to add barcodes to invoices and sales orders. Note, however, that until Intuit updates the QBSDK (the programming interface), these add-on products can’t use the new barcode number field.

Update 12/5/2012: QuickBooks Enterprise V13 R4 has been released and it adds the ability to print barcode labels.

Data Entry

When I first started testing the new barcode feature I wasn’t impressed. So, they print barcodes. By itself that isn’t that big of a deal, what is key is how to USE the barcodes to simplify data entry. I thought that all it did was let me put the cursor on a particular field (the item name) and scan the code in, something that I could already do without this new feature.

Well, I was wrong. Once I selected the right kind of scanner I found that there are some very clever and useful features.

Scanning Item Codes: Sometimes you want to use the scanner to speed data entry (and to improve accuracy) when you are creating an invoice. With a regular scanner (not using the new feature), you have to put the cursor on the item code column and then scan. Then you put the scanner down and enter the rest of the info on that line (quantity, etc.) and reposition the cursor on the next line in the item code. It can be a bit tedious. With the new barcode feature, this is MUCH simpler.

Regardless of where the cursor is on the form, when you scan a valid barcode, QuickBooks knows what to do. First time this item is on the form? Add a new line, enter the item code, set the quantity to 1. Scan an item that is already on the order? Go to the existing line for that item and increment the quantity sold. This works very smoothly, I like it! The only issue here is that if I don’t have a sufficient quantity on hand I get the warning, and I have to click OK before I can go to the next barcode. It would be nice if there was another way to indicate this without requiring me to put the scanner down and click on a button.

In this example, I scanned the code for Case three times, Camera once, and then Case another time. I never had to touch the keyboard or mouse.

Barcode scanning in a QuickBooks invoice

This may seem like a simple thing, but it can be a great timesaver on data entry. This feature is enabled in:

  • Purchase Orders
  • Bills
  • Bill Credits
  • Item Receipts
  • Sales Orders
  • Estimates
  • Invoices
  • Sales Receipt
  • Credit Memos
  • Checks
  • Credit Card Charges
  • Credit Card Credits

For transactions like Checks, where you have a separate tab for items and expenses, you don’t even have to be on the correct tab to start, the program will switch you to the right place.

Here are some other barcode-enabled windows:

  • Inventory Center: Scanning the code will take you to the item in the list.
  • Item List: Same as the Inventory Center.
  • New/Edit Item Window: Enters the barcode in the barcode field.
  • Add/Edit Multiple Lists: Enters the barcode in the barcode field.
  • The Search window – the program will recognize this as a barcode and search for all related records.

Inventory Adjustments is missing from this list, I hope that support for barcodes will be added there as well.

Serial Number Support: Another nice feature of barcode support is how it works if you have enabled serial number tracking. Let’s say I’m selling serialized items (or, receiving them). I scan the item code to add the item to the invoice, then I scan the serial number barcodes. Each serial number I scan is added automatically to the serial number column, AND the quantity is incremented.

8-26-2012 3-28-13 PM

Of course, this means that you have to have the serial numbers printed as a barcode, which you can’t do from this program.

I believe that this will also work with lot numbers but I haven’t tested that configuration yet. I don’t see that as being as important.

How About Receiving?

Every time I open up this product I find more features. Let’s take a look at how the program works when receiving items from a purchase order.

When I’m entering a receipt or a bill I can click on the Select PO button to open a window that lists open purchase orders (or, select the Vendor in the receipt/bill and you will be asked if you want to use open PO’s). If the barcode feature is enabled you will see a new checkbox – I am scanning items.

QuickBooks barcode scanning items

If you check this you will see that the qty column in the bill/receipt has been replaced by two columns, Rcv’d Qty and PO Qty. The Rcv’d Qty column starts off blank, and as you scan items with the barcode scanner the count will increment. In my example below I scanned one “Lens” and one “Frame 5×7”.

SNAGHTML5464d7f

This is a very nice feature, it allows you to compare the quantity you have scanned against the quantity in the original PO. If you click the Compare To PO button, the program will highlight the quantity in the Rcv’d Qty column in red if it doesn’t match the PO Qty value. Very nice!

Bugs

Awhile ago I wrote an article about bugs in QuickBooks. I tried to define different kinds of bugs – with some being worse than others. Data corruption bugs are really bad. Sometimes you’ll call something a bug, but someone else will call it a feature (and not just the Intuit folks trying to get around calling something a bug, too). Some of the complaints I’ve listed above are in the area of “I really want this to work a different way”, rather than a bug where the program is broken.

But, there are some “bugs” here. Probably many more than I’ve found. This is typical of a new feature in the R1 release – Intuit always seems to put out these new features with bugs in them in the first round. I expect these to all be corrected in an upcoming revision.

Displaying Barcodes in Lists

As you have seen above, I “customize” the item list to show “bar code image” and “barcode”. Very nice feature. But there are some minor problems.

If I generate barcodes from the Item Name, you can see that the barcode field in the list does not show a barcode. This was upsetting to me at first.

Missing Barcodes!

I thought this was a big problem. It also happened with generating from the manufacturer’s part number and purchase information. Then I found that all you had to do was to close the company file and reopen it (or, alternately, edit each item and save a change) and the values showed up. So, just an annoyance. It can be very disconcerting when you are setting things up and you think that the program isn’t working, when it is just a minor display problem like this. I’m bringing it up here because it made me waste a LOT of time trying to figure out what was going on.

All the barcodes came back

A variation of this – I create barcodes and allow QuickBooks to “auto generate” codes. I change my mind – so I turn off barcoding, enable it again, and ask it to make barcodes from my item names. Look at the item list – the original “auto generate” codes are there! Darn it! Well, this is the same issue. If I close QuickBooks and reopen it, the new barcodes show fine.

Creating Duplicate Barcodes

Here’s a wacky one that had me going in circles until I gave up trying to pin down the details (I won’t go into all the variations here). If I create an item with a barcode number, and then go to ANOTHER item and try to enter that same barcode number, QuickBooks will flag this. That is good! We don’t want duplicate barcode numbers.

Here’s what I see if I try to enter a barcode number for my “Case” part that I’ve already used in my “Camera Body” part:

Duplicate Barcode Number Warning

So far, so good! However, if I click Yes here, the program does what I would expect with No. It doesn’t change the other part, and it doesn’t insert the new value in this item. Now, this isn’t too bad. It doesn’t corrupt the database or cause problems. It just ignores you.

What if I click No, did they just get things reversed? Sadly, no. I get a slightly different warning, but without a reference to the part number. But it does work the way that No should, it doesn’t make the change.

If you say "NO"?

Sometimes, depending on what I click on, I get the “OK” kind of warning without first getting the “Yes/No” kind of warning. I couldn’t figure it out. I’m sure this will be fixed in an upcoming release.

Another variation of this – I edit an item and delete the barcode value, then save the item. The barcode is NOT gone, though. If I try to add that code to another item, it says it is in use. If I go back to the original item, that barcode shows there still!

Serial Number Problems

I’m sure this one will be fixed quickly. If you manually enter the item code in an invoice (or similar transaction), rather than scanning it for some reason, and then you use the scanner to enter the serial number, the quantity counts negative instead of positive. Oops! I’m sure that will be corrected quickly.

Barcode Support without Advanced Inventory

You CAN find barcode support for QuickBooks without having to purchase the Advanced Inventory option (or moving up to Enterprise if you are using Pro or Premier). Look to third party add-on products!

What are some products that provide barcode support for QuickBooks prior to this release? There are many, and I have not completed a comprehensive review. Some products to consider:

This is NOT a comprehensive list, just some samples of different products that provide barcode printing and/or scanning capabilities to QuickBooks.

Heck, you don’t even need a third party add-on!

  • You also can play with editing invoice or sales order forms and using a “barcode font” to generate barcodes. This isn’t always a simple thing to do, but I’ve seen it done. I don’t usually recommend this.
  • For scanning, most low cost scanners (such as the USB scanners I tried here as well as the “keyboard wedge” that I already had) can be configured to scan a barcode and send the information to your program just as if you were typing the numbers from the keyboard. You have to place the cursor on the field to scan into, and you don’t get the quantity increment feature as I describe above. But it CAN be done.

My Conclusion

At this point, if you have a supported USB or Bluetooth scanner, this is a nice start for a basic barcode solution. You can print barcodes, you can use them to enter data into many forms. As with other features Intuit has added to Advanced Inventory recently, this is the first step of what hopefully will be expanded into a more comprehensive feature in the future.

I like that the barcode number field is indexed, so that you are prevented from entering the same code multiple times.

Being able to print the barcode is nice, but I really need to be able to add barcodes to forms (invoices, etc.) and to be able to print labels, not just reports. Printing capabilities are very limited. And they only support one barcode symbology. Not a lot of flexibility there. You can get more flexibility from some low cost add-ons.

The barcode data entry feature is really nice if you are using a supported scanner. This keeps you from having to use the mouse to get the cursor on the item field for scanning, like I have to do with my keyboard wedge scanner. However, I would like to see a list of supported scanners so that we don’t have to fumble around determining what will and won’t work.

I like the direction this is going, particularly with the special data entry routines. If the barcode number field is available in the QuickBooks SDK so that third party printing products can use it, that would get around a lot of the problems with printing of barcode information. Of course, as I said in the beginning, you need to evaluate what your barcode needs are first, as this feature doesn’t cover ALL of the bases.

I would like to thank the folks at Intuit for helping me work out many of the details in this feature, I wouldn’t have gotten through it without their assistance. Thanks!

Want to see QuickBooks 2013 in action? Join us for a FREE Webinar on September 28th, What’s New in QuickBooks 2013, presented by Doug Sleeter and Charlie Russell

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Category: Manufacturing and Inventory, QuickBooks Tips/Tricks, Software Updates

About the Author ()

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He's been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had a one-floppy disk drive system, loading the program from one floppy and then replacing that with the other floppy to hold the data. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise. He also is a Xero Certified Partner. Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. Charlie can be reached at charlie.russell@sleeter.com He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog Connect with Charlie at Google

Comments (39)

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  1. William Murphy says:

    Charlie – in response to reading today’s article the first time I did a little research about QB-POS Barcode scanners, because I have gotten different scanners from Intuit in the past, almost each time I purchased hardware from them (either for myself, or for one of my clients.)

    Apparently Intuit must buy, whichever compatible hardware, is cheapest when they negotiate for hardware for their ‘hardware bundles’ sold with QBPOS. (They also sell each POS hardware item individually.)

    Over the years Intuit has used the following barcode scanners; and having had clients who had to get a replacement scanner due to damage, or perhaps decided to replace their ‘wired’ scanner with a ‘wireless model’, I have never experience any problems when a client got a different scanner from what they had previously. So here is a partial list of what I could find in the various ‘device user manuals’ I have kept copies of over the years:

    Datalogic QuickScan Imager USB
    Imageteam 3800LR USB
    Honeywell MK3780 Omni-direction USB
    Honeywell 3800G USB
    Symbol LS2208 Laser USB
    Honeywell MK9490/9540 Laser USB
    Honeywell MK9535 Bluetooth-wireless USB

    I can not guarantee that all of the above will work with QBES-2013, but it seems if they all have worked with QB-POS, and any QB-POS scanner has worked with QBES-2013, then they should (emphasis on the ‘should’) be compatible….however, the only one I actually tested is my own current USB (wired) scanner which is a:

    “Handheld Products Model-3800″.

    Murph

  2. William Murphy says:

    Charlie – I suspect that Intuit will ultimately offer ‘barcode printing’ in the same, or at least similar, manner as QB-POS where labels/tags can be printed with various configurations. As you know, but readers may not be aware of, the POS product offers both a special Z-printer version for labels, and an alternative of sheets of labels via a laser printer. (There are a wide variety of label formats that include barcode, price, description, coded-info, etc.).

    Surely Intuit does not believe that the only people who will use the new barcode feature are users who want to use it solely for ‘inventory control’ of products that come with preconfigured UPC barcodes already on those products.

    I am just not sure they have ‘thought it all out yet’, as with many features they ‘add’, or perhaps they just didn’t have time to get it rushed out the door (incomplete).

    Murph

    PS – another great article, most informative on a complex area woven into many areas of the QB interface.

    • We can speculate. All I can say at this time is that they have a really sharp person working on this, that there is interest in pushing this further, and that I suspect that the amount of resources Intuit puts here will depend on how widely accepted this first round is.

  3. William Murphy says:

    Charlie – Hey, do you know if the barcodes in QBES-13 AI feature will pass thru to QB-POS when first setting up a new QBPOS file where the QB inventory flows over to POS during the initial set-up exchange?

    Murph

    • I don’t know, Murph, as I don’t work with QBPOS. I’m going to guess “not now”, since this version of QuickBooks came out AFTER the latest version of QBPOS – plus the external programming interface in QuickBooks hasn’t been updated yet to include the barcode number field. But, then, I don’t know for sure, and I don’t know the technical details of how the two products interact.

      • William Murphy says:

        I still haven’t gotten my ‘copy’ of the newest QBPOS, so I can’t try it. But I would kind of doubt it too, since the ‘first sync’ process is initiated by POS not QB; if th ‘POS-development-crew’ didn’t have the data-schema for the new AI-barcode feature (early on) they probably made no plans for it.

        Murph

        PS – you have been cranking these 2013 articles out right-n-left, you better take at least a ‘weekend break’ to enjoy the fall weather.

  4. Sean says:

    This article was most helpful in determining on whether to go through a 3rd party vendor for the software or use the built in. I will try the built in as a first time user of barcodes and let you know my input further down the road. Thank you

  5. Lyn Barr says:

    Let me preface this by saying that I’ve no experience with barcodes, at present. The way I understand it, QB doesn’t currently print barcode labels, and the QB barcode field is not yet available to the SDK.

    Therefore, if using an add-on such as WaspLabeler to print barcode labels, the QB barcodes would still have to be manually entered (or imported in some fashion) into the add-on application, so the barcodes would match.

    Is my understanding correct?

    If so, do you think a feasible workaround would be to export the “Item Barcodes” report to Excel, and then manipulate that Excel file to print to a barcode label printer?

    Lastly, when you describe Scanning Item Codes for data entry, using a regular scanner, you talked about a back-and-forth process between scanner and keyboard. Would this apply to the WaspLabeler application, or to another app that you can name?

    As always, thanks for your valued input!

    • A better place to start is “what do you want to use as the barcode value”? Sometimes people don’t care, they just want to use any unique value. Sometimes people want to use the item ID, or a custom field.

      If you create the barcode in QB from the item ID or custom field value, then you can print your labels using something like Wasp Labeler by using those original fields. The only time it is a hassle is if you decide to let QB create a unique code of its own.

      You can also export the new barcode value to Excel, and then use a barcode printing program that can work with an Excel file, at least until Intuit gets their act together.

      As far as the back and forth – that is a scanning issue, not a printing issue, if I understand your question.

  6. Lyn Barr says:

    Thanks for the reply, Charlie!

    My customer wants both the data-entry functionality of the new QBES/AI, and an ability to print labels. As long as it works, I think the best answer is to print labels from Excel for now, and hope that Intuit adds label-printing sooner rather than later.

    Second-best would be to use something like the WaspLabeler.

    As for the keyboard-to-scanner question, I was (obtusely) alluding to the fact that, if neither of these two options works, then this would be my backup plan. However, as a backup plan goes, if the client would have to go back and forth like that, he would hate it.

    Thanks again, so much. I treasure your willingness to share information!

  7. DM says:

    Are you able to scan-in inventory builds? I didn’t see that in your list of applications.

    • There isn’t a specific feature in the Build Assembly window supporting barcodes at this time. You may want to consider looking at the SmartScan Barcode Translator by Baus Systems, which I’ll be reviewing (and comparing to the QuickBooks barcode feature) later this month.

      • DM says:

        if the scanner works like a keyboard, ie. just entering alphanumeric values, then wouldn’t scanning the barcode of the item serve the purpose of entering the assembly item code in the Builds section?

        • Sure, but there isn’t anything special there, like there is in an invoice. You have to manually place the cursor on the proper field and then scan. You can do that without purchasing the expensive Advanced Inventory feature (for this transaction type). Builds aren’t that big of an issue, really, but they really should have some form of special automation in inventory adjustments (to handle physical counts, etc).

          • DM says:

            What would be the special feature within an invoice that is different than in the build assembly screen?

            Wouldn’t you still have to open the invoice screen, select the customer, tab to the first item line and scan? Isn’t that the same as going to the Build Assembly screen and tab to the item field and scan?

            We are still trying to decide if this system will be useful in a production environment.

            Thanks.

          • No, read the section on “data entry” more closely. This is one of those things that would work better if we were in the same room. If your scanner is recognized by QuickBooks:
            -open the invoice window
            -select the customer
            -Scan the first item – QuickBooks will move the cursor to the first item line, enter a quantity one, add the item, without you having to place the cursor anywhere
            -Scan the second item – if it is another of the SAME item, QuickBooks will go to that line, increment the quantity by one. If it is a NEW item, it will go to the new line, add the item with quantity 1.
            -Scan the third item- again, if it is one already on the invoice, it will find the right line and increment the quantity, if it is new then it will add it to the bottom.

            This works for some situations, not for others. If you have a bunch of items coming across your desk, once you enter the customer then you never have to touch the keyboard or move the cursor to any field, you just go zap, zap, zap and the items are added properly. This might be your situation, but it might not be. It works very well for that scenario.

  8. DM says:

    we are currently testing our barcodes with the Advanced Inventory add-on. It works great for the invoicing and sales receipt sections. Not so good for Build Assemblies as you had mentioned. However, if you make your barcode using your item name (use code 128) you can make it work for builds.

    It would be nice if you could also make a barcode for each customer so that it is scanable into the customer field for invoicing. ie. make it so you don’t even have to enter the customer name from the drop down menu or by typing it out on the keyboard.

    Hopefully new features get added as the updates come down.

  9. Holly Evans says:

    When printing a barcode to a label, how do I include the sale price of the item on the label? Also, how do I change the label size if it is not shown in my printer options?

  10. Chuck Bauman says:

    I can’t believe you are putting all this helpful information out there for free! Thanks so much – it’s saving us a lot of investigative work.

  11. Anything on doing physical counts with the QB barcode feature right in QB, rather than using a third party software like Wasp Count it?

    • Brian, if they add that as a feature, I’ll write about it. In general, if they tell me about something they PLAN on doing, I can’t write about it in advance (non-disclosure agreements). However, I can say at this point, I’m not aware of any plans by them to do that. Doesn’t mean that they won’t…

  12. Jim Stone says:

    Is there add on software that will do the following? I sell 100 different widgets sold in their own individual box. Each box has its own unique bar code. I would like to have a person picking the order scan the bar code and then enter in how many boxes are shipping and the date the widgets were made. I would then like that information to automatically be entered into quickbooks. Thanks.

  13. Dan McCrory says:

    Hello,
    If I am receiving a pallet that has 40 cartons of the same SKU, and each carton has it’s own serial number, do I have to scan each carton individually, or could I scan one SKU barcode and one serial number, and then input that I am receiving 39 more pieces with sequential part numbers?

  14. Dan McCrory says:

    Sorry, the last should say ‘sequential serial numbers.’

    Dan

  15. Steve Mehler says:

    Can you recommend a barcode printer for quickbooks? My thermal printer doesn’t seem to work in quickbooks and I was told I need a Laser printer.

    • Steve, if you are printing labels with the QuickBooks feature, you don’t need a barcode printer specifically. I can print labels with a laser printer or inkjet printer. You only need a barcode specific printer if you need to use special media, and then it is a bit difficult

  16. Debbie says:

    You mentioned that later on each user will have enable the bar code scanner. How is this done? As admin do I temporarily give full access, sign in as one of the other users then go into preference, enable, sign out. Sign back in to admin and change the roles to limit the users access?

    • Debbie, that is a good question! You’ll note that the “enable” option is on the “my preferences” tab, so this is stored per user login. I believe that each user has the ability to set their own value – you don’t have to change their access. They can do it themselves, or you can just log in with their account and do it, but there shouldn’t be a need to change permissions.

  17. ART says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Is there a way in quick books changing a font into bar code style? Like for instance, i’m configuring a customize invoice template report, what I want to display on my invoice number is a bar code font style, does it work in the latest release of QuickBooks?

    Best Regards,

  18. Carolina says:

    I’m really interested in upgrading my 2006 version of QB because:
    1. I’m familiar with it and
    2. I’d like to implement a barcode style of inventory management for my jewelry business.
    However, I’m a Mac user and would prefer to stay one.
    When I contacted Intuit they suggested I upgrade to the Premier suite. Maybe something got lost in the translation but QB Premier does not currently come in a Mac version.
    Can you suggest another way to accomplish my goal of inventory management through QB for Mac?

    Thanks so much.

    • Not a lot of options, Carolina, since Intuit doesn’t have a programming interface that developers can use to make add-on products that work with the Mac. It is very limited.

      Some people will use the Windows version on their Mac using something like Parallels or other similar products.

      • Carolina says:

        I did some further checking and LightSpeed does provide an interface with quick books. While it’s more suited to a retail business, it has awesome POS and inventory management capabilities; it’s almost too comprehensive for what I’m looking for. While it does also have the capability to assign bar code inventory tracking, the bar codes themselves are too physically big for my specific application.
        I’ll keep digging around.
        Thanks!

  19. Keli says:

    I’m using QB2013 for Mac for my business and have a QB merchant account I just set up to use within QB since QB POS is not available for Mac. Is there a way to use a barcode scanner in selling products and managing inventory within QB2013? Or is the barcode scanner not an option at all with QB for Mac?

    • Addon software isn’t available for QB Mac at all. You can use a scanner to fill in fields, if you click on the field and then scan the value, but that is using the scanner just like a keyboard (I assume it would work that way on a Mac, but I haven’t tried it – that is how it would work on a PC).

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