Let’s take a look at a problem with QuickBooks 2013 that you might run into right away. There seem to be some issues with QuickBooks 2013 and PDF drivers (again).
This article was updated on 11/26/2012
Update 12/6/2012: See my updated article on QuickBooks 2013 and PDF drivers for the latest information on this subject.
I’m not sure why Intuit has had so many problems with “PDF Drivers” over the years, but this has been one of the constant thorns in our side, as users and advisors. Can’t they just fix this in a simple way? We just want to send forms and reports to a PDF file. I have to tell you, with my own software, I have a simple PDF driver and I never have any trouble like what we’ve seen in QuickBooks!
How QuickBooks Uses PDF’s
There are several places where QuickBooks creates PDF files. For example:
- In a transaction window (such as create invoices) where you click on Save as PDF to save the transaction as a PDF file.
- When you click the Email button (or, prior to QuickBooks 2013, the Send button in some places) to send a transaction like an invoice, or a report, via email. The form, or report, is attached to the email message as a PDF file.
- When you Reconcile an account. The reconciliation reports are saved as PDF files internally in the QuickBooks database.
Why do we worry about this? Why not just use a free PDF printer driver like CutePDF or Foxit? Well, because QuickBooks isn’t just sending this information to a printer in the standard way, it is using the driver internally (such as when an email attachment or reconciliation is saved). You can’t just install a normal PDF driver to get around problems in QuickBooks by installing your own driver – that won’t be used when you reconcile or send email. Sure, you can work around it (print to your own PDF driver and then archive it, or manually attach it to an email message), but that is much less convenient. For example, to send an invoice via email, you have to manually create the email message (copying the email address from QuickBooks, or from your contact list), print the PDF to your hard drive or desktop, then manually attach that PDF to the email. Too many steps! As far as reconciliations – those PDF reports are stored internally in the QuickBooks database for later recovery, and you can’t do that with an external PDF printer driver.
The Sad History of QuickBooks and PDF Drivers
This has been a recurring nightmare.
We had the famous “Amyuni PDF Driver” problems going back to the 2009 and 2010 versions of QuickBooks. Lots of problems here, that were hard to work around sometimes.
We thought we were finally through with this problem when QuickBooks 2011 came out, dumping the Amyuni drivers and instead using the Microsoft XPS Document Writer! Unfortunately, the problem still persists for many people, as we can see in the many complaints about PDF drivers in the Intuit Community Forums. And the problem seems to be getting worse with the upcoming release of Windows 8.
Will it be fixed in QuickBooks 2013? I’m not sure that it has been, at least in the R1 release. I’m finding a bunch of issues, but it is hard to pin down.
What Am I Seeing in QuickBooks 2013?
First of all, let me say that there are some problems with Windows 8 compatibility in some situations, but I’m not going to dwell on that. At the time QuickBooks 2013 R1 is released, Windows 8 is not fully released to the public for production use, so it isn’t fair to look at this issue with QuickBooks 2013 (but, I did, and the problems mirror what I see with Windows 7).
One interesting thing to note is that we apparently have ANOTHER change in the PDF driver. Looking at my test system, QuickBooks installs an “ABS PDF Driver v400”, in addition to requiring the “Microsoft XPS Document Writer”.
Looking at the driver’s properties I see that (shudder) this is the “Amyuni Document Converter 400”. I have to say, this doesn’t make me feel positive, given the past troubles with Amyuni drivers.
However, I’m not sure how this driver is being used. I get the same results on systems where it is installed that I do in systems where I have removed the driver. So what the heck is this?
I do notice that QuickBooks 2013 is still dependent on the Microsoft XPS driver that they have used since the 2011 release. If I save an invoice as a PDF, the Microsoft driver is installed by QuickBooks (if it isn’t already there). So, I’m confused. Why BOTH drivers?
Update 11/26/2012: There are three functions that don’t use the XPS driver, that are still dependent on the older Amyuni driver (the “ABS PDF Driver v400″): Loan Manager, Cash Flow Projector and Business Planner.
I have a large variety of test systems set up (I use “VMWare Workstation to create “virtual” machines, a life saver for testing like this). I tried various combinations of Windows 7 on 32 bit and 64 bit setups, threw in a few Windows 8 test setups, tested on systems that were “clean” without a prior version of QuickBooks as well as systems that had older versions of QuickBooks already installed. I’m still sorting through all the results, but here are a few things that I came across.
Error in a Clean Windows 7 System
No prior version of QuickBooks installed. The first time I run QuickBooks Accountant 2013 I get this error:
Clicking on the “review” link gets me to an Intuit KB article that suggests a variety of ways to address this.
If I exit QuickBooks and reenter, I continue to get that same message.
Looking at my Windows 7 drivers, I see that the XPS component isn’t there (but the ABS PDF component IS there?).
Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this (at least in my test installations). Ignore the error message!
I clicked past the error, created an invoice, clicked the Print button dropdown to get Save as PDF (or use Save as PDF in the File menu), and it lets me save the invoice as a PDF. The error message no longer appears.
Note that in a system that already had the XPS driver installed because of an earlier version of QuickBooks, the error never appeared in the first place.
This is not a big problem because you can work around it very easily, from what I see. But, you shouldn’t be getting this kind of error right out of the box.
Reconciliation Report Error
Here’s another error that shows, but that is relatively easy to fix.
I want to view a Previous Reconciliation Report. From this window, I select a report, and click the Display button.
I should get a window that displays the report as a PDF – which is how it is saved in the QuickBooks database. However, what I get is this:
Not what I was hoping for.
Simple resolution – Install Adobe Acrobat Reader. People who have worked with QuickBooks for a while know that you need this – even if you have your own PDF printer driver installed. Once I install Acrobat Reader, the reconciliation report displays properly. However, this isn’t a great error message! I should get something that says that Acrobat Reader is required (we used to get that kind of message).
I’m probably worrying about nothing. The errors I ran into so far are easy to get around, and aren’t that serious. My main reason for writing this up at THIS time was to show you that there are some errors you may see right away, and to save you the time of looking for complicated solutions. At least in my tests the fix was simple.
I’ll be curious to see how this works out when we get a large number of different QuickBooks installations going – will PDF problems still be a thorn in our side?