Microsoft has released Windows 8 officially (you can’t miss all those annoying TV ads), but if you try to run QuickBooks 2013 on it you will find that there are problems. Once again, the QuickBooks PDF drivers just don’t work right. What can we do?
AT THIS TIME, Intuit says that they are working on the problem (see this Intuit support article) but it is not clear when they’ll have a fix.
Update 12/5/2012 – Intuit released QuickBooks 2013 R4 and the Intuit support article says that this release is the one that supports Windows 8 – but they acknowledge that there are still problems.
Update 12/6/2012 – See my updated article on QuickBooks PDF Issues for Windows 8 (and other operating systems), which adds more information as well as addresses other versions of QuickBooks.
While we wait for a solution from Intuit, here is a quick fix that worked for me, that is very simple to try. Let me know if it works for you!
How QuickBooks Creates PDF Files
QuickBooks creates PDF files using an internal routine that relies on a “PDF driver” that is installed as a printer driver in Windows. This routine is called whenever QuickBooks wants to create a PDF file, such as:
- When creating a PDF attachment to send with an invoice (or other forms).
- When you select a “save as PDF” option in a menu or form “ribbon”.
- When you reconcile an account or bank statement (QuickBooks stores the bank reconciliation report as a PDF).
Over the years we’ve had multiple problems with these PDF drivers that QuickBooks uses. This is a recurring nightmare! Sure, you can get a “PDF Printer Driver” of your own (like Adobe Acrobat Pro, or CutePDF), install it in Windows, and select that as the printer. That saves a PDF of whatever you are printing. However, that doesn’t really fix the problem. QuickBooks won’t use this kind of printer driver when saving attachments for email, or for bank reconciliations. You either have to live with the error messages (such as when reconciling accounts) or you have to manually create an email message and attach the document yourself. Neither is convenient.
The best solution is to fix the PDF driver problem so that QuickBooks can create the PDF itself.
QuickBooks 2013 PDF Drivers
Over the past few years QuickBooks has used two different types of “PDF drivers”. The Amyuni drivers were used in QuickBooks 2009 and 2010 (and probably before that), and they had major compatibility problems with 64 bit computers (but not limited to those). In 2011, Intuit dumped those drivers and switched to the Microsoft XPS Document Writer, which MOST people found to be much easier to work with – but some people STILL had problems.
Intuit eventually developed the PDF Repair Tool which can be very useful in resolving PDF problems for most people in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
Then we came to QuickBooks 2013. When I first examined the PDF drivers in this release I was confused, because I found that there were TWO PDF drivers being installed. One was the Microsoft XPS Document Writer, the other was the ABS PDF Driver. The ABS driver is, when you look under the hood, another Amyuni driver like we thought we had abandoned in 2011.
Why two? The answer is that QuickBooks requires the XPS driver for just about all tasks, except for three features that require the older style Amyuni driver. Those three features are:
- Loan Manager
- Cash Flow Projector
- Business Planner
QuickBooks 2013 and Windows 8
If you install QuickBooks 2013 on Windows 8 and you try to create a PDF file in one of the normal processes (save form as PDF, send as an email attachment, reconcile bank account you will get an error.
My first impulse was to try the PDF Repair Tool, but that didn’t fix the problem. The tool runs fine, but I still get error messages when I try the QuickBooks PDF functions.
Oddly enough, on my system, you will see the file saved as an XPS file instead of a PDF file. For example, I saved an invoice as a PDF to my desktop, and instead of a PDF file I see an XPS file with an odd name (this is NOT the name that I tried to save the PDF file as).
That got me to thinking – is the Windows 8 XPS system different than what you see in Windows 7 and earlier? After doing some looking around, sure enough, Microsoft has implemented a major overhaul of printer drivers in Windows 8 and the XPS driver system is very different. As of the R3 release, QuickBooks hasn’t been updated to recognize this difference.
Looking further, in the Intuit Community forums, I found a discussion where one person found that if they copied the XPS drivers from a Windows 7 system into their Windows 8 system, the problem was resolved. Unfortunately, the steps are a bit complicated, and as I looked into this further the approach didn’t always work reliably. While several people commented that it worked for them, it didn’t work on some of my test systems. In addition, the published resolution involved downloading a file from a website that isn’t verified as a safe site.
One side note, though – those three special program features (Loan Manager, Cash Flow Projector, Business Planner), don’t have a problem. The ABS PDF Driver seems to work just fine (at least it did in MY test system). Clicking the Save as PDF button creates the PDF file without any issues (in this example, I saved the PDF to my desktop).
A Simple Fix
So, here’s how I fixed the problem in my test systems (Windows 8 on a 64 bit system, with QuickBooks Enterprise V13.0 R3). Since we know that the Windows 8 XPS system is not compatible, let’s get rid of it.
Go to your Windows 8 Control Panel.
Select Devices and Printers.
Right click on the Microsoft XP Document Writer and select Remove device. This removes the Windows 8 XPS driver.
Run QuickBooks. You MIGHT get an error message like the following – just ignore it (sometimes you may get this, sometimes you won’t).
Open an invoice and click the arrow under the Save button, and click Save as PDF. Save the PDF form. QuickBooks will see that the XPS driver is not installed and it will install it’s own copy, which is the older style of XPS driver. Now you can perform all QuickBooks PDF functions! Very simple! Problem Solved!
I do recommend caution here, though, in case there are OTHER programs that you use that require XPS documents. You are changing the XPS system in Windows 8 and I can’t say how that will impact your system. On the other hand, in my own situation, I almost never use XPS documents. Also, with Office 2010 on my system, I was able to create an XPS document properly even with this older driver.
Update 12/5/2012: QuickBooks 2013 R4 has just been released, and it is the first version that Intuit says supports Windows 8. THE PDF PROBLEM STILL EXISTS – and I’m seeing that the XPS driver fix listed here works on SOME systems, but not ALL.
What If That Doesn’t Work?
Perhaps I’m just lucky and this is the way that it works just on my system? There are a couple of posts in the Intuit Community Forum that provide more complicated setups that are variations of this, generally involving downloading some files that are the older version of the Microsoft XPS Document Writer driver and installing them. I’m cautious about downloading and installing files that are posted by people that I don’t know anything about. I’m sure that these postings are OK (lots of people say “that worked” and no complaints about viruses or file corruption), but you have to be cautious.
One posting is by an Intuit employee, and so this should be OK. See the solution at http://community.intuit.com/posts/how-to-resolve-pdf-issues-on-windows-8-2
Each of these Intuit Community Forum solutions are more involved than the one that I’m providing above.
What About Older Versions of QuickBooks?
Good news – my method worked equally well with QuickBooks 2012 and QuickBooks 2011, at least as far as normal PDF printing. This makes sense, as QB 2012 and 2011 also use the Microsoft XPS Driver. Make sure you are on 2012 R11 or 2011 R12– some older revisions have problems with the version of Internet Explorer in Windows 8. Most likely you will have problems with the three features that work in a slightly different framework (Loan Manager, Cash Flow Projector, Business Planner), but that may be due to issues with Internet Explorer, rather than just the PDF drivers.
How about QuickBooks 2010? To my surprise, this worked without any problems (with QuickBooks 2010 R16). Keep in mind that this version is using the Amyuni driver, not the Microsoft XPS Document Writer, so the issues are different. To be honest I was not expecting this – and I suspect that I was lucky. But if you find that you have issues here, make sure that you are using the latest update (and try that PDF Repair Tool, too).
Older versions? I’m not even going to try. Compatibility for older versions were complicated even with Windows 7, and Intuit doesn’t provide any support for 2009 or older. In the past I’ve recommended using either Windows XP Mode or VMWare Workstation to run older versions in a “virtual machine”, but with Windows 8 we no longer have XP Mode. We have Hyper-V, but it requires specific hardware features that many computer systems don’t support (particularly if you are upgrading an existing system).