Solving Problems with Windows 8 and QuickBooks 2013 (and more)

Written by Charlie Russell

Windows 8Microsoft 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.

QuickBooks PDF Drivers in the Windows Control Panel

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.

QuickBooks 2013 PDF 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.

QuickBooks PDF Repair Tool

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).

QuickBooks XPS file

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).

QuickBooks Cash Flow Projector PDF

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.

Windows 8 Control Panel

Select Devices and Printers.

Devices and Printers

Right click on the Microsoft XP Document Writer and select Remove device. This removes the Windows 8 XPS driver.

Microsoft XPS Document Writer v4

Run QuickBooks. You MIGHT get an error message like the following – just ignore it (sometimes you may get this, sometimes you won’t).

PDF Component Missing

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).

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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has 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 an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. 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, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been the managing editor and primary writer for the Sleeter Report since 2011. Charlie can be reached at charlie@ccrsoftware.com

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


    • This fix works on Windows 10. Remove XPS Writer then print to PDF. Then you can email invoices from Quickbooks Pro 2012

    • Having spent a fortune on a new laptop and deciding to upgrade to 2013, I was left pulling my hair out trying to sort out this problem, I never print invoices, I always email them and to find the PDF not working left me perplexed. I have spent many hours trying different fixes, I stumbled across your article and within ten minutes I have it fixed. Thank You

  • I am going to share on my facebook page for I have many clients who use QB and this will shed some light on those who are THINKING of getting Windows 8.

    As always your articles are extremely informative Charlie. Thank you for the taking the time to analyze and share this information with us.

    Diane Offutt

  • Bought a new laptop with 8. Reloaded QB Pro 11 and was pulling the little hair I have left not being able to save as .pdf. QB works just fine. I use folders for customers and sub folders for each order. So I’ve been going back to desk top with XP to get around this problem. After I do a bit more work, I’m going to try your fix.

  • Well did what you suggested and when I went to save as pdf told me no device and had me go to QB. Put the xps reader right back in. A stumped person at the moment. Thank goodness I still have the desktop with XP working just fine. Hope Intuit clears this up.

    • Yes – that is a slightly more complicated series of instructions. Please note that I already referenced that community post in this article, in the section near the end titled “What if that doesn’t work”.

  • Worked perfectly – had been searching for a few weeks and almost had to load quickbooks on another computer!

    The analysis was detailed and clearly explained, and the solution simple!


  • Thank you it worked for QB 2012, and it was easy to do. It didn’t even prompt me, it just recreated the xps printer and worked.

  • I followed your instructions, removing the XPS writer, but when I went to save the invoice as a PDF, it did not automatically install its own copy. So the fix did not work for me. I also followed the instructions in the link that you posted under What If That Doesn’t Work? That didn’t solve my problem either. Following those directions exactly, I manually installed the printer to the local port, etc., but when I selected the driver file, it gave me an error message and wouldn’t allow me to use it. 🙁

    • Jenny, unfortunately there are many variables, so it is hard to say. The 2013 R4 release is out soon (article coming up in a few minutes) and that might be the fix. Other than that, you need to have someone look at your system. It can be confusing and frustrating!

  • Just in case this did not work for you, I had to do an extra step. The original port for the XPS printer on my system was called “PORTPROMPT:” so I had to create a new port called “XPSPort” and connect the printer to XPS printer to that port then it worked.

  • Thank you so much. Deleting the Microsoft XPS Document printer and then printing a sample invoice saved me. Now I can email and print my invoices and estimates again. QuickBooks Pro 2011, Windows 8.

  • Just got a new PC with W8 and cannot send and email or save as a PDF with my copy of QB Pro 2011. I have tried every fix I have found, including this one, and they all failed.

    In this case, QB did NOT recreate the XPS printer. So now I have NO XPS printer!


  • Hello–

    I’m having a buggy issue in QB 2013 on Windows 8 with tabbing. I do a lot of tabbing between fields, and the behavior is buggy and inconsistent. Certain fields get skipped in the tab order, some fields that are tabbed to will be highlighted with blue and ready to type over, others just go to the field, but do not select the contents. Very frustrating. Anyone else experiencing this issue? Any ideas for a fix?

    • George, I’m not seeing that issue, but perhaps I’m looking at a different portion of the program than you are. Can you give a specific example? Are you using the latest revision (R5 at this moment)? Do you have the “pressing enter moves between fields” preference checked or unchecked?

      • Charlie–

        I have “Pressing Enter…” UN-checked. I use the tab key. I believe I have R5, not sure how to confirm, but QB claims to be up-to-date. An example is when entering a check. I’ve always opened new check window, which lands me in the “Bank Account Field”. I select the account, then tab through to each field, Check NO., Date, Pay To, Amount, etc. What I’m seeing now is things like when I tab to the date field it doesn’t highlight it for typeover, so I have to mouse into the field. The tab order seems to be screwy as well and will frequently skip a field, requiring me to Shift-tab to go back to that field. This happens most notably in checks, including the “Split” detail on the Expenses and Items tabs. Also in CC transactions, Bill entry, Invoices. Didn’t have this problem before QB 2013. It’s a nightmare for high volume data entry.

        One other note: I am on a Mac using VMWare Fusion 5.0 Virtual machine to run Windows 8. The problem existed in Windows 7 as well with QB 13, but is worse in Windows 8.


        • George, you are a bold person to try Win 8 on a Mac with VMWare Fusion. Too many places where something can go wrong! All I can say is that on my Win 8 system, I don’t see the problem you have. And if you have been seeing this issue on Win7 also (to a lesser degree) then I’d start thinking that the issue is with your setup, probably an incompatibility with VMWare Fusion. I don’t work with that environment so I can’t say much more about it.

          Note that you can tell what version you have by pressing the F2 key when in QB – at least on a regular system, I’m not sure how the function keys work in your environment.

          • Charlie-

            I have resolved most of the problem. It appears there is an incompatibility with what is called “Unity” mode in VMWare Fusion. It seems to be quite bad with Windows 8, less so with Windows 7. Using “Full Screen”, or “Single Window” mode eliminated the most egregious of the issues. However, there is remains a strange issue with certain items which I add to invoices. Certain items allow me to tab through the invoice line from “Qty” to “Item Code”, to “Description” to U/M to “Price each” to “Class” to “Amount” to “Tax” and on to the next invoice line. Others immediately jump to the next line upon selecting the “Item Code”, which forces me to Shift-Tab in order to back up a few fields and enter the amount information. Any idea what this is about?

            Thanks much,


          • George, I don’t have much to say about this other than I dislike running products under emulators like this, there always is something that doesn’t work the right way.

          • I have the same problem with tabbing in invoicing. I called Intuit and they couldn’t figure it out. Their answer was my file is too big and either I compact it (which I don’t want to do) or switch to Enterprise. I’m on a computer running Vista. I’m not happy with their answer because it could cost me a lot of money without any guarantee that it will solve the problem. Also, I just updated to QB 2013 about 4 months ago…

  • Charlie,
    I am having the same problem as Terry and I am not sure how he fixed it. I have QB 2011 R12, Windows 8. I did install CutePDF and it is a way around the problem but not a fix. Please help!

    • Linda, read further up in the discussion, there is a comment by Maga Sub about port names. I didn’t have to do that myself, and it is a bit technical, but that is apparently what helped Terry? CutePDF doesn’t solve all the issues, as you know.

      Other than this, my recommendations are to either move up to QB 2013, Abandon Windows 8, or to get someone to look at your specific computer (which may or may not work) who understands these kinds of driver issues. QB 2011 just isn’t designed for Win8

    • Scott, QB 2010 isn’t officially supported on Windows 8. When you say you cannot get it to “load”, that is very vague, so there isn’t a lot that I can say. You may want to find a local person who can help you with this – you can use the “find a consultant” option in the right column of this page.

  • Hi
    I had this problem and I solved it by simply creating a new port for the XPS Document Writer and calling it XPSPort as a local port. This is because the the Quickbooks system is looking to take the XPS document from the XPSPort and not the new version of the port that Windows 8 uses.
    So after you run the PDF Utility or when you have the XPS Writer and Quickbooks PDF converter both as printers. Change the XPS printer to use the XPS WRITER driver and not the XPS WRITER v4 driver. THEN change the port to a new port called XPSPort (as a local port). should work.

  • Hi..

    Any discussion on Loan Manager not loading in QB Pro 12 using Windows 8 and IE10. I get an error message that “this feature needs help…just in IE8/9 just follow the directions” Problem is that I am using IE10

    Thanks for any insight

  • “Open an invoice and click the arrow under the Save button,”
    I don’t see an arrow below Save. I see an arrow next to the Print & Ship buttons. I am under the Create Invoices-Accounts Receivable window in QBPro 2011

    • Brian, you may notice that this article is about QuickBooks 2013, and that has many differences in the user interface when compared to QuickBooks 2011. In your case the “Save as PDF” button is in the “File” menu at the top of QuickBooks.

  • Charlie – this sounds simple, but, before I try it, do you have any updated knowledge of how this might or might help me with quickbooks 2014 on Windows 8.1. My issue is really that I cannot seem to print but other articles have suggested that the pdf drivers are also affecting printing. Thanks for any help you can offer.

    • Adam, I’ve not run into a problem where the PDF driver issues affected normal report printing. Depending on the exact problem, I would look for the QBPRINT.QBP file, rename it to QBPRINT.OLD, then restart QB and try printing again. That is the generic first step in resolving normal printing issues (non-PDF).

  • thanks foHi
    I had this problem and I solved it by simply creating a new port for the XPS Document Writer and calling it XPSPort as a local portr sharing

  • Using QuickBooks Pro 2012 and Windows 8. I already uninstalled 8 and installed the 7 XPS Document Writer and it is now creating PDF’s. I was able to email invoices for a week, but now it continuously asks for my email password, or asks to change password/retry/cancel. The problem seemed to start when I entered my password several times (the email id that appeared was correct), it wasn’t accepting my password and kept prompting me to enter it. The next time it prompted me, it somehow changed the email id to 29779. I went back and added my email id, but it won’t let me delete the 29779 email id. After that happened, it either doesn’t send any at all (but will say “message sent”), only sends a few out of a batch, or occasionally sends them all. I have added the inbound/outbound ports for QB 2012 to the Windows firewall and McAfee firewall (even tried shutting off firewall). Using yahoo (w/ correct “intuit” server name). Tried sending with gmail and Hotmail accounts since Yahoo has been down the past few days and it would not accept my password or send any emails at all.

    • Ashley, I don’t have a firm answer for you. I’ve not run into those problems. I would have to have hands on your system to see what might be going on. Have you deleted the email accounts from the list and added them back on?

  • Hi Charlie,
    It changed my email id to 29779 and won’t let me delete it. I added the correct email account again, still wasn’t working, so I deleted it and tried again along with accounts from other email providers. I was hoping it was just the issue with yahoo being down, but since it wouldn’t let me send anything with a gmail account, I am guessing it is quickbooks.

  • This absolutely worked for me! I had to uninstall the XPS Document Writer as specified, but I would have never known this without this article! Thank you so much. I called quickbooks support staff to no avail, and we are a small business on a tight budget so need to figure things out for free.

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