Intuit has released the QuickBooks 2013 R4 update for the U.S. version of QuickBooks. At the time I’m writing this the release is available as a manual update from the Intuit support web site. I would expect this to be released as an automatic update within a week, if all goes well (unless they change their policy again and push it to automatic update right away).
This article was revised on 12/6/2012 and again on 12/7/2012.
We are still early in the development cycle for QuickBooks 2013, so you can expect a lot of bug fixes here. But there is more than just big fixes! I’m going to highlight a number of the most important changes, with a list of all the rest (that I know about) at the end. To summarize:
- This is the first release that is recognized to be compatible with Windows 8. But does it work?
- Intuit is responding to some of the criticism about the User Interface change, let’s see if you think that these changes are enough.
- Everyone who follows this blog knows that I’m keenly interested in the Inventory features in QuickBooks. This release adds barcode label printing, which I felt was a major hole in the new barcode feature. Did they plug the hole?
- There are a lot of bug fixes: If you are using Payroll, or Advanced Inventory then this update is particularly important – but there are plenty of fixes for everyone. Note that this update addresses the file corruption problem outlined in our QuickBooks Advanced Inventory Database Problems article.
Note that if you install this update then you’ll need to update your company file – so you might want to plan on doing the update at a convenient time when everyone can stay out. I highly recommend that you make a backup copy of your file first, before installing this update, just in case! It shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m always cautious. Note that the R3 version should be able to open a file that has been updated to R4 without any problem.
Windows 8 Compatibility
This is supposed to be the first version of QuickBooks where Intuit officially supports Windows 8. Up until this time the most significant problem that I’ve run into with Windows 8 has been compatibility with PDF drivers on 64 bit systems. Does 2013 R4 fix this?
Well, unfortunately, there are still problems on Windows 8. See the Intuit support site on Windows 8 for details. I have several test systems with Windows 8 and at this time 2013 R4 still has PDF problems on 64 bit systems. These kinds of compatibility problems are difficult to pin down and resolve sometimes. If you have been waiting to get Windows 8 until this has been fixed I think that you might want to wait just a little bit longer… On the other hand, you may still be able to fix the problem by using the steps found in my article on Solving Problems with Windows 8 and QuickBooks 2013. I’ve had mixed success with this on different systems, unfortunately.
Update 12/6/2012: Even though the Intuit support site on Windows 8 says (at this time) that there are problems with PDF printing in 64 bit Windows 8 systems, I think that this is fixed. My Windows 8 systems are all working, the initial problems I had were due to some conversion issues in the operating system (this was an upgrade from Windows 7. See my updated QuickBooks PDF article for details.
User Interface Changes
With this release we are now starting to see the first of the changes that are in response to the hullaballoo about the user interface change. Do you think they did enough? I suspect that some people just aren’t going to be happy with the new user interface no matter what Intuit does. As for myself, I’m getting used to it, and I think that there are more positives than negatives. It certainly has created a lot of discussion!
On the positive side – here is an indication that Intuit really is listening to user feedback. They are making a number of changes that they hope will address the major concerns that people have raised. While it may seem like this was a slow response, it really isn’t from their standpoint. Keep in mind that the R3 release (the first one that came out after the initial release of QB 2013) was already very far along in the process even before R1 hit the street. R4 represents the first release that has come through the development stream (I believe) since the general public first saw the updates.
In a very general sense, the majority of the complaints I’ve heard about that relate to the new user interface have centered on the following:
- The lack of color in the icons in the icon bar (top and left).
- The loss of the ability to change the overall color scheme in a particular QuickBooks company file – either to choose something more pleasing to the beholder’s eye, or to be able to differentiate between multiple company files that you are working with.
- The overall look and feel with a large amount of “gray” or black being used in navigational elements (like the left icon bar), as well as poor contrast with light colored labels on fields, etc.
There are other issues that people bring up, but these three are the ones that I hear predominantly. So, is Intuit addressing these concerns?
With QuickBooks 2013 R4 we have three kinds of user interface changes:
- Colors in the top icon bar
- Colored flags to identify files
- Miscellaneous “cleanup” changes.
If you select Preferences from the Edit menu, you will see two new options in the Desktop View preferences. Note that these settings affect each individual user separately.
Colors in the Top Icon Bar
The change to black/white icons in the icon bar from the colored icons in prior versions is one of the issues that generated the largest amount of discussion in QuickBooks users upgrading from prior versions.
Here is what we had in 2013 R3 (which is slightly different than in R1) for the top icon bar.
With 2013 R4, if you select the colored icons option, you will see the following:
Note that this is only changed for the Top Icon Bar, and not the new Left Icon Bar. You still have the same black/white colors at the left. I find that most users who are unhappy with how the icon bars work in QuickBooks 2013 are gravitating back to the top icon bar anyways, so this is a good change. I’m in that group, I still prefer the top icon bar most of the time because that is what I’m used to, and the addition of colors here is a welcome change. Is it enough? Well, everyone has their opinion, and I’m sure that there will be some people who don’t think that this goes far enough. Note that this color preference only changes the colors in the top icon bar.
Colored Flags to Identify Files
Prior to 2013 people had the ability to change the color scheme settings for a QuickBooks company file. The 2013 release took that away, and some people were upset because they relied on these color changes to easily identify which company file they were working with (in a situation where you have multiple company files). Intuit is NOT bringing this feature back, but they have thrown in a small change to help in this situation.
You can set a company flag color preference (shown earlier), which adds a small flag to the right side of the QuickBooks title bar. Here is an example where I selected “purple-red””:
There are 15 color options (including “none”), which should be enough for the purpose of identifying a file. Is it enough? This won’t satisfy people who are unhappy with the overall color scheme in QuickBooks – that isn’t what Intuit is aiming at here.
There are a number of other user interface changes scattered about that are mostly changes to resolve smaller issues, or to bring different elements of the program into alignment with their user interface specifications. Some are changes to background colors to help with contrast and improve visibility. Here’s the list that was provided to me:
- Sharpen & darken edges of input fields, icons (hard to notice unless you compare the releases side by side).
- Darken field labels (minor change, but it helps a little bit).
- Centers tool bar label, icon sizes, hover and gradient styling (again, minor adjustments you may not notice).
- Pay Bills background changed from white to gray (I can see a difference but that isn’t what the change looks like to me?).
- Total in forms to Upper Case (Picky little thing, but it really bugged me before).
- Color differentiation of Bills & Checks (subtle, a slightly different color in each of the forms).
- Dynamic resizing of grey bar in transaction form windows (so if you drag a window wider, fields like the customer in the invoice window will also get larger).
I also noticed many small adjustments in spacing, background colors and so forth scattered about, which help improve things but that are hard to notice unless you compare the versions side by side.
I won’t go into detail on all of these changes – here’s one example that is more noticeable than some. Take a look at the Enter Credit Card Charges window.
This example is from 2013 R3:
Here is the same window from 2013 R4:
One of my major complaints about the new QuickBooks barcode feature (found in QuickBooks Enterprise with Advanced Inventory) was that you couldn’t print barcode labels. The only place to print barcodes were on a few selected reports. Well, Intuit heard the complaints and added a simple barcode label feature with the 2013 R4 release. This is a very simple feature that doesn’t have a lot of options – I hope that more options will be available in the future (but we may need to wait for some third party addons to have full flexibility here).
If you select File and then Print Forms, there is a Labels option, which we’ve had all along. Note that there are two additions with the R4 release:
The dropdown list lets you choose the item types (or individual items) to print.
Click OK to get the printing window – see the label format options:
These are the standard options for labels, note that some of these won’t print a barcode. In general you can use the 5261, 6262, 5163 and rolodex formats.
Here is an example of what the labels will look like. Note that the only features that you can modify are the label format (page layout, number of labels per page) and whether the description is included. You cannot add other information than what is shown here, you cannot change the symbology used (this is Code 128), you cannot change the actual size or bar ratios of the barcode itself.
Very, very limited feature, but an improvement from what there was before.
Lots of Bug Fixes
We are still early in the release cycle for the new year of product, and this is the first release where most of the work has been done (in my opinion) based on the “real” release of the program rather than from beta testing. So, lots of bug fixes! Note that you might not have run into all of the problems that are reported as being fixed, and there are a few listed here where Intuit’s description is a bit vague or confusing.
- Send General Journal Entries (Accountant versions):
- This no longer displays an incorrect message about the “from” email address.
- The Send GJE window no longer shows the billable checkbox as being editable.
- Selections in the Class dropdown at the top of the Invoice window will now apply properly to each item on the invoice.
- Advanced Inventory (Enterprise):
- The quantity on hand report no longer reflects different numbers after it has been refreshed after you have been warned that you cannot filter by sites and locations.
- When you upgrade to a newer release, all “item types” will retain a check mark when you select all items in the barcode wizard.
- The Rebuild function will now correct the data corruption issue that was discussed in our article on QuickBooks Advanced Inventory Database Problems (as well as in more detail in QuickBooks Advanced Inventory Error Identified).
- You can now display all available bins in the Inventory Center.
- You can now select a location using arrow keys on transaction forms.
- The quantity on hand by serial number view in the Inventory Center will now display negative quantities correctly.
- You can now mix inventory and non-inventory items on a purchase order if the site/location feature is being used.
- You can now select a future date on a check when clicking the pay online check box without getting a warning message.
- You can now copy and paste transactions in the banking register (check register? this isn’t clear to me).
- Batch Enter Transactions (Accountant versions):
- You will no longer see a message that “credits are available” when none are, in the Batch Transactions window.
- You will no longer be prevented from selecting a payee based on multiple currency settings.
- If you leave any required fields blank they will now be highlighted so that you can more easily find them when you are warned.
- The ability to clear splits has been added to the context menu when entering batch transactions.
- Class Tracking:
- Class tracking on transactions has been improved – but it isn’t clear HOW they improved it.
- A number of incorrect warnings about inactive elements have been removed.
- Client Data Review no longer adds a blank page to a PDF when you write off invoices.
- The process of signing in to purchase additional connected serviceshas been improved.
- QuickBooks will not prevent you from opening a company file with duplicate name ID’s – instead you’ll get an error message with a “repair” button that will lead you to the website that has the File Diagnostic Tool.
- Similar to the prior correction, the automatic data recovery feature will no longer make a backup if duplicate name ID’s are found in the file.
- Reports now convert foreign currency to home currency when you use multiple currencies with Enhanced Inventory Receiving.
- In addition, automatic data recovery is now enabled in Enterprise. Not sure what this is? See my article on automatic data recovery.
- There are several fixes and updates in the Help system. One big one is that QuickBooks will no longer crash when you select “App Center: Find More Businesses”.
- There are several fixes in the installation routines. Improved messages, inclusion of components needed for 64 bit systems, and a “troubleshoot button” for 1603 install errors that will link you to the appropriate QuickBooks support KB article.
- Words added to the dictionary will be retained when QuickBooks is upgraded.
- Vacation accrued is now correctly updated on paychecks when hours are changed.
- You will now see the correct Billed or Not Billed icon on the enter single activity window when clicking previous or next.
- An issue that prevented paychecks from being printed using dot matrix printers has been fixed.
- Employee notes are no longer visible to users with “no access” permission to Payroll.
- Preview Paycheck (when editing) no longer incorrectly changes the amount of a deduction with a non-annual limit.
- Paycheck balances for sick and vacation now update properly when you edit a paycheck.
- Form names now fit properly in the Federal Forms list.
- The alignment of contact information that is auto filled on federal tax forms has been corrected.
- Company Message information now prints on pay stubs.
- When you export payroll data to Excel the state filing status values are now correct.
- The Employee Center now includes the Payroll Summary, Paid Time Off and Payroll Transaction Detail reports.
- QuickBooks File Manager will now show company file information correctly when you switch between different company files.
- An issue was fixed in Online Banking where you would see a send/receive transaction error message.
- If you display a previous reconciliation reportQuickBooks will no longer crash.
- Date filters now work as designed on the Account QuickReport for income, expense and cost of goods sold accounts.
- Purchase Orders and Sales Orders without a site now display a quantity on the Stock Status by Site report.
- The delivery date column on the Inventory Stock Status by Item report now displays the correct information.
- The after the fact payroll window is now scaled to fit the minimum resolution of 1024X768.
- The “Item” column will not be checked in the Create Auto PO’s screen when Qty to Order is entered.
- The Batch Transactions icon has been added to the ribbon on the Write Checks and Enter Credit Card Charge/Credittransaction windows.
Additional New Features
This section was updated on 12/7/2012
There has been a bit of confusion over some new features. In the initial release notes in the Intuit support site there was a list of features listed in a section titled “Subscription”. Usually we think of the “subscription” as being the QuickBooks Plus Subscription version – which means that only ProAdvisors or people paying for the monthly subscription will see this. It is unusual, though, for there to be a “Plus” feature update this early in the product cycle. And Plus features usually only show in Pro and Premier, not Enterprise.
It is interesting to note that fairly quickly after the publication of THIS blog article, that section was removed from the Intuit release notes. However, I’m still seeing just about all of the features that were previously listed. So there is some confusion. Here are the features that were listed, then weren’t listed, but that I can still find. Note that at this point I’m only seeing them in QuickBooks Enterprise at this point:
- In reports, the Print button had an option to “save as PDF”.
- Reports now have arrows to expand and contract groups of items. We had this in Premier already, now it is expanded to Enterprise.
- There is a Print button on Item Receipts. Very handy.
- Add/Edit Multiple List Entries now lets you add Assembly items.
Should You Update?
If you are using Advanced Inventory, or Payroll, you definitely need to install this update soon. Other users – look over the changes, if they aren’t desperately compelling then I recommend that you wait a week or so to see if other people have big problems. I dislike being the first to try a new release! Note that this release did go through a “beta” or field test.
About the Author (Author Profile)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 firstname.lastname@example.org He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog Connect with Charlie at Google
Sites That Link to this Post
- NEW QuickBooks 2013 Maintenance Release 4: Color Improvements | QBPros, Inc. | December 6, 2012