Print This Post

Comparing QuickBooks Desktop with QuickBooks Online

January 31, 2013 | By | 60 Replies More

Intuit is placing an increasing emphasis on QuickBooks Online, but it isn’t a product that all accounting professionals are familiar with. Many of us have been working with QuickBooks Desktop (for Windows) for years and that is our comfort zone. Intuit keeps on trying to push us out of that comfort zone. My viewpoint on this is that whether we like it or not, QuickBooks Online is going to be a big player in our future, so we better get to know it! Let’s start with a simple comparison of features between the two products.

They Are Different

QuickBooks OnlineUsually whenever someone asks me to compare these two products my stock answer is “don’t compare them, they are different products and they fit different situations”. Then I follow that up with “analyze the client’s needs first, THEN decide which tool is the best one to solve their situation”. If you think about it, though, these are conflicting statements. “Don’t compare” but then “choose between them” – how can I choose if I don’t compare?

QuickBooks DesktopI don’t have a problem with someone listing the features and functions of the two products, and then using that to choose the right product to use. My “don’t compare” idea is more of a statement that even though these two products share the name “QuickBooks”, they aren’t related. QuickBooks Online isn’t a copy of QuickBooks Desktop that has been web-enabled. They are different products with totally different database structures and approaches to solving problems, even though both were developed in-house by Intuit. I sometimes think that if these were named “ABC Desktop Accounting” and “XYZ Online Accounting” that people wouldn’t be complaining about the differences.

So, you look at your client and see what they are doing, what kind of situation they have. Is everyone located in one office or do they work from multiple locations? Are they inventory-centric and need a lot of stuff like barcoding, or are they service oriented? Questions like that, which help you get a picture of the client. Then pick the right tool for the job (I say the same thing about the old argument over which is better, PC or Mac).

Let’s Compare

So here is a look at what these two products share, and how they are different. This isn’t a comprehensive list of every feature at this time – the products are a moving target, and it is a complicated process to build these lists – but it is a start.

The basis for my information is a list compiled by Woody Adams of Radio Free QuickBooks (I think he works for Intuit on the side…). Look for the RFQ_QBMatrix link on the tips page. Woody has given me permission to draw on this info for this article. He updates the document periodically, so you might want to check there every once in awhile. I’m going to take his list and organize it in a different way.

Before we jump in, here are a few points I’d like to make:

  • When I refer to QuickBooks Desktop I’m just talking about the Windows version, not the Mac version.
  • In all cases I’m referring to the US versions of the products.
  • Both products have a number of add-on options available from third party vendors. I’m not including the features found in those. Note that at this time QuickBooks Desktop has more add-on products than QuickBooks Online, but that is changing rapidly.
  • I’m not including features that are found in the optional Advanced Inventory feature for QuickBooks Enterprise. I consider this to be the same as an add-on product, since it is only available for a significant additional fee.
  • To try to keep this simple, I’m not going to get into all the variations that we see with QuickBooks. I’ll ignore, to a degree, QuickBooks Desktop Pro and QuickBooks Online Simple Start. I’m not getting into the differences between the various “Editions” of Premier (or Enterprise). The matrix can be really complicated, with some features found in Enterprise but not Premier, or found only in Accountant (which is Premier level) but in all Enterprise versions, and so forth. I’m trying to simplify things a bit.

Features That Are Common To All

Let’s start with some easy stuff. Here are features that you will find in both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online, although many times the specific implementations may differ.

  • Accept credit card payments from customers
  • Audit trail to track changes to transactions and lists – Note that QB Online has an activity log that also tracks user login/out
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Company Snapshot
  • Custom fields – varies on the number, and how you can use them, so you have to look at the specifics
  • Express setup of QB company file
  • Multi user access (different limits to the number)
  • Multiple windows
  • Online banking
  • Payroll (additional fees may be required)
  • Print Bills
  • Recurring Billing / Memorized Transactions
  • Zoom into details from reports
  • Document management – is much more limited in Online
  • Budgets (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Class Tracking (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Create Estimates (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Prepare and print 1096, 1099 (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Job costing – although this is quite limited in QB Online
  • Purchase Orders (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Invoices
  • Time tracking and billing by customer (not in QB Online Essentials)
  • Reversing journal entries
  • Memorized reports

In addition, there are some features that are only found in the Accountant versions of both products.

  • Accountant Center
  • Adjusted Trial Balance (also in Enterprise)
  • Client file dashboard , File Manager kind of stuff
  • Set accounting period

These features will be found in most QB Desktop products, but only in the Accountant version on the QB Online side.

  • See and Undo previous reconcile
  • Client Data Review – some portions available in non accountant desktop if you log in using external accountant, features differ between online and desktop
  • Comparative balance sheet and P&L
  • Adjusting journal entries – only in Enterprise on the desktop side
  • Voided/deleted transaction report

Features Found in QuickBooks Desktop but not in QuickBooks Online

OK, so the QuickBooks Desktop product has been around longer, and in the past it has gotten a lot more attention from the developers. Sometimes I think of the differences between Microsoft Word (which has EVERYTHING but you might not use it all) and Google Docs (simpler, has the basics, but not all the extra stuff). Do you need all these things? If not, QuickBooks Online is an option. If you need them, however, you either need QuickBooks Desktop, or you need to find an add-on to QuickBooks Online.

 

  • Average Cost inventory valuation
  • Balance Sheet by Class
  • Batch Invoicing
  • Batch Timesheet Entry
  • Billable Time and Expense preferences
  • Billing rate level
  • Business Planner
  • Forecasting
  • Calendar
  • Change orders on Estimates
  • Collections center
  • Condense data file – but it isn’t clear to me if you actually would need this in QuickBooks Online?
  • Available Quantity in Inventory
  • Customer Snapshot
  • Convert estimate to a purchase order or sales order
  • Advanced Excel export that can update existing exported reports
  • Industry specific reporting (lots and lots of industry specific reports here)
  • Inventory assembly items, Bills of Material, the ability to build assemblies
  • Inventory Center
  • Lead Center
  • Fixed Asset Manager
  • Mileage tracking
  • Multiple currencies
  • Multiple ship to addresses for Vendors
  • One click transactions (pay bill from bill, create credit memo from invoice, etc.)
  • Price Levels
  • Progress Invoicing/billing
  • Receive partially against a purchase order
  • Report Favorites
  • Report – collapse rows
  • Share report templates with Intuit community
  • Inventory – reorder/rebuild points
  • Shipping Manager
  • Sales Orders
  • Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet
  • Transaction History Panel
  • Units of Measure

One interesting difference is the ability to give someone a copy of a file that they can look at (like an audit) that isn’t your real copy. In some cases you can say “we don’t need the ‘accountant’s copy’ kind of feature in QuickBooks Online” (or things like Send General Journal Entries) since the accountant can easily log in to my QuickBooks Online account. In other cases there may be times when you want to give a copy of your file to someone that is totally separate (IRS audits, perhaps?), which is more complicated with QuickBooks Online.

Moving up the line, here are some features found only in QuickBooks Enterprise.

  • Auto price markup
  • Default classes with class tracking
  • Enhanced Item Receiving, to split receipt from bill
  • Advanced find/select of items
  • Journal entries, list of previous entries (also found in Accountant)
  • ODBC access for reporting
  • Auto purchase orders
  • QuickBooks Statement Writer (also found in Accountant)
  • Working Trial Balance (also in Accountant)
  • Batch Enter Transactions  (also in Accountant)

Features Found in QuickBooks Online but not QuickBooks Desktop

 

It goes both ways – QuickBooks Online has features that don’t exist in QuickBooks Desktop!

  • Remote access – you can do this with QuickBooks Desktop but you need an additional software product or use QuickBooks Hosting (at a higher price)
  • Auto Send Reports – reports or report groups can be scheduled to send automatically
  • Automatic upgrades – this is both a good and a bad feature, with QuickBooks Online you are almost always running the most up to date version (whether you want to or not)
  • Company Scorecard
  • Delayed charges/billing – enter charges to be billed later
  • Income list/transaction center
  • Invoice automation – automatically create invoice from unbilled activity
  • More than one A/R or A/P account per journal entry
  • Location tracking, a secondary level of class tracking (QB Online Plus only)
  • FIFO Inventory valuation (available in QuickBooks Enterprise but only with the additional cost Advanced Inventory feature)

There Are More Differences

I’m sure that this isn’t an exhaustive list of differences – please feel free to point out others! I’ll admit that I’m still learning about QuickBooks Online, so I can be missing things.

This comparison list also doesn’t highlight other aspects that are different between the two products. I hope to be able to point out more of these kinds of things in future articles. For example, both products integrate with Intuit PaymentNetwork (which I didn’t point out, since it is essentially an add-on feature), but there are big differences in how it is implemented on each side. The workflow is VERY different, and in this case you may find that the feature is much easier to use (at this time) in QuickBooks Online than in QuickBooks Desktop.

I hope that this serves as a starting point for understanding the differences between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. You need to understand both products if you are going to make good decisions about which product to use or recommend.

Again, my thanks to Woody Adams of Radio Free QuickBooks for the great information that he has compiled (and is updating).

Tags: ,

Category: Cloud Accounting, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Tips/Tricks

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 (60)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ed Jaworski says:

    Charlie: Great article (as usual). It is so difficult to learn a product when you don’t have occasion to use it much. But I’d like to add to your list two features that I am aware of that QB Online does better than desktop.

    One is an invoice format that provides a “mini-statement” that is very useful. In the invoice header section, QBO shows the balance as of the previous invoice plus any payments received. The second feature is the way on-line banking is implemented. Any cleared transactions automatically show up in QBO for review without having to log on to the bank and initiate a download. You never miss any activity.

    • Thank you, Ed. Again, the main info started with Woody Adams, so he gets the lion’s share of credit.

      I’ve not gotten into comparisons of where one product does a particular feature better than the other. Thanks for pointing that one out. I know there are more. We’ll get into that in the future…

  2. Woody Adams says:

    Reverse Journal Entry is now in there.
    Memorized reports are in QBO too.

    Not sure how I missed those, sorry.

    • Easy to miss, Woody. These are both rich and complicated products.

      Laura Dion had already sent me an email about the reversing journal entries, probably about 2 seconds after the article posted.

      I’ve updated the article for those two features, and I’m sure there will be others. That is the nice thing about an article like this, we get corrections from all of our readers!

  3. Charlie, when I read your comparison it seems QuickBooks online isn’t as bad as my experience has been. You compare many of the features but there are a few things that my office has continued to struggle with using QuickBooks online. The first and foremost is the ability to have multiple forms open at one time. Your list states “multiple windows” can be used in the online version however I have never been able to activate this feature and it makes me think it is refering to having multiple companies at one time (or I would love for someone to tell me how to get multiple windows at the same time). The overall control has been lost by the accountant in many areas of the online version – payroll being the prime example. It is very difficult to make corrections or changes in payroll for quarterly processing or any other payroll processing. Speaking of payroll… a hard lesson learned. If you have employees set up on salary you absolutely can not adjust their hours as it will adjust their rate of pay. I work with many organizations that have salaried employees yet still use QB to track their hours. This has created a huge debacle for one company and they have employees that were overpaid which we are now attempting to correct. My list can go on and on with the problems of QB online. I realize it is the direction of the future but I certainly hope the developers of QB are listening to the accountants because there are some real problems. Our firm has completely stopped supporting users of QuickBooks online and in the past week have had two clients using online come to us begging for help to untangle their mess. We agreed if they agreed to get on a desktop version. PS – the cost of the online version is outrageous. QuickBooks continues to nickel and dime the small business to the point they won’t be able to afford any sort of financial management software.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Heather. As for multiple windows, take a look at Stacy Kildal’s article at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/03/quickbooks-online-tips-and-tricks/ which shows how she does it. It works for me – same company file.

    • Margo says:

      Hi Heather, I am considering Quickbooks obline. Never used Quickbooks before at all. It is for a construction based business. I just got off the phone with a sales rep from QB & off course they geer you towards the online version & the most expensive, which seems to be about $80 montly before taxes…thenn towards the end of the conversation I was asking about payroll & find out there is an addition $1.50 fee per employee per month, which can add up to an addition $20 – $30+ per month. Are there any other fees that you know of. Is it safe to say that If you had 30 employees the price would be under $150 per month…what other nickel & diming is there? Thank you.

  4. Fran Reed says:

    Great Article….Thanks…

  5. Hi Charlie – thank you for this – we are just starting now to use QBO in Australia, the global team is out at the moment doing a roadshow around the country and we were happy to see a few updates such as the auto send reports and the features in the Accountant edition. We also have now an Integrated inventory solution – SOS Inventory as well as an integrated payroll solution which is helpful. Of course our desktop product is quite different from the US but the comparison is very helpful

  6. Carol King, CPA says:

    Charlie, thanks for a great article. I’m a huge fan of QuickBooks Online because it suits our client base of doctors & dentists. The overnight download of all the banking transactions has been a game-changer for us. It keeps my clients (and me) up to date on their business. In 30-60 minutes a week they classify the transactions and avoid having to pay our staff to enter all their info. We have access to current info for tax planning and analysis any time we need it, their information is available to them anywhere there is internet and it is secure (no more worrying about backups!) and updated regularly. For around $20/month (with Pro Advisor discount) it’s a bargain for everyone.

  7. Barbara Thomas says:

    Two things I hate in QB Online:
    1) When you delete an account in the Chart of Accounts, it does not go away. It still shows but with (deleted) after the name. What genius thought this was a good idea?
    2) There does not seem to be a way to get all reports to print without the zero accounts, except to customize every time you compile it. The standard balance sheet list all accounts, even with the (deleted) accounts with zero balances. Looks terrible. You have to customize the report every time to make the zero accounts go away.
    The default should be with no zero balance accounts, and you would have to customize to see them, should you ever need to. They have it backwards.

    • Jessica says:

      On #2, you might want to think about memorizing your balance sheet with the customizations so you don’t have to do that every time

  8. Marcia Lorraine says:

    The few clients that I have using QBO do not test the limits very much. However, I struggle greatly with the payroll module! You cannot set up payroll items as easily as the desktop and until recently couldn’t adjust a paycheck. There still is a lot to be desired especially with quarterly payroll taxes and minor adjustments necessary.

  9. Thanks Charlie! Great article! After getting certified in QB Online and hearing about Intuit’s push in that direction, I committed to giving it a try. I agree that some of the functions earlier poster mentioned are great (auto-downloading, Income List), but I have to echo Heather’s frustrations with (deleted) issues, very misleading. In addition, here are my own frustrations so far- no Custom Summary reports (difficult with my law firm clients re: Client Retainer summaries), no Other Names list (why does everybody have to be a vendor!) and lastly, the inability to edit a time entry on the invoice without affecting the original time entry. Again, my law firm clients and my service-based clients often edit their invoices before sending, whether it be rounding the time or editing the text. But they want the original time entry left untouched for payroll. Such a big difference to desktop where we have great control at the invoice level! Anyone else found this to be frustrating?

  10. Paul Hacker says:

    Great article, having been a desktop user for sometime I switched to the online version in late 2012.

    I really like it, as I’m out and about teaching I can access my students accounts via the iPhone app, record any payments as and when they happen rather than waiting for when I get home.

    I was really worried about making the switch, but for me it’s been a good choice. The only downside is that in the UK we can’t convert our company files so essentially had to start again.

    Paul

  11. David Stenslien says:

    Just converted a client to the QBO and was shocked to discover you can’t customize an invoice with a number of days column like you can in the desktop version. You can have rate and quantity, but not number of days. Seems like such a basic function of invoicing. Client now wants to convert back to the desktop version. What a waste of everyone’s time.

  12. Charlie, your list of QBO features included working with the most current version (whether you want to or not)…which sort of edges into another feature to consider: server downtime.

    QBO users have experienced some rediculously long server outages in the past–the longest about 2 days, if I recall correctly. (If Intuit were any other provider of Cloud-based services, with competitors offering the same services, QBO would have died a swift death due to users leaving in droves.)

    QBO is like all other Cloud-based products in that the big advantage of having it hosted and maintained by someone else (Intuit in this case) is also its biggest disadvantage: users are totally helpless when the service is down/unavailable.

    • Mark, since you and I are both developers of desktop software, we understand this issue very well. I made this point in an earlier article. Funny thing about this article, I was delayed in posting it because of a four hour Comcast Internet outage…

      These are some of the things that you have to take into account, but note that as time goes on, more of the addons and services integrated even with the desktop product are web-dependent.

    • Jessica says:

      Since then, we have made some MAJOR improvements and are now at 99.9% uptime. Hope you’ll give us another chance!

  13. Great article Charlie. Like lots of other people I am a new user of QBO. When Intuit made the certification available I decided it was time to learn and use it. I like the way you said that the desktop and online versions were two separate programs. When I first started working in the online version I kept trying to work in it the same way I did in the desktop version. I would look for menu items in the same place, want to customize reports the same way, etc. I finally thought to myself that the online wasn’t like the desktop. It really was a different program, so my thoughts on going forward with the online version was to think of it as any other accounting program I have used over the years. Learn to do what it will allow me to do and not expect it to do what it won’t. Once I decided to work that way I have found it easier to work in. And I do like it.

  14. I want to thank everyone for their comments, lots to think about as we go forward!

  15. In regards to the price of QuickBooks Online, I tell my clients using Essentials and Online Plus how they can get a 35% discount (30% if they are only plain certified) on their monthly subscription by using my Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor client discount.

    All they need is their company ID, my name, company name, phone number, e-mail address, and my PA contract number. It is a nice benefit to hiring me to set up their business, review what they have done, or train them in the program or online payroll. I even have an e-mail template for it.

  16. Adnan says:

    Charlie, Good Effort!
    I am using both versions Quick books desktop and online for my clients. Yes no doubt the future is cloud base accounting and people are moving from desktop to online. QBO does not provide such an extensive reporting as QB desktop provides. At some stages QB desktop edition has advantage and at some stages QBO. It also depends on the business nature if you have manufacturing business so Inventory assembly functionality will not be in Online Quick books, so lots of work need to be done in QBO and I agree with Heather on price. Intuit need to maintain such a price which can be affordable for small size business.

    • Thank you Adnan. Note that there are add-on products like SOS Inventory that will work with QuickBooks Online. And I expect to see more apps in the future now that Intuit has created a better-supported programming interface for QBO.

  17. 1957GoldTop says:

    I run a small business and I’ve always used Quickbooks Pro. I decided to give QBO a try and for the last few days have been using it with my imported QB Pro data.

    But each step of the way I’ve seen things that are infuriatingly illogical. I keep trying to talk myself into sticking with it because I’d much rather use an online product, but I just don’t think I can justify it. Not only am I getting less functionality, I’m also paying more for it.

  18. R Neilson says:

    I think for most my clients the desktop is still the way to go. Desktop one purchase price and annual fees for add on’s like Payroll. Online version monthly fee’s for as long as you want access to your data. Online is only viable if you always have internet access that is reliable and high speed. For many of my clients in rural area’s this makes desktop their only option.

  19. Dusti says:

    I have a client that recently made the switch from desktop to QBO so they could implement SOS Inventory. One of the main differences i’ve noticed (besides the multiple open window – which is driving me nuts)is that agings seem to be perpetual in QBO so if i run an AP aging now for 12/31/12 it no longer ties to my 12/31/12 balance sheet. Am i missing something in the set up/preferences that would fix this?

  20. cy maghami says:

    Can you expand on the “advanced excel export that update existing exported reports”? Never heard of this. Thanks

  21. Susie Schade says:

    Good article, Charlie — very informative. I deal with some pretty sophisticated distributors and manufacturers who have thousands of SKUs and use complex pricing schemes and directly tie QB to their 3PL. Most get orders in by fax and email, several of them use add-ons like Open for Business to enable their customers and sales reps to see order forms and place orders online.
    QB Desktop has better capabilities for inventory, including some fields that QBO doesn’t have, notably Qty on Order and Qty on Sales Order. So QBO can’t show reliable quantity information to salespeople or to the person doing reordering for the distributor’s shelves.
    If my distributor client offers different prices to different kinds of customers, QBO is inadequate in because it doesn’t know how to deal with price levels. The client using QBO will have to scrub every outgoing invoice individually to get the pricing right. Which of course is not fun.
    I have talked with several distributors who consider selecting QBO because the cloud model is so attractive – I do my best to explain how QB Desktop brings more inventory management features to the table. In my experience the QBO model seems to be the best fit for services (non-inventory) businesses. This reinforces your point that one needs to carefully choose the right tool for the job early in the process.

    • Susie, although I agree that the base QB Desktop system has more inventory control features than QB Online, I find that for most businesses even QB Desktop doesn’t fill the bill by itself when it comes to inventory control. All to often I’m seeing people use an add-on product to truly get control of inventory. When you take that into account, sometimes QBO isn’t out of the picture – there are inventory add-on products that work with QBO as well. Then, again, at this point there are more desktop add-ons available than online add-ons. So I keep going in circles!

      • ken olson says:

        Charlie,
        To add to Susie’s point about inventory: I think she’s talking about inventory knowledge available to sales reps and customers, not so much about inventory control. With QB desktop, the Open for Business add-on allows reps and customers to see what’s in stock, what the price/price level is for that account, and what’s on order. Can’t do any of that with QB Online.
        So if serving up real-time information to the field is valuable to a client, QB desktop looks like a better choice. I’m inclined to recommend that any business with inventory to manage and sell should go with the desktop version of QB

        • Moving forward, as developers start to get comfortable with the IPP interface and the improved access it gives you with QuickBooks Online, I think that is going to change. Integration tools for QBO have been stunted for years, now things are advancing.

          There are a number of very comprehensive inventory and sales management products that work with QB Desktop (Windows) – some of the ones that I like (ACCTivate, for example) don’t use the inventory features found in QuickBooks, they manage that data in their own database. That approach can be used very well with QBO also.

          The QuickBooks database has major limitations (either desktop or online), and it isn’t unusual for products to use QB mainly for the financial features and then manage an ancillary database for sales management, CRM, inventory control and more.

          Now, having said that, keep in mind that my business (CCRSoftware) creates add-on products that work only with QB Desktop, and that uses only the data stored in the QuickBooks database itself, to enhance certain inventory control features…

    • Von Smith says:

      I like how you did this, Charlie. Did I miss the price comparisons and the number of users included at each price?

      Isn’t the QBO $35/mo? $420 per year. Are there discount sellers on the internet?

      And isn’t it one subscription per company?

      • Pricing is per user, and the price depends on the version of QBO. I tend not to list that in an article as the prices change from time to time, and there are specials sometimes.

        I don’t believe you will find any “discount sellers”.

        And subscriptions are per user, per company file.

  22. Charlie, I’ve been researching the differences between QB DT and QBO and your blog is the most thorough and “made for the end user” that I’ve read yet. Thanks.

    I have two questions that I haven’t read conclusive answers to yet:
    1. I am fortunate to have fast internet download and upload speeds. Will I see much difference in speed between the online and desktop versions of Quickbooks?

    2. If I’m making a lot of entries, will the online version slow me down?

    3. Re. using Quickbooks 2013 DT with an online bill pay function with my bank, have you heard much good or bad feedback on this feature yet?

    • Thanks for the compliment, Robert!

      Speed differences are very subjective. I’ve seen instances where QBO would work faster than QB Desktop, because there can be issues with the desktop installation. What you’ll find is that some things are going to be slower in QBO on occasion, probably. However, there are things that are easier to do in QBO, such as bank reconciliation. One of the very nice things about QBO is that you have a free month to try it out in parallel, to see if you like it, before you have to pay.

      I don’t have any real comment about any particular online bill pay function, sorry.

  23. Darryl says:

    Quickbooks online is a horrible product. Choose this for your accounting needs if accounting reliability, ease of use, and quality is not that important to you, and $25-35 per month sounds cheaper than just buying the desktop version.

  24. Karen says:

    I have attempted to begin using QB Online and have had so much difficulty getting support. I have been on hold at least 30 min. each time I called, and most questions are not answered clearly, but only bring up other questions. I have spoken to several private consultants currently using QBO, and no one has been able to tell me whether Desktop or Online is most suitable for my needs. Each program has it’s place, and I don’t believe my business is that unusual. I need location tracking, inventory, and price levels, yet no one in support can tell me how to use these. I’ve been directed in circles from desktop to online. I am reminded of this when you say that QBO has issues, but they are making great strides. Yes some simple tasks are not possible, but just wait.. it’s going to be great. It almost seems they launched the program before it was complete and we’re all guinea pigs. Very frustrating. That being said, I appreciate this article attempting to clarify some differences. At least it’s a starting point for discussion.

    • Karen, I’ve heard the complaints lately about long hold times. There should be a “chat” option available, from what I hear that is much faster.

      I can’t tell you exactly what is the best option for you, as I would need to know a lot more about your business. As you have found, many “private consultants” just aren’t familiar with the various Cloud accounting products. You need to find someone who is much more familiar with the product.

      QuickBooks Online by itself is not a fit for what you are saying – there really isn’t any good inventory tracking feature built in for locations, and such. You can deal with some of those things with QBO by using an add-on product, such as SOS Inventory. You would have to look into that to see if it is an option for you. \

      QuickBooks Desktop – you have many options for location inventory and price levels, either with QuickBooks Enterprise with Advanced Inventory (several articles about that in this blog) or addons like ACCTivate and others. But, there are many variables, so I can’t give you a firm recommendation based on blog comments.

  25. Margaux Milchen says:

    I have recently switched yet another new client off of the dreaded QuickBooks online. The desktop is far superior and online is still just as awful as it has been in the past. Aptly nicknamed the “half” version, it is frustrating to get anything done in there..workaround are a nightmare, payroll corrections are impossible. We switched close to 300 clients from online to the desktop last year and we are continuing to get new clients away from this nightmare. Just say no. It will take your accountant a lot more time to clean up your books at year end to prepare your taxes and that, my friend, will cost you much much more. Run away from the online version.

  26. Tim Thoelecke says:

    What about Intuit Sync Manager? I ***think*** it’s Windows version only, but not sure.

    • Tim, I’m not sure what your question is. Sync Manager is the program that Intuit installs on QuickBooks Desktop (Windows) systems to “sync” the database from your local system into the Intuit Cloud. From there, developers can access the data using the IPP interface.

      It doesn’t have anything to do with QuickBooks Online – where the data is already in the Intuit Cloud and developers can use the IPP interface to access it.

  27. Olivier Sanon says:

    I am new at Quickbooks, I will explain my solution and hope for advice

    I would like to be able to access the same quickbooks company and files from 2 different laptops located in 2 different countries. My partner and I would like to be able to make updates to the same company files, giving me the opportunity to correct his mistakes and vice versa.

    What are my different options to reach this goal?

    We are using Mac, but I am also willing to hear how this could be possible on Windows if it’s not possible on Mac

    • Olivier, there are many questions we would have to ask before we could truly give you the best answer.

      For the Mac, not great options. Windows is more supportable.

      If QuickBooks Online works for you then it doesn’t matter which – that is probably the best solution IF you can get the features that you need there.

      QuickBooks for Windows in a Hosted environment would work, you could use any computer (Mac or Windows) because you use it via a browser. Note that some hosting companies don’t support a Mac client, so you have to check.

      This article can give you some idea as to what I’m talking about, although it isn’t oriented exactly to what you are asking. See http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2013/05/working-with-remote-quickbooks-clients-remotely/

  28. Cecil D. says:

    I am still learning Desk Top QuickBooks!Great to see the future!

    Thanks,
    Cecil D.

  29. Craig P says:

    No one has mentioned the continual rapid-fire releases of poorly tested major changes (called “updates” but they’re often really major changes)in QBOE. This results in frustration for the average office worker/bookkeeper, re-training, errors, and expense for the small business user. My users adjusted slowly to the new 2014 version of QBOE over the past several weeks, as they were sporadically forced out of the old version and into the new. The re-design was extreme, requiring them, really, to learn a new program. Today (3/14/14) I discovered that the screens for company preferences (now called “Settings) had completely changed – for half of my users, but not for the other half. Presumably this “update” is being released on just a few servers at a time, just as the 2014 version was. (Are we testing the software “in production” designers?) QBOE could be a good solution for a lot of small businesses that don’t need the wealth of features of the desktop versions, but not when the program design is so unstable. The average $20-an-hour in-house bookkeeper can’t keep up. Frankly, the more complex desktop versions are better choices for them simply because the screens don’t change every few weeks.

    • When you talk about “your users”, I assume that you are talking about different companies – as opposed to multiple users in one QBO company file. In that case, yes, you will find that some company files will move to the new system at a different time than others, and that some users will see different updates than others.

      The ability to release updates on a faster than once-a-year rate is often touted as one of the advantages of online software – you don’t have to wait so long for new features. However, as you point out, too much change in a short term can be disruptive. In addition, usually, the user doesn’t have the choice of installing or ignoring an update (or scheduling it when it is convenient for them).

      Although I would suggest that sometimes Intuit does some of the same things with the desktop product.

      The biggest issue here, to me, is that Intuit (as you mention in your first sentence) doesn’t seem to be doing adequate testing of the changes prior to release.

  30. Carolina says:

    Hello,

    I am using QB Online and I would like to know what I need to do to format my daily transaction registration. What I want is every time I type my Vendor I would like that the system automatic shows me the account that I normally register that entry.

    Can you help me?

  31. Hi Charlie,

    Many thanks for your exhaustive product comparison list. While I greatly prefer the desktop interface over the QBO interface, particularly that of 2014 QBO, QBO is convenient when the client and the accountant are each doing some of the work, there are multiple users in different locations, for collaborative purposes, and for access across different devices.

    I just switched a client to QBO from desktop 2009 after doing my due diligence, however, and there still things that the client found he could not replicate in QBO. One such item is the “expense account prefill” settings function (located on the “Account Settings” tab under edit Vendor). A second is that although the payment terms can be selected from a dropdown menu in QBO, there is no option to apply the discount at the time of payment if a bill is paid within the discount period. The client is dissatisfied and I am now switching him over to QuickBooks dektop 2014.

    I thought you might want to know about these so that you could add them to your list.

    If anyone has had a different experience or outcome with these issues, I would welcome their insight.

    Thanks,
    Renee Klivickis Melville

  32. Jim says:

    The NEW QBOE is AWFUL. It isn’t a matter of small changes it is unusable at best. Used to take 3 tabs and a ctrl+s to enter a bill….now takes 8 tabs and ctrl+ALT+S to do a bill, how is that better? You can no longer pay one vendor you have to pay from the large list of bills.

    I HAVE been using QBOE for 10 years and this change proves that this group at intuit is the WORST and NEVER listens to users. Whomever made this decision should be FIRED.

    Why did they break something that works…….I am switching to desktop or perhaps to ANY COMPETITOR…..

    RUN AWAY FROM THE NEW QBOE.

  33. Charlie, your readers should also be aware that Quickbooks will not let switch between an existing subscription and a cheaper 1-year subscription you may have purchased at a Best Buy. I’m on the phone as I type this and to make it near impossible to do, Quickbooks Online has no facility for exporting your transactions.

    I’ve been told I would need to manually re-enter all transactions to switch over. As I’m trying to switch from a monthly sub of Quickbooks Essentials ($21/month) to a 1-year Quickbooks Essentials ($50 on sale), I suggested that since they’ve made it near impossible to switch, then simply reduce the fee I pay monthly to match the Best Buy offer … not possible is what I’m told.

    Before my company grows any more and we end up even further down this dead-end road, I’m using my extensive time on hold to locate a competing product!

Leave a Reply