How to Convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online in 8 Steps

Cody Cromwell
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Things to Consider Before You Convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online

QuickBooks desktop accounts are basically downloaded versions of the QuickBooks online services, which means they’re also accessible only through an Internet connection. But you can use a QuickBooks desktop file to access your online accounts. It does involve some changes before you can use it on another machine. Also, if you’re using QuickBooks desktop to your online accounts for several years, you should consider converting it to online.

Before you start the conversion process, you might want to consider the following:

You can only convert QuickBooks desktop accounts to QuickBooks online accounts. They won’t convert to other online accounts.

Accounts for more than one user are supported in both QuickBooks desktop and online services. Therefore, you can easily use the online services to set up your accounting department, file taxes, and handle bookkeeping for your business.

User accounts can only be accessed from a machine you’ve downloaded the QuickBooks desktop software to.

You can’t add existing employees if they aren’t in your QuickBooks desktop file.

If your QuickBooks desktop file is more than one year old, you can convert it to online using your QuickBooks online data file.

Check the File Size Requirements

QuickBooks desktop allows you to save your small business’s details, transactions, notes, and contact to a local file on your hard drive. This makes it easy to access and use from different devices at home or in the office. These files are known as QBDX files. When you switch from desktop application to online application, the data will not be automatically transferred to the cloud. QuickBooks will still retain your old QBDX files but will not open them.

If you are in this situation, you have three options:

  • Set up your account in QuickBooks online
  • Import your file in QuickBooks online
  • Store the data in your cloud storage account and share that data with other users in your business

What file size do you need to check?

The file size requirements are different depending on the QBDX file type.

QuickBooks Lists

QuickBooks lists are files that contain details about one or more customers as well as their contact, items, items purchased and invoices. These are short files with each of these details saved as a separate category. For lists created in desktop application, the widest file size is 32MB and the tallest file size is 8.48GB.

Prepare Your QuickBooks Desktop Data for Export to QuickBooks Online

Create a QuickBooks Online Account

To get started, launch QuickBooks Desktop and sign in to your desktop QuickBooks file.Once you are done with your entries, you can select the offline desktop option on which you'll save your file.

If it hasn't been done now, you must create an online QuickBooks account to start transferring your Microsoft Desktop file to a cloud based QuickBooks Online account.

Applications such as Intuit QuickBooks File Export ,Convert Excel to QB Online and PG to QB Online are used for this purpose.

Provide Basic Company Information

The first thing you need to do is tell QuickBooks who you are and what you’ll be doing. This can be done by entering a basic company information such as the company name and address.

Next, you need to provide basic contact information like the owner, phone numbers, email address, and in certain cases, fax.

You’ll notice that when you enter your name and contact information, QuickBooks will automatically determine the required information based on certain pre-defined rules. You’ll be asked for a name or initials and an email address or phone number.

If you want to add information about other members of your family as contacts, the information can be added under Accountant or Company.

Log Out of Your QuickBooks Online Account

You must log out of your QuickBooks desktop version to log in to the online version. To do so, you can navigate to the QuickBooks desktop and click on the Log Out button to completely log out of your desktop version.

If you do not have a QuickBooks desktop version, you can also use Windows Task Manager to log out of your desktop version by closing QuickBooks. The exception to this is if you are syncing with QuickBooks cloud or with QuickBooks portable. In this case, Highlight QuickBooks and click on the End Task button on the Task Manager.

Export Company File to QuickBooks Online

The quickest thing you can do to prepare for your QuickBooks Online setup is to export your existing QuickBooks Desktop file. First, ask yourself if you’re ready to get rid of the Quicken program. If so, export the data and file. Then if you want to continue using QuickBooks Desktop programs at a later date, you can always recover your data once QuickBooks Online is set up. The exported file can be used to import all that you need into your new online QuickBooks.

QuickBooks’ Export Company file is the most convenient way to get your data stored in an accessible format.

{1}. Open the Accounts Receivable module of your Quicken program.
{2}. Choose File and then Export.
{3}. Select QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks for Mac-use the export option that fits your computer system.
{4}. Specify the location of the exported data. Your desktop will ask whether you want to send the file to the current Quicken folder. You may also export to a location of your choice on the computer. Commercial Accountant/Author Online ‌ CPA Review

QuickBooks Online Setup – Part 1: Where and How to Start

QuickBooks Online ‌ Get set up in minutes!

Sign Into Your QuickBooks Online Account Through the Desktop Program

After downloading the QuickBooks Desktop version of the software, you need to sign in to your QuickBooks Online account once you launch the program. You’ll need your QuickBooks username and password.

If you don’t have an account yet, you can sign up through QuickBooks. Once you have an account, you can then download the desktop version of QuickBooks from the original software website. In a few moments, you’ll be able to create and edit accounts online.

Note that if you’re using the free version of QuickBooks Desktop, you can only create / edit one account at a time.

Indicate Whether You Want to Import Inventory Into QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Premier.

There are three different ways to import inventory into QuickBooks Online. By default, QuickBooks imports your inventory into QuickBooks Online. If you are only using QuickBooks Online, you do not need to do this.

If you want to use both QuickBooks Desktop and Premier and you want to ensure that inventory is available in all three versions, you will need to export inventory from your desktop system to your QuickBooks Online account or via a back-up source into your Premier account.

You cannot download the specific inventory items that you want from a QuickBooks Desktop file into your QuickBooks Online account. Quickbooks Online imports inventory items based on item numbers and descriptions.

It is important to note that QuickBooks imports inventory from your QuickBooks Desktop file into your QuickBooks Online account based on the last time that you ran the inventory. If you do not run inventory from QuickBooks Desktop, you must re-import the last inventory that you had into QuickBooks

This means that if you have a six-month QuickBooks Online inventory, but do not run inventory transactions in QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online will import all of your inventory based on your last QuickBooks Desktop file.

You can import your inventory at any time on the QuickBooks Online website.

Select Your Company in QuickBooks Online

There are two ways to go about converting from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks online.

  • … One is to convert the data from your desktop to online so you can access it everywhere. This is a one-time process and there are some limitations when it comes to access.
  • … The other is to have all your data available to you online. You’d save yourself the trouble of going back and forth, as well as the extra hassle added onto the process.

Before you proceed, make sure QuickBooks Online is part of your company’s subscription plan. You can check with your company’s billing department if you’re still not sure about which plan you’re currently using.

The next step is to sign up for a QuickBooks Online account.

Copy Data File

Now it’s time to transfer your database and company files to your drive. But before you copy anything, make sure you have the right permissions to do this. In most cases your quickbooks Desktop file is not set up to allow you to copy to a USB Thumb Drive, but if you have administrator access to the PC you are working on you can follow this. If you are not asked, skip to the next step.

Open Quickbooks Desktop and click File->Import. You should see a message that Copying files to destination drive … If you don’t see this copy the data file to your local drive. Once it is copied you can close the program.

Connect Your USB Thumb Drive

Next, you’ll connect your drive. You’ll likely have to disconnect and reconnect your PC and the Thumb Drive multiple times before Quickbooks Desktop is recognized and used by your PC.

Once the Quickbooks Desktop program is open, you can go to File->Import->Enter new destination and select the folder you properly copied to the USB Thumb Drive. Your database will be copied over and encrypted any time you plug or unplug the drive.

Transferring Lists Instead of Converting a QuickBooks Desktop File

The process of converting a QuickBooks desktop file to online format is called direct import. However, simply importing a QuickBooks desktop file will convert its file format.

The easiest method of obtaining a list from a desktop file is to convert it to a text file and then import the list in an online format.

Here’s how to obtain a text file of a QuickBooks desktop file using the export function within the desktop program.

{1}. Open the QuickBooks desktop program.
{2}. Place the cursor over the name of your company.
{3}. Right-click (or Ctrl+click for Mac users) on the company name and then choose File > Export.
{4}. Select the text file type (*.txt).
{5}. Click the Options button.
{6}. Select a location where the file will be saved and click the Export button.

Once you’ve obtained a text file of your QuickBooks desktop file, you can easily import it to your online accounting software.

However, remember to separate the individual transactions or transactions in a batch whenever you move the imported text file between your desktop and your online accounting software. Opening the text file in the online software and trying to separate the transactions one by one is not practical if you have hundreds of them or if you’re trying to separate them in a batch.

How to Export Lists From QuickBooks Desktop

Once you’ve got your thoughts and your list prepared, you’ll want to export it for use in Excel. Select File > Import/Export > QuickBooks Import/Export Data. Use the similar window to download your data. Once you’re done, you should see the New Data window. Click on General List to locate your Excel list. Click OK.

Next, choose to add this file to QuickBooks. Click on the Add Excel Files button. Click Yes. You should now see your Excel file next to the File: dropdown. Now click on your Excel file to activate it. If you have Excel’s options tool window open, you’ll see your file in the dropdown menu. Otherwise it isn’t available in the Menu Bar.

Your Excel file will open. If you’ve not saved the file, you’ll need to save it as either a .csv or .txt file first. Click on the Data tab. Click on Cells. Click on the little dropdown arrow to the left of A1. Select Text or Comma separated value file (.csv) from the dropdown menu. Note how QuickBooks automatically added an extra column to the right of A1.

How to Import Lists into QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online and Desktop have a number of ways to import data so you can access it properly. To import your lists, you will need to export the data in Excel or as an XLS or XLSX file. Each spreadsheet type will differ in how it can be used in QuickBooks Online/Desktop, but all of them will give the proper data.

Step 1: Connect to your QuickBooks Online or Desktop account using your browser.

Step 2: In Web Connect, click on QuickBooks Online or Open QuickBooks Desktop.

Step 3: Configure your browser if necessary and then log in to your Intuit account.

The QuickBooks Online method requires a cellular data connection in order to process the file.

Step 4: Click on the drop-down next to your email address, and select Files.

Step 5: Click on the drop-down next to the file name and select Open in Online/Desktop.

For the XLS file type, the name of the file dictates the data type. For example, if you have a list called Accts, you should have an Excel spreadsheet with tabs titled Accts, Item, and Payment.

Step 6: An error may appear if you are unable to open the file. In that case, you may need to click through, and then select Open.

Get Up to Speed With QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is an internet based solution for financial managers. Since QuickBooks desktop version is an entirely desktop solution, you can only use it on Windows operating system and Mac operating system. It has the same accounting system only on Windows operating system and that’s one of the reasons you can easily integrate it to web.

It might not be the right time to switch from QuickBooks desktop to online version because if you want, you still have the option, just don’t forget to change the drop down window.

Although it’s a cloud-based solution, it has the same login-based user management system like QuickBooks desktop version because it still uses os x or windows desktop client running on the remote computer. The only difference is the data is stored and accessed via the internet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Switching From QuickBooks Desktop to Online

Can you use both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online?

Knowing how to convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online makes life a lot easier.

Yes, in fact, you can use both, and the real question isn’t –Can you use them both?,” but rather, –When and how do you use QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online?”

Once you understand the differences, you can make the choice that’s right for you.

Below, we’ll highlight how to use each one of these options to its fullest.

At a Glance

How do you decide which one is right for you?

What’s not imported when you move from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online?

You mentioned that you moved your QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks online and you are worried about how your accounting files will be transferred over. You might think that there will be no problems since that’s what you’ve already done many times.

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that QuickBooks Online makes your accounting files available on the web. You can access the files online from your web browser.

But it’s crucial that you know which files will be imported and which ones will not.

QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online both support the following accounting files:

  • Accounts Payable
  • Accounts Receivable
  • Bank and Credit Statements
  • Inventory
  • Notes Payable
  • Sales and Customers
  • Payroll
  • Fixed Assets
  • VAT
  • Income Taxes
  • Fixed Assets
  • VAT

You can keep all of these accounting documents in QuickBooks desktop. If you move all of your accounting files to QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks will not copy these files over.

In other words, if you move from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, you won’t be able to use any of the following:

  • Inventory (formerly managed in QuickBooks Desktop)
  • Fixed Assets (formerly managed in QuickBooks Desktop)

Bottom Line

Online business has evolved in leaps and bounds to give businesses online presence no matter where they are. Two things have been central to digitization in the business world. These two factors are automation from the server and the web browser.

Across the industry, services like Sales Force , Quicken, Quickbooks Online, Xero, Freshbooks have been instrumental in streamlining the accounting processes for individuals and businesses. These services have helped to accelerate the pace of exports and goods.

The increased efficiencies from these services means businesses are able to concentrate on building brands and products. However, these services do have their limitations. These limitations arise from they cost associated with these services.

Alternating between manual and automated processes results in increase in cost. More importantly, the increased costs make businesses choose which of these services to use.

For example, online payments are cheaper when payments are made through plastic cards. This is where cash card services take over. Cash card services offer a cheaper payment method in black markets where a company cannot be sure what they will be paid.

Similarly, pay roll expenses are a time consuming exercise. For this reason, payroll services are offered to individuals which relieves the business from being bogged down by paying its personnel.

In sum, the quandary confronting the business world is a question of which of these services to choose. However, the aforementioned limitations imposed on these services means businesses cannot thrive if the services are too basic.