Setup & Customization Tips

Setup and Customization Tips
  1. Edit
  2. Preferences
  3. Desktop View
  1. Click on Edit
  2. Click on Preference
  3. Click the picture of Reminders from the list that appears
  4. Make sure a check mark is in the box marked “Show Reminders list when opening a company file”
  5. Click the OK button

To password protect your QuickBooks data file click on Company in the menu bar, then Set Up Users. From here, you can assign a password for the main (Administrator) account in QuickBooks. You can also set up user accounts, passwords, and different levels of access if you have multiple people using your QuickBooks file. Make sure you keep your newly created password in a safe place (just in case you forget it!)

To allow the sharing of your QuickBooks file, your best option is to have a computer network in place. This network will provide the foundation for you to then share the file between two or more computers. You can have either a wired or wireless network within your office.

It is also possible to take a backup copy of the QuickBooks file from one computer and restore it to a second computer to allow sharing of the information. However, I don’t recommend this if both computers will be entering QuickBooks data. If you do this, you won’t know who has the most recent copy of the data file, and things can get messed up quite easily. Your best bet is to talk to a local computer consultant about a network for your home or office.

The first thing you must do is tell QuickBooks that you will be issuing 1099s. Click on Edit (from the menu bar), then Preferences. Scroll down until you find the picture that says “Tax:1099” and click on it. On the Company Preferences tab, answer yes to the question about the issuance of 1099 forms, then follow the rest of the instructions on this screen.

Next, you’ll need to identify those vendors who are eligible to receive a 1099. Click on Vendors, then Vendor List. Double-click on the first vendor in the list, then the “Additional Info” tab. In the lower left hand corner, put a check mark in the box that says “vendor eligible for 1099” and enter their tax ID number they have provided. Repeat this process for any vendors that need to receive a 1099.

Finally, to run the 1099’s and related information, click on Reports, then Vendors, then either of the 1099 reports. Verify the data, correct if necessary, and print your 1099’s all within QuickBooks.

It’s important to review this topic with your accountant to ensure you are collecting the proper information and preparing the 1099 forms correctly for your business

One of the reasons the QuickBooks line of desktop products has been so successful is because of its clean, simple appearance and efficient navigational tools. But there’s room for improvement and personalization. Everyone uses QuickBooks just a little differently. You can create a desktop that meets your specific needs, while maintaining the program’s inherent usability. Every desktop version of QuickBooks (except for Simple Start) offers several tools to accommodate your preferences, so we’ll show you some of the best.

Establish Default Windows for Startup

QuickBooks automatically opens to its default desktop (the Home page), which displays a set of the most commonly used navigational icons, separated by type. You can change this behavior so that every time you launch the program, it opens to the screen(s) you want to see first.

You’ll have to tweak your Preferences to make this happen. Click Edit | Preferences. In the list on the left, click Desktop View. You’ll see a window that looks like Figure 1:

In the Desktop View section of your Preferences window, you can choose to have one window or multiple windows open, and save a desktop configuration that will open when you launch QuickBooks.

Note: If you want be able to have multiple windows open simultaneously, be sure that option is checked.

There are three options for preserving your desktop layout. If you click Save when closing company, QuickBooks will open with the windows that were open when you last closed the company file. If you don’t want any windows to open, check Don’t save the desktop. And if you have a set of favorite windows that you want to open each time you launch QuickBooks, set up that configuration and click Save current desktop. Of course, you can simply choose to have the Home page display when you load QuickBooks.

There are other desktop-related options in this same window that have to do with QuickBooks’ help features. You may also want to adjust these if you commonly use those services.

Customize Your Icon Bar

This is probably the simplest thing you can do to improve navigation. QuickBooks comes with an icon bar pre-installed, a horizontal strip at the top of the screen whose icons take you to specific parts of the program. The default icon bar may serve your purposes well, but if not, you can easily modify it. Click View | Customize Icon Bar (or right-click directly on the icon bar). The window shown in Figure 2 opens.

The Customize Icon Bar window contains all the tools you need to modify the navigational icons displayed in the QuickBooks icon bar.

To add, edit, or delete icons, simply click on the appropriate buttons. A new window opens containing self-explanatory tools to help you make your changes. You can also add separators (vertical lines) that can divide related groupings of icons.

Tracking Open Windows

If you’ve chosen to have multiple windows open simultaneously, you can easily keep track of what’s open-and navigate there quickly-by using the Open Windows list. To get there, click View | Open Window List. QuickBooks will open the sidebar shown in Figure 3. This list appears to the left of the main desktop or any open windows. To close it, simply click View, then uncheck Open Window List.

You can use the Open Window List to keep track of which windows are open. Clicking on one takes you there.

Customizing the Home Page

QuickBooks’ Home page is one of the program’s best feature. It not only serves as a navigational tool-you can click on an icon labeled, for example, Enter Bills, and QuickBooks will take you to that page-but it also illustrates the workflow of some processes.

You have some control over what appears on the Home Page. To make changes, click Edit | Preferences, then Desktop View and then Company Preferences tab to display the window in Figure 4.

In this window, you can turn on or off some of the icons that appear on the Home page.

Here, you can check or uncheck icons like Sales Receipts. But in order to show or hide icons, you’ll have to make sure that the actual features enabling them are active or inactive.

Your current preferences are displayed at the bottom of the window. You can easily alter them by clicking on one of the hyperlinks. So if Sales Tax is off, for example, click on it, and a window opens that lets you set up a sales tax item.

Finding Favorites

There’s yet another way to isolate the functions you use most often: the Favorites list. Click Favorites | Customize Favorites to access the list of options (like Chart of Accounts and Price Level List). Highlight one, then click Add. When you’re done with your list, click OK. Click the Favorites menu anytime you want to access these.

QuickBooks desktop is a powerful navigational tool, and provides simple maps to all of the program’s functions. Such versatility and customizability contribute to the program’s overall ease of use, and make it a pleasure to use.

Setting up Preferences correctly in QuickBooks-for elements like Items & Inventory and Payments-will make the program work the way you need it to. If you have any questions on how to do this, please call us.

Seems like you just finished doing your taxes, and here they come again. Whether you prepare them yourselves, hand them off to an accounting professional, or send data to a tax preparation product, QuickBooks can help you get ready.

Here’s how. This is not a comprehensive list of tasks you’ll need to undertake to prepare for taxes. Rather, it’s an overview of QuickBooks’ most tax-specific tools. QuickBooks supports many business tax forms, including the 1040, 1120, and 1065, and the steps outlined here apply to all small business tax filers using QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise.

If you haven’t already (and you should have), order your W-2 and 1099 Kits

These forms must be filed at the beginning of each year; they report employee wages and salaries to Federal, state, and local agencies. Data is printed directly from QuickBooks onto the correct line in the forms. You can purchase these kits (shown in Figure 1) directly from Intuit, and you must have a Standard Payroll or Enhanced Payroll subscription in a supported version to process them.

Intuit sells kits that help you print QuickBooks tax data directly on the correct forms.

Check the Company Information window to make sure it reflects the right tax form

This is crucial no matter who is preparing your taxes. You should have been thinking ahead to tax time when you set up your company in QuickBooks, but you can take this step prior to starting your prep.

Make sure you’ve specified the appropriate tax form for use in QuickBooks. Go to Company|Company Information, as shown in Figure 2. At the bottom of the window, find the Income Tax Form Used line, and make sure it’s set to the correct form.

On the Company Information window, be sure that the Income Tax Form Used line is pointing at the correct form.

In this same window, check the fiscal year dates to make sure they’re correct, and that other tax-related fields are filled out accurately.

Make sure your tax-related accounts are assigned to the correct tax line on the form

If you used the EasyStep interview for setup, QuickBooks automatically assigned some accounts to the correct tax line. You can change these at any time, and add your own accounts. This Tax-Line Mapping will be important down the road if you export data to an Intuit tax product and/or run tax reports.

Warning: Altering the Chart of Accounts is a precise operation, and affects many parts of QuickBooks. You may want to consult with an accounting professional.

Click Lists|Chart of Accounts. Select an account, like Interest Expense, and right-click on it. Click Edit Account, and the window shown in Figure 3 appears.

QuickBooks lets you do Tax-Line Mapping, which specifies the relationship between accounts and tax form lines.

If you want to change the tax line, click the arrow to the right of the current selection and choose the correct one from the drop-down list. To add an account, click Lists|Chart of Accounts. In the bottom left of the screen, click the arrow in the Account button. Click New, and follow the instructions in the wizard that opens.

Run tax-related reports

QuickBooks provides three reports that you’ll need whether you or your accountant is preparing your taxes. To find them, click Reports|Accountant & Taxes.

The first report is the Income Tax Preparation Report. This lays out a list of your accounts and the tax line each is assigned to. If any that need to be assigned are unassigned, double-click on them to get to the Tax-Line Mapping window, as shown in Figure 4.

The Tax Preparation Report illustrates how your accounts have been assigned to tax form line items.

Two other reports are available: Income Tax Summary and Income Tax Detail, which are just what they sound like. They provide detailed and summarized lists of transactions and their totals. You can drill down on these to see the underlying transactions.

Warning: When you run Income Tax Summary, look for a line that says Tax Line Unassigned (income/expense). Double-click on any total there to see accounts that need to be assigned to a tax line, as shown here in Figure 5.

You can quickly check your accounts in the Income Tax Summary.

QuickBooks lets you modify these reports to include additional columns, and memorize them for easy access later. Click the Modify Report and Memorize buttons in the upper left corner to do so.

You can’t avoid taxes, but you can sure take a lot of the pain out of their preparation by using QuickBooks throughout the year to get ready. And you may get a smile out of your accountant when you hand over your carefully created records.

One of the many ways that QuickBooks makes your life easier is its ability to create business forms for all of the financial transactions your company produces. You simply fill in the blanks or choose data from drop-down lists, and QuickBooks generates a document you can e-mail or send. Only problem is, sometimes the pre-formatted default forms don’t include all the fields you need. Further, they look rather, well, plain. This being October, you might want to add a Halloween-centric logo, for example. Fortunately, QuickBooks is flexible. Using simple tools, you can modify the prefab forms that are included with the program to add a logo or other graphics and indicate which fields you would like to have appear.

Made To Order

To get started, click Lists/Templates. (In Simple Start, open a new invoice and click Customize/Manage Templates.) The window shown in Figure 1 opens. As you can see, QuickBooks already provides multiple versions of some forms. Take a look at these before you do any modifying to see if one will meet your needs.

The list of QuickBooks forms templates gives you many pre-formatted options.

Select a template you want to start from, like the Intuit Service Invoice. Click the arrow in the Templates box, and a list of command options drops down. Click on Edit Template. The Basic Customization window opens, as shown in Figure 2.

The Basic Customization window allows you to alter existing form designs.

Customizing Templates

Templates are designed for use with Intuit’s preprinted forms. So if you want to make additional changes, you’ll have to make a copy of the form before doing so (which may or may not work with Intuit’s forms). Click Manage Templates, and then click the Copy button. The program creates a modifiable copy of the template, which you can rename by replacing the text in the Template Name box. Click OK. As you make changes on the left side of the window, you’ll see those modification reflected in the graphical representation of your invoice on the right.

Make It Personal

Probably the easiest thing you can do to jazz up your invoice is to add a logo. This is simple. Click the box next to Use logo. The Select Image window opens. Browse to the image you want and select it, then click Open. The image appears with your contact information at the top of the page.

Add Interest With Color

Next up is your choice of color schemes, should you want to use one. Click the arrow below Select Color Scheme. You’ll see several options here. Select the one you want, and then click Apply Color Scheme. If you don’t like the fonts supplied with the template, you can easily change those, too. Under the Change Font For option, select the field type you want to modify and click Change Font. Select the desired font and any effects you want in the window that opens and click OK.

Further Customization Options

Additional changes can be tricky. To add your phone number, for example, click the box next to Phone Number. You’ll have to use the Layout Designer to make this modification. To do so, click the Layout Designer button. You’ll see a window similar to the one in Figure 3. If you’ve never used a layout design tool, you’ll have to work with this a bit. You’ll need to grab the phone number and position it where it should be. Then click Properties and Font (and/or Color). Make the necessary changes and click OK.

The Layout Designers allows you to make more complex adjustments to your forms.

Click the Add button to insert text boxes, data fields, and images, and Copy and Remove to use those functions. Click OK when you’re happy with your changes. This will take you back out to the Basic Customization window, where you can modify your invoice further. For example, you can click the Print Status Stamp box to have QuickBooks stamp your invoices with words like “PAID.” Click the Additional Customization button to make other changes, as shown in Figure 4. By checking and unchecking default boxes under each tab, you can continue to change the appearance of your invoice.

The Additional Customization window gives your finer control over the format of your forms.

Enhance Your Business With Custom Forms

You may be able to use QuickBooks invoices right out of the box. But even if you can, it’s a good idea to freshen up the boilerplate forms and add your company’s own personal touch to them. In these tight economic times, you should take any actions you can-small as they may be-to present a professional, personalized front to your customers. QuickBooks provides the tools to help you do just that.

Do you have a business plan? If you don’t, even if you’re a sole proprietor, you should.

Business plans can be a good barometer for the health of your finances as a way to gauge whether or not you’re on the right path. If you don’t have a business path (or if yours is less than organized or polished), you can use QuickBooks’ tools to create or fine-tune one. We’ll show you how to use these tools to get the job done quickly and easily.

The Game Plan

To get started, select Company > Planning & Budgeting > Use Business Plan Tool and you’ll see what’s displayed in Figure 1. QuickBooks’ business plan tool uses a convention that other Intuit products use frequently: a lengthy wizard that walks you through the entire process. This tool supplies information and asks questions about what’s needed on each screen. You fill in the answers (or select from options) and the business plan wizard works in the background to place the data in the correct place.

The first topic you’ll be asked about is your company. If you’re a new business, you’ll have to estimate in some areas, like the percentage of your sales that will come through credit. In other cases, you’ll be better able to answer in concrete terms. For example, what will your customer payment terms be? When do you want your business plan and financial projection to start?

QuickBooks walks you through the process of creating a business plan with an easy-to-use interface.

What’s Coming In?

Your income is up next, and this will take some figure-pulling (and maybe some hair-pulling). You can either fill in a spreadsheet manually, adding up to 20 categories, or use the Income Projection Wizard, as pictured in Figure 2. If you’ve already been working with your data in QuickBooks, the latter is certainly recommended. These numbers will be scrutinized very carefully, perhaps put under the microscope more than any other element of your business plan. Make sure you can back them up.

The QuickBooks Income Projection Wizard.

If you’re projecting manually, be prepared to calculate the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). This number contains three pieces:

  • Material: What percentage of each dollar pays for the cost of product(s)? If you’re a service company, enter the associated materials costs.
  • Labor: What percentage of each dollar is tied to the employee costs associated with goods production?
  • Other: What percentage of each dollar goes into other costs?

Business Expenses and More

You have the same two choices when you’re entering your expenses. You can enter them manually or use the Expenses Projection Wizard. If you do the latter, your projections can be based on either the last 12 months of history or an average from the last 12 months.

In the Interview section, you’ll need to have numbers available, including:

  • Beginning account balances
  • Assets you own or need to buy
  • Cash available to invest (if applicable)
  • Amortization and depreciation

As in other areas of the business planning tool, existing data in QuickBooks will be automatically filled, such in Figure 3.

You’ll also answer questions here about inventory (i.e., fixed or variable, minimum balance), vendor financing, lines of credit, and your total credit limit.

The business planning tool pulls in existing data from QuickBooks.

Writing Your Plan

Now it’s time to write, but don’t panic thinking you’ll face a blank screen. The Plan section is divided into three sections, and you can toggle between them. You can view the actual plan outline tree, which is a window that provides tips and examples, as well as a text entry window, as shown in Figure 4.

Though this is primarily a text-based section including information about things like your company background, products and services, and the competition, you’ll supply some numbers, too, and the rationale for arriving at them.

The Plan section is divided into three main sections.

Once you’ve completed all of the sections, you simply preview and print your plan. QuickBooks assembles it with all of the text, tables, graphs, and charts in the right place, and presents you with a professional business plan that you can take to the bank, or simply revisit from time to time to make sure you’re on course.

In these trying economic times it’s more important than ever to keep a close rein on your accounts receivable. Seemingly no one is immune to sudden changes in financial circumstances, so be sure to monitor your outstanding invoices closely. There’s an inverse relationship between the age of an invoice and your ability to collect on it, but fortunately QuickBooks can help you manage your credit risk:

1. Set Reminders

QuickBooks can display a reminder window when you open your QuickBooks company:

  • Choose Company, Reminders, and then click the Set Preferences button.
  • Choose the My Preferences tab, and then click the Show Reminders List When Opening a Company File on the My Preferences tab.
  • Click the Company Preferences tab, and choose Show List for Overdue Invoices. As shown in Figure 2, you can enter a negative number to be notified of overdue invoices before they reach their due date. Click OK to save your changes.
  • QuickBooks can show you a list of overdue invoices whenever you open your company.
  • Enter -3 in the Days after Due Date field to be notified when invoices are within 3 days of their due date or later.

2. Monitor Customer Balances

In addition to tracking overdue invoices, you should also stay abreast of how much credit you’ve extended to each of your customers. One way to do this is to use the Customer Center whenever you create new invoices:

Choose Customers, and then Customer Center (you can also click the Customer Center toolbar icon or press Ctrl-J).

The customer center lists the Balance total for each customer. You can use this information to determine whether you want to sell additional products or services. You can quickly create an invoice from the Customer Center: select a customer name, and then press Ctrl-I (as in I for invoice).

Also, you can add an Open Balance column to the transaction list. To do so, right-click on the transaction list, and then choose Customize Columns. Choose Open Balance from the Available Columns list, and then click the Add button.

The Customer Center makes it easy to monitor open invoices.

Expert trick: To sort customer open balances in descending order, click twice on the Balance Total column.

3. Create an Overdue Watermark

An attention getting messages, such as “OVERDUE!” or “PLEASE PAY!” can add impact to follow-up copies of invoices that you send out. It’s easy to add a watermark to your invoices:

Choose Customers, and then Create Invoices to display the Create Invoices window.

Click the Customize button on the toobar, and then click the Manage Templates button.

Select an existing invoice, such as Intuit Product Invoice, and then click the Copy button.

Use the Template name field shown in Figure 4 to assign a name like Overdue Intuit Product Invoice, instead of Copy of: Intuit Product Invoice.

Click OK to close the Manage Templates window, and then click the Layout Designer button in the Basic Customization window.

Click the Add button on the toolbar, and then choose Text Box.

Enter the message you want to add in the Text field, such as OVERDUE!

Click the Font button, and then make these changes:

  • Set the Font Name to Arial Black
  • Set the Font Style to Bold
  • Set the Font Size to 60
  • Change the Font Color to Silver

Once you’ve set the font settings, click OK to close the Font dialog box, and then click the Border tab. Unclick Top, Left, Right, and Bottom, and then click OK.

Resize and reposition the text box on your invoice, such as in the center of the body section, as shown in Figure 5.

Right-click on the text box and choose Order, and then Send Backward.

Assign a meaningful name to your new template.

You can add an OVERDUE! Watermark to a customized QuickBooks invoice template.

Going forward, you can choose this template from the list anytime you wish to follow-up on an overdue invoice.

4. Send E-mail Follow-ups

A friendly note can sometimes shake a payment loose on an overdue invoice. For instance, you can choose Reports, Customers & Receivables, and then A/R Aging Detail. Double-click on the invoice in question to display it onscreen, and then click the Send button on the toolbar, which looks like an envelope with a green arrow.

You can change customize the body of the e-mail to your liking. If you typically mail print copies of your original invoices, then consider changing the default text of the e-mail to make your collections easier.

To do so, click the Edit Default Text button and then make any changes that you like. Do note that these changes won’t appear in the Send Invoice window until you close it and click the Send button again. Click the Send Now button to e-mail the invoice copy to your customer.

Customize the default e-mail text to simplify invoice follow-ups.

5. Use Statements

QuickBooks makes it easy to send statements to one or more customers. Choose Customers, and then Create Statements. Set the desired options, including which customer or customers to contact, and then choose Print or Email to generate the statements.

6. Tweak the Collections Report

When calling on an overdue invoice, it’s helpful to make sure that your customer is aware of all pending invoices. You can easily tweak this report so that it lists all open invoices:

Choose Reports, Customers & Receivables, and then Collections Report.

Click the Modify Report button, and then click on the Filters tab.

Click on the Date filter, and then choose Remove Selected Filter. Do the same for the Aging and Due Date filters, and then click OK.

The Collections Report now displays all open invoices. You can click the Memorize button to save this report for future use.

Modify the Collections Report filters to add helpful information to this report.

The resulting report shows all open invoices, as well as contact names and telephone numbers.

7. Accept Credit Cards

Many business owners avoid accepting credit cards due to the fees involved, which can top 3%. However, 97% of an overdue invoice is far better than 0%, or having to wait even longer to collect.

You can learn about QuickBooks Merchant Services by choosing Add Credit Card Processing on the Customers menu in QuickBooks. Or, consider a payment service like PayPal (, which offers a free Request Money with QuickBooks wizard. Look under the Merchant Services section of your PayPal business account.

If you’re like most QuickBooks users, you rely on the Profit & Loss Standard report to monitor how your business is doing. However, you may have overlooked an even more valuable report: the Statement of Cash Flows.

The Profit & Loss Standard (P&L) report is important in its own right, but it only provides partial insight into the health of your business. While the P&L shows what you earned and spent, the Statement of Cash Flows shows you where the cash came from and went to, also known as sources and uses.

As you’ll see in this article, you can use the Statement of Cash Flows to determine the how various activities increased or decreased your cash balance during a given report period.

Cash versus Accrual

Unlike some accounting packages, QuickBooks allows you to run most reports on either the cash or accrual basis.

Cash-basis means that transactions don’t appear on your Profit & Loss statement until either your customer pays their invoice or you pay a vendor (or employee). So, if you enter a bill in QuickBooks to be paid later, the expense won’t immediately appear on a cash-basis P&L.

Similarly, invoices that you send to customers won’t immediately appear on a cash-basis P&L. The expense appears when you write a check to the vendor, and the revenue appears when the customer honors their invoice. Accordingly, cash-basis reports don’t necessarily report a company’s true financial performance.

You could have a stellar looking Profit & Loss Report, but a list full of unpaid bills in QuickBooks. Accordingly, many accountants prefer that business owners use accrual-basis reports.

Accrual-basis reports recognize the effect of every transaction on your P&L immediately. Customer invoices appear on accrual-basis P&L reports as soon as you save the transaction, as do unpaid vendor bills. You can easily see the significance of these differences in Figures 1 and 2.

Note: Cash-basis reports only reflect paid transactions.

Note: Accrual-basis reports include all transactions – both paid and unpaid.

Accrual-basis reports provide a much better picture of where the business stands, but can make it harder to understand your current cash position. However, a cash-basis P&L isn’t a panacea for managing cash flow, as your business has many transactions that don’t affect the P&L.

For instance, loan payments, owner distributions, and owner contributions affect your balance sheet, which tracks assets, liabilities, and equity. Fortunately, the Statement of Cash Flows reflects these types of transactions and more, so it’s a great companion to both cash-basis and accrual-basis P&L reports.

Set Your Preference

You can instruct QuickBooks to always display your reports on either cash or accrual basis:

  • Choose Edit, and then Preferences.
  • Choose Reports & Graphs, and then Company Preferences.
  • Specify either Cash or Accrual, and then click OK.
  • You can set either cash or accrual as your default report format.

Of course, at any time you can change a report to the other format. For instance, if your preference is set to accrual, but you may sometimes want to view a cash basis P&L:

  • Choose Reports, Company & Financial, and then Profit & Loss Standard.
  • Click the Modify Report button, and then choose Cash in the Report Basis section.

Note: You can change the accounting method for your P&L on the fly.

NOTE: Most, but not all, reports in QuickBooks allow you to change between cash and accrual. When a report is onscreen, choose Modify Report.

If you don’t see the Report Basis section, then you’ll know that you can’t toggle the report basis. Now that you understand the ins-and-outs of running cash and accrual basis reports, let’s explore the Statement of Cash Flows.

The Statement of Cash Flows

Let’s say that your cash balance at the beginning of your fiscal year was $100,000, and today it is $75,000. The net income figure on your P&L won’t give you the full details on why your cash balance decreased, but the Statement of Cash Flows will. To do so, choose Reports, Company & Financial, and then Statement of Cash Flows.

Report periods: This report automatically defaults to This Fiscal Year-To-Date, but you can choose another time period if you wish. To do so, make a choice from the Dates drop-down list, or modify the From and To dates, and then click the Refresh button.

The Statement of Cash Flows defaults to the current fiscal year.

Your Statement of Cash Flows report will include up to three major sections:

  • Operating Activities
  • Investing Activities
  • Financing Activities

Don’t worry if your report only includes one or two of these sections – sections only appear when you had relevant transactions during the report period. Let’s explore each of these sections individually.

Operating Activities

The Operating Activities section of the Statement of Cash Flows recaps activities related to running your business. This section will always start with Net Income, followed by an adjustments section.

The adjustments reconcile your net income with the net cash provided by the operating activities. For instance, refer to Figure 5. Net income s $112,999 but the Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities is $42,584. Accordingly, the statement of cash flows identifies the $70,415 difference. Let’s investigate a couple of the items:

Accounts Receivable (-$71,759): During the report period we sent invoices to our customers, of which $31,503.08 remain unpaid. These unpaid invoices are reflected in the Net Income figure, so QuickBooks deducts these because we haven’t received this cash yet.

Inventory Asset (-$17,354): Amounts that we spend on inventory don’t become part of Net Income until we’ve sold the items. At that point QuickBooks posts the expense to cost of good sold, and reduces our inventory account accordingly. Purchasing inventory is a use of cash, so it appears as a negative amount on our Statement of Cash Flows.

Remember: The purpose of the Statement of Cash Flows is to reconcile our net income with the actual change in our cash account. Thus non-cash activities, such as unpaid customer invoices or amortized prepaid expenses get subtracted or added from Net Income, so that you can get a clear picture of where cash went during the report period.

Employee Advances (-$62): We paid $62 to an employee as an advance, which has not yet been repaid. This amount isn’t included in Net Income, but is a use of cash, so the amount is deducted. When our employee repays the advance, our Statement of Cash Flows will reflect a positive amount, since at that point we’ll have a $100 source of cash.

Prepaid Insurance ($893): During the report period we amortized, or used up, $893 of prepaid insurance. This expense is included in our Net Income figure, but we didn’t write a check for it during this report period, so QuickBooks adds this expense back.

Accounts Payable ($13,537): We’ve entered bills into QuickBooks totaling $13,537 that we haven’t paid yet. In effect, we’re temporarily borrowing this money from our vendors, so it’s a source of cash. Later, our Statement of Cash Flows will show a use of cash when we pay the vendor bills. This same treatment applies to credit cards and other liabilities.

As you look through the Statement of Cash Flows, you may also see Investing and Financing activities. Investing activities may include owner contributions as a source of cash, or in the case of the report in Figure 5, the purchase of $11,500 in furniture as a use of cash.

Financing activities will show borrowing on a line of credit or other loan as a source of cash, while loan repayments (net of interest) will appear as uses of cash. In the end, you’ll see exactly what caused your cash balance to increase or decrease during the report period.

Research: You can easily investigate why amounts appear on your Statement of Cash Flows. As shown in Figure 6, the QuickZoom icon appears when you hover over an amount. Double-click to display a detailed report, as shown in Figure 7.

Note: The QuickZoom icon indicates that you can drill-down within a QuickBooks report.

A detailed report appears when you double-click on an amount within a QuickBooks report.

Organizing the Statement of Cash Flows

QuickBooks makes an educated guess at what accounts in your chart of accounts should appear on the Statement of Cash Flows. However, you may encounter instances where activities appear in the wrong section, or don’t appear at all on the report. You can easily remedy such situations:

  • Choose Edit, and then Preferences.
  • Choose Reports & Graphs, and then Company Preferences.
  • Click the Classify Cash button, shown in Figure 3.
  • place a checkbox in the appropriate column. You cannot remove balance sheet accounts from the statement, but you can optionally include income and expense accounts. However, keep in mind that this is not a typical need, and you should only proceed under the guidance of your accountant or tax advisor.

QuickBooks allows you to classify accounts as operating, financing, or investing activities.

Did You Know?

QuickBooks has a Product Information window that can provide a dizzying array of information. Press Ctrl-1 to display the window shown in Figure 9. Some key elements on this screen include the product number shown at the top.

Each QuickBooks user in your office should have the same release number. The size and location of your QuickBooks file is shown in the File Information section, while you can use the List Information section to determine how many customers and vendors you have in QuickBooks.

Press Ctrl-1 to view the Product Information window.

The price of gasoline is just one of many factors putting pressure on our economy as a whole. Now it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on your company’s performance. Many business owners compare financial results to an annual budget. If you don’t have your budget in place yet, we’ll show you how to get started. Even if you have, we’ll show you how to use last year’s results as a measuring stick with comparative financial reports. Once you understand these techniques, we’ll explain why you should create a monthly appointment with yourself to ensure that your results continue to measure up-and take action if they don’t.

TIP: Keep in mind that tough financial years do have a silver lining-you’ll likely pay less in income taxes. If revenues are down or expenses are up, don’t forget to trim your withholding or estimated tax payments accordingly. Doing so enables you to boost your cash flow now, rather than waiting around on a tax refund next spring.

Budget Basics

<>The QuickBooks Planning & Budgeting menu gives you the ability to create budgets and forecasts. In reality, both features work the same way, so we’ll use creating a budget as our example. But which one should you use? You might find it helpful to use the Forecast feature as an alternate budget and as a best-case scenario, while the Budget feature offers a better expectation of reality. Either way, here’s how to create a budget in QuickBooks:

  1. Choose Company, Planning & Budgeting, and then Set Up Budgets.
  2. When the Set Up Budgets window appears, click the Create New Budget button in the upper right-hand corner.
  3. Select the year that you’d like to create a budget for (such as 2010 or 2011), select Profit and Loss, and then click Next.
  4. Most users will choose No Additional Criteria on the next screen. However, QuickBooks does provide the option for a more granular budget that you break down to the customer, job, or class level. Click Next once you make a selection.
  5. The next screen asks if you want to start with a blank budget from scratch or if you want to use last year’s actual data as a starting point. Most users will find it helpful to use the previous year as a starting point. Click Finish after you make a choice.
  6. At this point you’re presented with a screen.. You won’t see any numbers if you chose the From Scratch option in step 5.

Balance sheet budgeting: QuickBooks offers the ability to create a budget for balance sheet accounts, such as planning for expected levels of cash, inventory, accounts receivable, liabilities, and so on. However, most small business owners find that just a Profit and Loss budget is sufficient for their needs.

Set Up Budgets

Starting with prior-year actual numbers can jumpstart your budget process.

Proceed with entering or updating your budget. Click the Save button as needed to preserve your work as you go, and then click the OK button when you’re finished.

Budget Tips: The Copy Across button enables you to copy the same amount across all twelve months. As shown in Figure 2, the Adjust Row Amounts button provides a quick way to adjust existing numbers up or down by either a percentage or dollar amount. You can edit your budget at any time: choose Company, Planning & Budgeting, and then Set Up Budgets. Choose your budget from the Budget list, and then make changes as needed.

Adjust Row Amounts

The Adjust Row button makes it easy to quickly increase or decrease budget figures by a dollar amount or percentage.

Budget Reports

QuickBooks offers four budget and two forecast reports. You’ll use these steps to run most of these reports:

  1. Choose Reports, Budget & Forecasts, and then the report of your choice.
  2. A three-screen wizard appears, asking you first which budget or forecast you wish to use. Once you’ve made a selection, click Next.
  3. The next screen asks which report layout to use – you may only one choice, Account by Month – click Next after you confirm your choice.
  4. Click Finish to display your report:
    • Budget Overview – As shown in Figure 3, this report provides a twelve-month view of your budget.
    • Budget vs. Actual – This 52 column report can be tricky to navigate, as the default format shows these columns for each month, as well as a 12-month total.

Profit & Loss Budget Overview

Budget overview gives you a birds-eye view of your 12-month budget.

Report Taming Tips: There are a couple of ways to bring this report down to size. First, most users can eliminate the % of Budget column. To do so, click the Modify Report button, and then deselect % of Budget in the Add Subcolumns For section. Next, you can shrink the width of the columns. To do so, drag the diamond between the first actual and budget columns to the left, as shown in Figure 4. When you release the left mouse button, choose Yes when asked if you want to resize all of the columns. Alternatively, click the Export button to send the report to Excel.

Profit & Loss Budget vs. Actual

Note:Narrow column widths can condense particularly wide reports.

Profit & Loss Budget Performance This report compares your month and year-to-date actuals to the budgeted amounts, and also displays the 12-month budget. Although this report doesn’t display dollar or percentage variances, you can easily add these columns. Click the Modify Report button, and then select $ Difference and/or % Of Budget in the Add Subcolumns For section.

Modify Report

Note: It’s easy to add or remove columns on any QuickBooks report.

Budget vs. Actual Graph This report doesn’t enable you to choose a budget – the current year budget is displayed automatically. As shown in Figure 4, this report enables you to get a graphic view of how your results measure up to your budget. You can choose between different budget views:

P&L By Accounts This view compares your Profit & Loss accounts, also known as income and expense, to the corresponding budgets. The report automatically sorts variances by difference, and you can view up to six accounts at a time.

P&L By Accounts and Jobs This view compares your P&L accounts on a job-by-job basis. Jobs with the largest total variance from budget will be presented first, and as with accounts, you can view six at a time.

P&L By Accounts and Classes This view compares your P&L accounts on a class basis. As with the other views, you can view up to six classes at a time. This button appears even if you haven’t set the Enable Class Tracking preference.

Class Tracking: Classes allow you to you track costs by department, project, or other categories. To enable class tracking, choose Edit, Preferences, and then Accounting. On the Company tab, select Enable Class Tracking.

Graph Printing limitation: You cannot print more than one page of the budget graphs at a time, so you’ll have to click Next Group and then click Print to create a hard copy of each report group. QuickBooks doesn’t provide a way to print all of the graphs in one fell swoop. You also can’t modify the graph format, other than to choose a different date range.

Comparative Reports

Regardless of whether you use budgets in QuickBooks or not, it’s always helpful to compare this year’s results to last year. Doing so enables you to see trends in your data, such as how automobile expenses have increased. Such a report is just a couple clicks away:

  1. Choose Reports, Company and Financial, and then Profit & Loss Prev Year Comparison.
  2. By default you’ll see this year compared to last year. However, you can easily create a multi-year comparison:
    1. Click the Modify Report button.
    2. In the Columns section, choose Year from the Display Columns By drop-down list, and then click OK.
    3. On the report screen, choose a date range, such as 1/1/04 through 12/31/08, and then click the Refresh button. A multi-year comparison will appear onscreen. If you find this format helpful, click the Memorize button to save this report for later use.

Profit & Loss Prev Year Comparison

You can convert the Profit & Loss Prev Year Comparison into a multi-year report.


In this article we discussed how you can use the budget and forecast feature in QuickBooks to plan the future of your business. As each month rolls by, you can compare your plan to actual results. In addition, you can compare this year’s results to last year, or even the last several years.

Did you know?

Did you know that an accountant’s copy of a QuickBooks file can be converted to a normal QuickBooks company, i.e. a .QBW file? There are limited circumstances where you’d want to do so, because it’s not possible to merge two .QBW data files together. However, let’s say that you lose access to your QuickBooks company because your hard drive crashes or someone steals your laptop. These are situations where a converted accountant’s copy would be better than starting from scratch. If you need to do this, ask your accountant to carry out these steps in their version of QuickBooks:

  1. Choose File, Utilities, and then Convert Accountant’s Copy to Company File (QBW).
  2. Choose the Accountant’s Copy to convert.
  3. Click OK on the prompt
  4. Assign a name to the new company file, and then click Save.

A final warning prompt will appear to confirm that this copy will overwrite any existing client copy of the books.

Quickbooks Information

Converting an accountant’s copy to a working QuickBooks company can serve as a disaster recovery method.

Of course, the best defense is to make frequent back-ups of your QuickBooks data on removable media, such as the USB flash drives that often cost less than $10. These easily allow you to carry your QuickBooks back-up offsite, such as in your purse or briefcase. But, it’s good to know that your accountant might be able to provide a working QuickBooks company – as long as you recently sent your accountant’s copy along to them.

We know. When you first cracked your copy of QuickBooks, you wanted to dive in and start generating invoices. Fortunately, QuickBooks is intuitive enough that you were able to do just that. And its help system is so robust that you were able to get procedural questions answered quickly and easily.

But there’s a lot to be said for backing up a bit and taking advantage of the myriad educational tools that QuickBooks offers. Even if you’ve been using the program for months, you may want to explore them. You’ll not only save time with the help system, but you may find better ways of performing tasks.

Learn By Watching

The QuickBooks Learning Center, one of the first things you saw when you installed the program, is always available by clicking Help | Learning Center Tutorials. It consists of numerous multimedia tutorials and links to additional help. The tutorials are worth a look before you take on a thorny topic like Payroll.

QuickBooks’ myriad tutorials help you absorb the basics of processes like Payroll.

Though you can use QuickBooks’ functions entirely from the menus, the program’s home page is built to guide you through core accounting processes. If you’re very new to QuickBooks and/or accounting, you can use the Coach function to better understand the flow. Click on Show Coach Tips in the vertical pane to the right of the main screen.

You’ll see a small “i” next to some icons. Click on one, like the one next to Purchase Orders. Related icons light up, and numbers representing their logical order appear next to them. Mouse over one of the icons to read a brief description of the function. When you’re done, click Hide Coach Tips to make them disappear.

QuickBooks’ Coach tool lays out the workflow for primary accounting processes.

Other Support Options

No matter how much you study and prepare, you may still run into situations where you need an expert’s hand. We can be a real resource here as we have the expertise to walk you through installation and setup, processes that are critical to your effective ongoing relationship with QuickBooks. And we can also pitch in when you’re facing other daunting accounting hurdles.

Another option for expert help is Intuit. The company offers a support plan that may or may not be in your budget, but it’s certainly something to consider if you anticipate needing to have frequent questions answered. The best value is the Annual Support Plan ($349 for first year; $299 thereafter). You get 24×7 phone support, data backup and recovery services, and learning tools only available with the Support Plan.

Intuit also hosts an in-depth online support presence. Click Help | Support to get to the main page. Installation, troubleshooting (with guides to error messages), company and data file management, general procedure : they’re all covered there. You can search the support database or browse by topic. These and other resources are available within QuickBooks’ embedded browser (you must have Internet access to reach it, as with many other features of the program â?? click Help | Internet Connection Setup if you’re not already set up).

Intuit’s online support for QuickBooks can help when you’re stumped.

Interactive Help

If you haven’t yet visited QuickBooks’ interactive forum, you should. Click on the Live Community tab at the top of the far right vertical pane if it’s not already displayed (the pane toggles between it and Help). As shown in Figure 4, you can enter questions here and get answers from other users and/or Intuit pros.

Intuit included interaction in its QuickBooks palette of help tools. Live Community features questions from users and accompanying answers from users and Intuit pros.

For the expanded Intuit community, click on the Visit the Intuit Community link at the bottom of the Live Community pane.

Of course, don’t forget the core of QuickBooks’ help scheme: the Help pane. You can get a lot of your questions answered here. This pane constantly changes to display content relative to the current screen. This content provides explanations of concepts as well as step-by-step instructions.

So don’t throw up your hands in defeat when what you’re attempting in QuickBooks isn’t working. Remember how much help is available from Intuit, QuickBooks itself, and experts like us. Some additional schooling may just be in order.

There aren’t that many different types of forms to keep straight in QuickBooks, but you likely don’t use all of them. You probably use invoices and purchase orders frequently, and may fill out the occasional sales receipt, credit memo, or estimate.

But what about sales orders? You may find that they could make your bookkeeping more accurate and easier. There are only a few situations where they’re needed, but they’re the appropriate form to use at those times.

A Happy Problem

If you’re lucky (or a good businessperson), you have customers who place orders frequently. It’s not practical to invoice them every time they order, but you want to make sure everything is recorded. A sales order (which you’ll eventually turn into an invoice) is the correct choice for these customers.

Warning: You must use a sales order from the beginning of the selling process; you can’t switch gears partway through.

To get started, click Customers | Create Sales Orders. A blank form like this one will open:

To create a sales order, you simply fill in the blanks and select from drop-down lists, just as you would with an invoice.

Would you send a sales order out to a customer in a multi-order situation, or wait until you have enough sales to dispatch an invoice? That’s up to you. It’s a good idea if you want them to be aware of the costs that are piling up.

Looking Good

Before you begin entering data on the sales order form, check the fields to make sure they’re all needed, or if you’re missing any. The Template field in the upper right corner should display Custom Sales Order; change it if not. Should you want to add or delete fields, click the arrow next to Customize, then Customize Design and Layout.

If you’ve just been sending out the default forms that QuickBooks offers, you should consider adding some personalization. Click Create new design if you want to upload a logo and select fonts, colors, etc. Once you’ve decided on a theme, QuickBooks can apply it to all of your forms.

To add or delete fields, click Customize data layout. By checking and unchecking boxes, you can alter the content of your sales orders.

Just check or uncheck boxes to have field labels appear (or not) onscreen and in print. You can also change the label text, reorder columns, and designate text for a footer.

Halfway There

Another situation where you might want to send a sales order is when you’re doing partial invoicing; that is, when you don’t have enough items to fulfill the order as it came in.

In a case like this, go ahead and complete a sales order as if you had everything in stock. When you’re done, save the sales order, then find it and open it again. Click the arrow next to Create Invoice, then click Invoice. You’ll see this dialog box.

This dialog box lets you create an invoice for all items on a sales order or just a subset.

Click Create invoice for selected items, then OK. The Specify Invoice Quantities for Items on Sales Order(s) window opens. Items on the sales order you created are listed here, with additional columns for number available and number you ordered, number previously invoiced, and the unit of measured used (if applicable).

There’s a check box next to Show quantity available instead of quantity on hand. Here, you can opt to display the number of each item that’s truly available; that is, the number actually in inventory minus those reserved, either on other sales orders or for building inventory assembly items. Or you can request the number that’s physically in inventory.

Using this information about availability, you’ll enter the number of items you want to invoice from this sales order in the To Invoice column. It would look something like this:

When you convert a sales order into an invoice, you can select which items should be included.

Click OK, and your invoice appears. Do any editing necessary, and dispatch the invoice.

Tip: You can choose whether to have the items with a quantity of zero display on your invoice by going to Edit | Preferences and clicking on the Sales & Customers tab.

Tracking It All

There are several places in QuickBooks where you can view your sales orders. The best way to keep track of those partially filled is through two reports, Open Sales Orders by Customer and Open Sales Orders by Item. You can also see them, of course, in the Customer Center, and in the balance and transaction history found next to transaction forms.

Sales orders can help you better track sales, speed up receivables with partial invoices, and maintain communications with frequent buyers. But partial invoices require extra attention to inventory. Before working with them, it’d be best to schedule a session with us; we can help you keep things straight.

Next to payroll, paying bills is probably your least favorite task in QuickBooks. You don’t have to use this feature â?? you can keep stacking bills on your desk, scrawling the due dates on a paper calendar, and writing checks.

If you’re still operating this way, though, you’re missing out on the numerous tools that QuickBooks offers to track your accounts payable, including the ability to:

  • Enter bills as they come in
  • Set reminders for bills due
  • Pay bills easily
  • Locate a bill or payment quickly
  • Enter bills as (or after) you receive items
  • Link bills to purchase orders
  • Have instant access to a bill’s status

Receiving the goods

When an expense bill comes in (from a utility company, for example), click the Enter Bills icon on the home page, or Vendors | Enter Bills. A window like the one displayed above opens. Select the vendor and fill in the blanks. Make sure that the Expenses tab below is selected and the appropriate account number and amount fields are completed. If it’s a bill for an item that already has a related Item Receipt (the shipment preceded the bill), QuickBooks instructs you to use Vendor | Enter Bill for Received Items. Follow the prompts.

Note: Dealing with incoming inventory is complex. Consult with us if you plan to use this feature.

If the bill came simultaneously with items, click Vendors | Receive Items and Enter Bill. When you select the vendor from the list, this box opens (if you have sent a purchase order):

QuickBooks is telling you that you have open orders with this vendor.

Click Yes. The Open Purchase Orders box opens, containing a list of open POs. Select the one(s) you want and click OK. The bill form opens, containing the details of that purchase order. Change quantities if they don’t match the shipment, and edit other fields as necessary. Save the bill.

Settling your debts

It’s good to set reminders for bills. Go to Edit | Preferences and click Reminders. Make sure that that Show Reminders List…box is checked, then click Company Preferences. Find the Bills to Pay row and enter the advance notice you’d like. Indicate whether you want to see a list or a summary, then click OK.

When bills are due, click the Pay Bills icon or select Vendors | Pay Bills. A window opens displaying all outstanding bills. You can pare this down by selecting a date in the Due on or before field and filtering by vendors. Â The screen will look something like this:

You can easily select the bills you want to pay.

Enter a check mark next to the bills you’re paying, and change the amount in the Amt. To Pay field at the end of the row if necessary. At the bottom of the screen, you can set the payment date and type, use any discounts or credits, and make sure the correct payment account is selected. When you’re done, click Pay Selected Bills.

Tip: You can have credits and discounts automatically applied by going to Edit | Preferences | Bills.

After You’ve Paid Up

There are a number of places where your bills appear in QuickBooks, including:

  • The Unpaid Bills Detail report
  • The A/P Aging Detail report
  • The Vendor Center
  • QuickReports
  • In the Recent Transactions pane of some forms
  • On the bills themselves

QuickBooks displays the Paid status of bills.

QuickBooks also lets you void and delete bills, and copy and memorize them. Check with us before voiding and deleting, as this can make some complicated changes in your accounts.

You can just pay bills by using Banking | Write Checks or Enter Credit Card Charges. But the payoff for tracking bills is instant access to your accounts payable status, better relations with vendors, and a more insightful accounting of your company’s cash flow.

QuickBooks’ standard reports are critical to understanding your company’s past, present, and future. But the program also offers innovative tools that can make them significantly more insightful and comprehensive. QuickBooks offers two simple conventions that let you identify related data: classes and types.

Classes are used in transactions. Types are assigned to individual customers, vendors, and jobs. You might use classes to, for example, separate transactions that relate to different departments or locations or types of business.

A construction company might want to track classes using New Construction, Remodel, and Overhead. Your customer types might help you isolate groups by characteristics like Industry or Geographical Location.

Creating Classes First, make sure that QuickBooks is set up to use classes. Go to Edit | Preferences | Accounting | Company Preferences. Make sure that Use class tracking is checked. If you want to be prompted for a class designation in transactions, check that box, too.

QuickBooks already contains a Type field in customer, vendor, and job records. It’s easy to build lists of options for both. To define classes, go to Lists | Class List. In the bottom left corner of the screen, click on Class, then select New from the menu. You’ll see this: Figure 1: To create a class, just give it a name and click OK. Let’s say that you’re a contractor and you want to separate remodeling jobs into room types, like Bathroom or Kitchen. Go through the above steps again. Enter “Bathroom” in the Class Name field and click the box next to Subclass of. Open the list and choose “Remodel.” Click OK.

Tip: If your class list grows lengthy and you want to tidy it up, you can make classes that you’re not currently using inactive by checking the box in this window. It will remain in your QuickBooks records and can be reactivated again.

Putting Classes to Work Now you can use classes in transactions. Open a blank invoice and select a customer. The Class field will be next to the customer name.

If the entire invoice will be assigned to the same class, click the drop-down list and select it.

You can also assign separate classes to individual line items:You can assign different classes to individual line items in transactions. Not all invoice templates include a column for classes. You can add this by selecting the invoice form you want to modify and clicking Customize in the toolbar. QuickBooks comes with two reports specially designed for tracking class-based transactions: Profit & Loss by Class and Balance Sheet by Class (both can be found in the Reports menu, under Company & Financial). Of course, you can filter other reports to include a class column.

You can also create a QuickReport for individual classes. Go to Lists | Class List and select a report or graph.

You can filter by class in QuickBooks reports. Warning! The Balance Sheet by Class report is complicated and may produce unexpected results. Let your ProAdvisor help you work with this one. They can also help you set up a solid class structure. A Simpler Assignment Customer, vendor, and job types are a bit less complicated. Job types are especially useful; you can track, for example, profitability and time spent on individual projects.

Customer and vendor types can produce output for things like targeted mailings and reports. Creating types is very similar to creating classes. Go to Lists | Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, and select the type you want to work with. You’ll follow the same instructions here as you did for classes. Types do not appear on transactions; they’re designed for your own internal use, and they’re stored in records. Customer, vendor, and job types are specified in their records. Classes and types can be used very effectively in your bookkeeping, but they require a good deal of thought and planning upfront to get accurate, meaningful reports. Let your ProAdvisor know if he/she can assist as you attempt to use these powerful forms of classification.