QuickBooks Online isn't the only software out there for handling accounting and taxes, but our research does recommend it for most business needs, even above other top picks like FreshBooks or Zoho Books.
If you need to learn how to use it, we're here to help.
This guide will cover the basic steps you need to know when first setting up your business on QuickBooks Online, as well as the process behind common needs (like reconciling and deleting deposits), and all the best tips for getting the most out of the service.
Every business needs to handle accounting paperwork, and our experts know all the best features, prices, and support to look for. Once you've finished reading this guide, you'll know how to find the core QuickBooks tools you need quickly and efficiently. Just don't forget to select Alt + S whenever you need to save your form!
In this guide:
Getting started with this popular accounting software doesn't have to be overwhelming. Here's our checklist for any newcomers:
- Figure out your dashboard
- Input company details
- Set up sales settings
- Import business data
- Connect your bank cards
- Connect your payroll software
- Add integrations
- Figure out your tax needs
The QuickBooks Online business view
1. Figure out your dashboard
Your QuickBooks dashboard can be configured two different ways: A business view or an accountant view. If you're a business owner or manager, the business view is best, while the accountant view will rely on accounting-specific jargon and processes. You'll be able to toggle between the two by clicking the Settings gear icon on the top right.
You'll also want to eventually add users as part of your setup. The main user should be the “primary admin,” but you can add other admins or standard users (with customized levels of access).
2. Input company details
Open the Settings gear icon on the top righthand side of your dashboard and select “Account and Settings” from the dropdown, followed by “Company.” This takes you to your company details page, which you can edit to add your company name, logo, contact info, and physical address (both legal and customer-facing).
3. Set up sales settings
Your “Account and Settings” menu includes the “Sales” and “Expenses” tabs, and beginners will need to add data to both these pages in order to allow the QuickBooks software to correctly generate reports.
Key information to add here includes: Sales form design and content, invoice automation setup, and VAT details, as well as the year-end date that company reports will use. Many features can be toggled on or off, allowing you to chose what expenses or sales elements should be used, from purchase orders to tracking items by customer.
Editing Sales in QuickBooks Online
4. Import business data
You can import your existing data spreadsheets into the QuickBooks system by navigating to the Settings gear icon and selecting “Import Data.” You can upload files listing customers, suppliers, products and services, invoices, sales receipts, bills, credit notes, and charts of accounts. Common file types are accepted, including MS Excel and CSV files.
5. Connect your bank cards
Accounting software is all about connection, and getting credit cards, debit cards, and bank details added is essential. To add your bank, visit “Settings,” “Account and Settings,” “Bill Pay,” and “Bank Accounts.”
6. Connect your payroll software
QuickBooks Accounting supports integrations with other payroll services, but it offers its own software as well. We rate QuickBooks Payroll highly and it will appear as the “Payroll” tab on your dashboard if you use it.
We can also offer deals on the best payroll software solution on the market. Whichever service you use, you'll want it integrated with your accounting software to automate your tax process.
7. Add integrations
You'll also want to add integrations with any other business software service you already use. QuickBooks offers a range of integrations covering areas including sales, compliance, marketing, and cash flow forecasting. Visit the QuickBooks App store to find what you need.
8. Figure out your tax needs
Tax season arrives for everyone, and your business should be prepared ahead of time. Find out which tax deadlines are relevant, depending on the federal, state, and local regulations that may apply to your operation. If you're using QuickBooks Payroll, it has the tax reporting functionality needed to walk you through this process, although you'll still need your federal and state ID numbers.
QuickBooks Payroll tax information
“Reconciling” refers to the important accounting process of checking any financial activity against supporting documentation to find and address discrepancies. Here's how to do it with QuickBooks software:
- Review or enter the opening balance: Select “Settings” and locate the “Reconcile” tab under the Tools section.
- Fix discrepancies with the opening balance if needed: Your opening balance might be fine. But if there's an issue, you'll need to visit your discrepancy report and manually edit it. QuickBooks will link you to this report.
- Check audit history: Some discrepancies are caused by multiple changes, rather than just one. To address this, click “View” under the history section to see the Audit History for the transaction in question. This lets you see all the changes at once.
Audit History in QuickBooks Online
How to Undo Reconciliation in QuickBooks Online
If a reconciliation has too many discrepancies, reversing that reconciliation might be the best move. If you just need to start fresh from a previous reconciliation, you can get your accountant to reverse the current one.
You'll need a plan that allows multiple users in order to add your accountant. Here's the process for adding an accountant:
Settings > Manage Users > Accounting firms > Invite
Your accountant can then navigate to the main “Reconcile” page and select the “History by account” button on the upper-right corner. This allows them to undo the previous transaction without needing to manually edit individual transactions from within the register.
You can also manually edit each transaction:
- Navigate to Accounting > Your Company > Chart of Accounts
- Choose your account and select View Register
- Click the “R” status until it is blank or says “C” for cleared
- Click “Save” and select “Yes” when prompted to confirm
The “History by account” button is visible on the upper righthand corner here.
Deposits may need to be deleted from time to time: Perhaps it was entered in error or a duplicate of a legitimate deposit was included. To delete a QuickBooks Online deposit, take these steps:
- Navigate to Settings > Banking > Make Deposits
- If the Payments to Deposit box opens, Select “Cancel”
- Hit “Previous” in order to move through existing transactions to find the deposit you wish to delete
- Select Edit > Delete Deposit
QuickBooks Online stands as the best accounting software that our researchers have tested, due to a great feature catalog, reporting tools, a top-quality support team, and a customizable interface.
Other options are well worth considering, though. We'd also highly recommend FreshBooks, a solution that has almost as many features and comes at a slightly lower price. It's a particularly attractive pick for ecommerce businesses, since it has inventory management tools across all plans.
Other top options include Xero, which integrates easily with the best retail EPOS systems, or Wave, which offers good tools for tracking outstanding payments to suppliers. We've explained more about these software solutions in our guide to QuickBooks alternatives, and we've built a table for quick reference as well:
Usability, inexpensive plans
Best for small businesses
Best free option
Best for automation features
Best for micro businesses, invoicing
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It's free, no trial needed
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Once you have a handle on day-to-day use of the QuickBooks Online accounting software, try adding a few more tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the experience.
- Reconcile your checking, savings, and credit card accounts every month: Keeping on top of the process will ensure it stays easy.
- Save early and often: You can save any form by hitting Alt + S (or Option + Control + S for Mac users).
- Use keyboard shortcuts: Saving isn't the only shortcut available. See a full list of common QuickBooks Online shortcuts over here.
- Set up recurring invoices: Set-it-and-forget-it is the name of the game.
- Attach a receipt to your expense entries: This adds a paper trail that will help you back up your expensing.
- Consider adding spellcheck: You can toggle QuickBooks' spellcheck by navigating to: Edit > Preferences > Speller.
- Change physical payments to electronic payments: If possible, stop cutting physical checks for business expenses, since digital payments can be automated more easily.
Paperwork can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be if you use the right tools. QuickBooks Online is one of the most feature-rich, but easy-to-use accounting solutions on the market, and can help to make the process infinitely smoother.
Once you've set everything up and learned how the process works, it's just a matter of checking in on a daily or weekly basis to make sure it's all running smoothly.
Our research team has crunched the numbers, testing eight software brands across eight research subcategories to confirm that QuickBooks offers the best service with a top overall score of 4.7/5 points. QuickBooks has the best payroll software as well, although we offer a quick quiz that can pair you with all the top payroll options for your industry. If you'd like to try other great accounting software, we have you covered as well, with deals on FreshBooks, Xero, and others.
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