QuickBooks 2013 Barcode Support

Written by Charlie Russell

Inventory management using Barcode  scanners and printers has been a key element of many businesses for a long, long time. There are a number of very good QuickBooks add-on products that provide support for barcodes, but Intuit has always ignored this feature. Until now.

If you purchase the Advanced Inventory option for QuickBooks Enterprise V13, Intuit is introducing support for barcodes. This won’t provide everything that every business could need, but it is a good start.

This is a VERY large article, my apologies, because it is a very large topic, and I keep finding new features relating to barcodes!

This article was updated to add some information on barcode scanners on 9/24/2012

Using Barcodes in QuickBooks

This isn’t a tutorial on barcodes in general, or on how you can accomplish many of these steps in QuickBooks on your own. I may write that article in the future. In this article I’m focusing on the new feature in QuickBooks Enterprise V13. However, I need to lay some groundwork.

When we say “barcode” keep in mind that there are many different kinds of barcode “symbologies” – that is, the actual printed format of the scanable code. The information that you want to publish in a barcode format is translated to a graphic representation that can be “scanned” by a barcode scanning device. Different kinds of symbologies are used in different situations. Some symbologies can only handle numbers, some can handle numbers, letters and some symbols, others can be used for complicated data like a website URL.

Barcode samples

Different industries use different codes, and there is a WIDE variety of codes with many variations. The Intuit solution encompasses only certain specific symbologies, so this might not work for every business.

Before you jump into barcodes, it is important to define what it is that you want to accomplish. Just saying “I want to use barcodes” doesn’t get you very far. Are you trying to label your outgoing boxes with barcodes that are compliant with your customer’s requirements? Are you trying to track the location of an item as it moves through your warehouse? Do you want to speed up your annual physical inventory count? Do you want to improve accuracy when creating invoices? There are many ways to use barcodes, and many different kinds of scanners and programs available. Think about what you want to do, first.

In a very, very general sense, there are two main issues with working with barcodes and QuickBooks:

  • How will you print or create the barcodes using your QuickBooks data? Until now you had to either export your data to an outside tool, use a third party add-on to print your QB data with barcodes (such as the WaspLabeler), or futz around with “barcode fonts” in your forms, which can be a pain to deal with. With this release Intuit is providing you with a simple barcode printing feature within the program.
  • How will QuickBooks read your information from the barcode? Before now you either had to import your data from an external source, use a third party add-on to get the data into QuickBooks, or futz around with a scanner that just inserts the barcode value into a field, one at a time. With this new feature Intuit has started to support easy data entry.

What Intuit is providing is a simple way to print bar codes, and a  some aid in using them to get your data into QuickBooks. This is beginning barcode management, which may be enough for some businesses, but it isn’t a complete and sophisticated solution.

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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has 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 an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. 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, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been writing for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011.

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


  • Charlie – in response to reading today’s article the first time I did a little research about QB-POS Barcode scanners, because I have gotten different scanners from Intuit in the past, almost each time I purchased hardware from them (either for myself, or for one of my clients.)

    Apparently Intuit must buy, whichever compatible hardware, is cheapest when they negotiate for hardware for their ‘hardware bundles’ sold with QBPOS. (They also sell each POS hardware item individually.)

    Over the years Intuit has used the following barcode scanners; and having had clients who had to get a replacement scanner due to damage, or perhaps decided to replace their ‘wired’ scanner with a ‘wireless model’, I have never experience any problems when a client got a different scanner from what they had previously. So here is a partial list of what I could find in the various ‘device user manuals’ I have kept copies of over the years:

    Datalogic QuickScan Imager USB
    Imageteam 3800LR USB
    Honeywell MK3780 Omni-direction USB
    Honeywell 3800G USB
    Symbol LS2208 Laser USB
    Honeywell MK9490/9540 Laser USB
    Honeywell MK9535 Bluetooth-wireless USB

    I can not guarantee that all of the above will work with QBES-2013, but it seems if they all have worked with QB-POS, and any QB-POS scanner has worked with QBES-2013, then they should (emphasis on the ‘should’) be compatible….however, the only one I actually tested is my own current USB (wired) scanner which is a:

    “Handheld Products Model-3800”.


  • Charlie – I suspect that Intuit will ultimately offer ‘barcode printing’ in the same, or at least similar, manner as QB-POS where labels/tags can be printed with various configurations. As you know, but readers may not be aware of, the POS product offers both a special Z-printer version for labels, and an alternative of sheets of labels via a laser printer. (There are a wide variety of label formats that include barcode, price, description, coded-info, etc.).

    Surely Intuit does not believe that the only people who will use the new barcode feature are users who want to use it solely for ‘inventory control’ of products that come with preconfigured UPC barcodes already on those products.

    I am just not sure they have ‘thought it all out yet’, as with many features they ‘add’, or perhaps they just didn’t have time to get it rushed out the door (incomplete).


    PS – another great article, most informative on a complex area woven into many areas of the QB interface.

    • We can speculate. All I can say at this time is that they have a really sharp person working on this, that there is interest in pushing this further, and that I suspect that the amount of resources Intuit puts here will depend on how widely accepted this first round is.

  • Charlie – Hey, do you know if the barcodes in QBES-13 AI feature will pass thru to QB-POS when first setting up a new QBPOS file where the QB inventory flows over to POS during the initial set-up exchange?


    • I don’t know, Murph, as I don’t work with QBPOS. I’m going to guess “not now”, since this version of QuickBooks came out AFTER the latest version of QBPOS – plus the external programming interface in QuickBooks hasn’t been updated yet to include the barcode number field. But, then, I don’t know for sure, and I don’t know the technical details of how the two products interact.

      • I still haven’t gotten my ‘copy’ of the newest QBPOS, so I can’t try it. But I would kind of doubt it too, since the ‘first sync’ process is initiated by POS not QB; if th ‘POS-development-crew’ didn’t have the data-schema for the new AI-barcode feature (early on) they probably made no plans for it.


        PS – you have been cranking these 2013 articles out right-n-left, you better take at least a ‘weekend break’ to enjoy the fall weather.

  • This article was most helpful in determining on whether to go through a 3rd party vendor for the software or use the built in. I will try the built in as a first time user of barcodes and let you know my input further down the road. Thank you

  • Let me preface this by saying that I’ve no experience with barcodes, at present. The way I understand it, QB doesn’t currently print barcode labels, and the QB barcode field is not yet available to the SDK.

    Therefore, if using an add-on such as WaspLabeler to print barcode labels, the QB barcodes would still have to be manually entered (or imported in some fashion) into the add-on application, so the barcodes would match.

    Is my understanding correct?

    If so, do you think a feasible workaround would be to export the “Item Barcodes” report to Excel, and then manipulate that Excel file to print to a barcode label printer?

    Lastly, when you describe Scanning Item Codes for data entry, using a regular scanner, you talked about a back-and-forth process between scanner and keyboard. Would this apply to the WaspLabeler application, or to another app that you can name?

    As always, thanks for your valued input!

    • A better place to start is “what do you want to use as the barcode value”? Sometimes people don’t care, they just want to use any unique value. Sometimes people want to use the item ID, or a custom field.

      If you create the barcode in QB from the item ID or custom field value, then you can print your labels using something like Wasp Labeler by using those original fields. The only time it is a hassle is if you decide to let QB create a unique code of its own.

      You can also export the new barcode value to Excel, and then use a barcode printing program that can work with an Excel file, at least until Intuit gets their act together.

      As far as the back and forth – that is a scanning issue, not a printing issue, if I understand your question.

  • Thanks for the reply, Charlie!

    My customer wants both the data-entry functionality of the new QBES/AI, and an ability to print labels. As long as it works, I think the best answer is to print labels from Excel for now, and hope that Intuit adds label-printing sooner rather than later.

    Second-best would be to use something like the WaspLabeler.

    As for the keyboard-to-scanner question, I was (obtusely) alluding to the fact that, if neither of these two options works, then this would be my backup plan. However, as a backup plan goes, if the client would have to go back and forth like that, he would hate it.

    Thanks again, so much. I treasure your willingness to share information!

    • There isn’t a specific feature in the Build Assembly window supporting barcodes at this time. You may want to consider looking at the SmartScan Barcode Translator by Baus Systems, which I’ll be reviewing (and comparing to the QuickBooks barcode feature) later this month.

      • if the scanner works like a keyboard, ie. just entering alphanumeric values, then wouldn’t scanning the barcode of the item serve the purpose of entering the assembly item code in the Builds section?

        • Sure, but there isn’t anything special there, like there is in an invoice. You have to manually place the cursor on the proper field and then scan. You can do that without purchasing the expensive Advanced Inventory feature (for this transaction type). Builds aren’t that big of an issue, really, but they really should have some form of special automation in inventory adjustments (to handle physical counts, etc).

          • What would be the special feature within an invoice that is different than in the build assembly screen?

            Wouldn’t you still have to open the invoice screen, select the customer, tab to the first item line and scan? Isn’t that the same as going to the Build Assembly screen and tab to the item field and scan?

            We are still trying to decide if this system will be useful in a production environment.


          • No, read the section on “data entry” more closely. This is one of those things that would work better if we were in the same room. If your scanner is recognized by QuickBooks:
            -open the invoice window
            -select the customer
            -Scan the first item – QuickBooks will move the cursor to the first item line, enter a quantity one, add the item, without you having to place the cursor anywhere
            -Scan the second item – if it is another of the SAME item, QuickBooks will go to that line, increment the quantity by one. If it is a NEW item, it will go to the new line, add the item with quantity 1.
            -Scan the third item- again, if it is one already on the invoice, it will find the right line and increment the quantity, if it is new then it will add it to the bottom.

            This works for some situations, not for others. If you have a bunch of items coming across your desk, once you enter the customer then you never have to touch the keyboard or move the cursor to any field, you just go zap, zap, zap and the items are added properly. This might be your situation, but it might not be. It works very well for that scenario.

  • we are currently testing our barcodes with the Advanced Inventory add-on. It works great for the invoicing and sales receipt sections. Not so good for Build Assemblies as you had mentioned. However, if you make your barcode using your item name (use code 128) you can make it work for builds.

    It would be nice if you could also make a barcode for each customer so that it is scanable into the customer field for invoicing. ie. make it so you don’t even have to enter the customer name from the drop down menu or by typing it out on the keyboard.

    Hopefully new features get added as the updates come down.

  • When printing a barcode to a label, how do I include the sale price of the item on the label? Also, how do I change the label size if it is not shown in my printer options?

    • Brian, if they add that as a feature, I’ll write about it. In general, if they tell me about something they PLAN on doing, I can’t write about it in advance (non-disclosure agreements). However, I can say at this point, I’m not aware of any plans by them to do that. Doesn’t mean that they won’t…

  • Is there add on software that will do the following? I sell 100 different widgets sold in their own individual box. Each box has its own unique bar code. I would like to have a person picking the order scan the bar code and then enter in how many boxes are shipping and the date the widgets were made. I would then like that information to automatically be entered into quickbooks. Thanks.

  • Hello,
    If I am receiving a pallet that has 40 cartons of the same SKU, and each carton has it’s own serial number, do I have to scan each carton individually, or could I scan one SKU barcode and one serial number, and then input that I am receiving 39 more pieces with sequential part numbers?

      • Charlie, thanks for the helpful information. I’m trying to set up barcode scanning to track inventory of devices that we order, receive, and then resell to our clients. I’m struggling with the logistics of how to do the process of receiving the physical inventory in our warehouse, but the computer that operates our QB Enterprise is in a different location. How do we scan the serial #s of what we receive in order to adjust our inventory levels in QB when the computer isn’t sitting right at the table where we’re scanning the serial #s? I am somehow missing the practicality of using scanners with QB. Is there any advice or guidance you can provide?
        Thanks so much.
        Sue Genau

        • Sue, with QuickBooks by itself (and their barcoding feature), the scanner has to be directly connected to a QuickBooks workstation. If that isn’t feasible, then you have to go to a third party solution. Note that solutions that will work with the QB barcoding feature itself are very, very limited. Best I can say is that you should work with someone who is a QuickBooks barcoding expert.

  • Can you recommend a barcode printer for quickbooks? My thermal printer doesn’t seem to work in quickbooks and I was told I need a Laser printer.

    • Steve, if you are printing labels with the QuickBooks feature, you don’t need a barcode printer specifically. I can print labels with a laser printer or inkjet printer. You only need a barcode specific printer if you need to use special media, and then it is a bit difficult

  • You mentioned that later on each user will have enable the bar code scanner. How is this done? As admin do I temporarily give full access, sign in as one of the other users then go into preference, enable, sign out. Sign back in to admin and change the roles to limit the users access?

    • Debbie, that is a good question! You’ll note that the “enable” option is on the “my preferences” tab, so this is stored per user login. I believe that each user has the ability to set their own value – you don’t have to change their access. They can do it themselves, or you can just log in with their account and do it, but there shouldn’t be a need to change permissions.

  • Hi Charlie,

    Is there a way in quick books changing a font into bar code style? Like for instance, i’m configuring a customize invoice template report, what I want to display on my invoice number is a bar code font style, does it work in the latest release of QuickBooks?

    Best Regards,

  • I’m really interested in upgrading my 2006 version of QB because:
    1. I’m familiar with it and
    2. I’d like to implement a barcode style of inventory management for my jewelry business.
    However, I’m a Mac user and would prefer to stay one.
    When I contacted Intuit they suggested I upgrade to the Premier suite. Maybe something got lost in the translation but QB Premier does not currently come in a Mac version.
    Can you suggest another way to accomplish my goal of inventory management through QB for Mac?

    Thanks so much.

    • Not a lot of options, Carolina, since Intuit doesn’t have a programming interface that developers can use to make add-on products that work with the Mac. It is very limited.

      Some people will use the Windows version on their Mac using something like Parallels or other similar products.

      • I did some further checking and LightSpeed does provide an interface with quick books. While it’s more suited to a retail business, it has awesome POS and inventory management capabilities; it’s almost too comprehensive for what I’m looking for. While it does also have the capability to assign bar code inventory tracking, the bar codes themselves are too physically big for my specific application.
        I’ll keep digging around.

  • I’m using QB2013 for Mac for my business and have a QB merchant account I just set up to use within QB since QB POS is not available for Mac. Is there a way to use a barcode scanner in selling products and managing inventory within QB2013? Or is the barcode scanner not an option at all with QB for Mac?

    • Addon software isn’t available for QB Mac at all. You can use a scanner to fill in fields, if you click on the field and then scan the value, but that is using the scanner just like a keyboard (I assume it would work that way on a Mac, but I haven’t tried it – that is how it would work on a PC).

  • Are there barcodes that exist which can be for example: ID’d with a pallet number of unknown merchandise (ex: pallet 1) and be printed out on a label sheet (each one unique) for this particular pallet? Then as the items are unloaded from the pallet a barcode could be removed from the label sheet, stuck to the item, scanned in quickbooks at which point an item number window would pop up. You would then type in what the item is and have it uniquely identified. Example: If scanned, if the first item was a Black Lamp, it would read “Pallet 1 Item 1 Lamp, Black”…”Pallet 1” preloaded, “Item 1” automatically loaded by QB, and “Lamp, Black” typed in manually.

  • Please clarify, as of 2015 is there a Quickbooks version that can assist with bar code tracking for the FIXED ASSETS of the company? Thank you for your time.

    • Tracking of fixed assets is usually done with the Fixed Asset Manager, a feature that I believe is only found in QuickBooks Accountant and QuickBooks Enterprise (not sure about all versions of Enterprise). However, that doesn’t do barcode tracking of assets. I’m not aware of a product that does all of that, working with QuickBooks. There are several barcode and RFID tracking fixed asset systems available that are independent of QuickBooks.

  • Dear Charlie,
    My company just updated the QB to QB Enterprise Solutions;Manufacturing and Wholesale 16.0 with Advanced Inventory. I am an inventory controller and used Fishbowl before the upgrading. In QB, I can track item details (quantities, bin locations etc.) by scanning the item bar-codes, however, I haven’t be able to find a way to generate bar-codes for item-associated bin locations which I can use for tracking item details at that specific bin location. Charlie, I am wondering that is the QB capable of? If so, how to? Thanks!

    • QuickBooks is very, very limited as far as the ability to print bar codes. I don’t know if any of the bar code printing add-on products that are available can print what you want, because Intuit makes it difficult to get that level of information out, in general. Look for Baus Systems and ask them if they can print that level of detail. Otherwise, look at QQube (www.clearify.com), which is a great report generator, and see if you can use that to extract the data to Excel, then massage the data to pass to a label printing program.

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