QuickBooks 2013 and PDF Drivers

Written by Charlie Russell

Let’s take a look at a problem with QuickBooks 2013 that you might run into right away. There seem to be some issues with QuickBooks 2013 and PDF drivers (again).

This article was updated on 11/26/2012

Update 12/6/2012: See my updated article on QuickBooks 2013 and PDF drivers  for the latest information on this subject.

I’m not sure why Intuit has had so many problems with “PDF Drivers” over the years, but this has been one of the constant thorns in our side, as users and advisors. Can’t they just fix this in a simple way? We just want to send forms and reports to a PDF file. I have to tell you, with my own software, I have a simple PDF driver and I never have any trouble like what we’ve seen in QuickBooks!

How QuickBooks Uses PDF’s

There are several places where QuickBooks creates PDF files. For example:

  • In a transaction window (such as create invoices) where you click on Save as PDF to save the transaction as a PDF file.
  • When you  click the Email button (or, prior to QuickBooks 2013, the Send button in some places) to send a transaction like an invoice, or a report, via email. The form, or report, is attached to the email message as a PDF file.
  • When you Reconcile an account. The reconciliation reports are saved as PDF files internally in the QuickBooks database.

Why do we worry about this? Why not just use a free PDF printer driver like CutePDF or Foxit? Well, because QuickBooks isn’t just sending this information to a printer in the standard way, it is using the driver internally (such as when an email attachment or reconciliation is saved). You can’t just install a normal PDF driver to get around problems in QuickBooks by installing your own driver – that won’t be used when you reconcile or send email. Sure, you can work around it (print to your own PDF driver and then archive it, or manually attach it to an email message), but that is much less convenient. For example, to send an invoice via email, you have to manually create the email message (copying the email address from QuickBooks, or from your contact list), print the PDF to your hard drive or desktop, then manually attach that PDF to the email. Too many steps! As far as reconciliations – those PDF reports are stored internally in the QuickBooks database for later recovery, and you can’t do that with an external PDF printer driver.

The Sad History of QuickBooks and PDF Drivers

This has been a recurring nightmare.

We had the famous “Amyuni PDF Driver” problems going back to the 2009 and 2010 versions of QuickBooks. Lots of problems here, that were hard to work around sometimes.

We thought we were finally through with this problem when QuickBooks 2011 came out, dumping the Amyuni drivers and instead using the Microsoft XPS Document Writer! Unfortunately, the problem still persists for many people, as we can see in the many complaints about PDF drivers in the Intuit Community Forums. And the problem seems to be getting worse with the upcoming release of Windows 8.

Will it be fixed in QuickBooks 2013? I’m not sure that it has been, at least in the R1 release. I’m finding a bunch of issues, but it is hard to pin down.

What Am I Seeing in QuickBooks 2013?

First of all, let me say that there are some problems with Windows 8 compatibility in some situations, but I’m not going to dwell on that. At the time QuickBooks 2013 R1 is released, Windows 8 is not fully released to the public for production use, so it isn’t fair to look at this issue with QuickBooks 2013 (but, I did, and the problems mirror what I see with Windows 7).

One interesting thing to note is that we apparently have ANOTHER change in the PDF driver. Looking at my test system, QuickBooks installs an “ABS PDF Driver v400”, in addition to requiring the “Microsoft XPS Document Writer”.

QuickBooks 2013 ABS PDF Driver

Looking at the driver’s properties I see that (shudder) this is the “Amyuni Document Converter 400”. I have to say, this doesn’t make me feel positive, given the past troubles with Amyuni drivers.

However, I’m not sure how this driver is being used. I get the same results on systems where it is installed that I do in systems where I have removed the driver. So what the heck is this?

I do notice that QuickBooks 2013 is still dependent on the Microsoft XPS driver that they have used since the 2011 release. If I save an invoice as a PDF, the Microsoft driver is installed by QuickBooks (if it isn’t already there). So, I’m confused. Why BOTH drivers?

Update 11/26/2012: There are three functions that don’t use the XPS driver, that are still dependent on the older Amyuni driver (the “ABS PDF Driver v400”): Loan Manager, Cash Flow Projector and Business Planner.

I have a large variety of test systems set up (I use “VMWare Workstation to create “virtual” machines, a life saver for testing like this). I tried various combinations of Windows 7 on 32 bit and 64 bit setups, threw in a few Windows 8 test setups, tested on systems that were “clean” without a prior version of QuickBooks as well as systems that had older versions of QuickBooks already installed. I’m still sorting through all the results, but here are a few things that I came across.

Error in a Clean Windows 7 System

No prior version of QuickBooks installed. The first time I run QuickBooks Accountant 2013 I get this error:

QuickBooks 2013 PDF Component Missing

Clicking on the “review” link gets me to an Intuit KB article that suggests a variety of ways to address this.

If I exit QuickBooks and reenter, I continue to get that same message.

Looking at my Windows 7 drivers, I see that the XPS component isn’t there (but the ABS PDF component IS there?).

Windows 7 Devices

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this (at least in my test installations). Ignore the error message!

I clicked past the error, created an invoice, clicked the Print button dropdown to get Save as PDF (or use Save as PDF in the File menu), and it lets me save the invoice as a PDF. The error message no longer appears.

Note that in a system that already had the XPS driver installed because of an earlier version of QuickBooks, the error never appeared in the first place.

This is not a big problem because you can work around it very easily, from what I see. But, you shouldn’t be getting this kind of error right out of the box.

Reconciliation Report Error

Here’s another error that shows, but that is relatively easy to fix.

I want to view a Previous Reconciliation Report. From this window, I select a report, and click the Display button.

Previous Reconciliation Report in QuickBooks 2013

I should get a window that displays the report as a PDF – which is how it is saved in the QuickBooks database. However, what I get is this:

QuickBooks 2013 Navigation Cancelled error

Not what I was hoping for.

Simple resolution – Install Adobe Acrobat Reader. People who have worked with QuickBooks for a while know that you need this – even if you have your own PDF printer driver installed. Once I install Acrobat Reader, the reconciliation report displays properly. However, this isn’t a great error message! I should get something that says that Acrobat Reader is required (we used to get that kind of message).

My Conclusion

I’m probably worrying about nothing. The errors I ran into so far are easy to get around, and aren’t that serious. My main reason for writing this up at THIS time was to show you that there are some errors you may see right away, and to save you the time of looking for complicated solutions. At least in my tests the fix was simple.

I’ll be curious to see how this works out when we get a large number of different QuickBooks installations going – will PDF problems still be a thorn in our side?

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. He retired from accounting and QuickBooks activities in early 2018.

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


  • I ran into a frustration in QB journal entries. I am using a clearing account to charge labor and loadings to job for job costing. The JE has a debit side with the job name and the credit for the same amount and account does not. This entry may have 20 or more lines. QB assigns the job from the first line of the entry to any line of my entry which does not have a job. I stumbled onto a solution which amounts to forcing the first line of the JE to contain no info and $0.00 for amount. I am now prepared to make the first line of every entry I make a “dummy” $0.00 line.

  • Oh, Charlie, this article is not what I wanted to hear! I groan because of the number of hours I have spent in the past trying to resolve PDF issues for clients!

    Your article didn’t mention testing sending forms or reports via email, so I did a quick test with Outlook setting in Send Forms (Preferences). I emailed an invoice to myself. It worked fine on my Windows 7 Ultimate machine via Outlook 2010 that already has several versions of QuickBooks. It crated PDF attachment without a problem. I “assume” it will work fine with web mail and QuickBooks email service.

    Thanks for “really digging in” to check these things out. It says us consultants support time when we are aware of potential issues.

  • I have had problems with sending statements as “pdf” for my clients. When sending several statements at once using “Send Forms” in QBs, some will go through as a .dat file and not a .pdf. I thought it was because this client uses QBs 2010 and I have been trying to get them to upgrade.

    Most of the statements will go through as a .pdf, but not all of them.
    Very frustrating.

    • Michele, I don’t have a specific answer in hand, but if you or your client are working with Outlook via Microsoft Exchange Server, this may have to do with settings in Exchange. If you do a search on Outlook, Exchange, PDF and .dat, you’ll find a number of references to this problem.

      I’ve not had my hands on a system that shows this problem, so I’ve not been able to test any fixes. So I’ve not written about it.

  • I think the installation of QB 2013 has “broken” the bank recs in 2010.

    I am suddenly getting strange printer errors when trying to save a bank reconciliation. They are:

    a) Activation error – Printer not activated, error code -30
    b) Intuit Printer Library – Could not print to printer. Check your printer selection.

    I can click Okay and get the report to print but no internal PDF report is saved.

    I tried the usual trick of deleting the QB PDF printers but that did not solve the problem. A google search reveals “error code -20” but not “error code -30”. It might be a new QB problem and hasn’t hit the internet yet…

    Anyone have a suggestion on what the problem is or how to fix it?

    • Laura, I don’t see that problem on my system, which has QB 2010 through 2013.

      It’s hard for me to say what is going on without hands on your system.

      The Intuit Support site has a PDF correction tool, you may take a look at that.

  • I have been having a problem with sales orders in quickbooks, whenever i create an invoice from a sales order, qb does not automatically populate the sales rep field, even though when i create an invoice by itself it populates the sales rep field since the sales rep was added in the customer set up anyway.

    • That’s not a problem with the PDF drivers, Chris, so that is off topic. Are you seeing this in QB 2013? I would look to make sure that you have the same field in both templates, you may have something that is renamed or duplicated. Hard to say without seeing your file.

  • Charlie – my problem is related although not covered in your post here about pdf’s but thought maybe you had some insight…

    I use CutePDF as my pdf print driver..have for years.

    In QB 2013 I can print to pdf using CutePDF but it prints the whole report to one page, even if I uncheck the “Fit report to ___ page wide” box. This is across multiple client files.

    Any thoughts?

    • Cathi, I don’t have an answer for you, as I don’t use CutePDF myself. I use Adobe Acrobat, and it is working fine so far.

      Is this on a system that had the prior year of QB on it? You may want to reset the printer setting in QB (erase the file that holds those settings) to see if that fixes it. Long shot.

  • With pdf converter in Qb the real issue is the way it installs, I have found that if you make sure its not your default printer and make sure the port setting is not a physical port on the pc or preferably a null port then it works fine. I have all versions from QB 2004 to QB 2013 & Enterprise running on XP Pro and the pdf converter works.
    I have posted this and solved many of the Uk posters that report this issue.
    I also have cutePdf as the printer for emailing remittances much asked for since Qb 2008 but still not in the new version.

    • Gordan, I’m not sure what the status was for the prior year of the UK version. I don’t think you had the XPS Writer PDF update last year? I’m not sure, as I don’t have last year’s UK version.

      If you had the Amyuni driver last year, you had to deal with a lot of port settings. If you had the XPS driver last year, that usually isn’t the case. I’m just not sure what you had.

      For the US versions it is very confused, as the Amyuni driver is back, but I can’t see that it is actually being used. This is one of those odd times when I can’t get a real answer from my contacts at Intuit…

  • I keep having issues with quickbookes pro 2011. I am unable to send via email invoices and estimates. An error message about unable to locate a pdf file comes up. I have done all the tests, updates, pdf diagnostic tools, and the only thing that temporarily works is unistalling and reinstalling the whole program. This has become a pain just to email invoices/estimates to customers which is the primary way of communication. Wondering if upgrading to 2013 will fix this issue or if there is something that I am missing. Need your help PLEASE!

    • Danelle, these kinds of issues are hard to diagnose via a blog comment. It sounds like you have done all the simple steps.

      I can’t say that QB 2013 is going to make a difference here or not. I suspect not, because I don’t see a major new way of dealing with PDF’s in this year’s product.

      You need to find someone who can work with you by looking at your particular computer – but no guarantees that a fix is available. Some systems just won’t let this work right, for reasons that can’t always be determined.

      As a temporary workaround, you can get a PDF printer driver like CutePDF or Adobe Acrobat, and use it to print your invoices and estimates. Then you would have to manually create an email message, and attach. If you do a low volume, not too much trouble. If you do a high volume, it is a pain…

  • I am running QB2013 Premier under Windows 8, and I simply CANNOT get the PDF part of QB to work. I get the ‘Missing Component’ message. I get the ‘Printer not activated’ message. Or I get a combination, sometimes at startup, sometimes not. I have been to the forums, tried several suggestions from QB support, installed and uninstalled both the Amunyi and the MS XPS drivers, and it just WILL not work. I have spent literally days on this issue. What’s worse is that clearly I am not alone here, as similar posts appear in the forums going years back. Is it really too hard for a company like Intuit to either FIX this issue in their new software, or POST an ACTUAL fix that WORKS?? Clearly this is a long-standing BUG in their program that they either do not have the expertise to fix, or they simply don’t care about their users’ frustrations. Either way it doesn’t endear me to Intuit as a company, and certainly prevents me from recommending their product to any of my clients.

    • Ken, these kinds of problems are hard to work out. My own systems don’t have problems like this – so the softare can do it right on some systems. Unfortunately, on some systems, bad things happen and we don’t always know why. I do believe that they need to take a totally new approach to how they handle PDF’s…

  • Nice article. Interesting with PDF. Reconciliations to PDF is now broken in 2010, 2011 and 2012 after installing 2013. Looking at printers MS XPS driver was broken and had to delete and reinstall. Still does not work. You stated you need Acrobat Reader. Already have Acrobat Standrad installed. Do I still need Reader? Funny when installing 2013 it asked me to install Reader Statement Writer, I just skipped. Any ideas how to get reconciliation back

    • Dan, I don’t have that problem on my system, so I can’t say what is going on with your system specifically. Odd that you have this issue, but you aren’t the first person to say it. I just don’t see it in my system.

      Yes, even if you have Adobe Acrobat Standard intslled, to get FULL functionality you must have Adobe Reader installed also.

  • I just installed QB Premier Accountant 2013 for one user. One company works fine and the other company runs into problem. Each time I hit enter to save my transaction, QB freezes. Then I hit CTRL ALT DEL, the transaction will be saved.
    I’ve tried re-install and repair and it is not working. I can print out report okay. It is when I hit SAVE…, then QB freezes. Please advise!

    • Allison, it is hard to say what is going on without having hands on the system. However, if you have one installation, but problems with one file and not the other on the same system, it sounds more like a file corruption issue rather than an installation issue. Have you tried doing a rebuild of that file? Examine the QBWIN.LOG file for errors?

  • Hi Charles,
    Thank you for your response. I reinstalled QB Accountant 2013 to another labtop and it is working fine. I was able to save all my transaction without the frozen screen. Do you think it has to do with the ABS Driver V400?
    Under ABS PDF Driver v400 Properties on my other labtop, the printer port is LPT1 and under Printer, it is ABS PDF Driverv400 Epson.
    The current laptop which I am having problem saving does not have Epson ( which is my printer) after ABS PDF Driver v400.

    I was able to print and save when I first installed QB Accountant 2013. I tried rebuild the file and all. Still I could not SAVE. The transaction can be saved if I hit CTRL ALT DEL to get to task manager.


    • Allison, unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you. I’ve not seen this kind of behavior, and without hands on your system there isn’t a lot that I can offer at this time. You may want to work with a ProAdvisor who can log in to your system to look. These kinds of things are tricky.

  • Charlie,

    You are spot on! Great article! After spending most of yesterday trying to get Windows 8 and QuickBooks to send an email, I found this. I can’t believe a company that has the market share like QB does, cannot get this fixed after 3 releases. BTW, I tried to use the PDF repair tool….it fixes nothing and in my case broke printing completely in QB and caused the “Missing Component” error to come up trying to use any of the PDF functions.

  • Charlie,

    I have the problem with the previous reconciliation report, but in my cases the program just crash and I have to force a shutdown and restart quickbooks. I have acrobat reader and it works find with all other PDFs in quickbooks, but just the reconciliation. Always, crashing the software. Any idea why this happen?. No mention of this in your blog. Any info will be great.

  • I was able to print preview in QuickBooks 2013 (win 7 x64) but not save as PDF. The problem is related to XPS Document Writer. I was also unable to Print to XPS Document Writer from other apps such as Word. An xps file would appear that quickly disappear. Here’s more info on sorting out XPS writer issues:


    For me it turns out that the XPS Service needs to be able to write to your Temp folder (but runs as a different user) so make sure that the ‘User’ security group has write permissions on the Temp folder.

  • I have major issues with QB 13, the screen is so large that I cannot see the buttons at the bottom…such as the save close or next button on the bottom of receive payments, invoices and checks. The type and screen look like we are running the the “safe mode” almost elementary in the print and icons on the screen….type is so large that we cannot read any of the items on tool bar…..we can stretch or shrink the size of the overall screen but that does NOTHING to the size of the font and the QB items not fitting onto the screen….very discouraging….if I had known this would happen I would have stuck with the QB 10……even thinking of changing programs….have been using QB for over 15 years……why not leave a good product alone…..(money and profits)..

    • Susan, that is a bit off topic for an article on PDF drivers – I guess the best I can say is that although Intuit didn’t change the specifications for the minimum screen resolution, the updated interface really is aimed at people with larger screens than before. Screens that worked OK with QB 2012 often don’t work as well with QB 2013, in my experience.

  • I have a problem with my retained earnings account. I two accounts that are being effected by this problem.

    The retained earnings account shows a zero balance
    The member equity account shows a possitive balance.

    The member equity is actually the balance that belongs in the retained earnings.

    I have tried to change the name on the accounts and it will not allow me to do that.

    So my question is how to I get the retained earnings in the correct account.

    • Bonnie, you need to sit down with a qualified QuickBooks advisor who can look at things for you. In general, you don’t adjust retained earnings, it is calculated by the system. But, this isn’t something that I can address in a blog comment.

  • have qb 2013 premier nonprofit. all was well until install hp8600 printer and deleted old samsung 2510. Now get “error 20” when trying to save to pdf if I use ABS PDF Driver v400 or I get “unable to locate, removed” error if i try to save to pdf using QB pdf converter 2.0. If I select Microsoft XPS it saves as xps file and I am not sure how to open. I am running on Windows xp. My tech skills are next to nothing. Can you help? Thank you in advance.

    • Steinybob – it sounds like you are actually trying to “print” to those drivers, like they are a printer? That isn’t what you do. You wouldn’t use them as a printer. To save an invoice as a PDF, for example, you would use the icon in the invoice window for that, NOT printing to that driver…

  • Hi, thanks for the work around of saving to PDF. The problem of not being able to click “email” invoice (generated a pdf to Outlook email)is how I have always billed my clients. You saved Christmas because now we can get paid and pay our team. Thank you!

  • […] QuickBooks 2013 and PDF Drivers – Accountex Report – Oct 11, 2012. Why not just use a free PDF printer driver like CutePDF or Foxit? Well, because QuickBooks isn't just sending this information to a printer in the standard way, it is using the driver internally (such as when an email attachment or reconciliation is saved). You can't just install a normal PDF driver to get around. […]

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