The QuickBooks 2014 user interface hasn’t gone through as many changes as we had with the introduction of QuickBooks 2013, fortunately, but there are a number of interesting things going on this year. Let’s take a look at what I’ve noticed. I’m including a bunch of things that are changes in different functions that you might not traditionally consider to be “user interface”, but they do alter how you would work with the program.
I squeezed the window for this screen shot to make it very narrow
Last year “Color” was a huge issue. This year, the primary “color” change is that the left navigation bar is a deep blue, rather than the harsher gray from last year. This is very similar to what you see in the “Harmony” release of QuickBooks Online. I like the change, but anyone who really didn’t like the navigation bar colors last year probably won’t be all that enthusiastic over it this year either.
Left Navigation Bar Changes
As people become more used to the new user interface design I’m seeing more people use the left navigation bar. It is interesting to watch the evolution of this feature.
I’ve already noted the color change. In addition, there are fewer “tabs” over there, to make it easier to use.
- Do Today has been removed – some of that functionality is in the Global Access Bar now (as described below).
- My Apps has been removed as a tab, which I find interesting. Now you’ll access your apps and subscriptions through the new My Company window (which I describe below), which is buried a bit. Instead of just clicking on this tab, now you have to click the Company menu and then My Company.
- View Balances has been changed so that you can now select which accounts will show.
The change to View Balances will be welcomed by many people. You’ll see a customize view balances link in the bottom of that tab:
Click this and a window opens that lets you select which accounts can appear:
I have one picky issue with this – you shouldn’t see an account in the left column if it is already showing in the right column. If you try to add an account a second time the program tells you that it can’t, so this isn’t a big deal.
This is set per each user login, so that one user’s choices don’t affect the others. If you are logging in with a user account that has limitations, the list of accounts in this customization window is limited to just those accounts that you have permission to see. So, the administrator controls which accounts can be seen via the user permissions that are set up in the user account. Unfortunately, these permissions remain fairly broad in QuickBooks Premier.
Global Access Bar
In the upper right corner of the QuickBooks screen you will notice three new icons in the menu bar. This is what I’m calling the “global access bar” (Intuit may come up with a different name for this).
This is your reminders and to-do’s icon. Instead of having the Do Today tab in the left navigation bar, you have this icon and a number next to it showing you how many reminders and to-do’s you have that need your attention. Click on this and the Reminders window opens (the same window we’ve had all along). This gets it out of the left navigation bar and into a small but always visible area for notifications.
This is your maintenance alerts icon. In QuickBooks 2013 R7 earlier this year, Intuit added what was then called QuickBooks Proactive, a series of alerts that the program would display for problems like inadequate available hard drive space, inadequate RAM, and so forth. If you have one of these system problems, you will see a number here. Special note for UK and Canadian versions – you did not get these alerts in 2013, but you should see them now in 2014
This is the Client Collaborator icon. I’ll be explaining this in more detail in another article. If you have QuickBooks Accountant Plus, or QuickBooks Accountant as a part of a current QuickBooks ProAdvisor subscription, this will show you messages sent to you from your client via the new Client Collaborator service. For any end-user QuickBooks 2014, this is where they will see the notifications from their accountant or ProAdvisor. Note that this won’t be active until the end of September when end users can download QuickBooks 2014.
In QuickBooks 2013 we had a Company Information option under the Company menu, that appeared like this (earlier versions of QuickBooks have this menu option but the appearance is quite different):
In QuickBooks 2014 the Company Information window has been changed to My Company (still under the Company menu):
There are a number of changes here:
- The display is a bit more compact, with less white space in the top portion (looks better, to me).
- The apps, services & subscriptions section looks better, with more compact and colorful icons.
- A recommended section is added at the bottom, which actually is a big improvement over last year’s layout. Before, the recommended apps were mixed in with the current subscriptions – and sometimes you had to scroll about to find YOUR current subscriptions (mine were always hidden when I first opened this window). With the new layout you can easily see your current subscriptions, and the recommendations are clearly separate.
- Instead of a manage my subscriptions link near the bottom, there is a sign in link at the top, where you can sign in to your Intuit online account. Be careful if you check this out – because when you sign in there is a box to set up Sync Manager. Now, Sync Manager is necessary for many add-on applications, but some people don’t want it to be installed. If you sign in at this location, there is a box for enabling Sync Manager (it isn’t referenced by name) that is enabled by default. If you don’t notice this, you may install Sync Manager without realizing it. Keep in mind, Sync Manager is going to essentially copy your company file to the Intuit Cloud Servers. This is necessary to use any of the App Center applications, which access that synchronized copy of your files. If you are not planning on using any of these applications, some people don’t like the idea of their data being sent out. Also, Sync Manager sometimes creates problems in your system (Intuit is getting better at resolving that), so you don’t want it installed if you aren’t going to use one of those apps.
As before, you edit the company information by clicking on the edit/pencil icon in the upper right. You have the same basic information as before, but this time it is split up into multiple sections, which makes it easier to see and edit. Last year all that info was in one big window. Some people prefer having it all available at once, I think I actually prefer it this way with the tabs.
Here’s an addition that I know people have been asking for – the ability to copy and paste detail lines in transaction forms. I’ve only played with it a bit, but it seems to work fine.
This is NOT the copy/paste that we had before – those were for individual fields in the form. This works with an entire line.
Note that you cannot use this to copy a line from one form to another, either of a different tyupe or of the same type.
Contextual Reports in Transaction Ribbons
Another change to the Ribbon in transaction forms – contextual reports. In the Report tab for each transaction you’ll find a set of reports that relate to the type of transaction that you are looking at. This makes it easy to find a report that may help you when you are reviewing a particular transaction.
For example, in QuickBooks 2013 the reports for an Invoice transaction were Quick Report, Transaction History and Transaction Journal. In QuickBooks 2014 you also have View Open Invoices, Sales By Customer Detail and Average Days to Pay Summary.
By “Contextual” we mean that the reports you see will depend on the context you are in – which transaction. Each transaction type will have its own set of reports added.
This is a nice improvement, although I really wish I could customize these Ribbons to add the reports that I want.
Search Auto Suggestions and Other Improvements
If you open the Search window (use F3 to get it) there is a nice improvement – search auto suggestions.
As you start typing information in the search box QuickBooks shows you some key words from the search index that may be what you are looking for – as well as some recent searches. This seems to work well and it is a nice addition.
It only works well if you have the search index set to update periodically, in your search preferences.
Another improvement here is that there is a reduction in the QuickBooks database file size due to the search feature. The search index portion of the database has been optimized so that you should see a reduction in the file size, backup file size and portable company file size. Intuit says 30 to 40% reduction, but I have not tested this.