Disappearing QuickBooks Item Notes

Written by Charlie Russell

Lately I’ve been seeing a rash of questions about a perceived bug in QuickBooks in several different discussion forums – how QuickBooks is not saving Notes on inventory parts. Fortunately, that isn’t what is really happening – rather than being a situation where data is lost it is just a case of poor design. Your Notes are there, you just have to find them!

QuickBooks Item Notes in the Beginning

The “beginning” wasn’t that long ago. When Intuit released QuickBooks 2012, one of the features that I was happy that they added was a “Note” capability for items in the item list. We had these for other lists before this, but not for the item list.

If you edit an item in QuickBooks 2012 you see the Notes button, and if you click this you can add or edit a note for any item type in the item list.

QuickBooks Item Notes in 2012

If you have Premier or Enterprise you also can see the note in the new Inventory Center (not available in Pro).

Inventory Center in QuickBooks 2012

It is important to point out that in this version, you can only add one Note to an Item. Also, unfortunately, I’m not aware of any place that you can see this item note OTHER than these two windows. It isn’t available in a report, it isn’t available through any add-on programs (since Intuit didn’t make Item Notes available in the programming interface).

There was a problem with this feature in earlier versions of QuickBooks 2012, where notes might disappear (and other related issues), which was fixed in the QuickBooks 2012 R9 release.

The key point here, though, is that you can edit an existing item and click the Note button, and see your existing Note.

Multiple Item Notes in 2013 – Oops

Now we get to the problem. In the QuickBooks 2013 R3 release Intuit improved the Item Notes feature to allow you to have multiple notes per inventory item and inventory assembly. A “Notes” tab was added to the Inventory Center, and from there you could see and manage the Item Notes.

Inventory Center in QuickBooks 2013 R3

This, however, introduces a problem. Back in the Item List, if I click the Notes button, existing notes for some item types won’t show. It works fine for all items EXCEPT for inventory parts and inventory assemblies – the two types that can now have multiple notes. If you edit an inventory part item that has notes (like the one that I show above), nothing shows in the notes window.

QuickBooks Item Notes missing?

Many users of QuickBooks are complaining in various user forums that their notes are gone, because it does make sense that you should be able to see a Note when you click the Notes button. They aren’t gone, you just have to look someplace else to find them – the Inventory Center.

This is very poor design:

  • People expect to see their Notes when they click that button in the Edit Item window.
  • If you click on the button for any OTHER item type, such as non-inventory parts, you DO see your Note. You can have only one Note, but you can see it. This again leads people to think that there is a bug for inventory parts.
  • You can only see inventory part and inventory assembly items in the Inventory Center – so you have to flip back and forth between the Inventory Center and Item List if you are looking for your Notes for all item types. You can’t see them all from one place.
  • There is no inventory report that I’ve found that lets you see Notes.
  • The QuickBooks SDK (the programming interface that you have to use to get to the widest range of QuickBooks data at this time) does not have a field for Item Notes, so no third-party reporting add-on product can be used to get a list of Item Notes.
  • If you are using QuickBooks Pro there is no way to see your Item Notes because the Inventory Center isn’t available to Pro.

One complication for Premier users is that many aren’t aware that there IS an Inventory Center. In Enterprise it is fairly obvious – there is an Inventory menu and Inventory Center is at the top. For Premier users you have to look in Vendors, then Inventory Activities to find Inventory Center. A bit more buried.

Fixed in QuickBooks 2014?

Sadly, no, QuickBooks 2014 hasn’t changed this. Well, actually, they did (I think that this is a new change in QB 2014) – the Notes button is now New Note. The label was changed to hopefully make it more obvious (just for inventory part and inventory assembly items), but the functionality wasn’t changed.

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.


  • Thanks Charlie. In Premier you are able to customize the Icon Bar. I added the Inventory Center and voila! A whole new world just opened up.

  • Thanks Charlie. I’ve made ‘note’ of this. Now if I could only find it….

    Any idea when Intuit might do something with the item photos other than leave them only available in the Inventory Center? Ah, a picture is worth a thousand words, but only if you confine to one place (in the developer’s mind).

  • The “new note” is another bizarre episode in the Intuit experience. At last we have a maximum quantity so after all these years Quickbooks actually can be used for a business. Still no box quantity function but maybe someday?

  • Unbelievably, the UK version (Premier Accountant Edition 2014) has the multiple notes feature (at least for the Stock Part item type) and the ‘New Note’ button label, but no Inventory Center. In other words if you add a note it literally does disappear as there is no Inventory Center in which to view it. This I found to my cost after carefully formulating a note for a new item I’d added.
    Credit to the QuickBooks support agent however, who in investigating for me found this blog article and deduced that it’s a bug, or design flaw, in the UK version.

  • I’ve since discovered that the UK version Stock Centre a the Notes tab , on which the stock item notes are displayed.
    I’ve made a product suggestion to Intuit that users should be given a way to access the notes from the Edit Item form however, as this is the primary location for editing and accessing information for all items types. the Stock Centre only caters for ‘stock part’ item types.

      • I wrote my last post before seeing yours. No credit then to the first support agent but credit instead to the agent that directed me to the Stock Centre, and most of all to you for pointing everyone confused by this design flaw (including QuickBooks support agents) in the right direction.

  • Thanks so much for your post. This has been driving me crazy for a year. It still defies logic but now at least I know that there is a feature and not just a button that says New Notes. Now, if I could just find a way to have “margin” appear on quotes instead of “mark up”.

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