Intuit has released a Windows desktop app that you can use to access your QuickBooks Online files, the QuickBooks Online Windows App, also know as the QuickBooks Online Accountant App. This provides just about all of the features that you have available to you through the web version of QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Accountant.
What is this? It is a native Windows desktop app that will provide an improved experience for Windows users who subscribe to QuickBooks Online. This is very similar to the QuickBooks App for Mac that I wrote about a year ago.
The key features are:
- It provides quick access to you and your client’s QuickBooks Online data without depending on a web browser.
- When you exit it won’t log you out, so when you come back you can quickly access your file again (this is optional).
- The program provides performance caching, where it will bring over blocks data into local memory, thereby improving the speed of access in some cases.
- It adds a menu bar that provides you with quick access to many features, including a “favorites” menu.
- It provides familiar keyboard shortcuts to help access features.
- You can open multiple windows, which you can easily arrange across multiple monitors.
- If you update information in one window then any other open window will automatically refresh to show the updated information, without your having to press a “refresh” button.
At this moment there is a bit of confusion on one account – are there two different products? At the time I’m writing this the product can only be found on Intuit websites that are accountant-oriented, where it is labeled as QuickBooks Online Accountant App. According to Intuit you should see it show up on consumer oriented websites as the QuickBooks Online Windows App later this year. From what I understand, it is all the same program, the program will show you features based on your Intuit ID as you log in.
The Intuit Business Operating System
In my October 2013 article “The Intuit Business Operating System,” I talked about how Intuit believes that its future is “in the cloud,” and that Intuit wants to provide QuickBooks on every platform. The diagram below is one that Intuit provided, indicating the intended direction for QuickBooks:
At that time there was a lot of discussion about what the future would hold for QuickBooks for Windows and QuickBooks for Mac if everything was going to be “cloud based” – but the above diagram shows both Windows and Mac as being a part of Intuit’s plan? What did that mean?
My interpretation of this was that Intuit intended to build a “hybrid” system for Windows and Mac users. You would have a “native” app running on your computer, rather than accessing your data through a browser. You would be accessing the QuickBooks cloud database rather than a locally stored QuickBooks company file.
We’ve already seen them implement this with the QuickBooks Online App for Mac, and now they have come out with the same kind of thing for Windows. I wonder, does this mean that the regular version of QuickBooks Desktop won’t be an important part of Intuit’s plans for the future? Hard to say…
QuickBooks Online Windows App
At this time you can find this app at two locations:
At this time, as I noted earlier, these accountant-oriented websites list it as the QuickBooks Online App for Windows. Later in the year you will find it on consumer-oriented websites as the QuickBooks Online Windows App – but they are the same products. Log in with a standard QuickBooks Online account, you will see just the QuickBooks Online features. Log in with a QuickBooks Online Accountant account, you will see the additional accountant features. Just like what happens if you use a browser.
In my screen shots you will be seeing the QuickBooks Online Accountant App version, as that is the product that my account connects to.
Note that there is no charge for this app as long as you already have a QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Online Accountant account.
Installation is simple. Download the installer, run it, agree to the license terms. It only takes a few minutes (perhaps as many as ten if your system doesn’t have certain components installed already).
After it is installed, use the desktop icon to start the program. You will be asked to sign in with your QuickBooks Online credentials.
I have multiple QuickBooks Online accounts associated with my Intuit credentials, so I am presented with a list of companies to choose from. I won’t go into the details of the hassles here – I don’t know if this is a result of my account having been used for multiple pre release tests and other issues. I think that Intuit has some problems here, with how they deal with multiple accounts. It is a mess that I wish we could clear up! But that is another story. You might not see this kind of screen.
I can tell you, if you see “parent”, you don’t want to use that account (it has to do with the QuickBooks Wholesale program).
Note that this is a different list than I see if I log in to my QuickBooks Online Accountant account through a browser, as shown below. However, this is consistent with what I see if I try to use any third-party apps that accesses my QuickBooks Online account.
I’ll select the “CCR Sales and Service” account, which is the one that I actively use for testing.
After a short delay, the app window expands to show you your QuickBooks Online company information.
At this point, everything you see in the desktop app is identical to what you see in a browser with very few exceptions. The most obvious difference is the control bar that is added across the top of the screen.
- You have an added menu, similar to what you see in QuickBooks Desktop.
- There is a dropdown list of your accounts, if you have multiple QuickBooks accounts. This provides the same list as we saw earlier when I first signed in. It is not your client list (which is found in the normal QBOA dropdown list).
- There are left and right arrows that let you navigate through the pages of the program that you have accessed, similar to what you would have in a browser.
- The star icon can be used to add a particular page of the program in the favorites menu. The down arrow next to is will list your favorites.
- The dialog bubble icon opens a Feedback pane.
- On the right side you have an activity list. The App differs from the browser version in that the App will only list a limited number of prior activities, while the browser version will let you continue to scroll down to load more activities from the past.
With the same window size, both the browser version and app version show the same data in the same layout, which is good. In all of my tests I also noted that the values shown on both will match. Here is a look at the same account via a browser (Chrome) for comparison: