QuickBooks

QuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer

Written by Charlie Russell

If you are using QuickBooks desktop on Microsoft Windows, I recommend that you make sureQuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer you have Internet Explorer 11 installed on your computer! Let’s take a look at how QuickBooks uses Internet Explorer, and why I think it is very important that you ensure that you are using Internet Explorer 11.

Special Note: Subsequent to the publication of this article, Intuit changed all supported versions of QuickBooks Desktop to require Internet Explorer 11. 

Where QuickBooks Desktop Depends on Internet Explorer

There are a number of places in QuickBooks desktop (Windows version) where the program depends on Internet Explorer.QuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer

QuickBooks will often open a “captive browser window,” a window inside of the program where you actually have an instance of a browser. This window is still a part of the QuickBooks desktop environment, and it cannot be moved outside of the main QuickBooks program window. You can tell if it is a “captive browser window” by the world icon in the upper right.

QuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer

There may be some instances where the appearance is different, or where the browser window is not “captive.”

I’m not sure that I have all of the functions and features that are dependent on Internet Explorer, but here’s my list. If you know of any others, let me know, and I’ll add them to the list.

  • Bank feeds – if you are working with bank feeds you will be working with a browser window.
  • Connected apps – Some of the connected apps in QuickBooks require a browser window. For example, Intuit Data Protect and Field Service Manager.
  • QuickBooks Payments – Much of the QuickBooks Payments workflow is in the embedded browser.
  • Company Menu – Several functions here require a browser window:
    • My Company – the Manage Your Account button opens a window
    • Advanced Service Administration
    • Cash Flow Projector
  • QuickBooks Payroll – Some workflows in QuickBooks Payroll work in the browser, including account management, 1099 wizard, print forms, payroll subscription, direct deposit activation, and more.
  • Accountant Menu – Options to access your ProAdvisor account and online accountant resources.
  • Help menu:
    • Find Training (oops, I get a 404 page not found error here?)
    • Support
    • Find a local expert
    • Send Feedback
    • New Business Checklist
    • Year End Guide
    • Add QuickBooks Services
    • App Center
    • QuickBooks privacy statement
  • Some In-Product Help workflows will point to links and Intuit KB articles hosted on Intuit sites.
  • Self-help.
  • Web registration.
  • Web connector.

There may be more…

Why Does QuickBooks Use Internet Explorer?

That is a good question to start off with. We are talking about a desktop program, so why is it dependent on a browser? Note only that, why must it be Internet Explorer? If you deactivate Internet Explorer, QuickBooks will tell you that it can’t run. If you make another browser your default browser, these windows still open in Internet Explorer. Why?

Back when QuickBooks was changing from DOS over to Microsoft Windows, there were certain “standards” published by Microsoft. They talked about how you should manage program windows, what the structure of your menus should be, and so forth. As a part of this, Microsoft strongly recommended that you closely integrate your product with Microsoft products. After all, you are writing for a Microsoft operating system, so shouldn’t you try to leverage all of the advantages that Microsoft had to offer?

Microsoft tried to make it very easy to do these integrations. Why build your own spreadsheet function when you could just hook into Microsoft Excel? Email could be handled by hooking into Microsoft Outlook, text editing by using Microsoft Word, and so forth.

Did you want to provide Internet connectivity? Microsoft made it very easy to integrate with Internet Explorer.

This is all particularly true when you built software using the Microsoft programming framework, .NET (also called dotNet by some people), which is an important part of QuickBooks Desktop for Windows as we know it now.

So, yes, Intuit did what many software developers did, they relied on integration with Microsoft products such as Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. It made sense in those days.

Here we are today, and QuickBooks desktop for Windows still uses the .Net Framework, and it still is closely integrated with Internet Explorer. Could they rewrite QuickBooks to get away from this dependency? Sure! But that would most likely require a massive rewrite of their product for the desktop environment. Will Intuit invest in this kind of rewrite? I seriously doubt that they will, since as I’ve pointed out before, they believe that QuickBooks Online is the future for Intuit.

It is interesting to note that Help/Ask Intuit does not appear to require Internet Explorer. It opens just fine in Chrome on my system. So, yes, new features could be set up to be browser-independent, but that doesn’t change all the older features that currently require it.

I Strongly Recommend Internet Explorer 11

OK, so we know that QuickBooks Desktop on Windows requires Internet Explorer, even if you prefer another browser. What version of Internet Explorer do you have on your computer? If you aren’t already doing so, I strongly recommend that you use Internet Explorer 11. Here’s why.

Internet Explorer 11 is the only version that Microsoft is updating. Since JanuaryQuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer 2016, Microsoft will no longer be issuing security updates for older versions. Even if you don’t use Internet Explorer for your web surfing, you really want to have the most secure version on your computer.

This also means that you must be running Windows 7 or higher, since Internet Explorer 11 won’t run on Windows XP or Windows Vista. I don’t see that as a problem, because no business should be running Windows XP any longer, and Windows Vista was a total mess.

Intuit only guarantees compatibility with Internet Explorer 11, according to their current system requirements page for QuickBooks 2017 (the most current product at the time I’m writing this). Although you can use some older versions without getting a warning, it is always best to match the minimum system requirements for a product.

Some QuickBooks features may only work with Internet Explorer 11. For example, in Bank Feeds, some bank websites are not compatible with older versions of Internet Explorer. Also, some of the QuickBooks in-product help features link to Intuit websites that might not render correctly with older browser versions.

Maximizing security should be your goal, and given Microsoft’s policies on support for Internet Explorer, along with QuickBooks’ reliance on it, every business user should have upgraded to Internet Explorer 11. Keep in mind that we’ve seen Intuit focusing on security in QuickBooks recently, with the password security update and multiple internal security adjustments in the latest release. This tells me that there is a good chance that Intuit will be dropping support for older versions of Internet Explorer in the near future.

Special Note: Subsequent to the publication of this article, Intuit changed all supported versions of QuickBooks Desktop to require Internet Explorer 11.

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.

34 Comments

  • Thanks Charlie…

    Interesting that the QB Desktop version is so tightly entwined with IE. As recently as two days ago (8/23/17) QBOnline still doesn’t “play nicely” with IE, and with some elements of QBO not working at all in IE. Proadvisor Support still recommends either Firefox or chrome for QBO.

  • Interesting that the QB Desktop version is so tightly entwined with IE. As recently as two days ago QBOnline still doesn’t “play nicely” with IE, and with some elements of QBO not working at all in IE. Proadvisor Support still recommends either Firefox or chrome for QBO. Joan, Windows 10 comes with Internet Explorer 11 already installed. You shouldn’t have to do an upgrade there. Thank you for sharing your article about QuickBooks Desktop and Internet Explorer.

  • I have just been updated to Windows 10 which seems to impose Edge on my system, which in turn seems to dispose of Explorer 11, which in turn messes up Quickbooks simple start which I have been using for years – how can I reinstate Explorer so that QuickBooks continues to work? Help!

  • I do not have any version of IE on my laptop. I use QB for home accounting and do not use it over the internet. Now it stopped working because I don’t have IE 11. Is there a way I can get around their roadblock? Can I delete something to make it work again?

    • Your personal choice to not use Internet Explorer 11, or any other program of your own choosing — regardless of what QuickBooks thinks, should always be respected by the QuickBooks’ software program developers.
      That said, there certainly are ways around having to install an unwanted program, such as IE 11 that you can find on other, more technical forums. You can always choose to not use QuickBooks anymore, since there are many other new, user friendly, accounting programs being offered. A simple internet search will locate them for you.
      Cheers, and good luck!

  • This is what worked for me, but I cannot guarantee any of it!

    Solution 3: Edit qbw.ini
    Location: C:\ProgramData\Intuit\QuickBooks (Year)

    Right-click the qbw.ini file and select Open With.
    Choose Notepad and click OK.
    Locate the [Misc] section of the qbw.ini file. If the section does not exist, add it to the bottom of the file.
    Enter IEVersionOverride=600 below the [Misc] section heading on a new line.
    From the File menu, select Save and close Notepad

    Good luck, Jeremy

    • Isn’t it fun what you can do with the qbw.ini file? However, while that may make the program not check for IE11, I believe you still have to have a copy of Internet Explorer installed. It just doesn’t require the more up to date version. Although I haven’t checked this out. And, without Internet Explorer, some functions might not work. So you still have to have SOME version of IE installed, and if you do then it is best to have IE11, which is the most secure.

  • Thx Jeremy 🙂 It did not work though….
    I did try it twice reverting the process.
    My LT is old and doesn’t have the requirements for IE11.
    I will probably just ditch QB.
    Programs that FORCE you to use another is just an advertisement for Big Brother.

    • Try VALIDATING “OVER PHONE”. Just did and it works just fine.
      No one should force you to do something that you don’t have, don’t want , don’t care.
      Last time I checked, I was still in USA and I can do anything without cheating or hurting anyone.
      Intuit you are becoming a Demi-GOD.

    • Ah, yes, thank you. Jeremy, in KG’s situation, your recommendation for “IEVersionOverride=600” is incorrect. That is telling QB that the IE version is 6.0, and that won’t work. The IE version has to be 11.0. The KB article works for people who have versions OLDER than 6.0, which isn’t the issue here.

      KG, I have not tried this (since I have IE11 on all of my test systems), but perhaps you could change that line to “IEVersionOverride=1100”, to fake QB to think that you have version 11 installed? This might not work – Intuit is forcing IE11 for security issues, and they might not allow this override to work due to that. But it is worth a try, perhaps?

  • Quickbooks has no issue existing without IE11 on Macs so it makes little sense why it can’t be altered to work with other PC browsers like every other program out there. More likely Microsoft wants to keep everything in the family so to speak. The fix of editing the INI file to Overide=1100 didn’t work in my case. IE is a non starter on any system I use for multiple reasons, so I guess I will have to look for another program to replace Quickbooks.

    • I doubt that Microsoft themselves has anything to do with this. And, note, QuickBooks for Mac is a totally different product that doesn’t share any code with the Windows version. Yes, Intuit could remove the requirement, but I believe that it is so intertwined in the code that they just don’t want to take the time and effort to remove it. But that is speculation.

    • Hi Hugh,

      Just thought of an idea… Perhaps if you used a good quality Firewall to block the QBs program (the executable file called “qbw32.exe” which is located inside your main QuickBooks folder), from accessing the internet altogether, may do the trick in this particular case. Who knows? That may be worth a try too.

      It seems that all QuickBooks versions do not ask people’s permission to access any internet bandwidth. It just goes ahead and takes it from you whenever the program finds a connection to the internet.

      Maybe QuickBooks will someday learn to respect the fact that some of their customers don’t want to connect to the internet, for security reasons. And you can’t blame customers for wanting to stay secure. The internet is probably one of the main causes of Identity Theft. That way, QuickBooks can stop requiring dependence on another company’s software updates (Microsoft explorer, in this case, I think), which may not be compatible with older computers on which QuickBooks is used by some people.

      • Benny, a couple of comments on your thoughts:

        Blocking the qbw32.exe won’t stop all of QuickBooks access to the Internet. There are several processes that are installed, including the one that checks for updates, so you would have to try to block multiple programs and processes. And in doing so you might disable some features, although I don’t have details on that. You might not use those features, but you it might cause problems. With Enterprise you would be blocking the process that validates your license periodically (if you blocked everything), and that would cause significant headaches.

        I agree that a product should only access the Internet if you give permission – and I’m not defending Intuit’s decisions. However, technically, you agree to that access via their user license. Not a good way to do things, but it is there. Also, identity theft isn’t going to be an issue from QuickBooks accessing their servers or using Internet Explorer to provide some functions. This kind of Internet access just goes to either your local system or to a secure Intuit server. Identity theft occurs when someone clicks on something in an email, opens a corrupted file, or visits an non-secure website. The main issue relating to identity theft is that you need to have Internet Explorer on your system and someone can use that outside of QB to go web surfing and getting into trouble…

        I’ve known people who have locked down their systems to allow no Internet access, which has hampered some QuickBooks functions. But QuickBooks itself isn’t the security issue, the real issue is someone in your office deciding to connect to the Internet in an unsecure (insecure?) fashion, via email or a browser, outside of their use of QuickBooks.

        • Hi Charlie,
          Thank you for your input. Please find my responses to your comments below each one one of your comments:
          —————————————————
          Blocking the qbw32.exe won’t stop all of QuickBooks access to the Internet.
          ===================
          True. However, in this case, it may be sufficient to prevent the part of the program which verifies the IE version. This may be easier than your earlier suggestion of trying to modify the *.ini file to ‘trick’ the program on startup.
          —————————–
          There are several processes that are installed, including the one that checks for updates, so you would have to try to block multiple programs and processes. And in doing so you might disable some features, although I don’t have details on that. You might not use those features, but you it might cause problems.
          ======================
          Indeed! QuickBooks update service would check for an internet connection, although it may not care much about the IE version it is using since it would likely initiate a direct connection to the QB server’s IP address. This is why it would not be wise to block all the QBs program’s *.exe files. You do not want to prevent QBs from functioning normally.
          ———————————-
          With Enterprise you would be blocking the process that validates your license periodically (if you blocked everything), and that would cause significant headaches.
          =======================
          I cannot understand how this could possibly happen unless you specifically block the licensing function from verifying the authenticity of the license. The firewall only needs to block internet access. As a former software programmer who understands program code, I would suggest that, unless you block the specific program that monitors the user’s license from running in the background, it should not cause any problems at all for the user. If anything, all it may do is throw and exception and the result will be an error message. In which case, you simply unblock the file and restart the program. You should not need an internet connection to validate your license unless you choose to activate online automatically, and synchronize your QBs desktop with their server. This is an option
          ===========================
          I agree that a product should only access the Internet if you give permission – and I’m not defending Intuit’s decisions. However, technically, you agree to that access via their user license. Not a good way to do things, but it is there.
          ———————————————
          If the truth were told, very few, if any accountants or QB users, have the time and legal adeptness to understand all the end user agreements contained in QBs. Most of them are never read and/or fully understood – unless you’re a lawyer. Most users just click the button to “Agree” and install. Aside from QBs informing the user that they use a particular version of IE, I do not believe that QBs states specifically that it is actually mandatory for all users to have internet access in order to purchase the right to use their accounting software. Moreover, please feel free to correct me if I have mistaken. As for my above suggestion, I don’t think this would be much different from your own previous advice (in quotations): “…perhaps you could change that line to “IEVersionOverride=1100”, to fake QB to think that you have version 11 installed? This might not work – Intuit is forcing IE11 for security issues, and they might not allow this override to work due to that. But it is worth a try, perhaps? “
          In other words, it is probably considered a minor adjustment to get a properly purchased and registered product to work on an older computer.
          ==============================
          Also, identity theft isn’t going to be an issue from QuickBooks accessing their servers or using Internet Explorer to provide some functions. This kind of Internet access just goes to either your local system or to a secure Intuit server. Identity theft occurs when someone clicks on something in an email, opens a corrupted file, or visits an non-secure website. The main issue relating to identity theft is that you need to have Internet Explorer on your system and someone can use that outside of QB to go web surfing and getting into trouble…

          I’ve known people who have locked down their systems to allow no Internet access, which has hampered some QuickBooks functions. But QuickBooks itself isn’t the security issue, the real issue is someone in your office deciding to connect to the Internet in an unsecure (insecure?) fashion, via email or a browser, outside of their use of QuickBooks.
          ——————————————————
          Regarding Identity Theft, I have to disagree with your statement, at least in part. Anytime you have an active internet connection to your computer, be it with Wi-Fi or even a fully wired CAT6e, your computer is always potentially vulnerable to the myriad of fast emerging technologies that can be used to intercept [wireless] communication transfer to and from your computer, totally independent of QBs. Not everyone uses the latest and greatest security software in his or her business. Technology is also changing so fast that it is virtually impossible to keep up to the latest trends in technology. I am not suggesting that QBs is not encrypted and secure (I really don’t know what protocols or algorithms it employs), the fact is that your entire computer, along with the QBs data base on that computer, is potentially compromised, especially in this day and age of Wi-Fi which is now all over the place. You literally cannot avoid Wi-Fi now. That means data can be sent anywhere and everywhere – almost instantly, and much easier than ever before. That said, if you choose to connect your customer’s financial database (using QuickBooks), from your business computer, to the internet, it’s highly advisable to be sure that you have the latest security software to encrypt and monitor all internet traffic.
          The most secure way of guarding your client’s data is to have no Wi-Fi or internet connection – period. It is also worth noting that many people, over the years, have become hypersensitive to Wi-Fi in closed rooms and prefer to not use the internet while working. I know that I do not like Wi-Fi around me either. Such concerns should be respected by companies, such as QuickBooks. I think as more and more users start to assert their rights and, subsequently, vote with their money (that is the important part), I’m sure QBs will become more interested in listening and adhering to their customer’s preferences /demands. There seems to be a trend of a growing number of independent software developers who have some very good accounting programs that will most likely prove to give QuickBooks some serious competition.

          • Blocking the QB exe file won’t have any effect on the program checking to see what version of IE is installed on your computer. That is just a local call to see what you have, it does not involve accessing the Internet.

            Enterprise has to access the Internet periodically to verify your registration with the Intuit registration server. You don’t purchase Enterprise, you subscribe to it. As a software programmer myself, one who works with applications that integrate with QuickBooks, I understand the processes that Intuit uses, in detail. Blocking Enterprise from accessing the Internet will mean that every two weeks (approximately) Enterprise will tell you that you need to validate the license (it doesn’t throw an exception or any error). You either have to reconnect to the Internet (which is what you are trying to avoid in the first place), or call Intuit to get a validation code (which is a time wasting irritant) to get ENterprise to work.

            Many accounting professionals who work with QuickBooks do understand how to work with the technical aspects. Not all, of course, but many do. And in my opinion, any accounting professional working with clients should not be telling clients to work with less secure systems. Their clients should be on a currently supported version of QuickBooks on a currently supported and secure version of Microsoft Windows.

            Regarding your last sentence, yes, there are a number of independent software developers who have good accounting products. However, the vast majority of those are not desktop products, they are cloud based products. So these are by definition going to be accessing the Internet. I just don’t see a lot of new development going on in desktop based accounting products that are worth considering.

        • Thanks for that verification.

          Yes, it all depends on how the program’s code functions. Blocking the qbw32.exe was just a quick suggestion to try out. The IE version might be checked by the QB update exe file, or even a DLL function when the program starts up. I am not familiar with QBs program code.

          Since you’ve explained a bit about your particular Enterprise version, I certainly understand why that version requires an internet connection for license authentication. You have apparently agreed to it, and as the user, you are consenting with the requirement to provide an internet connection in order to use the QB Enterprise version. That’s a deal breaker for many people, from what I have heard from other former users and read on other forums. There seems to be a growing trend toward renting software licenses on a cloud. A very insecure proposition, in my opinion. In the case of QuickBooks, the cloud can be useful for easy multi user access in various business locations. Although, I hear that QBs online version is also a very limited and fastidious program. I know of a few businesses who use the current QBs online, and all say that they prefer the desktop 2018 version to the online one. I have also heard that some businesses have either switched, or will be switching back to the desktop because of the problems with the online version. Not only that, but it lacks many of the good features of its desktop equivalent.

          As for advising clients on better business security, many people, and businesses have discovered (and it has been all over the internet, in fact) that Microsoft’s software is likely to be one of the least secure for your business computer and your customer’s privacy, and security. In fact, I have heard from users of Windows 10 O.S. that one must agree to permit Microsoft (another big business) to access everything on each of their client’s business computer, and perform both scheduled and unscheduled updates, in order to be able to use the software that was purchased.

          I personally do not think it is moral/ethical for any business (including Microsoft, in this case – but the same applies to all businesses) to snoop on another businesses’ collection of data files that are contained on a computer for which the MS’s Windows O.S. has been purchased, and on which it has been installed. This type of spying would also give Microsoft an unfair advantage over their other competition – would it not? I have also heard numerous times that, since Windows 10 came out, there have been many businesses that decided to go back to their Windows 7 Pro. O.S., after seeing some strange things happen to their computer following a Win 10 update.

          I totally agree with you concerning desktop software products becoming less common. Again, vote with your dollars is the rule here. The only reason that accounting businesses are being ‘forced’ to go online and rent software user rights is because the collective consciousness of many users believe that they’re powerless and they will continue to vote for that type of [declining] service, with their dollars. You will get exactly what you support and permit. That’s how it really works. There’s nothing wrong with online software either. It is just the principle of having the choice to be able to choose the software and the location on which a person or company would like to install and use it – either on a hard drive (very secure, I would suggest) or, if they wish, on an internet cloud (less secure).

          At the end of the day, the type of accounting software one uses really depends on what functions are needed for accounting/bookkeeping. A firm of Chartered Accountants who deal with various types of businesses will need more versatility (QB Enterprise, perhaps?), while the average bookkeeper for a small business, or non-profit, will require much less. This wide range of needs opens the door to a lot of competent competitors, and I have seen a few good ones out there for myself.

  • My issue is with systems running Win 8 or Server 2012 (not R2 version) – these are only capable of IE 10. I have a client that has a 2012 Server that the accountant connects to for changes to QB, but get the message about the IE version. I don’t think they use too much of QB that requires IE11 according to your list, but always get the message on startup. I think my only options are to put a system in the clients office to allow the Accountant to work on instead of the server or the server needs to be replaced with 2012R2.

    • Note that neither of those operating systems (Windows 8 without updating to 8.1 update 1, and Windows Server 2012 prior to R2) are supported by Intuit. Their system requirements say that you need the later version. So it isn’t a surprise that you can’t get the updated version of IE. People shouldn’t be using those older versions in a business environment because they are not secure.

  • What if my computer that is supposed to run Quckbooks is not connected to the internet. That is what I call secure. I am running windows 7 pro and cannot install internet explorer 11. Quickbooks 2008 will not run without it. The above mentioned solutions will not work either! Any suggestions?

    • Connecting to the Internet is not the issue. Current versions of QB need to have the current release if IE installed to be able to run, regardless of Internet connection. I’m not clear, are you saying that you are running QB 2008? The simplest solution is to upgrade to QB 2018. That might not be what you want to hear, but…

      • It makes no sense to pay lots of money for an update that is not needed. I used to run QB 2000 and it worked good until my old XP computer quit. This version does not work with windows 7 pro. So, I purchased QB 2008. This version starts but stops since IE 6 is not present. For some reason I have trouble getting Internet Explorer 11 installed. I would love to just fake QB 8 into thinking it has IE 11. The solutions listed above do not work either. Any suggestions?

      • I found the solution by installing IE9 on the machine. Now QB 2008 works properly. I still do not use the internet on the machine.

Leave a Comment