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.

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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.

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…

    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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

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