QuickBooks

QuickBooks 2018 Has Arrived! Here Is What to Expect

Multi-Monitor Support

This is a very interesting change. QuickBooks 2018 adds the ability to work with multiple monitors. It might not be exactly what you expect, but it is an improvement over what we had before.

I work with multiple monitors all of the time. I typically run three monitors (I used to have four until I started getting neckaches). Having more than one monitor can greatly improve your efficiency, and it is becoming the normal arrangement in many businesses.

Intuit says that the capability to work with multiple monitors was the #1 ranked request from QuickBooks customers.

The Problems with Single Threads

QuickBooks is an old product with a “single thread” design, which doesn’t allow you to have multiple separate windows open where you can work with each window simultaneously. For example, here is QuickBooks with three windows open, but each window is bound by the main QuickBooks window.

QuickBooks with three windows open

There are situations in which a window may open that is not bound by the main program window, but in this case that window takes control of the program and prevents you from working with any other program window.

Window not bound by main program window but still bound by the “single thread” design

While you can drag that main program window out to spread over multiple monitors, you are still bound by the “single thread” design — the individual transaction, list, and report windows are still bound by the main program. There haven’t been any features that allowed you to easily manipulate these windows across those monitors.

QuickBooks 2018 tries to address this. Unfortunately, they can’t change the program to be a true multi-threaded application, which would potentially allow you to have multiple, separate, independent windows open on any monitor. What they’ve come up with is a reasonable approach given the limitations that they have to work within.

QuickBooks 2018 and Multiple Monitors

To enable multi-monitor support you can select View in the main menu, then Switch to Multi-Monitor Mode. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Alt-M.

How the program behaves is dependent on the number of monitors you are working with and how they are configured. QuickBooks 2018 will work with a maximum of 3 monitors. If you have more, you won’t be able to extend the window to all of them.

If you have 2 monitors that are aligned properly, then when you enable multi-monitor mode the program will immediately expand to fill those two monitors. If you have 3 (or more) monitors then the program will ask you which ones you want to use, as I will show you later.

It is difficult to show in screen shots, but here you have QuickBooks expanding to two monitors.

QuickBooks 2018 expanding to two monitors

QuickBooks will expand to fill the “mother” monitor to full screen (this is the monitor that your system defines as the leftmost monitor), and it will also expand to fill your additional monitor.

If you look at any individual window that you open within QuickBooks you will now see a new icon at the upper right, a small “monitor” icon.

QuickBooks 2018 new "monitor" icon at upper right

If you click this icon, it will move that window to the next monitor, so you don’t have to drag it over. One click, it goes to the next monitor. If you have three monitors it will rotate through each of them, from left to right. You also can move the currently selected window to the next monitor by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Alt-N.

If you minimize a window, it will minimize to the bottom of the screen on the monitor where it was displayed, rather than just going back to the “mother” monitor. That is nice.

If a window opens a dialog (a window that takes control of the program, such as a warning or additional question), then that window will open on the monitor that is displaying the window that the dialog is related to.

Switching back to single monitor mode is done using the same keyboard shortcut or the menu option in the View menu.

This is all very convenient, but it is an incremental improvement rather than a major enhancement. I wish that we had more independence on the monitors, but that would require a major overhaul of the program, and that just isn’t going to happen.

Picky Technical Multiple Monitor Details

Let’s look at a few details of how this works.

As I mentioned, QuickBooks expands to full screen. If you try to drag the main window to make it take less space, you will get this warning:

QuickBooks 2018 single monitor mode warning

The program also is picky about how the monitors are aligned. In many cases you will find that people have different sizes of monitors. If they aren’t all the same size then you will use your system’s software to manage what edges line up. For example, here’s the monitor management software in my system with two monitors that have different sizes. I’ve lined them up so that the bottom edges are aligned (you can also use your Window Display Settings function in Microsoft Windows).

QuickBooks 2018 monitor alignment management

If I have this alignment and try to enable multiple monitor support in QuickBooks, I get this error:

QuickBooks 2018 Unsupported Display Alignment error

QuickBooks wants either the top edge or left edge to align, not the bottom or right.

If you have two monitors that are aligned properly, QuickBooks will expand to fill those two monitors. However, if you have 3 monitors then you will be asked which monitors you want to use. In the example below, I have 3 monitors, and I have selected the right two to be used by QuickBooks.

Select Monitors choice if using 3 monitors

There are several issues that might interfere with this feature, and if QuickBooks detects any of them it will display an error and not change to multiple monitor mode. One example would be if you don’t have all of the selected monitors set to the same degree of scaling.

Note also that if you are using “hosted” QuickBooks on a shared server, this feature is not available. Many of the hosting services don’t support multiple monitors anyways, and those that do report that it isn’t often used.

Tome, this isn’t an earthshaking improvement, but some people I’ve talked to are very happy with it. If you need to have one company file open on multiple monitors, the changes here make working in that environment much more convenient.


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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 the managing editor and primary writer for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. Charlie can be reached at [email protected]

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.

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