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.

35 Comments

  • Hi Charlie. Thanks for the update. Being able to customize the inventory reports is HUGE. I agree, why did it take so long? I also like the concept of mobile barcode scanning in the inventory process. I’m looking forward to hearing about how exactly QuickBooks handles this.

    BTW, I tried to download my 2018 Enterprise software from my QBOA Pro Advisor account. Tried it on Chrome, IE and Edge, and the product details, as well as the licensing information windows just show spinning dials. The download button does not light up. Just me, or can others get in?

    Thank you, Tim Grant

  • Hi Charlie,
    Thanks for the update of quickbooks 2018 i am very impressed by the features of quickbooks 2018 and i totally agree with you it is helpful to make our life more easier this article is very interesting thanks for nice information.

  • Good article, however I am abet overwhelmed by all the options available.
    I am just starting a new LLC and need to figure which flavor of QuickBooks (Pro vs. Premium) you would recommend? And if Premium, which version? The type of business is real estate investments. Buying and selling residential properties (i.e. flipping houses). There WILL NOT be ANY W2 employees. Only 1099s paid to a 3rd party company. In researching the Intuit products it has become very confusing which is the best for the Real Estate industry. Can you advise which one is best for my industry?
    Thank you,
    Al Bjornnes

    • I haven’t heard of any significant changes to the SDK. Doesn’t mean that there won’t be one, but my guess is that this is very low priority for them. Besides, outside of Enterprise, QuickBooks hasn’t evolved very much, and in Enterprise they tend to not provide SDK access to advanced features.

  • Hello Charlie,

    Have you heard any rumors of an updated SDK? I know, I know the desktop version is a relic and should not expect much love and we should all be moving to the cloud… 🙂 Most of my clients, however, are using inventory features, sales orders, order fulfillment, assemblies and host of other things not coming anytime soon to the web. So, any news?

    Thank you,
    scott

      • Thank you…I had scanned the whole thread and somehow missed the very last post. :/ The answer is as I expected sadly.

        • Just one further thought. I guess it’s wishful thinking but I really wish since they have abandoned the SDK for all practical purposes that they would just give us a way to get at the raw data and let us read and write any byte of data as is the case with any modern application. Make us sign a waiver or whatever and just let us have at the information. That must be a valuable feature to a lot of folks.

          • As a long-time developer of QuickBooks SDK apps, I am extremely frustrated by the QuickBooks SDK on many levels. Lack of access to many tables and fields in tables, archaic reliance on old technologies, extremely poor performance characteristics, and more.

            On the other hand, Intuit hasn’t completely abandoned us. Last year they reopened a desktop apps marketplace, which totally surprised me. I didn’t think they would do that: https://www.accountexnetwork.com/blog/2016/09/quickbooks-desktop-app-marketplace/

            Intuit does surprise me on occasion, but in this case I don’t expect to ever have direct access to the data. Actually, very few companies allow access to raw data, they generally have you go through an API of some sort, but I don’t expect there to be an improved API either (they tried one a few years ago and it was a mess, and was abandoned). Some reasons why I think “raw data” access won’t happen:

            – Intuit wants to push developers to go to QuickBooks Online

            – “raw data” wouldn’t help developers in many cases. Lots of the data is stored in “blob” structures, rather than normal database fields. Very hard to unpack those with accuracy

            – On many levels, Intuit is very, very concerned about data security. They are tightening up data security in many ways, including greater reliance on encrypted fields as well as placing more and more restrictions on how you can access data. Allowing “raw data” access is completely the opposite of what they are trying to do to protect user data.

            Just my opinion, based on long-time experience with Intuit and QuickBooks.

  • (I generally don’t recommend putting the new version of the product into use until at least January, in general.)

    does this also apply to Security?

    • Well, I addressed that in the article in detail, Jonathan. In general, for clients, I wouldn’t move to this release yet. R1 is the last beta test release, so any issues found in beta testing last stages haven’t been fixed.

      Usually they don’t have an R2 release. R2 is reserved for emergency fixes of R1. The next release I expect to see is R3. And even then, I recommend caution.

  • I was reading your information on 2018 because I need to test my sdk products. I have custom and production products. I need to call them and get the NFR. But they may be wrong I do not think that you need Internet Explorer at all for Quickbooks starting in 2017. It uses the CEF Browser(chrome extended framework) they use a sub project called CefSharp you can find the files in the main folder and the source on GitHub so I do not know why they say anything about Intrenet Explorer.

    • While they might be using that for new features and windows, they haven’t changed over all the prior windows that rely on Internet Explorer. I can’t say if they are going to change over all of the older windows. QuickBooks still does a check for IE when it starts up, and won’t run if it isn’t found.

  • Currently running QB Pro 2016 contractor’s edition and have 180 employees. We run payroll reports but qb won’t create the report due to the 256 column limit. This limit is from excel 2003! The report winds up being around 700 columns. Our current version of excel can have more than 13,000 columns. Talked with several folks at QB including executive management and tech department. They acknowledged that was a problem but have never resolved it.

    Has QB 2018 corrected this issue?

      • Daniel, Thank you for your response. When I run a payroll report for let’s say fiscal year 2017, then click the Excel box, then click create new worksheet, then click the CSV radio button, and then Export, it states “Your report has too many columns to print. Consider splitting the report in two and printing each half separately.” This is what I’m trying to get away from because the rows on each report won’t line up correctly. For example, a garnishment for Alvarez won’t show up in the second half meaning I have to go through the entire document, re line up everything and hope I did not make a mistake.

        Is there another way to export to CSV?

    • I don’t have a way to test that, Eric. I’m not aware of a change like that, but I will note that Intuit almost never tells anyone what bugs they have fixed when they release a new year of the product.

  • I just stumbled across your page, . . . . very informative. My company has been utilizing QuickBooks for almost 18 years and it seems that when we are about to outgrow it due to one issue or another, our concern is addressed in the next update. However, I am still patiently awaiting QuickBooks to tell me the Payroll Service can now address working out of state on different line items. Meaning if a repairman is working in AR one day, MS the next and then AL the next, I can have the state withholding be withheld automatically and paid to the respective state. Has this been brought up by others OR do you know of a Qbooks addon that can accomplish this task?

  • In the new Quickbooks, is there a Year end function as my older version become very slow and every year I have to open a whole new Company and import and export everything. This is very time consuming and I struggle with the Vat account.

    • There are ways to condense a file, if it is getting very large. However, the most effective version of the Condense feature is only found in the Accountant edition. And, this is a process that has a lot of tricky issues, so it isn’t something that I recommend that you do on your own. Working with an experienced QuickBooks ProAdvisor will help, but this can be an expensive service. Also, I don’t know which national version you are using, or what year of product, so that might be a problem with finding someone to help.

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