A tutorial on setting up your QuickBooks Online US for the first timeWho is this tutorial for?
Who is this tutorial not really for?
I wrote this tutorial while doing a review of QuickBooks Online. If you're new to QuickBooks Online, or want to see what it's like, I recommend checking out the review.If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment below.
Note: For an up-to-date review and comparison of online accounting software, please check out my ebook.
Signing up is pretty easy.As seen in the above screen shot, no credit card, 30 day free trial. I entered my info and was ready to go.This is the dashboard screen that greets you at the start. The to do list seems like a nice guide to help you get started with setting up your company. However, I'm going to ignore that list and go into the account settings.go back to top
To do change your company settings, go to Company > Preferences. You'll get a massive list of things to change.This preferences screen is hard core. It has a TON of conifgurable options. You keep scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling. The customization nerd in me loves this screen, as well as all the explanation of what each setting does. I can see people getting overwhelmed though.QuickBooks Desktop used to force you into configuring all these options when you set up your books for the first time, so in a sense, it's nice that QuickBooks Online does not make you go through this screen at the start if you don't want to. That being said, if you're serious about setting up your books, I would go through your company preference first as it does have a lot of important features you want to get right before doing too much in your books.Here's all the features:
This reminds me of why people need / want training to use QuickBooks. So many options! To properly go through those options, I think it would take me an hour or so.go back to top
QuickBooks Online has a comprehensive article on what data you can and cannot import at https://qboe.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1062/sltr/1.The data you can import is:
QuickBooks has a default chart of accounts set up for you. Since I'm trying to move my existing set of books (QuickBooks Desktop from Canada which can't be imported to any online version of QuickBooks), I have to modify these charts of accounts.I found the ability to import data hidden under Company > More > Import Data.This Import Data function is great, because when I click further onto the more link under chart of accounts, it gives me a list of what I can import as well as a downloadable sample file. Here's what the file looks like. You can import a CSV or Excel file. Once you fill out the sample chart of accounts with your data, you can import it and make sure the fields in your XLS file match QuickBooks Online's Chart of Accounts fields. The import seems fairly successful. Out of the 44 accounts imported, I only have 3 errors. To correct the data is simple. I choose to categorize my account with a type of account that QuickBooks understands. I sometimes feel that QuickBooks makes you over-categorize things, such as chart of accounts. As you can see from the screen shot below, I can't simply choose bank as a type of chart of account. I need to further categorize the bank account as a checking account. This over-categorization is also true for other types of chart of accounts and is present in other areas of QuickBooks. I feel this needlessly complicates use of the software. Even though my 44 accounts were uploaded, the "type" of account needs to be further categorized, since QuickBooks wants more detail than an account simply being an expense account or an income account. If you look at the screen shot below, you'll see that all the expense accounts were categerozied as Expenses > Auto. I have to manually go through and choose the correct "type" of account for each one. After further categorizing my chart of accounts, I click on "import 44 records" and get to the final stage, the Import Summary. At this stage I'm told that 6 chart of accounts were not imported because they already exist in QuickBooks Online. Since those accounts already exist, I choose to "ignore selected records". I can now see my chart of accounts. I found out I have many duplicated accounts, since by default, QuickBooks Online had already set up a chart of accounts. Since I have duplicate accounts, I now have to manually delete the accounts I did not set up. If I were to do this again, I think I would try to modify existing accounts. That would have probably been a faster process. When I try to delete accounts a weird things happens, I'm not able to delete the accounts. I get a pop-up window asking "Are you sure you want to delete?", but when I hit yes, the account is still there. I find out that if you log out and log back in, QuickBooks Online will stop displaying the deleted chart of accounts.go back to top
You can't import a trial balance into QuickBooks online, so you'll have to enter your trial balance numbers the manual way, which is through a journal entry window. The journal entry window can be found under Banking > More > Journal Entry.If you know how to enter a journal entry, then entering your trial balance is a piece of cake. If you don't, it's actually pretty straightforward. Enter your account name and the Debit or Credit Balance. I ran into an error caused by me not entering a name for the accounts receivable. I chose to make up a customer named "trial balance customer". The fake "trial balance customer" worked and I have now succesfully imported my chart of accounts and trial balance.go back to top
Download your bank transactions into QuickBooks Online by going to Banking > Downloaded Transactions.For a quick summary of why downloaded transactions are cool visit the on-line downloaded transactions page http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/on-line-banking-software/ or simply look at the screen shot below. When you go to downloaded transactions you will get a pop-up window with the chance to find your bank. Once you find your bank and login, you will then get a chance to associate your online bank account with a bank account in QuickBooks Online. While QuickBooks is downloading your transactions (which takes a few minutes), a youtube video shows up in your pop-up window to let you know how downloading your transactions works. I think this is a nice touch, the information you need when you need it (and you have nothing better to do because you're waiting). I have to say, I really like QuickBooks Online's "Downloaded Transactions" interface. For a lot of transactions, you can simply assign a name to a vendor or customer from a drop-down box and then choose which account to assign the transction to. If you've already entered the transaction into QuickBooks, you can match the transaction instead. There are two tabs, one for "unaccepeted transcations" and one for "Accepted Transactions". I liked this since for some transactions, I may want to add more detail, such as splitting accounts (assigning a transaction to more than one account). In case you're wondering how to edit an accepted transaction further, click on the link after "Assigned to:" and that will take you to a detailed window where you can modify your transaction. I like how you can also "undo" accepted transactions. This is handy for when you screw things up, which is bound to happen.
If you are having difficulty connecting to your bank through QuickBooks Online, you can manually import QBO, QFX, of OFX files (which are files that you should be able to download from the majority of banks). The process is overly complicated, as you have to click on "How Do I?", then "Import my Web Connect or OFX file", then "Upload the file to QuickBooks Online Plus", then "Start the WebConnect mini-nterview", which then pops up another window. The process shown in the 3 screen shots below.I think QuickBooks Online has this feature hidden this way since they want everyone to automatically connect to their banks, and why not, since they're the company that is arguably the best at doing this. However, if you are trying to bring in bank data more than 90 days old, you will have to do this through this manual "Webconnect" process, meaning that QuickBooks has buried a feature that I believe a lot of people will need to use. This is especially true for first time users.Most banks do provide QBO, QFX or OFX files, but there are situations when you'd want to import a more standard, CSV (comma separated value) file type. I wish that QuickBooks Online would also import CSV files.I had one bank which QuickBooks Online couldn't read the QBO file. QuickBooks Online instructed me to contact the bank to fix it. Luckily I had the QBO file from another Bank whose import worked successfully. A quick look at the first part of the code and I noticed a difference. The top part had "NONE" in the good file while the bad file didn't have it. I added a couple lines of "NONE" and presto, it worked! I don't expect any regular users to this, but if your comfortable opening up a text editor, you yourself may be able to fix a problematic QBO file.go back to top
QuickBooks Online can import your list of contacts (customers and vendors). To import customers, go to Company > More > Import Data. From there click on Customers or Vendors, depending on the type of contact you are importing.For a complete list of the fields you can import, go to https://qbo.intuit.com/c36/v51.114/749085035/helpwindowframeset/showtopic/help_admin_import_which_fields?size=1&Before you import, you can download a sample file, making it easier to edit your data before importing. The sample import file looks like this. Since QuickBooks allows for more details about customers than the above screen shot, it's a shame that you can't import more fields.When you import your contacts, it's a simple process of matching fields. You then review your data. After you review your data, QuickBooks Online may have some errors that you need to correct. Setting up vendors is the exact same process as setting up customers.go back to top
To reconcile, you go to Banking > Reconcile (if you can't find the menu item, you might need to click more to see it).You fist choose the account you want to reconcile, the end statement date, and the statement ending balance. After that, you'll get taken to a reconcile screen. Money going out of your account will show up on the left hand side, money going in to your account on the right side. I'm impressed with the downloaded transactions and reconcile functions of QuickBooks Online. It was a straight-forward process that went smoothly. If you've read my other software reviews, you know that when I don't like things I'm not afraid to say so. In this case, the reconcile worked flawlessly. The reconcile was smooth because the downloaded transactions allowed me to enter transactions in advance so that the reconciliation would be a breeze.A useful feature in the reconcile function was that you could click on an individual transaction if you wanted more detail. It was also handy to see how the numbers changed on the bottom left hand of the screen (Beginning balance, checks and payments, deposits and other credits, statement ending balance, cleared balance, difference).If you've used the desktop version of QuickBooks for reconciling, it's pretty much the exact same thing.go back to top
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below. Also, be sure to visit my QuickBooks Online Review for a full tour of the software. Lastly, you can try out QuickBooks Online for a free 30 day trial at http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/, so you can always check it out before buying.