convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online QuickBooks

Convert QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks offers both a desktop and an online version. The desktop version has been around for a long time, dating back to an era before widespread internet use. With the help of this article you can convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online QuickBooks.

In terms of functionality, QuickBooks Online is more streamlined but is constantly evolving as QuickBooks keeps adding new features to the online version. For many small businesses, the online option is more convenient, as it allows them to accomplish more tasks in less time. To use the online version, all you need is a reliable internet connection.

Table of Contents

QuickBooks Desktop: An Overview

QuickBooks Desktop, introduced back in 1992, is one of the oldest players in the bookkeeping software arena. Despite efforts by Intuit to encourage users to transition to QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop remains a prominent choice among accountants worldwide.

This software is renowned for its robust double-entry bookkeeping system and comprehensive set of features. It empowers small businesses to efficiently monitor daily operations and adapt to evolving technological advancements. It owes its enduring popularity to a dedicated team of developers constantly striving to tailor the software to the ever-changing demands of businesses.

This software has several notable features.

  • It has a clean interface, making it easy to view your business data quickly.
  • You can customize the dashboard to display what’s most important to you·
  • It conveniently shows your sales, expenses, and accounts receivable and payable figures in one place.

Benefits of Converting from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online

Here are some compelling reasons for making the switch from QuickBooks Desktop to Online.

  • Flexibility of Access: QuickBooks Online offers the advantage of accessibility from any computer with an internet connection, whereas QuickBooks Desktop is confined to a single machine. This flexibility is especially beneficial for business owners who travel frequently or have remote team members.
  • Automatic Updates: QuickBooks Online keeps itself up to date with the latest features and bug fixes automatically. In contrast, QuickBooks Desktop necessitates manual upgrades, which can be time-consuming and prone to oversight.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: QuickBooks Online allows multiple users to simultaneously access the same company file, simplifying teamwork on financial tasks. This collaborative aspect is particularly valuable for businesses where multiple individuals need to work on financial matters together.
  • Integration Capabilities: QuickBooks Online seamlessly integrates with various other business platforms, such as PayPal, Square, and Shopify. This integration streamlines the management of different aspects of your business, consolidating them into one convenient location.
  • Add-On Options: QuickBooks Online offers access to a wide range of add-ons and third-party applications, which may not always be available in the Desktop edition. These add-ons can extend the functionality of your accounting software to suit your specific needs.
  • Robust Security: When you migrate to QuickBooks Online, your data is hosted in a highly secure environment on top-tier servers, enhancing data security compared to local networks or physical discs.
  • User Scalability: QuickBooks Online allows you to add more users than QuickBooks Desktop, accommodating the growth of your business without extensive licensing constraints.
  • No Hosting Costs: There are no additional hosting charges when transitioning from QuickBooks Enterprise to QuickBooks Online. The latter is hosted on Intuit’s servers, offering cost-effective and hassle-free access.
  • Enhanced Accessibility: QuickBooks Online provides significantly greater accessibility. You no longer need to be tied to your office computer to make changes or entries; instead, you can easily perform tasks from any location simply by logging in.

Making the switch to QuickBooks Online can bring about increased efficiency, accessibility, and collaboration for your business financial management.

Before you make the Switch from QBDT to QBO, there are some important factors to consider

  • Check Your QuickBooks File Size: Ensure that your file size is less than 350,000 targets. You can confirm this by pressing F2 on your keyboard (for Windows) or CMD (?) +1 (for Mac). Keep in mind that when you condense a file, some transactions may be archived and turned into Journal Entries, especially for QuickBooks 2018 and earlier versions.
  • Upgrade to the Latest Version: If you’re using QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Premier, or Premier Accountant, it’s more likely you can convert to QuickBooks Online. Make sure you’re using QuickBooks 2020, 2019, or 2018. Users of older versions should update to the latest version QuickBooks.
Note:- that QuickBooks Enterprise cannot migrate to QuickBooks Online due to its complexity.
  • Save Local Copies: QuickBooks Desktop requires regular data backups. However, with the online conversion, your data is securely stored in the cloud.
  • Check Your Data: It’s essential to review your data, re-sort lists, and reconstruct your company. Run reports like balance sheets, profit and loss statements, trial balances, and any other data you might need as of the conversion date. This ensures that the migrated data is accurate and complete.
  • Prepare Your Intuit Account and Migrate: To initiate the conversion, you’ll need an Intuit account.
    • Sign up if you don’t have an ID and then log in.
    • Click on the “Company” menu
    • Choose “Export Company File to QuickBooks Online.”
    • You’ll be directed to sign in to your QuickBooks Online account. After signing in, select the company you intend to migrate.
    • Wait for 10-15 minutes to receive an email notification confirming that your company is ready for viewing.
    • Once confirmed, check if the migrated data is accurate.

These guidelines should help you smoothly transition from QuickBooks Desktop to Online. QuickBooks Online is now one of the best cloud-based accounting software options, boasting over three decades of accounting software expertise and a wide range of features for your accounting needs.

What Doesn’t Transfer when you Switch from QuickBooks Desktop to Online QuickBooks?

While transitioning from QuickBooks Desktop to Online, most of your data will come with you. However, there are a few things that won’t transfer.

Bank and Credit Card Reconciliation Reports

You’ll need to restart reconciling your accounts in QuickBooks Online from where you left off in Desktop. If you require past reconciliation reports, keep them in your Desktop version (don’t delete the files).

Recurring Credit Card Charges

Existing recurring credit card transactions need to be cancelled in the Merchant Centre. Afterward, you can recreate them in QuickBooks Online by setting up recurring sales receipts.

Audit Trail

Your previous audit trail can’t be transferred, but you’ll have an enhanced audit trail in QuickBooks Online moving forward.

Inventory from QuickBooks for Mac

If you have QuickBooks for Mac, you can’t transfer your inventory directly. However, if you have access to a Windows computer, you can do the transfer there.


QuickBooks Online offers various reports that can replace many of the ones you used in the Desktop version. It’s best to explore the new reports available in QuickBooks Online and start using them.

Preparing for the Conversion from QuickBooks Desktop to Online QuickBooks

Before initiating the migration process from QuickBooks Desktop to QBO, there are several essential steps to ensure a smooth transition. Here’s a comprehensive guide to preparing for the migration.

I- Back up your data

In QuickBooks Desktop, it’s a good practice to regularly back up your data. However, in QuickBooks Online, your data is securely stored in the cloud, eliminating the need for manual backups. To back up your data before migration

  • If you’re in multi-user mode, switch to Single-user Mode via the File menu.
  • Go to the File menu and select ‘Create Backup…’ Then choose ‘Local backup.’
  • In the Local Backup Only section, select ‘Browse‘ to specify the backup location.
  • Optionally, set the number of backup copies you want to keep.
  • A test run ensures your backup file is correct; resolve any issues if encountered.
  • Select ‘OK‘ to proceed and ‘Save it now’ to confirm when the backup is complete.

Backups can be executed manually as described above or set up for automatic backups.

II- Update QuickBooks Desktop

Ensure your QuickBooks Desktop is up to date by following these steps.

  • If you’re in multi-user mode, switch to Single-user Mode via the File menu.
  • Select ‘Help,’ then ‘Update QuickBooks Desktop
  • Click ‘Update Now.’
  • Choose ‘Get Updates,’ then ‘Close.’
  • Select ‘File,’ then ‘Exit.’
  • Restart QuickBooks Desktop.
  • If you use payroll, process it now.

III- Check Total Targets

Verify your Total Targets count by accessing the Product Information window in QuickBooks Desktop (press Ctrl+1). Total Targets information is located in the File Information section.

IV- Disable Payroll in QuickBooks Desktop

Note: To prevent post-migration payroll issues, it’s recommended to turn off payroll in QuickBooks Desktop before starting the migration.

  • Select ‘Edit,’ then ‘Preferences‘ from the dropdown menu.
  • Choose ‘Payroll & Employees‘ from the left-side menu.
  • In the Preferences window, go to the ‘Company Preferences‘ tab. 
  • Select ‘No payroll.’

V- Save Your Sales Tax Liability Report

  • Save or print a copy of your Sales Tax Liability report; you’ll need it for adjustment entries after migration.
  • Go to the ‘Reports‘ menu and select ‘Suppliers & Payables.’
  • Click ‘Sales Tax Liability.’
  • From the Dates dropdown, choose ‘All.’
  • Under the Print dropdown, select ‘Save as PDF.’
  • Specify the folder and file name, then select ‘Save.’ You can also print a hard copy after saving.

VI- Create a QuickBooks Online Account

Establish your QuickBooks Online subscription to prepare for the migration process. Review the available subscription options and system requirements to ensure a seamless QuickBooks Online experience.

Here are the steps for Moving from QuickBooks Desktop to Online QuickBooks

Are you thinking about switching to QuickBooks Online from QuickBooks Desktop but aren’t sure where to begin? So let’s go through this and know about it. You can use our internal tool to review the following two sections to help in your choice to switch to QuickBooks Online from QuickBooks Desktop.

Step 1: Prepare Your Desktop File

  • You have 60 days after creating your QuickBooks Online account to transfer your data.
  • Make sure your QuickBooks is up-to-date. Check your version and release (QuickBooks 2022 R5).
  • Ensure your company file isn’t too large for export (under 750,000 targets).
  • Print your Sales Tax Liability report for later use.

Step 2: Move Your Desktop File to QuickBooks Online

  • Sign in as an admin to your QuickBooks Desktop company file.
  • Go to ‘Company‘ and select ‘Export Company File to QuickBooks Online.’
  • Start the export process.
  • Sign in as an admin to your QuickBooks Online company.
  • Choose the QuickBooks Online company to replace with your file.
  • Continue, and if you track inventory, select ‘Yes‘ and specify the inventory start date.
  • Enter “Agree” in the text field and proceed.
  • Confirm and replace the data.

Step 3: Get Ready to Use QuickBooks Online

These steps will help you smoothly transition QuickBooks Online from QuickBooks Desktop.

Benefits of Transitioning Your Clients from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online

As a business owner, who wouldn’t want to serve clients more efficiently, attract more business, and free up valuable time to enhance your firm? Many firms are recognizing the advantages of migrating their clients from QuickBooks Desktop to Online to achieve these goals and much more. Here are five tangible benefits, based on conversations with accounting partners who have made the switch.

  • Time Savings Through Automation: QuickBooks Online offers a significant time-saving advantage. By leveraging automated features like recurring transactions and bank feeds, you can reduce the time spent on manual data entry, file back-and-forth, and error correction.
  • Real-time Collaboration: Collaborating with clients in real-time, as opposed to offline or delayed interactions, is crucial for maintaining control over file versions, having timely discussions, and making informed decisions.
  • Work Flexibility: QuickBooks Online liberates you from being tethered to your desk or traveling to meetings. With your clients’ financial data accessible online, you can work from anywhere, whether it’s your desktop browser, mobile device, or tablet.
  • Tailored Apps: QuickBooks Online seamlessly integrates with both Intuit and third-party apps, allowing you to customize the platform to meet each client’s specific needs. Whether it’s adding e-commerce capabilities or automating payroll and tax solutions, the possibilities are extensive.
  • Data Security: Say goodbye to USB drives. Your data is safeguarded using top-tier encryption technology, similar to what the world’s leading banks employ. Furthermore, it’s securely backed up in the cloud.

What to Do After You Migrate to QuickBooks Online?

After completing the migration from QuickBooks Desktop to QBO, there are several important tasks to address before actively using QuickBooks Online. It’s advisable to complete these tasks promptly to ensure a smooth transition and accurate data transfer. Here’s a step-by-step checklist for post-migration actions.

Verify Data Accuracy through Report Comparison

Compare the following reports in both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop to confirm that your data transferred accurately.

  • Balance Sheet Report
  • Trial Balance (All Dates)
  • Customer Balance Summary (All Dates)
  • Supplier Balance Summary (All Dates)
  • Sales Tax Summary Report for the most recent period
  • Any other relevant reports
  • Ensure the reports are generated with “All Dates” and the accounting method is set to Accrual in both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.

Confirm Company Settings

Note that certain company information such as company name, address, and email details won’t be carried over from QuickBooks Desktop. You need to input this information in QuickBooks Online.

  • Select the Settings (gear icon) menu and then choose Account and settings.
  • Navigate to the Company tab to enter your company and contact details.
  • Specify the email address in the Company email box for receiving monthly invoices from Intuit (for your QuickBooks Online subscription).
  • Optionally, if you prefer a different email for customer communication, input it in the Customer-facing email box.
  • Save the settings.

Configure Sales Tax Settings

Ensure that QuickBooks Online is set up with the correct CRA Business Number and filing frequency if your business is registered for sales tax.

  • Go to Taxes and select Sales tax.
  • Choose the ‘Set up sales tax‘ option.
  • Select the province or territory where your business operates and Save the settings.
  • Complete the required information and proceed as directed.
  • You can revisit and Edit these settings as needed.

Connect Bank and Credit Card Accounts

  • Bank and credit card information doesn’t transfer automatically during migration. To connect these accounts in QuickBooks Online.
  • Access Bookkeeping, then Transactions, and choose Bank transactions.
  • Select ‘Connect Account‘ from the landing page or ‘Add account‘ if you’ve already created one.
  • Search for your bank and follow the on-screen instructions to provide your username and password.
  • Choose the accounts to connect and specify the date range for downloading transactions.
  • Complete the connection process.

Organize Bank Reconciliations

Since you haven’t performed a bank reconciliation in QuickBooks Online yet, you need to mark all transactions up to the conversion date as reconciled to avoid confusion.

  • Go to the Settings (gear icon) menu and select Reconcile.
  • Choose the relevant bank account, enter the Ending balance and Ending date, and reconcile the transactions.
  • Verify that all transactions are selected, and the Difference is zero before completing the reconciliation.
  • Repeat these steps for each connected account.

Link Payments and Credits to Open Invoices

Transactions may not be linked correctly, resulting in zero balances for some names in your A/R and A/P aging reports. To link credits and payments to open invoices, enable the ‘Automatically apply credits’ preference.

  • Access the Settings (gear icon) menu, then Account and settings.
  • On the Advanced tab, select ‘Automatically apply credits‘ and save the settings.

Review Account Detail Types

QuickBooks Online introduces detail types for more specific account organization. Some accounts may have generic detail types after conversion. You can correct this.

  • Run the Account Listing Report under Business overview and Reports.
  • Edit accounts by selecting the account name and choosing the correct detail type from the Detail Type dropdown menu.
  • Save and close each account after modification.

Complete Payroll Setup

Although transactions and payroll accounts transfer, detailed payroll information like payroll item breakdowns and employee year-to-date numbers do not. Follow these steps to complete payroll setup.

  • Visit Payroll and select Employees.
  • Ensure each employee who received a pay check in the current year is switched to ‘Yes‘ in the Paid in [Year] column.
  • Use ‘Complete payroll setup‘ to input or verify year-to-date payroll totals and employee details.
  • Follow on-screen instructions to finalize the setup.
  • Match your QuickBooks Desktop pay types with QuickBooks Online pay types if necessary.

Link Your Payments Account

  • While you can’t transfer an existing Payments account, you can create a new one in QuickBooks Online. To enable Payments.
  • Go to the Settings (gear icon) menu, then Account and settings.
  • Select Payments and follow the steps to set up Payments.

Add Users and Invite Accountants

If you need to add users or invite accountants to collaborate in your QuickBooks Online company, follow these steps.

  • Access the Settings (gear icon) menu, then Manage users.
  • Choose ‘Add user‘ and select the appropriate user type.
  • Provide the user’s name and email address, then save the information.
  • New users receive an email from QuickBooks with instructions for account creation or login.

By completing these post-migration tasks, you’ll ensure that your transition to QuickBooks Online is seamless and that your data remains accurate and well-organized.

Troubleshooting Common Migration Issues in QuickBooks Online

While migrating from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online is usually straightforward, you might encounter some issues during or after the conversion process. Here, we’ll explore the most frequent problems and how to resolve them.

Issue: Difficulty in Importing Company Data

If you face challenges when importing your company file from QuickBooks Desktop for Windows to QuickBooks Online, follow these steps to address the issue.

Step 1: Verify Your Company Data

  • In QuickBooks Desktop, close all open windows by selecting Window and then Close All.
  • Click on File, navigate to Utilities, and choose Verify Data.
  • If QuickBooks reports a problem, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Rebuild Your Company Data for Repairs

  • Select Window, then Close All to close all open windows.
  • Go to File, then Utilities, and select Rebuild Data.
  • If you see the message indicating that Rebuild has completed, move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Verify Your Rebuilt Company Data

  • Choose Window, then Close All to close all open windows.
  • Click on File, then Utilities, and select Verify Data.
  • If QuickBooks reports that no problems are found with your data, proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Start the Export Process Again

  • Update QuickBooks to the latest release by selecting Help, then Update QuickBooks.
  • Close and reopen QuickBooks to install the updates.
  • Click on Company, then Export Company File to QuickBooks Online.4.  Follow the on-screen instructions.

Another Issue is Post-Conversion Issues

For a comprehensive list of common migration errors and their solutions, refer to the provided guide.

Issue 1. Incorrect Customer Balances in QuickBooks Online

If you used journal entries to apply payments to invoices, the links between journal entry credits and invoices may break after importing, resulting in incorrect customer balances. To fix this, enable auto-credits in QuickBooks Online.

  • Navigate to Settings (the gear icon), then select Account and Settings.
  • Click on the Advanced tab and then Edit in the Automation section.
  • Activate the Automatically apply credits slider.
  • Save the changes and select Done.

If you prefer not to apply all payments automatically, you can record payments by matching journal entry credits to existing invoices, handling this on a customer-by-customer basis.

Issue 2. Invoices or Sales Transactions Converted to Journal Entries

This problem can occur if you have flat rates (0.00) for sales tax items or groups in your QuickBooks Desktop file, often seen in Mac files due to the ability to save a sales tax item without a % symbol. To prevent sales transactions from importing as journal entries, edit the sales tax item rates category. If you have multiple items with flat sales tax rates, ensure that you modify all item rates to facilitate the proper import of all transactions.

In conclusion, transitioning from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online offers flexibility and accessibility. While the process involves steps like data verification and migration, it’s manageable with the right guidance. Remember, if you encounter any challenges during or after the conversion, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts. They’re here to assist you, ensuring a smooth transition and helping you make the most of QuickBooks Online powerful features for your financial needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to convert all my data from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online?

Yes, most of your data can be converted, including customer lists, vendor lists, open invoices, and more. However, some data, like reconciliation reports, may need to be manually reconciled in QuickBooks Online.

What should I do if my company file in QuickBooks Desktop is too large to convert?

If your file exceeds the size limit for conversion, consider archiving or condensing your data in QuickBooks Desktop to reduce the file size. Alternatively, you can choose to import only lists and balances into QuickBooks Online.

Can I still access my old QuickBooks Desktop data after migrating to QuickBooks Online?

Yes, your data in QuickBooks Desktop will remain accessible as long as you don’t delete the files. You can refer to your old data if needed, although new transactions should be entered in QuickBooks Online.

What steps should I take to ensure a successful migration?

To ensure a smooth migration, back up your QuickBooks Desktop data, update the software, check file size limits, and prepare your data for conversion. Detailed guidelines are available in the migration process.

How can I resolve discrepancies in customer balances after migration?

If customer balances are off after migration, consider turning on auto-credits in QuickBooks Online. This can help resolve issues caused by journal entries applied to invoices during migration.

What if I encounter errors or issues during or after migration?

If you face any problems during migration or experience post-conversion issues, refer to troubleshooting guides or seek assistance from QuickBooks experts. They can provide solutions tailored to your specific situation.

What times to convert files from QBDT to QBO

It just takes 15 to 30 minutes to convert files from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online. You have to ensure to keep QuickBooks Desktop running until the migration is done.