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Convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online

This guide will help you to convert your QuickBooks desktop Company file to QuickBooks Online the right way.

QuickBooks Troubleshooting Guide:

Convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online

To convert from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, first save your sales tax liability report in QuickBooks Desktop than make a copy of your company file and save it to your local computer.

After that, sign up for a QuickBooks online account, which currently includes a 30-day free trial and a 50% discount on all current QB Online Subscriptions for the first 3 months.

Because every business has different accounting needs, we recommend that you go through the feature list carefully offered under each subscription plan, see step 1.

Additionally you can also test drive QuickBooks Online and collaborate with your accounting department or the bookkeeper that manages your books if necessary to ensure that you are selecting the right QB Online plan for your business.

Alternatively, you can also call our QuickBooks support agents for free and get the information you need to get started with QuickBooks Online.

Here are a few key points to consider

  • Anywhere Access: QB Online is a cloud based app which means as a business owner, you manage, view, and keep track of your financial data with the help of a QuickBooks mobile app on the go, especially if you are outside of your office or traveling. While this may be a great choice for small business owners, it might not be a suitable solution for QB Enterprise users with large company files with complex accounting data.
  • Enterprise Users: if you are using Advanced Inventory or Advanced Reporting in QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, you won’t be able to convert your data. The alternative solution for you is to export lists into QuickBooks Online Advanced and enter your inventory manually. More on Step 13 of this article.

Should you convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online?

A business owner may decide to migrate their data to QB Online for a variety of reasons,  For Some it as a matter of priorities, while for others it is efficiency that matters.

For example: If you need to give an accountant or bookkeeper access to your bookkeeping data in order to manage your finances outside of your office then QuickBooks Online is an excellent choice.

Moreover as a business owner if your primary reason for converting to QuickBooks Online is to be able to access QuickBooks from multiple locations, but you still want to use your current desktop software, In which case you can switch to a cloud hosting solution provider that will enable you to access pro, premier and Enterprise editions of QB from anywhere, anytime.

So, rather than learning QuickBooks Online from the ground up, you can skip the data conversion process entirely and simply host your QuickBooks Desktop on the cloud and manage your accounts using the features you are already familiar with.

With both options available, it is up to you as a business owner or accountant to decide which approach of bookkeeping is the most convenient for you, whether it is through the use of the QuickBooks Online cloud-based app or hosting your current software with a cloud hosting provider.

Nonetheless if you choose to move to QuickBooks Online know that it is also a simple, secure, low-cost, and easily adaptable solution for small businesses that also covers simple accounting needs.

Advantages of Moving QuickBooks Desktop File to QuickBooks Online

  1. QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based solution.
  2. Offers a desktop and mobile app to manage your books conveniently on the go.
  3. It reduces manual data entry.
  4. Automated features that categorize bank and credit card transactions automatically.
  5. It integrates with a wide range of third-party applications to manage your finances, bills and receipts, all under one roof.
  6. An excellent choice if you are into field services.
  7. Cut down on maintaining expensive hardware and servers to store and share data on premises.
  8. Guaranteed Security and backups all managed by Intuit.
  9. Multiple users are allowed (varies with subscription plans). Minimum 3 to a maximum of 25 users.
  10. It’s easy to learn with complete guides, QB Forum help, and tutorials available online.
  11. Subscription-based monthly or yearly plans available.
  12. QB online makes it simple and easy to use for beginners with basic bookkeeping knowledge.

Steps to Convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online.

1. Compare QuickBooks Online Subscription Plans.

When transferring from QuickBooks Pro or Premier, you can subscribe to any one of the following versions:

  • QuickBooks Simple Start
  • Plus
  • Essentials
  • Accountant.

Below is a comparison of the different QuickBooks online subscriptions and features offered by each one of them.

Features Of
QuickBooks Online
Product 1:
Simple Start
Product 2: EssentialsProduct 3:
Online Plus
Product 4: Advanced

Track Income & Expenses

Capture & organize receipts

Maximize tax deductions

Invoice & accept payments

Track miles

Manage cash flow

Run general reports

Send estimates

Track sales & sales tax

Manage 1099 contractors

Number of Users

Manage & pay bills

Track Time

Project Profitability


Business analytics & Insights

Manage employee expenses

Batch invoices & expenses

Customize access by role

Exclusive app integrations

Dedicated account team

On-demand online training

Restore company data

Automate processes
& tasks

This table explains the different QuickBooks Online products and the features and benefits each one of them offers.

Moving further for QuickBooks Enterprise Edition users, if your company currently manages inventory, then you will need to transfer your data to QuickBooks Online Advanced.

Because QuickBooks Online Advanced is not a direct replacement for QuickBooks Enterprise and differs in terms of usability, functionality, and features, we recommend that you properly evaluate the online version of QB before performing live accounting tasks in QuickBooks Online Advanced.

However, if you find out that Online version isn’t working for you but you still need access to your desktop software from multiple locations, your final option is to host QB on the cloud and gain access to your accounting data from multiple locations and devices thru a cloud hosting Service.

2. Checklist before converting a QuickBooks Desktop file to QuickBooks Online?

Make sure you’ve covered everything on this list to ensure a smooth transfer from QuickBooks Desktop to Online.

To avoid any discrepancies throughout the conversion process, gather all the necessary information from the list below.

  1. Choose and sign up for a QuickBooks Online account that offers similar features to your current QB Desktop.
  2. Once you’ve created your QBO company, you’ll have 60 days to switch from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks online.
  3. Do not make any entries on QBO as this data will be erased/overwritten with the data imported from your desktop company file.
  4. Also do not delete your data or uninstall your desktop application until you are completely satisfied and settled with QBO, so you can always revert to your old data file if necessary.
  5. Understand well the usability and feature differences between the two applications.
  6. Some information might not get transferred during the import and will require manual entry.
  7. Is your current desktop QBD older than 2017?, Than you will need to upgrade QuickBooks Desktop before you can transfer your data, Alternatively you can download a trial version of the latest QBD software, restore the file you want to convert, then convert that file to finish the conversion process.
  8. You will need to be logged in as an Administrator on both QB Desktop and QB Online to complete the conversion process.
  9. To begin the transfer, avoid importing your file directly through QBO, but rather use the export company file feature within QBD.
  10. If you have used QuickBooks Online to run payroll, then do not attempt to convert your data.
  11. Before importing your sales tax filing reports, make sure you have saved them, and then make the necessary changes to the sales tax reports after the conversion is complete.
  12. Your current QuickBooks desktop file should not cross the target limit of 350,000. (See step 4 to find out how to check your file targets).

3. Update QuickBooks Desktop version

It is recommended and crucial to have your QuickBooks up-to-date to the latest release before you begin the QuickBooks conversion process.

  • Start QuickBooks Desktop on your PC.
  • Then From the top menu, click on “help.”
  • Choose Update QuickBooks from the drop-down list.
  • After that Reset or select the updates available for your version.
  • Check the following boxes to select all the updates.
  • Select Get Updates now to begin downloading
  • After the updates have been successfully installed,
  • Go to File from the top menu and choose to exit QB.
  • Re-open QuickBooks and you will be prompted to accept and continue to complete the installation for the latest release.

4. Check company file targets

  • What are targets?

Targets are detailed items listed in QuickBooks transaction reports. Targets include accounts, names, memos, amounts, etc. If you have more than 350, 000 targets, that is for the Canadian QB Version, or 500,000 for the UK, in which case you will have to condense your data before converting to QuickBooks Online.

If you have exceeded the target limits, then you have two options to continue your conversion process.

Option 1: Import the list and balances only, without the transaction details from your invoices.

Options 2: Condense your file to reduce the number of total targets in your file.

How to Check Total Targets?

  • Open your QuickBooks desktop application.
  • Then Press “F2” on your keyboard.

Here you will find a box containing the license information as well as a detailed report of your transactions and the total targets of your company file.

On the left hand side, you will see the total targets of your company file in numerical values. For example, 156,000

5. Save business sales tax liability reports

It is recommended to save your sales tax liability report then download or print a copy before you begin the migration process.

Because when you convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online, the detailed sales tax liability report does not get exported automatically. Hence the adjusting entries need to be entered manually after the data has been transferred.

Here is how to save your sales tax reports in QB Desktop.

  • Select reports from the top menu.
  • Go to suppliers and payables from the drop-down list.
  • Then choose Sales Tax Liability from the next row.
  • In the dates section, select “all dates”.
  • Then go to the Print Tab and choose to save the report as a PDF.
  • Select a folder on your computer where you would like the file to be saved, give it a name, and save it.
  • Once saved, you can then print or store it safely as you will need them later to make adjustments to your accounting entries.

6. Create a backup of your company file

Generally, it is always recommended to create a backup of your QuickBooks Desktop company files at the end of every work day.

Backing up your files will guarantee the safety of your data in case something goes wrong during the conversion process.

Furthermore, if multi-user mode is turned on, then first go to File from the top menu and switch to Single User Mode before you continue.

Perform the following steps below to backup your file.

  • Open QuickBooks and choose File from the top menu.
  • Then Choose backup company from the list.
  • Select “Create local backup.”
  • In the next step, select the location.
  • Then choose a location where you want to store the local backup of your company file.
  • Following that, QuickBooks will run some tests to verify data integrity and ensure that your data is error-free. If it detects an error, it will walk you through the troubleshooting steps you need to take to quickly find and fix those file errors.
  • if your data returned with no errors Hit OK to save the file.
  • Choose Save it now and hit next.
  • You will be notified when the backup has been successfully completed.

Backup taking to long?

The speed with which a backup takes place is entirely dependent on the size of your company file, as well as other technical factors such as computer speed.

Or find out why QuickBooks is Running slow ?

7. Sign up for a QuickBooks Online Account

If you haven’t already signed up for a QBO account, Then now is the time to get started. Visit QuickBooks Online subscription plans and choose the one that suits your accounting. See the comparison chart in step 1 of this article to view the features each subscription plan offers.

Already have a QuickBooks Online account?, then jump to Step 6 to begin exporting your company file.

Not sure which QuickBooks Subscription plan will work best for your accounting needs?, then there is nothing to worry about. Good news is all QBO accounts offer a 30-day free trial on all subscription plans.

For this tutorial, you can advantage of the free trial offered by Intuit to familiarize yourself with the Online Version before making a concrete decision.

So go ahead and create your free account now.

Depending on the country, the sign-up page might look a little different, but the rest of the steps remain the same.

  • Choose your Country from the list.
Convert QuickBooks
Image 1: Choose country
  • Go to QuickBooks Online Pricing.
Convert QuickBooks to online
Image 2: Choose Online subscription plan
  • Use the toggle button to choose the “Try it for Free” option.
  • If you are prompted with an offer, skip it and continue with the free trial.
QB Trial version
Image 3: Sign up for QuickBooks Online free trial
  • Fill out the form with your login information.
Signup for QB Online
Image 4: QB Online Signup page
  • Next, enter your business information.
Business Information
Image 5: Business Info fill up
  • Check the following box that “says” I want to bring in my data from QuickBooks Desktop, Sage 50 Desktop, Xero, Acomba, or Excel.
Convert Qb from version
Image 6: Check the box
  • Select QuickBooks Desktop from the list and hit “Next.”
Choose QB Desktop Version
Image 7: Select QBD Version from Dropdown
  • Your account has been created and now you will be directed to the dashboard of your new QB Online account.
QB Online Dashboard
Image 8: QB Online Account Created

8. Export QuickBooks Desktop to Online

After you have created your online account, head over to QuickBooks Desktop and login to the company file that you want to convert from QuickBooks Desktop to Online. Once your file is open, you can perform the following steps to begin the migration process.

These methods are useful for converting the Pro and Premier Desktop versions of QuickBooks to Online.

If you are using the Enterprise version of QuickBooks specifically with Advanced Reporting and Advanced Inventory, then you will need to take a different approach and may not be able to convert your data using these methods. Instead, export lists to QuickBooks Online (see step 14).

Convert QuickBooks Pro or Premier:

  • From the top menu, go to the company tab.
  • Then select Export your company file to QuickBooks Online from the list.

9. Choose to migrate or try it first.

Choose whether you want to migrate your data right now or give QuickBooks online a spin before beginning the conversion process. Since we have already created a QuickBooks Online account, choose Migrate now.

10. Specify if you want to import inventory.

If you have inventory, specify a starting date and choose the option to track inventory using FIFO.” If you do not want to move your inventory, then select “No, don’t move inventory.”

You can always enter your inventory manually later. If you need to report inventory, we recommend that you only proceed after checking with the IRS on how to handle inventory when it comes to taxes.

11. Sign into your QuickBooks Online Account

Log in to your QuickBooks Online account thru QuickBooks Desktop. Use the same credentials you used earlier in step 5 to sign up for the trial account.

Unless you want to export your data to another QuickBooks Online account you may have previously created.

12. Verify your identity to login.

QuickBooks Trial users do not have to verify their identity during sign-in. However, if you have already subscribed to a monthly plan and while creating the account you entered your phone number, you are likely to receive a code on your phone or email to verify your identity. Once done then continue to the next step

13. Select your company file

After logging in, choose the company file from the drop-down menu. In some cases, a user may have created more than one company in QuickBooks Online, so make sure you choose the correct one from the drop-down list.

This is the file from which QuickBooks desktop data will be restored. We recommend using a blank new file.

Important: During the conversion process, all existing data you might have entered in the past into this file will be overwritten with the new data transferred from QuickBooks Desktop.

Already running payroll on the current file then do not convert your your data.

14. Copy and convert to QuickBooks Online

After you have selected the correct file, QuickBooks will review, connect, and then start uploading your file.

Once the uploading process begins, you will see a notification on the screen saying We’re moving your data to the cloud”.

After your data has been successfully imported from the desktop to QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks will send you a notification email along with the last steps to complete setting up your company file in QBO.

The conversion process depends on the amount of data, the size of your company file, etc. It may take anywhere from a couple of minutes to several hours if you have a large company file.

A email notification will be sent to your inbox once the file has been successfully transferred.

Did you receive the email as you see in the image below? Then go ahead and click on the “Complete Your Setup” button to log back into your QuickBooks Online and review your data.


Once the process to Convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online has been successfully completed, Next, Get started with going thru your reports and transactions to ensure everything is in its place, If needed compare the data with your desktop file to make the necessary corrections and maintain accuracy. After using the Online version for a while if you decide to revert back to QuickBooks Desktop here you can learn how to Transfer QB Online data back into QB Desktop.

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