QuickBooks tips from real accountants

By Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA, Partner at Holbrook & Manter, CPAs

As a principal at the accounting firm I have been at for over 25 years, I get to work with several very talented accounting professionals each day. Our team is well-versed in so many things, QuickBooks accounting software being one of them. This software is very popular among business owners. Perhaps you use it. If so, this is the article for you.

Many members of our team are highly proficient in the software and shared some of their favorite features with me. I have outlines them for you below. So, get out a pen and prepare to take some notes for things to try the next time you log on to QuickBooks.


  • QuickBooks is a tool that can make financial management for your business dramatically easier. Yet, learning all the ins and outs takes time. Hopefully, these quick tips can help you get started, advance your knowledge and save time on critical tasks. This tip is so important: secure your data by backing up your QuickBooks. Set up an automatic schedule. Backing up your QuickBooks is as integral as running your business. You can’t have your entire QuickBooks on one system without backing it up because if it crashes, your information is lost. Here’s the good thing about QuickBooks: You can customize what appears on your Icon Bar. This makes it easier to navigate since you only have the links you require most. Head to View>Customize Icon Bar and keep what you use most frequently. Spell check can be a weird feature in QuickBooks, especially when you’re dealing with company names. If you’re getting irritated with Spellcheck, there’s a way to turn it off. All you must do is go to Edit>Preferences>Speller and uncheck the box for Always Check Spelling.
  • This time of year my favorite feature is the option to do what I call “Locking prior periods” – QuickBooks calls it a “Closing Date.” This feature allows a user to set a specific date to “close” books from posting any changes without first getting a warning to confirm the date is accurate. The reason I find this to be useful in January is that I can set my LOCK or CLOSE date to 11/30 of the prior year and that way if I accidentally try to post a January transaction using the prior year’s date out of habit (i.e.: key in 2019 instead of 2020).
  • QB will pop up a warning that my date may be wrong. By setting the date to 11/30/19 I’m still able to easily post my year end December entries to 2019 but will be warned if I try to post new entries to January 2019 instead of January 2020. It takes time to retrain our fingers to type that new year number. This feature can be found at Edit / Preferences / Accounting / Company Preferences / Closing Date.
  • QuickBooks Online recently released the Business Performance Dashboard, which is a great tool for any business owner. The Business Performance Dashboard, located within the Overview tab of QuickBooks Online, allows the business owner to quickly see business metrics for the current year compared to prior periods and helps to identify areas for growth. The key metrics and trend graphs can be customized to meet the business owner’s needs so they only see the data they are interested in. Each trend graph also includes a link to view the underlying calculations and support. The Business Performance Dashboard gives owners the insight and data to help them make real-time decisions and determine opportunities of growth for the future.
  • Save time at year end 1099 season by attaching W-9’s to the Vendor’s detail page in QuickBooks online. This will save you so much time at year-end requesting and looking for this information to prepare 1099s. I also recommend that you automate emails on invoices in QuickBooks online. Also, set up “Bank Rules” in the banking features there as well.
  • My favorite feature in QBs is the Find feature. In the Desktop Version, you will go to Edit at the top tool bar and select Find. In the QB Online version, you simply click on the magnifying glass in the top righthand section. In both versions you can filter many ways. There have been times I have input a transaction or journal entry and cannot find it. I simply do a Find on one of the amounts that was a part of the transaction I’m looking for and the system filters through everything and finds every time that number was used.
  • If you have more than one monitor and you use QB Online, you can display QB Online over multiple monitors. When you are in your QB Online account, you right click on the Internet tab that is displaying the QB Online and select Duplicate. This will create another Internet tab with QB Online and you just need to move that tab to another monitor. You will then be able to move around in both tabs, looking at different things within your QB Online account. I find this helpful if I want to review several reports at once.
  • After you close the books for the month and/or year, set the closing date and password. Bookkeepers often get in the habit of typing a certain month or year when entering transactions. By setting a closing date and password, if the user tries to post a transaction to a prior period, it will ask for a password. This can prevent users from posting transactions to a closed or incorrect period. Another quick tip: if you are looking for a specific transaction, and know the dollar amount or reference number, use “Ctrl + F”. This allows users to search the entire QuickBooks file for specific transactions.
  • Third party apps are a great way to enhance the capabilities of QuickBooks & make it work for your business. Use these apps to track time & expenses, manage customers, and help with human resources tasks. You may find these tools will replace the manual records you may be keeping outside of QuickBooks.


Brian E. Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA is a Principal with Holbrook & Manter, CPAs. Brian has been with Holbrook & Manter since 1995, primarily focusing on the areas of Tax Consulting and Management Advisory Services within several firm service areas, focusing on agri-business and closely held businesses and their owners. Holbrook & Manter is a professional services firm founded in 1919 and we are unique in that we offer the resources of a large firm without compromising the focused and responsive personal attention that each client deserves. You can reach Brian through www.HolbrookManter.com.

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