Giving QuickBooks a Spring Cleaning

Spring is a good time to clean up and slim down QuickBooks and its data.

It’s spring and nicer weather and signs of new life seem to make people want to spruce up their surroundings.

Now would be a good time, too, to clean up your QuickBooks environment. Some of your screens may be unnecessarily cluttered. And your QuickBooks company file may need attention, too.

So here are some suggestions for streamlining QuickBooks. You’ll have a tidier workspace, and you’ll save time and frustration.

Start with a Clean “Desk” 

Intuit gave QuickBooks’ home page a fresher, more “open” look in its 2013 versions. But does everything really need to be there? Could you simplify it a bit?  What you see when you first open QuickBooks and your  Home Page is controlled by the Desktop Preferences.

There are two types of preferences – Company Preferences and My Preferences.  My Preferences are tied into your login.  Here are suggestions for both individual and company-wide desktop preferences:

  • Don’t save the desktop.  QuickBooks will open faster next time because it’s not having to open all the windows, reports, and registers you left open last time you closed out. Preferences | Desktop View | My Preferences.
  • Minimize icons on the Home Page. That “process” map on the home page is great for quick access to frequently-used actions. Some of them must remain there if they’re related to activities you do (i.e., Invoices has to stay if you use Estimates), but you can remove some of the ones you don’t use. Go to Preferences | Desktop View | Company Preferences. You’ll see this:

Figure 1: You can turn off some of the feature icons on your home page.

Some of the options have been grayed out because they support other processes. To remove an active feature icon like Inventory, click on it. In the window that opens, uncheck the box next to Inventory and purchase orders are active (you can also modify options here).

Figure 2: Clicking the checkbox next to Inventory and purchase orders are active grays out the other options and removes related feature icons from the home page.

To reduce the number of feature icons even more, go to the Finance Charge, Jobs & Estimates, Payroll & Employees, Sales & Customers, Sales Tax and Time & Expenses. QuickBooks removes the related icons and reroutes the process map on the home page.

More Time-Saving Tweaks

  • Don’t allow multiple windows to open in your work area. Tired of seeing all of those overlapping open windows on your desktop? Open the View menu and select One Window. All of your open windows remain active in the background. Two ways to access those other windows:
    • If you have the Open Window List open (my personal preference, you simply click on the window you want).
    • If you don’t want that list on the screen, then Click on the Window menu and select the one you want to move to the front
  • Window | Close All quickly closes all the open windows (including the Home Page).
  • Quickly view multiple windows– you choose how you want them organized.
    • Window |Tile Vertically
    •  Window |Tile Horizontally
    •  Window | Cascade
  • Customize your icon bar. I love this feature!  Seems like a minimal change, but you can make common tasks a simple click away and get rid of the icons you rarely or never use. Click View | Customize Icon Bar.

    Figure 3: Your Icon bar can be your fastest route to often needed screens – if you modify it to only contain the functions you use, in order of importance. You can also change the labels to make them more meaningful to you.

  • Customize columns in Lists. You probably work in QuickBooks’ Lists often, but are you spending too much time tracking down the right information? Customize their columns so your screen shows only what you need (and add additional ones if it’s helpful). Open a list, right-click anywhere within it and select Customize Columns to modify the display (resize column widths by placing your cursor on the vertical set of dots between labels and dragging).Figure 4: When you customize your columns in Lists, you’ll find what you’re looking for faster.
  • Hide inactive items. Highlight an item, right-click and select Make Item Inactive. Open the Item menu in the lower left and click Hide Inactive Items (this action won’t delete them).

These may all seem like cosmetic changes, but you will save time and frustration over the long run.

Internal Cleaning

The most critical spring cleaning task is company file maintenance. If QuickBooks seems to be slowing  down, or you’re frequently getting error messages, then perhaps we need to look closer at your data file. Preventing file corruption before it crashes your system is a lot faster and less expensive than a reconstruction project.  You can check out this article we wrote or give us a call and we’ll be happy to handle this for you.

Enjoy the new spring look in your QuickBooks!

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