QuickBooks 2014 plays together well; offers enhancements

QuickBooks 2014 - choose your platform to help reduce the chore of doing your books

QuickBooks 2014 – choose your platform to help reduce the chore of doing your books

I have had the opportunity to take an extended look at 3 different versions of QuickBooks 2014 — the desktop versions for Mac & Windows, and the Online version.  Intuit is pushing the Online version with the goal of moving many users to that platform, but they haven’t forgotten the desktop users, and have been enhancing both platforms.

For a fuller view of QuickBooks direction, including details from my interview with Intuit’s VP & General Manager, read my article in TEQ.  In this post, I’m sharing some of the enhanced features over previous versions and info about how the platforms differ.

Usability

You might expect the Mac version to be lightyears ahead of the PC version because of Apple’s usability reputation — but the reverse is true with QuickBooks.  Across the board, I have found the PC platform to be easier to use and more functional than the Mac platform.

The most noticeable usability advantage of QuickBooks 2014 for the PC is the way it handles dates, filling them in more intuitively and not erring when you aren’t specific enough.  On the PC version, it automatically assumes I mean this year when I don’t insert the year in a date field; in the Mac version, whenever I forget to include the year, it makes me go back to enter the date again.  Strange that it doesn’t do that since the PC version has been autocompleting the date for years.

The way QuickBooks handles application windows is also easier on the windows platform, There you call up the QuickBooks application as the software that has your attention, and you can easily switch between the Customer Center and Vendor Center and other areas of the application.  In the Mac version, the parts of QuickBooks that are active can hide on your desktop taking some digging to find them — especially when you have a lot of windows open — in QuickBooks and other applications.

The one place in which I thought the Mac version wins for usability is the back up — which by default happens every time you close QuickBooks.  Not so on the PC version (although as I discuss momentarily), Intuit did improve the backup on PC in one important way.

The Online version feels, as you would expect, like an online application.  So if you like web-based applications better than desktop applications, you’ll be happy with it — especially if you like close integration with other outside vendor services. (see below).

Better than ever

As a long time QuickBooks user, I’m very happy with the enhancements that have happened in the past few releases, including QuickBooks 2014.  They make life easier — and more closely satisfy Intuit’s goal of making keeping the books less of a chore.

As mentioned above, the PC platform’s backup has a major enhancement — it now reopens your desktop windows after the backup as they were before you did the back up.  In older versions, it would close all your windows; and you would have to open them individually yourself to get your old working space back.  Much appreciated.

The other enhancement that makes life much easier is the ability to copy old forms when you’re ready to use them again.  For instance, you can find an old invoice to a client; then tell QuickBooks to make a copy that you can use as a basis for a brand new invoice.  This was a feature that was noticeably missing in older versions.

Online & Cloud

Although Intuit has offered an online version of QuickBooks for several years, they are ramping up their focus on it, making it easier to integrate with outside services and financial institutions, and integrating reports with many of those outside services.

You can go back and forth between Mac, PC and Online — but you need to do a transfer each time you do.  So you don’t want to rely on moving back and forth often — it could take a few minutes or more.  But from my tests, you should be able to be confident that your data will transfer well.  Don’t forget, though, that the feature sets and data are not the same in the three editions; so if you transfer from PC to Mac, you may lose data that is supported on the PC platform but not the Mac platform.  The Online Edition has a nice wizard to coach you through the steps of importing from Mac or PC.

All-in-all, if you are using an edition of QuickBooks that is a few years old, it’s worth checking out QuickBooks 2014 — especially if one of the items I mention above is important to you.  Just make sure you keep a backup of your old data, because once you go forward, you won’t be able to go back — even though they give you a trial period before you have to pay.

More about Intuit’s strategic direction with QuickBooks in the October 2014 issue of TEQ.

 

 

 

 

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