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How-To Convert from Quickbooks Desktop to Quickbooks Online

Step-by-step instructions on how to convert your books from a Quickbooks Desktop file to Quickbooks Online (QBO).

Step 1: Do your research. Make sure Quickbooks Online (QBO) is the right fit for your business. If you are unsure, reach out to Inuit or an accountant for advice.

Step 2: Check the Requirements. Check the Target Count in your Quickbooks Desktop file. If your Total Targets are over 350,000 targets, you will need to import lists (customer list, vendor list, chart of accounts, etc) instead of the enter file. To do this - with your Quickbooks Desktop open - click F2 (PC) or CMD+1 (mac) and find the Total Targets number on the lower left corner of the pop up screen. If it's under 350,000 you get to convert the easy way.

Step 3: Create a Quickbooks Online account. Go to and find which version of Quickbooks Online (QBO) is right for you. Create an account. Note - Quickbooks Desktop file must be imported into Quickbooks Online (QBO) within the first 60 days of creating a Quickbooks Online (QBO) account for your business.

Step 4: Prepare for the conversion. Follow this checklist:

1. Clean up your books. This is a good time to make sure you don’t have duplicate customers or vendors, addresses are up to date, Chart of accounts is clean, etc.

2. Reconcile your bank and credit card accounts.

3. Process Payroll.

4. Make any necessary inventory adjustments.

5. Back up your data.

6. Save a cash & accrual copy of your Profit & Loss statements and Balance Sheet. You will use these for comparison once the conversion is complete to make sure everything transferred correctly.

Step 5: Export your file to Quickbooks Online. This is done within your Quickbooks Desktop. Go to Company, then Export Company File to Quickbooks Online.

Note: If you do not see this option in your Quickbooks Desktop file, it's because you need to update to the latest version. To do this, go to Help, then Update Quickbooks.

Note: If you are using a cloud-based server to host your Quickbooks file (Swizznet, Right Networks, etc) you will need to download the Quickbooks software onto a local computer and do the conversion from that computer. This means you'll need to download the software, enter your license information, upload your .QBW working Quickbooks Desktop file and then convert to Quickbooks Online (QBO).

Step 6: Follow the prompts. The prompts will have you login to your Quickbooks Online (QBO) account, indicate whether or not you're bringing over inventory, and select the name of your company. You'll receive a notification that the process has started. The time it takes depends on the size of your file. It can take a few minutes up to several hours. Once you receive the notification that says "We're on it!" you can login out of Quickbooks and let it do it's thing. You will receive an email notification once your Quickbooks Online (QBO) file is ready.

Step 7: Compare Financials. Compare the cash and accrual Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet that you pulled from your Quickbooks Desktop File to the current one showing in Quickbooks Online (QBO). Make sure these reports match. If some amounts are off, you'll need to do a little research to see what did not carry over. Some adjusting journal entries may need to be made in Quickbooks Online (QBO).

Step 8: Begin working in Quickbooks Online (QBO)!

Feeling unsure or worried about the accounting side of your business? Download this free guide with 3 steps to financial confidence in your business.

Ready to hand over your accounting? Download my services guide and let's work together!


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