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Entering Bills in QuickBooks Online vs Desktop

You could probably guess that QuickBooks desktop is more sophisticated, but you might be surprised at how well QuickBooks Online handles this common task.

Entering bills in either the desktop version of QuickBooks or QuickBooks Online is one of those labor-intensive jobs that doesn’t require exceptional accounting knowledge, but does call for extreme accuracy. If your bills aren’t entered correctly, they won’t be paid correctly. You’ll find yourself either owing late fees or tying up funds unnecessarily.

All bills, of course, represent money you owe to vendors. But some are considered expenses while others are entered as items. A QuickBooks training course can help you distinguish between the two types.

Many Similarities

Take a look at the Enter Bills screen in QuickBooks Premier Edition 2013: 

This screen represents the first step of what is a two-step process. The second is Pay Bills, which you must use if you’ve entered a debt in Enter Bills – you can’t use Write Checks. A good QuickBooks class will walk you through each field, though the ones that both versions share are self-explanatory. These fields represent the core of your screen both on the desktop and online. They include:

  • The Vendor who is owed
  • Payment Terms
  • The bill Date and any related Reference Number (Ref No)
  • The Amount Due
  • The date the Bill is Due
  • A Memo line for miscellaneous related information.

Items or Expenses?

In QuickBooks training, you’ll learn about two very important areas in QuickBooks’ Enter Bills screen. When you’ve received a bill for a tangible, physical item, you fill in the line(s) in the Items box in the desktop version (Itemize by Product/Service in QuickBooks Online). If it is an expense, like a utility bill or insurance payment or a special rush charge on an order, you work in the Expenses window (Itemize by Account in QuickBooks Online).

In desktop QuickBooks, only one of these windows is visible at a time, and you click on the tab for the one you want. QuickBooks Online stacks them on top of each other. Here’s what the top portion of its Enter Bills screen looks like:

A Headstart Helps

The desktop version of QuickBooks has been around for over 20 years, so it’s had more time to mature. The Enter Bills screen is a good example of that. QuickBooks Online lacks numerous features that desktop offers, including:

  • The vendor address
  • A Unit of Measure column (U/M), only available in select QuickBooks versions
  • The Ribbon Bar, which debuted in the 2013 desktop editions; it displays icons for related actions, like Enter Time, Select PO and Attach File
  • Vendor/Transaction history, located in the right vertical pane.

Entering bills using this screen in either the desktop or online version of QuickBooks will help you track your cash flow much more effectively than if you just wrote checks for bills or paid with a credit card. QuickBooks training classes can help you master this element of your workflow and maintain good working relationships with your vendors.

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