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Exporting or Converting QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop

If you are able to export your QuickBooks Online company file onto QuickBooks Desktop, keep in mind that there will be a lot of data changed or loss, here is a list:

NOTE: this list is a slightly modified version of Intuit’s official list:


Audit Log: Audit Log data is not exported but you can print or save it as PDF in QuickBooks Online.

Expenses: Expenses or Cash purchases are converted to checks.

Chart of Accounts: All accounts are exported by the Account Name is limited to 31 characters which includes spaces, numbers, and special characters. Parent accounts and sub-accounts are also counted separately.

Determine the number of characters in a list:

  1. On the left menu, select Reports.
  2. Choose Account List, then select Customize at the top right.
  3. Select Run report to generate the account listing.
  4. Select the export drop-down icon, then choose Export to Excel.
  5. Use the Excel function LEN()
  • The detail type is not exported.
  • Account numbers are exported, but only appear if you turn on the preference. Instructions appear after the export is successful.
  • Deleted accounts are exported as inactive accounts and will lose their account numbers.

Classes: Name is limited to 31 characters. Deleted classes are exported as inactive classes.

 Customer Center: most customer data is exported, except:

  • Display Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • Full Name and Company Name are each limited to 41 characters.
  • Errors may occur when you export customers and sub-customers with the same names.
  • The Billing Address and Ship Address are limited to three lines with 41 characters each.
  • The E-mail address is limited to 81 characters.
  • Customer NotesPreferred Delivery MethodMobile NumberPager Number, and (Is Taxable) status are not exported.
  • Deleted customers are exported as inactive customers.
  • If a sub-customer has default terms, they are changed to match its parent customer’s default terms.
  • Customer Credit Card information is not exported due to PCI compliance. Processor compliance deals with credit card information of your customers. When you process merchant account transactions or use the credit card field on the customer record, rules for how that information are handled apply including transferring to another version of software.

Employee List

  • Display Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • Full Name is limited to 39 characters.
  • Employee Notes are not exported.
  • Deleted employees are exported as inactive employees.

Field Limitations in QuickBooks

  • QuickBooks has different character limitations for certain fields.
  • The characters are shortened for transactions in QBO that exceed the limitations for QuickBooks Desktop. For example: If your reference number for invoices in QBO is 15 characters, are shortened to the limit of a QuickBooks Desktop invoice reference number field which is 11.
  • Most export errors are due to list names that are too long. If you have list names that exceed the limit, edit and shorten before you export.

List Item Limit

  • The number of combined list items in QuickBooks Pro or Premier is 14,500.
  • If one list has more than 10,000 list items, only the first 10,000 are exported.
  • If you exceed the limit in QuickBooks Online, you need to use QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise.


  • Companies that use multi-currency should not be exported to QuickBooks Desktop. The export may fail altogether, resulting in an empty QuickBooks Desktop file. Even if the export does succeed, any transactions in currencies other than US Dollars will be changed into USD without being converted properly.
  • You may also see other errors such as duplicate or missing transactions if you export QBO files that use multi-currency.

Other Lists

The following lists don’t exist in QuickBooks Online. These lists are created in QuickBooks Desktop with their default list items except:

  • Customer Type
  • Job Type
  • Sales Rep
  • Memorized Reports
  • Ship Via
  • Other Names
  • Transaction Templates
  • Payroll Items
  • To Do Lists
  • Price Levels
  • Vendor Type
  • Fixed Asset Items
  • Vehicle List

Payment Method List:

  • The Nameis limited to 31 characters.
  • All data about each payment method is exported.

Payroll Information:

  • Paychecks and Liability Payments
    • They are exported as regular checks.
    • The Pay Period and Liability Period is not exported.
    • If a check number field is blank, QuickBooks Desktop assigns a number that may cause duplicates.
  • If you want to continue running your payroll with a QuickBooks payroll service after exporting, set up payroll again then enter year-to-date information.

Preferences: Company preferences, including company information, are not exported. You need to populate this before you can use other features in QuickBooks Desktop.

Products and Services List

Products and services are converted to items and are tracked in the Item List with the following exceptions:

  • Individual products and services are converted according to type:
    • Inventory items as inventory items.
      • All inventory, COGs, and purchase/sales account information are exported.
      • The existing quantity on hand and the corresponding asset values are also exported. Note:QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop have different calculation methods that can result to incorrect balances in the COGS and Inventory Asset account (FIFO vs. Avg. Cost)
    • Non-Inventory items are converted as non-inventory items.
    • Categories are converted as inventory/non-inventory/service items.
      • A category will be converted as a service item when the sub-product/service items are tagged as service items. This behavior is the same for categories mapped to inventory/non-inventory product/services.
      • All categories must have items of the same type to allow all sub-items to be exported.
    • Bundle items can’t be exported.
  • The Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • The Taxable Status is not exported.


Recurring Transaction List, Terms List, and Budgets

  • Information in these lists are not exported.
  • The corresponding lists in QuickBooks Desktop contain their default list items.
  • Recurring templates in QuickBooks Online are called memorized transactions in QuickBooks Desktop.


  • Not all QuickBooks Online reports are available in QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Some reports are slightly different in QuickBooks Desktop. The two products have different cash basis calculations so Accrual Basis reports match but Cash Basis reports may not. These differences are displayed on reports but the actual account balances always match after the conversion. For example, transactions using inventory items affect COGS and Inventory Asset accounts differently in the two products. Any unpaid or partially paid transactions using an inventory item that affects the COGS account results in differences in the Cash Basis reports. The differences are:
    • In QuickBooks Desktop, every inventory item on a transaction represents three accounts and three amounts:
      • Income
      • Inventory Asset
      • COGS

One line in the transaction represents three lines, as shown in the Journal Report for the transaction. As Income starts to get paid off by payments, a proportional amount of the payment is included to the COGS lines. This affects the cash basis reports.

  • QuickBooks Online treats all the lines as separate, so the COGS line is fully paid by the asset line when the invoice is saved.
  • Both products treat the asset account the same way (including the way payments are made to it).

Another example is the use of negative lines on invoices. Suppose you have a service income line of $1000 and a discount of $ -100 and no payments:

  • In QuickBooks Online, your cash basis P&L report will show $100 of income and $ -100 of discount.
  • In QuickBooks Desktop, no portion of an unpaid invoice shows in any cash basis P&L report.
  • Similarly, as payments are received:
    • QuickBooks Desktop prorates the amount of the discount that shows in the P&L.
    • QuickBooks Online continues to show the entire amount.
  • Your accrual reports are unaffected by this change.
  • Memorized reports will not be exported.

Sales Tax

  • Sales tax information on invoices are not exported. Instead, invoices will gain an additional line item representing the sales tax.
  • Sales tax items/rates are exported as service items and cannot be used as sales tax items in QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Sales tax payments and sales tax adjustments are not exported.

Time-Tracking Activities

All time activity information is exported except Location, as there is no comparable feature in QuickBooks Desktop.

Note: Activities are exported but “physical” time sheets are not.

Transactions Exported:

  • Credit Memos
  • Sales Receipts
  • Received payments and bill payments
  • Links between bills and bill payments
  • Links between invoices and received payments
  • Invoices
    • Invoices that contain charges, credits, billable expenses, or time associated with sub-customers will be separated into one invoice per customer .Note: There are instances when payments applied to certain invoices fail to export because of the rounding differences in the two formats. In this case, manually correct the amount in the invoice, then enter the associated payment.
  • Refund Receipts
    • Each refund receipt is converted to a credit memo and check (if the refund is from a bank account) or to a general journal entry (for refunds from other types of accounts).
  • Bills, checks, credit card charges, credit card credits, vendor credits, journal entries, and deposits
    • If a check number field is blank, QuickBooks Desktop will automatically assign a number that may cause duplicates. To avoid this, enter some notation in the check number field (for example EFT) before exporting.
  • Any transaction with two or more Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable lines become multiple journal entries. One entry is created for each A/R or A/P line.

Tax is exported as a detail line item, instead of using the QuickBooks Desktop’s standard Sales Tax feature.


Transactions Not Exported:

  • Billable status on a deposit
  • Recurring transactions and unaccepted online banking transactions
  • Attachments linked to transactions (invoices, expenses and checks, etc)
  • Location information, custom field data, markups, and To Be Sent status
  • Voided transactions of these types: received payments, transfers, and bill payments made by check or credit card


Transfer funds: Fund transfers are converted to general journal entries.

User List: The user list information, located on the Manage users page, does not exist in QuickBooks Desktop.



  • The locations list is also not converted. Locations have different naming conventions, but all are considered the same field in QuickBooks Online.
  • Additionally, locations may also be referred to as:
    • Business
    • Department
    • Division
    • Property
    • Store
    • Territory

Vendor List

  • Display Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • Full Name and Company Name are each limited to 41 characters.
  • Print on Check As field is limited to 41 characters.
  • Address is limited to three lines with 41 characters each.
  • E-mail Address is limited to 81 characters.
  • Vendor NotesMobile number, and Pager number are not exported.
  • Deleted vendors are exported as inactive vendors.


Hector Garcia

Hector Garcia

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