QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop

Migration from QuickBooks Online (QBO) to QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) is complicated. Therefore, you must plan and execute it properly to protect your financial data. This tutorial covers why you should migrate from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop, preparation, migration, and post-migration.

Why Migrate from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop?

Business demands and preferences typically drive QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop migration. Businesses may switch for these reasons:

  1. Advanced Features: QuickBooks Desktop offers a more extensive array of features and capabilities compared to QuickBooks Online. Businesses with complex accounting requirements, such as job costing, advanced inventory management, and industry-specific reporting, often find QuickBooks Desktop better suited to their needs. Features like batch invoicing, sales orders, and enhanced reporting are particularly beneficial for specific industries.
  2. Data Control: Some companies value complete financial data control. QuickBooks Desktop stores financial data locally on your PC or server, giving you control and eliminating internet dependence. Companies worried about data security and privacy may like this.
  3. No Internet Dependency: QuickBooks Online relies on a stable Internet connection to access and work with your financial data. This dependency can lead to inefficiencies and frustrations for businesses in areas with unreliable or slow internet access. QuickBooks Desktop operates independently of internet availability, making it a more practical choice.
  4. Data Export and Storage: QuickBooks Desktop allows more extensive data export and storage options. Users can export data in various formats, including QuickBooks backup files (QBB), making it easier to back up and archive financial records. This level of control over data storage is appealing to businesses with stringent record-keeping requirements.
  5. Cost Considerations: QuickBooks Desktop usually requires a one-time purchase and update, unlike QuickBooks Online. This may reduce costs over time for long-term enterprises. The total cost of ownership includes software license, maintenance, and infrastructure charges, depending on your company’s requirements.

Preparing for the Migration

To ensure a seamless QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop transfer, prepare. Financial data integrity and accounting process interruptions may be avoided with proper preparedness. Here are the essential migration preparation steps:

  1. Backup Your QuickBooks Online Data: Before you begin the migration process, creating a backup of your QuickBooks Online data is essential. This backup is a safety net if anything goes wrong during the migration. To do this:
  • Log in to your QuickBooks Online account.
  • Navigate to the Gear icon > Export Data.
  • Select the data you want to export, including lists, reports, and transactions.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to export your data.
  1. Choose the Right QuickBooks Desktop Version: QuickBooks Desktop has Pro, Premier, and Enterprise editions. Select the option that fits your business’s budget and demands. Consider user count, industry features, and inventory needs while choosing.
  2. Check System Requirements: Ensure your computer or server meets the system requirements for the QuickBooks Desktop version. QuickBooks Desktop is primarily designed for Windows. If you’re using a Mac, you may need to explore compatibility solutions, such as running Windows through virtualization software or a Windows PC.
  3. Inventory Management: If you use inventory tracking in QuickBooks Online, be prepared to make adjustments in QuickBooks Desktop. Inventory management in QuickBooks Desktop differs significantly from QuickBooks Online, so you should review and update your inventory settings accordingly.
  4. Chart of Accounts Review: Take the time to review your Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online. Check for accounts needing merging, deletion, or renaming in QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks Desktop may have different account types or limits, so be prepared to adjust your Chart of Accounts.
  5. Clean Up Your Data: This is an excellent opportunity to clean up your financial data. Reconcile accounts, clear up any outstanding transactions, and archive or remove old or unnecessary data. A clean data set will make the migration process more manageable.
  6. Consult an Expert: If you need more clarification on your migrating skills, get expert help. Consult a QuickBooks ProAdvisor or data transfer professional. They may provide insights and assure process accuracy.
  7. Choose a Migration Date: Select a suitable date for the migration. Make sure it is when your business can afford some downtime in accounting operations, as there might be a brief transition period during the migration.
  8. Communicate with Your Team: Inform your team about the upcoming migration. Ensure everyone involved in your accounting and finance processes is aware of the changes, the timeline, and any new procedures they need to follow with QuickBooks Desktop.
  9. Set Up a Testing Environment: Establish a testing environment before migrating. This environment may be used to test migration and confirm it works. It allows you to identify and fix errors before they influence live data.

The Migration Process

The QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop transfer must be planned and executed carefully to guarantee financial data quality and completeness. Below are the critical migration steps:

Install QuickBooks Desktop:

Install QuickBooks Desktop on the PC, where you’ll handle your company’s finances. You’ll need the installation files or CD for your version. Install the program using the wizard.

Open Your QuickBooks Online Company File:

Launch QuickBooks Online and open your company file. Ensure that this file contains all the data you want to migrate. This data includes your Chart of Accounts, customer and vendor lists, transactions, and other financial records.

Export Your Chart of Accounts List:

In QuickBooks Online, export your Chart of Accounts list to an Excel file. This step is essential because it will help you set up your accounts in QuickBooks Desktop. To do this:

  • Go to the Chart of Accounts.
  • Click the “Export” option and save the file in Excel format.

Set Up Your New QuickBooks Desktop Company:

After installing QuickBooks Desktop, open the software and create a new company file by following the setup wizard. You will be prompted to enter company details and set your preferences. Use the Excel file you exported in the previous step to help set up your accounts in QuickBooks Desktop. The setup wizard will guide you through this process.

Import Lists and Data:

QuickBooks Desktop allows you to import various lists and data, making the transition smoother. You can import customer lists, vendor lists, item lists, and more. To import lists and data:

  • In QuickBooks Desktop, go to “File” and select “Utilities.”
  • Choose “Import” and follow the prompts to import your data.
  • Use the Excel file with your Chart of Accounts to set up your accounts in QuickBooks Desktop.

Recreate Templates and Customization:

If you’ve customized templates for forms like invoices, sales receipts, and purchase orders in QuickBooks Online, you may need to recreate these in QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks Desktop uses a different template system, so you may need to adjust the formatting to match your previous templates.

Bank and Credit Card Accounts:

Reconnect your bank and credit card accounts in QuickBooks Desktop. This allows you to continue downloading transactions as you did in QuickBooks Online. Follow the prompts in QuickBooks Desktop to set up these connections. It may require entering your bank’s credentials and authorizing the connection.

Reconcile Accounts:

Review and reconcile your accounts in QuickBooks Desktop. This is essential to ensure that your data is accurate and up to date. Compare your QuickBooks Desktop balances to your last reconciliation in QuickBooks Online to ensure they match.

Data Entry:

Some transactions couldn’t be imported into QuickBooks Desktop due to differences in a data structure or limitations in QuickBooks Desktop. In this case, you may need to manually enter these transactions into QuickBooks Desktop. Be meticulous about recording every detail accurately.

Historical Reports:

Generate these in QuickBooks Online before the migration if you need historical financial reports for reference. Save these reports in a format that’s easy to access, such as PDF or Excel. This ensures that you have historical data in case you need to compare or reference it later.

Employee and Payroll Data:

If you use QuickBooks Online for payroll, you must address employee and payroll data in QuickBooks Desktop. This might involve setting up payroll and tax information, employee profiles, and payroll schedules. Consider transitioning to a third-party payroll service compatible with QuickBooks Desktop.

Data Verification:

After completing the migration, thoroughly verify your data in QuickBooks Desktop. Ensure all your accounts, transactions, customer and vendor information, and other financial data are correctly transferred. This verification step is crucial to confirm data accuracy.

Train Your Team:

If your team needs to become more familiar with QuickBooks Desktop, provide training to ensure they can effectively use the software. Familiarize them with the differences between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, mainly if they previously used the online version.

Backup Data Again:

Once the migration is successful, create a backup of your data in QuickBooks Desktop. This ensures you have a recent snapshot of your financial data in the new environment. Regularly back up your data to prevent data loss due to unexpected events.

Post-Migration Testing:

Before fully transitioning to QuickBooks Desktop, conduct post-migration testing to ensure all your processes work as expected. This testing should include creating new transactions, generating reports, and reconciling accounts. Any discrepancies or issues during this testing phase should be addressed promptly.

Consultation and Support:

If you have concerns or issues during or after the transfer, contact QuickBooks ProAdvisor or QuickBooks Desktop support. They may provide skilled advice and address challenges.

Post-Migration Considerations

After the move, there are important considerations:

  1. Reconciliation: Regularly reconcile accounts to maintain correct data.
  2. Consider syncing data between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online if you often use QuickBooks Online for purposes like remote access or mobile management.
  3. Data Security: Implement access restrictions and backups to maintain data security.
  4. Training: Train less experienced team members on QuickBooks Desktop to guarantee successful utilization.
  5. Help: Use QuickBooks Desktop help options like online forums and teams to resolve difficulties.
  6. Regular upgrades: Maintain functionality and security by updating QuickBooks Desktop software with the latest patches and upgrades.
  7. Consult with a QuickBooks ProAdvisor or support for assistance with difficulties or inquiries.


Moving from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop might be difficult, but with proper preparation and execution, it can go well. This method demands precision and knowledge of QuickBooks Online and Desktop. To keep your financial data accurate and accessible in your new accounting software, you must prepare your data, pick the correct QuickBooks Desktop edition, and follow a systematic approach. Feel free to seek expert help if you have migration issues.