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The Conversion Process - The QuickBooks Guide to Converting QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online



The QuickBooks Guide to Converting QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online is for anyone converting from QuickBooks Desktop (Pro or Premier) to QuickBooks Online. The full guide can be downloaded from the link above.


 The Conversion Process





Sign up and sign in to QuickBooks Online and create a company

Start by signing up for QuickBooks Online. If you’re a long-time QuickBooks Desktop user, we recommend converting to QuickBooks Online Plus since it has many of the same features, such as inventory tracking. Simple Start and Essentials do not have these capabilities (learn more about each version).


QuickBooks Online sign in.PNG


 Click to Enlarge

QuickBooks Online blank company.PNG


When you’re ready, sign in to QuickBooks Online and create a new company file. Once you complete the welcome workflow and enter your basic company information, do not enter any more data. For now, all we need to do is create the new file.






Prepare your data in QuickBooks Desktop

Let’s head back into QuickBooks Desktop to prepare your data. The conversion process itself is all done from QuickBooks Desktop, which means there’s nothing to do in QuickBooks Online until the conversion is complete.


error.png Before you start

  • Importing your QuickBooks Desktop file will replace any existing information in your QuickBooks Online. Having existing data in Online shouldn’t block the conversion and you will receive a warning message before any data is overwritten.


  • If you have any existing issues with your QuickBooks Desktop inventory, such as quantity/value on hand errors or negative inventory issues, resolve them before converting to prevent any potential loss of data. It’s much easier to resolve these types of issues while you’re still in Desktop.


Take note

You must be running QuickBooks Desktop 2016 or newer to convert your file into QuickBooks Online.


If you are using a version from 2015 or earlier, you’ll first need to download the latest (free) trial version of QuickBooks Desktop and update your existing file to the newest format.


Download a trial version of QuickBooks Desktop


Don’t know which version you have? Press F2 while you’re logged in to bring up the Product Information screen. Your product name and version will be displayed at the top.


QuickBooks Desktop Product Information.PNG





 Update QuickBooks Desktop

Before you start the conversion, make sure your current Desktop software is up-to-date.


Sign in to QuickBooks Desktop as the administrator, click the Help Menu and select Update QuickBooks Desktop from the drop-down. Then, click Update Now on the next screen. Once the update process is complete, close and reopen QuickBooks Desktop.


QuickBooks Desktop Update.png

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 Finish Payroll and Tax Payments in Desktop

If you need to run payroll or make tax payments in QuickBooks Desktop, finish these and other outstanding tasks before converting. This can take time so plan accordingly based on your past experience.

There are a few additional house-keeping payroll tasks that will help the conversion go smoothly. In your payroll menu, mark any employes that are no longer working for you as inactive. If they’re left active, QuickBooks Online will require you to fill in their employee data.


QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Information.png

Click to Enlarge image


Now is also a good time to fill out complete data for your current employees. While not required in  QuickBooks Desktop, information like gender, birthdays, W-4 withholdings, pay frequency, and home address are required to run payroll in QuickBooks Online.


Backup Your Data in Desktop          

Now that you’re finished with upkeep, let’s create a backup of your company file. This backup creates a unique save point you can use to restore your current QuickBooks Desktop experience or start the conversion over.


Start by switching QuickBooks Desktop to single-user mode (File > Switch to Single-user Mode). If the option reads as “Switch to Multi-User Mode,” your system is already in single-user mode. Next, go up to File, select Backup Company, and then Create Local Backup. If you click “Backup Options,” you can specify the file location.


QBDT Backup (high res).PNG

Follow the prompts and click Save it now to complete the process. You won’t need to backup your company files after converting to QuickBooks Online since they’re always saved for you in “the cloud.”


Print a Standard Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Report

After converting your file, you’ll need to check a few data points to ensure everything exported successfully. Go to your Reports Center in the Reports Menu and print standard versions of your Profit & Loss Report, Balance Sheet, and Payroll Details Report.

QuickBooks Desktop Balance Sheet.PNG

Click to Enlarge

In the Reports Center, scroll until you find “Balance Sheet Standard.” Click the “Run” arrow underneath the preview window to generate the report. On the report page, select All for the Dates and Accrual for the Report Basis, then click “Refresh.” Repeat these steps for the Profit & Loss Report. Apply the following filters to these two reports:



  • Run them as “standard” versions
  • Run them for “All Dates
  • Set the accounting method to “Accrual
  • Consider printing them out to make side-by-side comparison easier 


Before leaving the Reports Center, print out your Payroll Details Report (filtered for “All” dates). You’ll use this report to enter your historical payroll data during the Payroll Set Up Workflow, if you plan to import Payroll data.






Export your file from QuickBooks Desktop


Start the conversion from QuickBooks Desktop

You’ve updated your QuickBooks Desktop software, backed-up your file, and finished all outstanding payroll and tax payment tasks - you’re ready to convert your file to QuickBooks Online!


Open the company file you want to convert in QuickBooks Desktop. Then, go to the Company Menu and select Export Company file to QuickBooks Online. A pop-up window will ask you to log in to QuickBooks Online.


QuickBooks Desktop Export to QuickBooks Online.png




Are you Importing Inventory?

If you’re importing inventory from version 2016 or later, you’ll see the screen below. Enter the first day following your company’s last tax filing period for the “as of” date. Since QuickBooks Online will recalculate your inventory costs using FIFO and your designated “as of” date, it’s best to use the first day following your company’s last tax filing period so you avoid the need to file amended tax forms. This date is also important for maintaining accurate quantity-on-hand totals.


QuickBooks Desktop Conversion Inventory.png


Since many QuickBooks Desktop users have existing inventory data, we highly recommend converting to QuickBooks Online Plus. Upgrading your subscription before you convert will make the process much smoother.


Some users prefer not importing their existing inventory and starting with a clean slate. If you have lots of inactive items or ones that will require significant reworking, consider rebuilding your inventory in QuickBooks Online.


QBDT Convert 3.png


The conversion begins             

On the next screen, select the QuickBooks Online company you created earlier. Unless you skipped this step and have not yet created a new company, do not create one here - doing so will generate an additional subscription. 

QuickBooks Desktop Transfer.PNG


QuickBooks desktopConversion Choose a File.png


The conversion process has officially begun!


The actual time required to convert your file depends on its size. Feel free to step away and let the program run automatically. If you encounter a “slow scripting error” message, select “no” - choosing “yes” halts the conversion.


Once the conversion is complete, you will receive an email confirmation.


 Conversion complete!

Success, your QuickBooks Desktop data has been successfully converted into QuickBooks Online.


QuickBooks Desktop Conversion - Congratulations, finished!.PNG




  < QuickBooks Guide to Converting QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online (Home)     



    What's Next? Checking Your Data >   


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  • Getting Started with QuickBooks Desktop

Export Company file to QuickBooks Online Error...

Quickbooks encountered a system error (-14008) while exporting your company file. Your company file has not been exported.


I get this error after 4% into the export process.

I am a using a trial version temporarily to export my data to QuickBooks Online.

I have...

-I have updated my version.

-Ran file doctor.

-Rebuild data


I have also tried looking for other ways to export data without transaction data(exporting accounts with balances only).

When doing this i get a script error.


No matter what i press here nothing changes later.

I then select email me when complete. I get no email. No accounts are online... Nothing.

Any Ideas?




Hey @Splinter,


Thank you for reaching out (and awesome, you're the first commenter). Are you using a trial version of Desktop Pro or Enterprise? Which version is your file from? The conversion process is slightly different for each.


Also, how old is your data file? Since you said you're using a trial version to do the export, it sounds like you're converting from an older version of QuickBooks Desktop. In that case, the first thing I would do is update your company file to the latest format by opening the QBB in the latest trial version. Before you start, save your current company file (QBB) somewhere safe on your harddrive and make a copy of it so you always a restart point. Then, open your file with the latest trial version and your QBB file will automatically be updated. 


Let us know if this solves the issue and reach out again if we can offer any more guidance. 


It sounds like you've done your research and followed all the steps in the Trouble Shooting Section of this guide as well as what's outlined in the additional troubleshooting tips section. You did everything right - running File Doctor and rebuilding the data are the first two fixes to try. There are some additional troubleshooting steps in this article that should resolve the data damage to your file (indicated by error code -14008).


I would persevere with fixing the damage to your original file if you want to keep your historical data - otherwise, it will take quite a bit of manual work to match your converted data later on.


Hello @JamesOng,

My QuickBooks was originally in Enterprise Desktop 2017. I then made a backup and installed 2018 Enterprise trial.  After attempting to open my QuickBooks file in the latest trial version(2018 Enterprise trial Manufacturing and Wholesale),  i had gotten a warning saying to trouble shoot or use file doctor to repair it. I repaired my file then opened it. I then tried to Copy it for QuickBooks Online. See Below...


This is the process that gives me the (-14008) error.  I had gotten the -14008 error again even after file doctor.

I Then Attempted the other approach Found here

  1. Open your company file.
  2. On your keyboard, press Ctrl+1 to open the "Product Information" window.
  3. Press Ctrl+B+Q.
  4. Select OK to close the Product Information.

This brought me to the export login. I signed in and continued. Then gotten the file is to large.

I then eventually followed the same steps as before and had gotten my script error again.

I did some more continued troubleshooting by..

-Rebuilding data (Issues found 0)

-Verify data(Detected no Problems)

-Running the export again (with the same results)


I do appreciate the time you are spending trying to help get me past this issue. Do you have anything else that may help me out?


Hey @Splinter,


Thank you for sharing so much about your business and specific issue. Alrighty, so we're going from Enterprise Desktop 2017 to QuickBooks Online?


This does complicate the conversion a bit - generally, it's hard to go from Enterprise to Online because there isn't a direct conversion path.


Foremost, I wanna ask a bit more about why you are converting. As we mentioned in the Before You Start section, many features that you'd regularly use in Enterprise aren't available in QuickBooks Online. This isn't a reason to not convert, but it's a big consideration. The last thing I or anyone at QuickBooks want is for you to go to the trouble of converting, only to find that an essential feature you need isn't available. There are also many business situations where we wouldn't recommend converting because the data reporting just isn't as robust as Enterprise. Inventory is a big one - QuickBooks Online Inventory features are great, but again not as robust as Enterprise.

You mentioned you're using the Manufacturing edition. Are you switching because you just don't need these features anymore? Or are you just looking for a way to store data online? You've probably already done this, but I'd recommend writing out your business needs and then comparing those needs to what is available in QuickBooks Online. If you still want to convert, we will find a way to get you moving. 


Here are a few paths we can start with:


  • Second, you mentioned you received a file size warning message. Targets, as well as title lengths, are two common data blockers. You should get notifications about these, but I would double check these two data points regardless. We included a few brief tips in the Before You Start section, but I will include the full guide on how to condense your file size so it's below 350,000 targets. Since you're currently using the Manufacturing edition, it's likely you're over the target limit (target is a loose term for various data points, including transactions, accounts, customer entries, etc). Again, before you attempt to condense your file, update your software and make a backup so you have a unique restore point.
  • Most people convert to QuickBooks Online from Desktop Pro or Premier. Converting straight from Enterprise isn't as common. My next thought was to jump your file into a trial version of Desktop to see if that gets around the error message, but unfortunately, there isn't a way to convert your Enterprise file to the Desktop format. How big is the file you're trying to convert? What data do you absolutely need to bring over to QuickBooks Online and what would be ideal? One alternative, which we will push to the end until we've exhausted all other options, is to start from scratch in QuickBooks Online and hold onto your historicals in Enterprise. 

 Though I've laid out a few considerations and caveats, we will get you through this @Splinter and help you convert if this is what you want to do!