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Getting started with QuickBooks Online

Ready to get started with QuickBooks Online? This walkthrough guides you through the process.

You'll learn how to:

  1. Sign up for QuickBooks Online
  2. Set up your company file
  3. Link your bank and credit card accounts
  4. Import your lists
  5. Customize your invoices
  6. Enable and receive payments
  7. Set up sales tax
  8. Add employees and turn on Payroll
  9. Manage users
  10. Find out where to get more help


Check out the video tutorial and webinar options at the end of this walkthrough if you prefer to learn via video or live training.



You can access QuickBooks Online anywhere you have an internet connection, from your computer or mobile device. It's always up-to-date and it only takes a few minutes to create an account and get up and running.

To choose your QuickBooks Online subscription, view our Plans & Pricing. If you need to adjust your subscription later, you can—you're not under contract.



Review our system requirements before you start to make sure you have what you need for the best QuickBooks experience.


If you already have an account with Intuit for one of our other products, such as TurboTax, you can sign in using those credentials. Otherwise, complete the sign up form to create an account.





If you're switching to QuickBooks Online from QuickBooks Desktop, save time during setup by importing your QuickBooks Desktop company file. If you're importing from another program, we recommend completing the migration process before continuing with the rest of this walkthrough. Beginning the migration process after you've already started adding information in QuickBooks Online can cause issues with the data migration.


After signing in, answer a few questions about your business. This helps us set up your company file and tailor the program to better fit your needs:


The QuickBooks dashboard displays next, which serves as the homepage for all of your QuickBooks activities. If you're looking for a quick snapshot of your business's health, this is where to find it.

The dashboard displays basic information on the current status of your income and expenses. These values change in real-time, displaying an updating overview of your company's finances:


Review our article for more about the home dashboard.

You can now start adding information about your business.

Go to the Gear icon (Settings) in the top-right corner, then Account and Settings:


Complete the information in each section on the left menu bar. QuickBooks asks you some questions as you proceed about what you need to do and how you plan to use the various functions. Your information is saved and automatically configures your settings. You can always adjust these settings later.



If you'd like to try QuickBooks Online first without inputting any of your company's data, you can test drive QuickBooks Online with a sample company file.



The Bank Feed is one of QuickBooks Online's most helpful and time-saving features.

When you link your bank and credit card accounts to QuickBooks Online, recent transactions are automatically downloaded and categorized for your review. You'll have up-to-date insight into your sales and expenses with virtually no data entry required.

If you need to add older information, you can upload historical transactions manually. This is required if you want to include information that existed prior to linking your bank and credit card accounts with QuickBooks Online.

To link a bank or credit card account, select your bank and sign in to your account:


Follow our guide to linking accounts to QuickBooks Online for step-by-step instructions.



If you have existing lists from another QuickBooks company or accounting application—such as those for suppliers, customers, inventory, or a chart of accounts—you can import them into QuickBooks Online.



If you have already successfully imported your supplier, customer, and inventory lists from another application, you can skip to Step 5.


Follow our guide to moving lists to QuickBooks Online for step-by-step instructions.

Set up your customer list

If your company handles customer transactions, you'll want to set up your customer list.

Go to Sales from the left-side menu, then Customers.

Import existing lists from Excel, Outlook, or Gmail.

If you don't have a list to import, add customers one-by-one by going to Sales from the left-side menu, then Customers, then selecting New customer:


You can also add new customers as you work: for example, when creating an invoice for a customer that isn't already in the system.

Follow the video below on setting up customer lists for step-by-step instructions.



Set up your supplier list

Adding your supplier details to QuickBooks makes it easier and faster to select them when you need them later.

Go to Expenses from the left-side menu, then Suppliers.

Import existing customer information from Excel, Outlook, or Gmail.

If you don't have a list to import, add customers one-by-one by going to Expenses from the left-side menu, then Suppliers, then selecting New customer:





Set up and track your inventory

If you business manages inventory items, you can enable inventory tracking to help you track what's on hand, send alerts when it's time to restock, and show you insights on what you buy and sell.



Inventory tracking is only available in select QuickBooks editions. If you don't see the features you need to enable it, consider upgrading your subscription.


Go to the Gear icon (Settings) from the left-side menu, then Account and Settings, then go to Sales.

Under Products and services, go to the Edit pencil and ensure that both Track quantity and price/rate and Track inventory quantity on hand are set to On.

Go to the Save button:


Review our support guides about enabling inventory tracking and adding inventory products.




Set up your products and services

Products and services are non-inventory items that your business provides. You can add new products and services manually, or import existing information from Excel.

To enter your products or services manually, go to Sales from the left-side menu, then Products and services, then New.

Enter the details for each product or service:




Invoices are an important part of running your business. Your invoice process runs more smoothly with customized invoices for individual customers.

Go to Create from the left-side menu, then go to Invoice:


To customize the look of your invoice, select Customize from the bottom of the invoice. You can edit the existing template, or create a completely new style. On the next page, you can add a logo, change the font and colour, or import a custom style:


If you have existing invoices you'd like to import into QuickBooks, you can do so in batches.

Review our video below on creating, customizing, and sending an invoice for step-by-step instructions.



If you're a Canadian merchant, you might want to consider QuickBooks Payments.

QuickBooks Payments is an optional subscription feature that allows customers to pay you online using trusted payment methods. When you receive a payment, QuickBooks auto-matches deposits and invoices as they flow through the system, making it easier to keep track of your income.

You can enable Payments from your QuickBooks Online dashboard, the Sales overview page, or even while creating an invoice.

Review our QuickBooks Payments overview to learn about signing up and getting started.



It's easy to add sales tax to your invoices and receipts and track how much you owe.

Go to Taxes from the left-side menu:


QuickBooks guides you through the process by asking a few questions about your company and how you currently manage sales tax.

Review our setting up sales tax codes support article for step-by-step instructions.



If your company has employees, you can add employee data that allows QuickBooks to run payroll, create pay cheques, handle labour-related taxes, track time, and more.



You can't upload employee information from another application, but if you've transferred your company file from QuickBooks Desktop, your employee list transfers with it.


To add an employee, go to Employees from the left-side menu, then select the Add an employee button.

Complete the form and select Done.


Repeat until you have added all of your employees.

QuickBooks Payroll is an optional subscription feature that enables you to run payroll and pay employees through direct deposit or printed chequest. It also helps you calculate tax rates and assists with tax forms and tax filing.

To enable Payroll, go to Employees from the left-side menu, then select the Set up payroll button:


Choose the subscription level that's right for you, then fill in the requested details to get started running your first payroll.

Review our payroll setup checklist to ensure you have everything you need to get started, or view the video below on setting up payroll for step-by-step instructions.



Adding users allows them the opportunity to help you manage your books, depending on the level of access you grant.

QuickBooks Online has five different user types:

  • Master administrator
  • Company administrator
  • Standard users
  • Reports only users
  • Time tracking only users

Select the Gear icon (Settings) in the top-right corner, then Manage users. By default, the person who set up the QuickBooks Online account will be the Master administrator, but you can assign that role to another user if you prefer.


In most cases, you can customize both the user and their level of access. You can change or adjust the access you grant your users at any time.

You also have access to the Audit Log. This feature is helpful for when you want to see the actions a specific user has taken within QuickBooks Online.

Go to the Gear icon (Settings) in the top-right corner, then Manage users. Select the down arrow beside a name, then View user activity:


If you use an accountant, you can invite them to run your QuickBooks company.

Go to the Gear icon (Settings) in the top-right corner, then Manage users. Go to the Accounting firms tab, then enter their email address into the text field.

Select the invite button:


You can also invite an accountant by going to My Accountant from the left-side menu.



The number of users you can have depends on your QuickBooks Online subscription. Review our guide to user types in QuickBooks Online to learn about invited user limitations.



Check out some of the additional resources we offer about QuickBooks Online:

Video tutorials: Short videos on a variety of topics Watch for tips and tricks and step-by-step guides through the process of using QuickBooks.

Webinars: We offer free webinars that demonstrate almost all facets of QuickBooks Online, from getting started to managing customers and sales, and making sure you're ready for year end. Topics change regularly: view upcoming sessions and reserve your place.

Keyboard shortcuts: Now that you're a pro at QuickBooks Online, speed up your navigation by learning the available keyboard shortcuts.

Completely stuck? Reach out to us for support and we'll help get you back on track.

Need a little more help navigating QuickBooks? In the short video below, we show you how to get around QuickBooks Online and where you can find the most commonly-used functions.

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