Transfer season is in full swing, and we’ve seen quite a few questions about transferring data between QuickBooks Desktop for Windows and QuickBooks Desktop for Mac. One question from may be particularly interesting to the accountants in our community. Professional number-cruncher @versatel asks, is it possible to easily manage regular data transfers if you and your client are running different versions of QuickBooks Desktop?
Excellent question, we’re glad to see you going the extra mile for your client!
Converting a QuickBooks Desktop Mac file to Windows (and back again) is one of several processes known as “Round-Tripping.” According to QuickBooks Desktop Product Team lore, the term “Road-Tripping” has evolved over the years to refer to several conversion scenarios, including the one outlined above.
The most common “round-tripping” examples are when QuickBooks Desktop Mac users need to use the Windows version as an intermediary to import data into QuickBooks Online (as it cannot be done directly) and when QuickBooks Desktop users who switched to QuickBooks Online decide to go back to their original platform.
However, according to some of our QuickBooks Product Manager colleagues, doing so on a weekly basis isn’t practical. We don’t recommend it for a few reasons.
Conversions don’t always go smoothly. You run the risk of corrupting data with every transfer, and the more often you do it, the greater the risk. Moreover, due to the program limitations listed below in the link, not all data will transfer back.
It may be possible for accountants to run a virtual machine from their Windows computer to check Mac OS-based files natively. Another option? If you’re using QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, accountants can use cloud hosting to check their client’s QuickBooks Mac data without needing to transfer.
The bigger question is, what’s the long-term value of this strategy? As you mull that idea, consider that QuickBooks Desktop for Mac is winding down its normal product lifecycle - while there will be support for the next few years, the product will eventually be discontinued. Since you must match versions to do the conversion, and 2016 will be the last release of QuickBooks Desktop for Mac, you will run into compatibility issues as the years progress. As support diminishes, the costs of data damage will only increase. If your clients want a future-proof accounting process, it might be time to align under a single platform.
Keep in mind, there are a few conversion restrictions, so do your research and the necessary preparation to ensure a smooth transition:
Do you ever “round trip” files? Do you have any clever methods or file transferring tricks between different versions of your accounting software (QuickBooks or otherwise)?
What are the best tools you’ve found?
Another restriction in Mac to Win round trip is that both types (win mac) of QB must be the same year. Since the final issue of Mac is 2016 that means you have to use Win2016 if you expect to round trip.
Since Win is more complete than Mac, the Mac users I know are installing a windows emulator like parallels (those that do not already have it installed), and loading QB Win under it. From that point on it is no different than any other windows client relationship.
@Rustler, good points. I haven't set up a virtual machine in years, how labour intensive would you say it is for the average user?
I'm not talking about a virtual machine the way we windows users think of it, Mac has a couple of emulators and all they do install them. As I understand it, and I am not a mac guy, it is plug and play on a mac.
Hello there, Lori B.
Thank you for posting here in the Community. Allow me to provide additional information about QuickBooks Desktop 2019.
Since the Round Tripping process requires the same version of QuickBooks Desktop for Mac and Windows, you can download our 30-day free trial of the program.
For more information about how you can download the trial version, I'm adding the article that I recommend:
Please keep in touch with me here should you have any additional questions or concerns. I want to make sure you're taken care of.