How to Convert from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop Editions | AccountingWEB

How to Convert from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop Editions

Not that I want anyone to really ever DO this, but I thought it would be a nice follow up to the QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online post from a few weeks ago.

For more in depth considerations when converting, please check out the article “If You Really Must – Considerations for Converting from QuickBooks Online to Desktop” at Stacy’s Online Solutions at

To start the conversion/export process, you first must be using Internet Explorer, and it has to be Windows. You have no idea how much this bums me out – and I think I’ve been rather vocal about it to the QBO team, bless them for putting up with me – because I converted my practice to Mac in January 2012.

In order to do this, I need to either dredge up my old Windows laptop, or lock myself in my office. And I try to avoid my office as much as possible (as I write this, I’m sitting in my living room watching CSI:NY; but only because I can’t find Law & Order on ANYWHERE), as many of you may know. Another option if you’re working on a Mac, and this is what I do, is to login to IE via your hosted account.

To begin, you’ll need to hover over the Company tab, then choose “Export Data” from the drop down “More” submenu:

You may be prompted to install an ActiveX control – do this. You can’t complete the process without this installed. If you’re working in a hosted environment, you’ll most likely need to contact their support to get it installed. I called mine, and had it done in less than 10 minutes. Love those guys!

Once you have the ActiveX installed, you’ll need to go through the Export Interview. It’s sort of a tiny link, so here it is:

Next you’ll be asked what you want to export: Lists or Lists & Transactions.  If I’m converting completely to Pro/Premier/Enterprise, then I choose Lists & Transactions and click “Next”:

Now you have to choose to what version of QuickBooks you’ll be exporting, Pro, Premier or Enterprise and click “Next”. Note: you can only convert to 2004 or later and you cannot convert to the NonProfit or Retail industry editions of Premier or Enterprise:

Now QBO wants to make sure you know that there are some limitations to the transfer of data, and requires you to check a few boxes indicating that you are aware and understand about these considerations:

Check all of those, then click the “Next” button at the bottom of the window.

The last screen in the pop-up window Export Interview asks for your name and email address; you’ll be receiving an email at this address when your data is ready.

When you see this screen, just click “OK” and wait for the email. I love that they send the email AND put a “Thing To Do” on your QBO homepage. I wish every program I worked with would add a Thing To Do, and maybe post them on my bathroom mirror as sticky notes every morning. Is that maybe asking too much? Sigh. I think you’re right.

The important part at this point is to remember: anything entered into QBO will need to be RE-ENTERED after you finish the export/conversion process.

Once you get the email, you’re ready to finish the export:

After you click the link in the Messages and Tasks widget on your QBO home page, tell QBO what you’re doing with the data, then click the “Next” button:

The best part of this is that you don’t have to do it all at once – you can download, then come back!

Now we just download and choose where to save the data:

Once it’s downloaded, click the “Convert” button:

You’ll be asked where you want to save your new QBW file and what to name it:

QuickBooks will create a new file:

You’ll be prompted to give IE permission to access the file:

Then you’ll see the status bar:

When complete, you’ll be reminded to verify your data and to cancel your QBO subscription if you won’t be needing it. You will be able to view the data for up to one year after you cancel, and you can reactivate the account at any time during this period – but you would have to manually enter any transactions entered via the desktop edition, or use tools like what has to offer.

I always run P&L and Balance Sheet and set date to ALL to verify data:

Good luck with your conversion, and I’d like to make one more suggestion before abandoning QBO. Evaluate the pain point involved in the decision to convert. Many times this can be solved by a simple work around (ie: progress invoicing) or by utilizing an add on (ie: Inventory Assemblies).




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Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks. She is the owner/operator of Kildal Services LLC, providing accounting and technology consulting, QuickBooks conversions, bookkeeping services, payroll setup and processing, Intuit merchant services and customized training. She has over 14 years of experience with QuickBooks and has written the original training courses for the US, Singapore and Candadian versions of QuickBooks Online, as well as other courses for She regularly (and proudly) works in her pajamas, is a gadget geek, loves the band Rush and strives to avoid doing any actual work in her home office, since the couch is way more comfortable.

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