Set Cloud-Based Reports to Open Automatically in Excel
As the world moves toward ever more cloud-based accounting systems we sometimes encounter disruptions in our normal workflows.
For instance, if you're using a desktop-based accounting program, when you export a report to Excel it opens automatically. However, cloud-based accounting programs often introduce speed-bumps into this process. In this article I'll describe which browsers to use if you want to have a seamless export of reports into Excel.
For this article I used the free sample copy for QuickBooks Online using the following browsers:
- Chrome for Windows
- Firefox for Windows
- Edge for Windows
- Safari for Mac
Let's first go through the normal workflow involved in exporting reports from a cloud-based software such as QuickBooks Online to Microsoft Excel for most browsers:
- As shown in Figure 1, log into your QuickBooks Online company or use the free test-drive company.
- Click Reports.
- Choose a report, such as Profit and Loss.
Figure 1: Viewing a Profit and Loss report in QuickBooks Online.
- As shown in Figure 2, click the Export button that appears at the upper right-hand corner of the report.
- Choose Export to Excel.
- The next steps differ depending upon your browser:
- Chrome, Firefox, Edge: The resulting file name appears at the bottom of the browser window. Click the file name to open the report in Excel as shown in step 6 Figure 2.
Figure 2: Exporting a QuickBooks Online report to Microsoft Excel in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
- Safari: You’ll see a quick flash on the screen as the file moves into your Downloads folder, if that folder is docked at the bottom of your screen. As shown in Figure 3, you can click the downloads icon, and then click the icon associated with your report. Don’t click on the file name, as that only dismisses the downloads menu.
Figure 3: You’ll have to search for downloaded reports in Safari on a Mac.
At this point your report should be open in Microsoft Excel, most likely in Protected View, which you can permanently disable if you wish. Now let's revisit step 6 in Figure 2 above and see how going forward Chrome and Firefox can open files automatically for you, as shown in Figure 4:
- Click the arrow adjacent to the file name in the Downloads bar.
- Select Always Open Files of this Type.
Figure 4: Click Always Open Files of this Type in Chrome and Firefox to have reports open automatically.
After this one-time tweak both Chrome and Firefox will automatically open your report in Microsoft Excel for you. Unfortunately, the ability to open files automatically after download is not available in the Edge or Safari browsers, so if either is your browser of choice you'll have to continue to open exported reports manually.
Undoing Automatic Downloads
If for some reason you decide that you don't want reports to open automatically in Excel, Figure 5 shows how to disable this setting in Chrome:
- Click the 3-dot button in the upper right-hand corner of Chrome.
- Choose Settings.
- Scroll to the bottom of Settings.
- Click Advanced.
- Click the Clear button in the Downloads section.
Unfortunately, this is an all-or-nothing option, so if you've set any other file types to open automatically, such as PDF files, then those will no longer open automatically either. As you've seen, though, it's easy enough to restore this option for file types that you do want to open automatically.
Figure 5: You can disable having files open automatically if you choose, but it's an all-or-nothing setting.
David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.