QuickBooks 2010: Accounting Software Review

It is hard to imagine big shifts in accounting software. After all, not much has changed in how you count money coming in or going out.

But Intuit has done just that in its latest release: QuickBooks 2010.  It has all the standard things you’ve come to expect from an accounting package — plus new marketing and reporting tools.

They have improved an area that I’ve always found lacking:  Reports.  The popular company snapshot feature has been upgraded to an easy-to-use web 2.0 style drag and drop format. Change the snapshot view to how it suits you. Users can choose from several reports as the main snapshot display – from yearly expenses and income comparisons, detailed expense and income breakdown, and a top customer list, for example. Another nice addition to the snapshot: You now can print them on one page to get an immediate view of the bottom line.

In the Report Center, there are more than 100 available. Users can now navigate between common reports in three different views and find them quickly by tabbing between memorized reports, favorite reports, and recently viewed reports. You also can tag reports with common keywords to make them easier to find.

This release has some other good standard accounting and bookkeeping updates, of course, such as:

Bank From your Office

You can save time handling checks with the new QuickBooks:

1:  You now can scan and deposit checks digitally. No more running to the bank to deposit a check. With Intuit’s new check scanning service, users can simply scan or key enter their checks into QuickBooks for immediate deposit into your bank account. This deposit is now tied to the proper QuickBooks transaction entry. However, this service isn’t free. It has a monthly service fee as well as a small fee for each transaction. If you scanned the check, then QuickBooks recognizes it when it comes time to reconcile your monthly statement and ties it to the entry.

2:  You can sign checks with your digital signature from within QuickBooks. No more manual signing.

Document Management

Are you a binder clip collector?  Always looking for that one document related to a client project? I have stacks of folders with client information, all neatly bound with small and large binder clips.

The document management area can put an end to this allowing you to electronically store documents alongside QuickBooks transactions to stay organized and save time finding what’s needed. You can scan documents directly into QuickBooks, or attach electronic files already on your PC.

What does this mean in real life?

You can store receipts so you have them all in one place for anytime access by your accountant. If you travel a lot in your business, but need access to key documents related to a customer, you can put them online (in the Internet cloud) for easy and secure sharing. The service comes includes 100 megabytes of storage space free and a low monthly fee if you need more storage. Simple documents don’t take up much space.

I found one particular feature quite cool. You can scan dozens of documents at one time: Simply insert blank pages in between and QuickBooks creates individual files.  Nifty.

Easier Install

If you’re new to QuickBooks, you would imagine that it is easy to install. If you’ve done it before, you’ll really appreciate this: They reduced the software installation process from 15 steps down to only 6. A small point, perhaps, but one that demonstrates they are trying to make their software easier to use, right from the install or upgrade.

Also, they have made it very easy to copy and paste a spreadsheet directly into the application.

The Quickbooks Marketing Center

The new Marketing Center helps QuickBooks users sell more through compelling email campaigns with professional quality designs and pre-filled messages, providing recommendations for target campaigns and automatically filling in contact information. QuickBooks users can start right away with a free 30 day trial.

Here’s the value to the online integration between financial info and the email marketing application, for example: Do you know how much customers are spending with you before you send an email offer?  If not, now your customer transaction info is at your fingertips as you build an email campaign. I’ve put a red box around the example data.

Note: The Marketing Center is still in beta and at press time does not yet work with the Firefox browser.


The QuickBooks App Center

The new App Center gives users access to web-based business applications directly from within QuickBooks. If you’ve played with Salesforce.com at all, you’ll recognize the approach: Allow developers and applications to hook into yours and you become infinitely more valuable to the business owner.

According to the conference call, “Many applications work directly with information inside of QuickBooks, eliminating the need for double data entry. The applications found on the App Center are created by either Intuit or members of the Intuit Developer Network – a group of trusted independent developers.”


QuickBooks has woven new online applications together with the desktop version. These new applications and services are not available in the simple Online edition (that sells for $9.95 a month — almost $120 annually). If you compare the lower cost Online edition to the $179.95 upgrade price or the $199.95 new purchase price for the Pro desktop edition of QuickBooks 2010, you may find you get more from the desktop application with better integration with useful marketing tools. This comparison chart explains which features come with each QuickBooks version.

For some of the additional bells and whistles noted here, you will pay additional monthly fees. But if you consider that you might save money and time by managing your customer data and marketing efforts in one place, it could be worth a more serious look.

Learn more about Quickbooks 2010.

More in: 30 Comments ▼

TJ McCue TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

30 Reactions
  1. Can’t say I’m going to rush out to upgrade this time. The improvements year to year have been so minor that I’m no longer sure it’s worth the price to do the upgrade.

  2. TJ: Could you list some alternative programs to Quickbooks? Interesting to see that the accounting software category is entering the “cloud”.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Most people I know are like you and do not upgrade each and every year. Myself … I try to skip a year in between. By the time the second year rolls around there’s enough new that I am eager to make the upgrade.

    It’s for each business owner to choose whether this year is the year to upgrade. We just present the information. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂


  4. Hi Martin,

    We actually have a nice long list prepared by SmartSheet to share on that topic. Stay tuned. 🙂


  5. Anita: I look forward to that list by SmartSheet! Is it compiled by crowd sourcing?

  6. Quickbook is free with National Association for the Self Employeed (NASE) Membership. I joined but have not tried this beni yet!

  7. Martin Lindeskog, to anwer your question, Quickbooks has got 90% of the small business accounting software market. If you really don’t want to go with Quickbooks, you can look at Peachtree accounting of Microsoft Accounting.
    We recommand quickbooks to all our clients.
    Olivier (http://netdr.net)

  8. I have used both Quickbooks and Peachtree. There are definitely things that I like about each of them. For instance, in Peachtree, you can double click on the client window in the sales order screen, and it will open the client maintenance screen. I find this very helpful.

  9. Quickbooks is the best business software solution I’ve ever seen!

  10. Well, this seems to be a pretty good tool for a nonprofit accounting software. What I’m really after is the custom report function which really saves me time. I can work on more transactions with the help of this tool.

  11. I bought 2007 Quickbooks for Manufacturing. First it is one of the most awkard programs to organize parts and items I have found. But a short 3 years later, they are discontinuing the functions I bought it for. I would stay away from Intuit software, as it is a short term solution that ends in a mess when they decide you shouldn’t be able to use it, unless you pay them more money. Kinda like Ransom. Looks like I won’t have the ability to email invoices and bids any longer.
    At least you expect this behavor from Microsoft, I expected better from Intuit.

  12. I agree with Butch. At the rate they keep charging for “THEIR SERVICES” it wont be long and you will have to pay per click using it. I do the books for our home business and since only my wife is on the payroll, I refuse to pay for their payroll service. Now the whole package is almost useless for us. To Bad… we have been using it many years now.

  13. Quickbooks doesn’t change much from year to year.

    I once left it for three years.

    On upgrading the only difference was 1. a color scheme change and 2. An added button that allowed me to put a business icon onto staff payroll slips.

    Those amazing changes cost me almost $800.00

    Surely the almost total reliance on marketing hype and dodgy practices will eventually come back to bite.

    Although I have not used the new version unfortunately it looks no different campared to last year. A bit frustrating when there could have been so many easy improvements.

  14. I prefer Peachtree software over Quickbooks, but you have to buy the $300 version to download bank statements!

  15. Finance Software

    Thanks for sharing. I have learnt a lot from your site.

  16. i would not recommend quickbooks at all.after using erecord i found it to be easy to use.i purchased quickbooks in july 2010 and have found it to be too complicated to operate.

  17. I agree with those that think their upgrade prices are like ransom. Paid $3000.00 for the Enterprise 7.0 in november 06. had to buy payroll tax updates, the last was in january 10 for $349.00. now they say i have to buy the program again. could have told me six months ago before i paid for upgrade. feels really shady to me. i called customer service and was told its my fault because i dont subscribe to their program. $850.00 a year! should have expected it i guess,last couple of years no matter who i deal with in any company, customer service is terrible now. if you ever get to talk to a person. rude, argumenative, remember when the customer was always right? now it seems to be just until the payment gets made, then take a hike.

  18. There seems to be a lot of love / hate to say about Quickbooks these days. I’m definitely one of the haters as I believe that for 8 years almost all developments have been focused on how Intuit can suck more money out of it’s customers, without really providing anything extra.

    Having said that I still use Quickbooks Because unfortunately the company enjoys an almost monopoly in the small business accounting category and a lot of bookkeepers and accountants only use this progam.

    There are several internet forums with many complaints about the arrogance, expense and unhelpfulness of the Intuit “customer service” (what really bugs me is when they charge you for fixing faults in their own software such as instability, extreme difficulty to network properly and missing essential features, also charging extortionate amounts to upgrade tax tables is a bit dodgy).

    I would seriously consider Sage, Peachtree, Attache, or MYOB as alternatives as knowing the company Intuit, I believe the level value for money will only get worse.

  19. One more thing.

    In Ten years of running a small business Quickbooks has been by far the biggest problem to overcome. Not taxes, not customers, not suppliers, Quickbooks.

    Quickbooks the software has probably been indirectly responsible though its poor product, and arrogant attitude for thousands of small businesses closing down.

  20. Buyers Beware….especially if you are converting from non-QB software.

    There are a few little acknowledged issue with QB conversion tool not listed on their product details. The first is that the Conv. Tool does not work on 64 bit OS’s, which I find very troubling since Microsoft has been really pushing its 64 bit windows OS (Vista and Windows 7) for several years now. Further the Conv. Tool has issues when it won’t work at all under any condition. I tried Vista (32 & 64 bit), Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit), Windows XP & Windows 2000. I finally called Intuit help desk (on hold for 31 mins) to talk to a techie for another 1 hour and 16 min (total time 1hour 47mins). He proceeds to tell me it was a ‘firewall’ issue and I had to pay $50 for them to convert it for me. I showed him I had the firewall turned off (he was controlling my PC during this process) and he hung up on me.

    I called back 2hours later, waited another 30 mins (exactly) and got a second guy who told me “oh this is a known issue” and we will convert the files for you free of charge. I decided to investigate this further. It turns out that everyone who was told the $50 charge (evidence in about 4 forums spanning about 2 years) who complained was eventually converted for free by Intuit’s “conversion team”. I’m guessing it is just their protocol to deny until you really insist you shouldn’t have to pay for their software not working.

  21. Funny how QB starts taking away all online functions after three years of use to force you to upgrade and pay more money……..
    We are a small business but Simply accounting is by far the way to go. QB is the shits

  22. I still can

  23. I keep reading over and over about having to upgrade software and how much it costs. Take your customer hat off and think of this as a business owner. You have a product that commands 80-90% of the marketplace already. How are you going to increase revenue? They are in fact a for Profit business aren’t they?
    The only way to produce revenue is sales of product, service or upgrades. It is simple economics and business principles that drive the “upgrade” train at Intuit!

  24. Hi Tim,

    Nobody minds paying for upgrades. It’s when they just re-badge the last years version that it gets a bit steep when they ask for $800 for the re-badge. Nobody minds that they are for profit. It’s when they supply NOTHING and ask for large amounts of money for it and then DO THIS ON A CONSISTENT BASIS YEAR AFTER YEAR that customers get upset.

    In answer to your question if you command 80% of the market place then the obvious way to increase revenue is TO PROVIDE SOME EXTRA VALUE! Rather than by exploiting their monopoly.

    The fact that there are so many addons in the addon market indicates there is plenty of room to add on value. There is plenty of room for improvement in this product, it has significant weaknesses with respect to stock and customer management. You will see previous submissions where Quickbooks have actually taken functionality away only to add it back again at a higher cost. Or when the company has charged it’s customers to fix up faults in it’s quickbooks product.

    All the Quickbooks customers are also business owners. All of them work their butts off to survive and hopefully make a profit. They don’t mind paying for value but it gets upsetting when one sees consistent laziness and exploitation of a monopoly position.

  25. I used Quickbooks quite a long time ago and found it relatively easy to use. A few months ago I started with quickbooks online pro, and I have to say I find it extremely confusing, not very user friendly and I feel frustrated and like an idiot every time I open it and try to do simple tasks in it.

    Argh. Any other suggestions for an internet-based accounting program for a small business? Very small?

  26. We’ve been using Freeagent Central for a while now – just preparing our second year accounts using it, and still love it. Great for a growing company like us.

    The best thing about it is that you can set up recurring invoices and invoices for future dates which email out to clients automatically – no more needing to make sure you are in the office on the first of the month to get your invoices out. The email reminders are also very useful and you can personalise all of it so you don’t lose that personal touch – in fact some of our customers have mentioned that they feel like its customer service when we are chasing invoices!

    Before Freeagent Central accountancy software we used Sage Instant Accounts, which I found very complicated and time consuming for a small company like ours. I can honestly say Freeagent Central have quartered the time we spend doing the books whilst also making our accounts process more effective.

    There is an iPhone app too, which I was very excited about. However you can’t raise invoices on it, only bill time and expenses to projects, and track your mileage etc. I’ve heard that there is a new and improved one in the pipeline but not in the app store yet.

  27. Dear maris,

    I use Numia Online Accounting Software for my business solutions. You could also try using it. Its Free!!! No hidden charges… From the two years of usage I faced no difficulties. Best of its kind.

  28. We have used QuickBooks in the office at work since the DOS Edition came out, and have upgraded every time it has been required. Also, we have been enrolled in the Payroll subscription for as long. However, I do not know how much longer our company will be using it.

    Last August we renewed, once again, the annual payroll subscription for a cost of $371.69. (It seems to go up every year); however, we cannot use the subscription we paid $371.69 for due to the fact ANOTHER upgrade is required to continue using the payroll. Presently I am back to doing payroll by hand.

    I purchased QuickBooks Pro 2011 this week, as required, only to learn I cannot install it on the computer I do payroll on because it requires more space than my computer has available. The previous QuickBooks programs worked fine. It appears we will need to purchase another computer to continue using QuickBooks, IF we want to do the Payroll with it.

    This week I received an email from Intuit stating the Payroll Subscription will be automatically renewed on 7/15/2011 at a price of $374.00, plus sales tax. This is the program I cannot use now, but have paid the subscription, due to Intuit’s Upgrades. How unethical to require purchasing a product to use with a subscription that has already been paid for!!

    If another company makes a similar product as QuickBooks, I will be trying it. At this time I am not sure what direction to take. I do not feel Intuit appreciates their customers.

    When I purchase a Payroll subscription for a year, I expect to be able to USE that product for a year with no interruptions for more money!! At this time I would never recommend getting started on this program to anyone!

  29. I was forced to upgrade. I have a Mac OS X Version 10.6.8 and when I was working on my QB 2010 suddenly the computer crashed. When I started up again QB gives me this message: CoreData could not fulfill a fault for ‘0x189b450 ‘

    Their online chat told me “your 2010 version will not run on your current OS anymore Marnie, you need to upgrade to the 2011 version.” This is planned obsolescence.