QuickBooks® 2013 has a number of new features as well as improvements to existing ones. It also has a few problems as evidenced by the fact that they have already issued Release 3 to fix the bugs and it only just hit the retail store shelves in October.
Changes in the User Interface
There are major changes in the visual design of the program and how you navigate each of the screens. Fonts, spacing and colors have changed in just about every area of the program. This was done to try to standardize the look and feel throughout QuickBooks®. Change is not always welcomed by people who are used to things the way they were and it will take a little bit of getting used to in order to find where they put your favorite things.
Left Icon Bar
Instead of the top icon bar that we have been using since 2006, the navigation bar is now on the left hand side of the screen much like it used to be back in 2005. If you have a low resolution monitor, this icon bar takes up a great deal of real estate on your screen. You do have the option of moving this back to the top, but it’s not as pretty as it used to be and harder to read with gray on black.
More White Space, Smaller Labels and Scroll Bars
The Home Page and other screens have more white space which makes things less busy but it also shows less information – about 30% less information is displayed in the same size window. Some of the Labels are really small and the light gray color is too faint to actually see. The Scroll Bars are so small it can be difficult to get your mouse cursor on them.
Ribbons on Transaction Windows
The most commonly used transaction windows will have a new “ribbon” interface at the top similar to the ones in Microsoft Word 2010. This combines the features that relate to these transaction windows into one easy to use place. The content of the ribbon will change from form to form, but the general layout is the same.
This is the most improved area as far as additional features for small business owners who use the software for their bookkeeping needs. In the Customer, Vendor and Employee Centers, Tabs have been added to quickly access Transactions, Contacts, To-Do’s and Notes. You can now have multiple Notes per record, instead of just one. There are now 24 contact-related field labels and you can choose which eight (8) to show on your screen. The To-Do list is much more convenient and can be filtered by Customer, Vendor or Employee.
Color Scheme Preference
In QuickBooks® 2012 we could set each QuickBooks® file to have a different color scheme in the Desktop View preferences. This was helpful when working in multiple company files. This has been removed in QuickBooks® 2013. If you don’t like the color settings in the new program, you can’t change it. You do still have control of some of the colors used in some individual windows and the colors are less intrusive.
There are a number of changes in the QuickBooks® Accountant version of the software. Send general journal entries to clients via email is a simple way to send the year end journal entries back to clients, batch enter transactions allows you to quickly enter (or import) large numbers of checks, credit card charges or deposits, Starter Copy is easier to find and work with, toggle to the Bookkeeper edition is available and the QuickBooks Statement Writer is now supposed to be compatible with 64 bit versions of Microsoft Excel. Client Data Review received a few improvements in converting the Other Names and Writing Off Invoices.
There are a few improvements that are only available in the QuickBooks® Enterprise version of the software. We now have Automatic Purchase Orders, Default Classes and Larger List Limits. In the Advanced Inventory add on feature to Enterprise, we now have Barcode Scanning, Bin Location Tracking and FIFO Cost Lot History by item Reporting.
Look before you leap. If you don’t have to upgrade right now, don’t – It’s buggy at best and for the regular small business owner using the software for everyday bookkeeping needs, it has no real improvements over the prior year. QuickBooks® will be sun-setting the 2010 version of the software in May of 2013 and hopefully by then they will have resolved most of the issues and we can help you make a smooth transition to the latest version.