QuickBooks Audit Trail

QuickBooks® provides an Audit Trail feature that allows you to see every change that is made to each transaction in the file.

Each time you edit, void or delete a transaction, QuickBooks® posts the previous condition of the transaction to this report. As a result, QuickBooks® retains both the old data and the new data for the transaction.

In QuickBooks® 2005 and prior, this feature was optional and was available to be turned on and/or off in the Accounting: Company Preferences window. It also caused QuickBooks® to run much slower, especially in a multi-user environment and caused the data file to grow faster.

In QuickBooks® 2006 and beyond, the Audit Trail is always on and there is a much more powerful database that supports much larger files and allows you to track information on the Audit Trail without significant loss of performance.

To view the Audit Trail report, select the Reports menu, select Accountant & Taxes and then select Audit Trail.

As the consultant/accountant, it is best to create a user name for yourself so that QuickBooks® will tag all of your entries and edits with your name. After you work on the client’s data, export the Audit Trail report to Excel and save the details in your files. This allows you to refer back to the work you do at any time in the future.

The Audit Trail tracks transaction data only. It does not track changes to transactions that do not impact their accounting integrity. Specifically, it does not track edits to list items, edits to memorized reports, changes to memorized transaction or edits to user access privileges.

The Audit Trail allows you to determine which transactions the user changed or deleted, which user entered the change or deletion and when the user made the change or deletion. It does NOT tell you why.

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Any information about the transaction that has been changed is highlighted in Bold Italic type in the report. If there are multiple versions of a transaction, the earliest version will have no highlighting, but subsequent versions will highlight each value that differs from the previous version’s value in that field by displaying the value in bold italics. If a line item was added to the transaction, that entire line of the report will be highlighted.

If the Audit Trail Report displays “Unknown User” under the Last modified by column, the user has been deleted.

The Num column displays the user-specified number for each modified or deleted transaction. This field will be blank if a transaction is ready for printing and has not yet been assigned a transaction number.

The State column identifies whether you are looking at the most recent version of a transaction (the Latest) or an earlier version of the same transaction (a Prior). Transactions may have multiple Prior entries listed, but only one Latest.

This Status (Latest or Prior) is automatically assigned by QuickBooks as transactions are added, deleted, or modified. To view the most current version of the transaction, double-click any field in the Latest entry in the report.

By default, the Audit Trail report is sorted by the user who created or last modified the transaction, the transaction type, and the date the transaction was created or last modified.

To make this report easier to use, you may want to filter it. It is feasible to do this from within QuickBooks® by choosing a different date range from the drop-down list. This presents limited results and may not provide the information you need. For best results, you can Export the Audit Trail report to Excel and use the Find command to locate the specific information.

As always, if you have questions or would like more information about the QuickBooks® Audit Trail or any other QuickBooks® feature, please call us, we would be happy to help.

This article of QuickBooks Tips and Tricks was based on the 2012 version of QuickBooks.