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.

Backup, Backup, Backup!

I cannot stress enough the importance of a good solid backup for your QuickBooks files. If your computer stops working, your hard disk crashes or you find a corruption in your data file, you will be glad that you have a backup of your data.   It will save you many long hours and an enormous amount of frustration.

Media Options
You can use any number of media to store your Backups – you can use a CD-R or a DVD-R or an external hard drive. If you use one of these methods you will need to make arrangements to move these media off-site and make it part of routine that you will stick with. Do not leave your backup media in the same location as your live data file.

Do not use a flash/thumb drive or an RW type of CD or DVD – these allow you to overwrite previous backups and that means you may not have the one you need in the event that you have to restore your data. Data corruption can happen at any time and may not be evident until a much later date. You may need to restore back to before the corruption happened and you need to find that backup file. If you have overwritten previous backups you may not have a clean backup file.


You should backup every time you use your QuickBooks file. If it’s daily, backup daily, if it’s once a week, backup once a week, if it’s monthly…you get the idea.

Restoring Backup Files

The process of turning a backup file (QBB) into a company file (QBW) is called restoring. When data is lost or damaged, restoring a recent backup file created before the data loss recovers most of the information in the company files.

What’s Included in a QuickBooks Backup

A QuickBooks Backup includes the QuickBooks data  file (QBW) and most of the supporting files. It includes the Business Planner (BPW), Cash Flow Projector (CFP), Loan Manager (LMR), QuickBooks Letters and Templates, Logos and Images, Printer Settings and the Spell Checker. These additional supporting files are restored into a separate folder and need to be copied to the directory where the QBW file is stored in order to use them.

What’s Not Included in a QuickBooks® Backup

Not all supporting files are backed up using the QuickBooks® backup feature.The QuickBooks® Statement Writer (QSM), Fixed Asset manager (FAM), Financial Statement Designer (FSR), certain payroll forms and the attached documents folder are not included in a QuickBooks® backup. These files need to be backed up separately.   

Portable Company Files

A Portable Company file (QBM) is not the same thing as a QuickBooks backup (QBB). It is a highly compressed version of the data file that contains only the raw data from the QBW file without the database indexing and without any supporting files. It allows for faster transfers of data over the internet, but it does not contain the Transaction Log File (TLG).

Transaction Log File

The Transaction Log File (TLG) keeps track of any transactions that were entered after the most recent backup was made and helps with recreating the transactions and changes to the files since the backup. The TLG is re-set each time a backup is performed using the QuickBooks® backup process. It is not re-set when backed up to on off-site location or copying and pasting files outside of QuickBooks.

Test Your Backups

There is nothing worse than finding out that your backup method was not working when your computer crashes and you go to restore a lost data file and it’s not there. You can test a backup by restoring the data file to your computer or to another computer that has the QuickBooks® software. DO NOT OVERWRITE an existing company file. There is no way to recover a file that has been overwritten.

Off Site Options

You can use the Internet to backup your data off site automatically to a secure, remote location. You select the files to be backed up, you select the frequency and set a schedule for these backups to happen automatically.

There are several good and inexpensive options for offsite backups. QuickBooks® offers an Online Backup Service as do Acronis®, AVG®, Backup Solutions®, Carbonite®, Comodo®, Crash Plan® and IBackup®. What’s important is that it works and that your data is secure.

If you need help choosing a backup method that works for you or if you would like us to test your backup to make sure that it’s working, please contact us. We would be happy to help.

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

Ah, the Opening Balance Equity account – as accounting professionals it’s one of the first things we look for when someone hands us a QuickBooks® file at year end. It tells us a great deal about the clients’ skill level with QuickBooks® and is an early indicator of how much time we will have to spend cleaning up the QuickBooks® file before we can rely on the numbers to prepare a tax return or financial statements.

Opening Balance Equity is a very useful account, when used properly. Although you may be tempted to delete this account, it’s much better if you use it as it was intended. It will really help if you ever need to go back and look at the original setup.

Proper Use of Opening Balance Equity

The Opening Balance Equity account is a special clearing account, which allows you to start using QuickBooks® before you have finished setting up the entire Balance Sheet.

The proper use of the Opening Balance Equity account is for the original setup of an existing company. When you start a new QuickBooks® company file with a start date later than the actual start date of the company, you will need to enter opening balances for the various general ledger accounts.

Opening balances can be entered into the company file in the form of a General Journal Entry for most Balance Sheet accounts using Opening Balance Equity as the offset account. Once all of the beginning balances are entered, the remaining balance in Opening Balance Equity can be apportioned between the proper equity accounts using another journal entry.

Once your QuickBooks data file is completely set up, Opening Balance Equity should be zero. This is because the account is only used to “park” the offsets for anything you are setting up opening balances for. If it is not zero, go back to the original Trial Balance and locate the discrepancies before moving on.

Automatic Posting to Opening Balance Equity

In some instances, QuickBooks® automatically posts to the Opening Balance Equity account.

QuickBooks® uses the Opening Balance Equity account automatically as the offset when entering a new Customer, a new Vendor or a new Account balance. This often occurs when clients set up their own QuickBooks® files. Entering beginning balances in the screen for setting up a new Customer, Vendor or Account is not the proper method of setting up beginning balances.  

Do not enter beginning balances in the opening balance field.

Leave this field blank when entering Customers, Vendors and Accounts.

How to Correct Postings to Opening Balance Equity

Unlike the Retained Earnings account, the Opening Balance Equity account does have an account register. If you find that your client has inadvertently or unknowingly made postings directly to the Opening Balance Equity account during the year, you can open the register by going to Lists – Chart of Accounts and double clicking the account. Then double click each posting and make the corrections here.

For more information on how to properly set up beginning balances for Customers, Vendors and/or Accounts or for help in troubleshooting your clients’ Opening Balance Equity account, please call us.

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

If you frequently enter the same transaction, you can memorize and schedule the entry of the transaction so that you will not have to re-enter it each time. For example, you can memorize your monthly rent or a journal entry for monthly depreciation expense or even a recurring invoice to a customer.

If the amounts on the transaction do not change (for example, if you always pay the same monthly rent), you can fill in all of the details for the transaction and can even have QuickBooks® automatically enter the transaction for you.

If the amounts or other details sometimes change, you can enter the memorized transaction and leave some of the fields blank. When you want to use your memorized transaction, just choose it from your Memorized Transaction List and edit it as needed.

Memorizing a Transaction

First, create the transaction that you want to memorize.

For a bill – Enter Bills.

For credit card charges – Enter Credit Card Charges.

For an Invoice – create an Invoice.

For a journal entry – Make General Journal Entries.

Once you have created the transaction to be repeated, click Memorize from the Edit menu.

Enter the Name of this Memorized Transaction using a name that you will recognize so that you can easily find this transaction in the Memorized Transaction List.

Set the fields as shown in the screen shot above to indicate when and how often you want the transaction entered and then click OK.

Click Save & Close to record the transaction.

Every time you open QuickBooks®, it checks your Memorized Transaction List for transactions that need to be entered automatically. If the system date is on or after the date in the Next Date Field (less the number in the Days in Advance to Enter field), QuickBooks® will ask you if you want to enter the memorized transaction.

To see your Memorized Transaction List, choose Memorized Transaction List from the Lists menu or hit Ctrl T. This report shows detailed information about each transaction you’ve memorized, including the transaction type, the account, the amount, the frequency and the next date.

Rescheduling a Memorized Transaction

When you specify a schedule for a memorized transaction, you can choose whether QuickBooks® should remind you of the transaction or automatically record it for you.

  1. Go to the Lists menu and click Memorized Transaction List or Ctrl T.
  2. Select the memorized transaction whose schedule you want to change.
  3. Click Memorized Transaction at the bottom of the list and click Edit Memorized Transaction. 
  4. Select a different scheduling option for the transaction.
  5. Click OK

Deleting a Memorized Transaction

To delete a memorized transaction:

  1. Go to the Lists menu and click Memorized Transaction List or Ctrl T.
  2. Select the memorized transaction you want to delete.
  3. Click Memorized Transaction at the bottom of the list and click Edit Memorized Transaction.
  4. Select Delete Memorized Transaction or Ctrl D.

As always, if you have any questions or would like more information, please call us.

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

Kristen has joined the team at New Business Directions. She has been with the company since December of 2011 and has undergone an extensive in-house training program on QuickBooks.

Kristen is a 2006 graduate of Colby-Sawyer College with a BFA in Fine Arts and has experience in graphic and web design, managing administrative functions and payroll processing. She has a successful track record of providing administrative support for businesses and individuals alike.

She has been instrumental in implementing our online marketing promotion and ensures our company branding is consistent across each platform.

In addition to marketing, she will be responsible for administration, client services and general recordkeeping tasks.

“We are excited to have Kristen as part of our team!” says Rhonda Rosand, owner of New Business Directions. “Her attention to detail is what makes her a great asset and a really good fit for the company and our clients!”

At New Business Directions we help small business owners streamline the process of making money. If you would like to create order out of chaos and improve your bottom line, call us at 603-356-2914 or visit our website at www.newbusinessdirections.com.