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QuickBooks Imports: Description of Various Ways to Import Data into QuickBooks

For users new to importing data into QuickBooks it can sometimes be overwhelming to find the best method or tool to get the job done.  In this blog post we are going to explain the various ways to import data into QuickBooks Pro, Premier or Enterprise.

I can come up with four different ways of importing data into QuickBooks.

Method 1:  Importing IIF files into QuickBooks

IIF (Intuit Interchange Format) files are heavily formatted files which are unique to QuickBooks.  Once you have followed the complicated instructions for formatting your import file you can upload these files via the File/Utilities menu in QuickBooks.  Many people will ask why wouldn’t I just use the import tool contained within QuickBooks?  There are several disadvantages to IIF file which we will list below.

  • IIF files are very complicated to produce.
  • Imports using IIF files bypass ALL the QuickBooks validation so you run the risk of corrupting your QuickBooks company file.  We have seen instances where invoices have been imported without items on them, negative transactions, duplicate names etc.
  • In 2002 Intuit came out with the QuickBooks SDK which is the preferred method by Intuit for developers to communicate with QuickBooks and no additional changes have been made to these IIF imports over the years so many fields and transaction types are not supported.  For instance sales order imports are not supported nor can you import items on vendor transactions.
  • You need to be in single user mode to import IIF files.
  • Linked transactions cannot be created.  For instance if you import a receive payment transaction it will appear at the customer level only and will not be applied to the specific invoice.
  • When the imports do not work the error messages are very non specific

Method 2:  Excel Import

Within QuickBooks you can import vendors, customers, items and account using the Excel Import in QuickBooks.  You can find this option in the File/Utilities menu in Quickbooks.  The disadvantages of this method of import are listed below.

  • A very limited number of imports that you can perform using this method.  Currently only four lists are supported an no transactions.
  • Have to use the QuickBooks pre-formatted template

Method 3:  Intuit App Center

The newest addition to the QuickBooks Developer Interfaces is the Intuit Partner Platform.  This allows developers to write applications that are cloud based and offer them on the Intuit App Center.  We currently have a transaction and list importer for QuickBooks Online that is on the Intuit App Center called Transaction Pro Importer.  This platform is very different than what Intuit has offered in the past and we will provide some of the highlights below.

  • No software is installed locally on your computer as this is a subscription based model.  You pay a monthly fee to use the applications.
  • For QuickBooks desktop users a copy of your QuickBooks company file will reside on Intuit’s servers.
  • You have to have an internet connection to use the application.
  • For QuickBooks Online users Intuit has been adding fields and transactions that have never been available via the QBSDK.

Method 4:  Use a third party tool that utilizes the QuickBooks SDK (QBSDK)

Baystate Consulting has been working with the QBSDK since it was first published by Intuit in 2002.  The QBSDK is a complicated toolkit that allows developers to create desktop software solutions using their programming tool of choice that integrate with QuickBooks.  Baystate has developed and  supported software applications using the QBSDK that allow you to Import (Transaction Pro Importer), Export (Transaction Pro Exporter) and Delete (Transaction Pro Deleter) lists and transactions from QuickBooks.

There are many advantages to using a tool that uses the QBSDK and we will mention a few of them below.

  • Virtually all data in your QuickBooks company file can be accessed via the QBSDK.
  • Since the QBSDK communicates directly with QuickBooks you get all the same data validation as if your manually entering transactions.
  • Imports can be done in single user mode.
  • Linked transactions can be created.
  • The developer specifies the format of the import file.  In the case of Transaction Pro Importer we can import any flat file (excel, csv or txt) QIF, Microsoft Money, Access or any database that supports ODBC.  You can read more about the type of file formats supported here.
  • The developer can write their own transaction or audit logs.  With Transaction Pro Importer we provide a full log that shows every line in your import file with it Status and if that line did not import we provide a full description as to why.

If you would like to find out more or try our free demos please visit our website.  Also let us know if you have any questions as with all the options available it can get quite confusing.

Over seven million transactions have been imported into QuickBooks Online.  Sign up for a free trial here.
Save $50 on a Transaction Pro Importer and Exporter bundle here.
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