The Ultimate QuickBooks Online VS Desktop Comparison
Both QBO and QB Desktop have a lot going for them, but there are some key differences. Learn which software fits the size, needs, and budget of your business.
Are you trying to choose between QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop and wondering which one is better? What’s the difference between these two QuickBooks products anyway?
Our complete QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop comparison covers key differences, pricing, features, and usability, so you can easily decide whether QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop is right for your business.
|QuickBooks Online||QuickBooks Desktop|
|Number Of Users||1-25||1-40|
Table of Contents
- QuickBooks Online VS Desktop
- What’s The Difference Between QuickBooks Online VS Desktop?
- QuickBooks Online VS Desktop: Pricing
- QuickBooks Online VS Desktop: Features
- QuickBooks Online VS Desktop Reviews: Which Do Users Like Better?
- Is QuickBooks Online Or QuickBooks Desktop Better For My Business?
- QuickBooks Desktop VS Online Comparison: The Final Verdict
- QuickBooks Online VS Desktop FAQs
QuickBooks Online VS Desktop
When you compare Intuit’s two most popular products, QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop, both have strong accounting features, but there is a key difference — QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software with monthly pricing, and QuickBooks Desktop is locally-installed with an annual license pricing model.
QuickBooks Online Overview
You’ve probably heard of QuickBooks accounting software, but what is QuickBooks Online? QuickBooks Online, or QBO, is Intuit’s cloud-based accounting product. QuickBooks Online is designed specifically for small businesses; however, the new QuickBooks Online Advanced plan makes the software scalable for larger businesses as well. The software offers a robust feature set, strong accounting, online payroll, attractive invoices, and 650+ integrations.
QBO is also significantly easier to learn and use than QuickBooks Desktop. Since the software is cloud-based, QBO works anywhere you have an internet connection, and mobile apps help you manage your business on the go.
- Easy to use
- Monthly pricing
- Strong features
- 650+ integrations
- Customer support
- More expensive than other SMB products
- Fewer features than Desktop
- No sales orders
QuickBooks Desktop Overview
QuickBooks Desktop is locally-installed software that is a top choice among business owners and accountants. There are three different QuickBooks Desktop products: QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Premier, and QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise. The main difference between the three is that Pro is designed for small businesses, Premier for medium businesses, and Enterprise for large businesses. As such, each plan progresses in terms of available users and features.
Each desktop version of QuickBooks offers incredible accounting tools and extensive features, including expense tracking, budgeting, and job costing, more than 240 integrations, and positive customer reviews. It’s worth noting that QuickBooks Desktop is only available on Windows operating systems. Mac users will need to look at QuickBooks for Mac for a locally-installed Mac-based QuickBooks option.
- Strong features
- Traditional accounting
- Advanced reporting
- Potentially more secure
- 240+ integrations
- Customer support
- Can be expensive
- Fewer automations than QBO
What’s The Difference Between QuickBooks Online VS Desktop?
The main difference between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop is that QuickBooks Online is cloud-based accounting software, and QuickBooks Desktop is locally-installed.
Because of this, QuickBooks Online is much easier to use and has many more integrations and time-saving invoicing automations, while QuickBooks Desktop offers more advanced accounting and reporting features and optional industry-specific QuickBooks versions for certain types of businesses (construction, nonprofits, manufacturing, etc.).
Here is a quick breakdown of the main similarities and differences between QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop.
Both QuickBooks Desktop & Online Offer
- Strong accounting features
- Hundreds of integrations
- Expense tracking
- Contact management
- Time tracking
- Project management
- Tax support
- Payroll add-ons
- Mobile apps
Only QuickBooks Online Offers…
- Fully cloud-based format
- Mac compatibility
- 600 additional integrations
- High-quality invoice designs
- Batch invoicing and progress invoicing
- The ability to auto-schedule invoices
- Invoicing in multiple languages
- Optional live bookkeeping support
Only QuickBooks Desktop Offers…
- Locally-installed format
- Sales orders
- 50 additional reports
- Optional industry-specific features
- Optional industry specific-reporting
QuickBooks Online VS Desktop: Pricing
|QuickBooks Online||$30+/month||Small to medium businesses with up to 25 users|
|QuickBooks Desktop Pro||$349.99+/year||Small to medium businesses with 1 to 3 users|
|QuickBooks Desktop Premier||$549.99+/year||Medium and niche industry businesses with 1 to 5 users|
|QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise||$1,340+/year||Medium to large businesses with up to 40 users|
QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro have two different pricing structures.
QuickBooks Online has a monthly SaaS pricing structure. Four pricing plans are available, ranging from $30 to $200/month (with an additional $45+/month for payroll).
QuickBooks Desktop has a yearly subscription pricing model. The prices for QuickBooks Desktop vary depending on which version of the software you opt for: QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, or QuickBooks Enterprise.
QuickBooks Pro is geared toward small to medium businesses and starts at $349.99/year for a single user. QuickBooks Premier is suited for medium and niche industry businesses and starts at $549.99/year for a single user. QuickBooks Enterprise is designed for large businesses or small enterprises and starts at $1,340/year. You can add payroll, additional users, and cloud hosting for additional fees.
It’s hard to say which software is cheaper because there are so many variables. But there are some general guidelines to know which version might be the one for your business (and your budget).
- QuickBooks Desktop Pricing: If you have a single user and want locally-installed software with advanced features, QuickBooks Pro is likely the better option. However, the extra costs for QuickBooks Desktop add up quickly, particularly if you have more than one user.
- QuickBooks Online Pricing: If you have multiple users and use live bank feeds, QuickBooks Online will probably be a better bet. The monthly pricing structure also works better for small businesses that don’t have the cash flow for yearly subscriptions.
We recommend crunching the numbers to decide whether the online version or the desktop version of QuickBooks is right for your specific business.
QuickBooks Online VS Desktop: Features
|Feature||QuickBooks Online||QuickBooks Desktop|
|Chart Of Accounts||✔||✔|
|*some features only available on select plans|
Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop offer a large number of features. While they share many of the same features, QuickBooks Desktop’s features are often more developed, except when it comes to invoicing. Even though QB Desktop has more comprehensive features in general, there are some key features that only QuickBooks Online has, such as international invoicing. So it really comes down to which features your business values most.
Here’s a breakdown of how each program’s specific features compare.
QuickBooks Online VS Desktop Reviews: Which Do Users Like Better?
Both programs have their share of positive and negative reviews, although, in comparison, QuickBooks Online has received more complaints. Some of the most common criticisms are about:
- Limited mobile apps
- Slow run time
- Poor customer support
Many users also complain that QuickBooks Online doesn’t compare to QuickBooks Pro in terms of features and quality. However, the majority of reviews are positive, with QuickBooks Online receiving 4.27/5 stars (based on 4,400+ reviews) on Software Advice and 4/5 stars (based on 2,600+ reviews) on G2. QuickBooks Online is praised for its mobility, ease of use, feature selection, time-saving automations, and integrations.
The most common complaints surrounding QuickBooks Pro include:
- Steep learning curve
- Expensive pricing
- Poor customer service
However, most users still view Quickbooks Desktop favorably, and the product receives high marks on most customer review sites. The software receives 4.3/5 (based on 1,300+ reviews) on Software Advice and 8.3/10 (based on 700+ reviews) on TrustRadius. QuickBooks Pro is praised for its strong accounting, ample features, reliability, and reporting.
Overall, QuickBooks Pro reviews are more favorable, but both user bases have good and bad things to say about each product.
Is QuickBooks Online Or QuickBooks Desktop Better For My Business?
Deciding between QuickBooks Desktop vs. Online can be difficult. Here’s a quick way to tell which version of QuickBooks is right for your business.
Choose QuickBooks Online If…
- You want software that is easy to use and learn
- You want to access your accounting remotely with mobile apps
- You want time-saving automations and integrations
- You want to use payment processing integrations for online invoice payments
- You need international invoicing
Chose QuickBooks Desktop If…
- You want locally-installed software accounting software
- You need the industry-specific features of QuickBooks Premier or QuickBooks Enterprise
- You need sales orders
- You have very complex accounting
QuickBooks Desktop VS Online Comparison: The Final Verdict
Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop are capable programs with strong accounting features. Each software has its highs and lows.
With QuickBooks Online, users receive many of the same great features while gaining the mobility of cloud-based software. QuickBooks Online is easier to use and has more automations, more integrations, and better invoicing. The downsides are the lack of sales orders, lead management, and other complexities that loyal Desktop users may miss (such as customizable letter templates, a built-in calendar, and even spellcheck).
With QuickBooks Desktop, users receive some of the most developed accounting tools on the market. The software offers comprehensive features, unique touches (such as lead management and sales orders), industry-specific versions of the software, and the potential to be more secure. The downsides are that QuickBooks Desktop lacks the mobility of QBO, has few automations and limited payment gateways, and has a steep learning curve (although the software is well-organized and gets easier to navigate with time).
Ultimately, the real deciding factor is your specific business’s size, type, and needs. Whichever you choose, our comprehensive reviews can help you make an informed decision during your hunt for the perfect accounting software. Read our full QuickBooks Online Review and QuickBooks Pro Review for more details about each software.
QuickBooks Online VS Desktop FAQs
Don’t see the answer to your question? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll be happy to help!