The Complete QuickBooks Versions Comparison Guide
QuickBooks offers six different products for businesses. Learn which version of QuickBooks is right for you.
Not sure which version of QuickBooks you should choose? Can’t decide if QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, or some other edition of QuickBooks is right for your business?
With six different products to choose from, deciding on the best QuickBooks software can be intimidating. Not to mention the fact that Intuit isn’t always the most forthcoming with information about its products!
In this complete QuickBooks Comparison, we’ll explain what each program is capable of, what type of business is best for each version of QuickBooks, and the main differences between each product. We’ll also walk you through what questions to ask so that you can pinpoint the perfect QuickBooks software for your business and choose the right QuickBooks accounting solution with confidence.
|QuickBooks Online||QuickBooks Self-Employed||QuickBooks Pro||QuickBooks Premier||QuickBooks Enterprise||QuickBooks For Mac|
|Number Of Users||1-25||1||1-3||1-5||1-40||1-3|
|Highlights||Easy to use, cloud-based software, 650+ integrations||Easy to use, designed for freelancers, good tax support||Advanced features, 200+ integrations||Industry-specific features, advanced features||Supports up to 40 users, advanced features, advanced inventory & pricing||Designed for Macs, easy to use, numerous features|
Table of Contents
The 6 Different QuickBooks Versions
There are six QuickBooks versions that allow business owners to manage their accounting and finances: QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise, and QuickBooks for Mac. Each QuickBooks product varies in price, features, usability, and target audience.
In this section, we’ll overview the six versions of QuickBooks, giving the pros and cons of each.
|QuickBooks Product||Summary||Next Steps|
|QuickBooks Online||Best for small businesses overall||Visit Site
|QuickBooks Self-Employed||Best for freelancers||Visit Site
|QuickBooks Pro||Best for medium businesses||Visit Site
|QuickBooks Premier||Best for niche industries||Visit Site
|QuickBooks Enterprise||Best for large businesses||Visit Site
|QuickBooks For Mac||Best for Mac users||Visit Site
QuickBooks Online: Overall Best For Small Businesses
- Mobile apps
- Numerous features
- 650+ integrations
- Nice UI
- Occasionally unintuitive
- Customer support
- Potentially expensive
Best for small businesses looking for easy-to-use, cloud-based accounting software and strong mobile apps.
Launched in 2004, QuickBooks Online is cloud-based accounting software used by over two million people. With strong accounting capabilities, impressive features, 650+ integrations, and fully-featured mobile apps, it’s no wonder this is one of our top accounting recommendations.
QuickBooks Online offers an incredible number of features and automations. The software covers all the accounting bases as well as invoicing, expense tracking, accounts payable, contact management, project management, inventory, budgeting, and more. Though there are occasional navigation difficulties, QBO is incredibly easy to use overall.
Prices for QuickBooks Online range from $30-$200/month. Each plan varies in terms of features and the number of users allowed. QBO offers up to 25 full-fledged users total and an unlimited number of time-tracking-only users. QuickBooks Online is also the only product on this list that offers a bookkeeping add-on called QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, where small business owners can receive professional accounting help from a QuickBooks expert.
The downside of QuickBooks Online is that customer support is a bit lacking, and the subscription fee can be a bit expensive for smaller businesses in need of advanced features.
QuickBooks Self-Employed: Best For Freelancers
- Designed for freelancers
- Good tax support
- Easy to use
- TurboTax integration
- No state tax support
Best for freelancers, contractors, and other self-employed individuals in need of basic bookkeeping and tax support.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is different from the other QuickBooks Products in that it isn’t quite accounting software. QuickBooks Self-Employed is tax software created to help freelancers manage their finances.
Quickbooks Self-Employed is an easy-to-use, cloud-based software with strong mobile apps. The features are designed specifically for freelancers to address needs such as estimating quarterly taxes, filing Schedule Cs, and tracking deductions. You can easily separate personal and business expenses, which is ideal for freelancers who don’t have separate business bank accounts. Not only does Quickbooks Self-Employed help freelancers navigate the scary waters of estimated quarterly taxes, but it also gives them basic bookkeeping tools to track income and expenses.
QuickBooks Self-Employed offers three plans ranging from $15-$35/month. The two more expensive plans come with Turbo Tax Self-Employed. The $35/month plan gives additional tax support with unlimited help and advice year-round from CPAs and a final review of your tax return by a CPA.
Quickbooks Self-Employed has very limited integrations, but the Turbo Tax integration is one of the greatest parts of the software. When you’re ready to file taxes, you can pull all of your QuickBooks Self-Employed data directly into Turbo Tax to make filing easy.
Unfortunately, the software does have limited customer support, and while QBSE is a great option for freelancers needing assistance with federal taxes, there is currently no state tax support offered with this software.
QuickBooks Pro: Best For Medium Businesses
- Strong accounting
- Advanced features
- 200+ integrations
- Strong reporting
- Steep learning curve
- Limited users
Best for small to medium-sized businesses with three users or fewer looking for strong accounting or locally-installed software.
Launched back in 1992, QuickBooks Desktop Pro is the software that put QuickBooks on the map. QuickBooks Pro is one of the four desktop applications QuickBooks offers. QuickBooks Pro is locally-installed software with highly developed features like contact and lead management, expense tracking, project management, accounts payable, invoicing, and more. In terms of accounting, QuickBooks Pro is one of the most developed solutions available, boasting a chart of accounts, journal entries, bank reconciliation, 130 reports, and more.
QuickBooks Pro’s yearly subscription costs $349.99/year. You can also purchase Pro Plus + Payroll for $849.99/year, which gives you all of the benefits of QuickBooks Pro as well as Enhanced Payroll.
For all options, additional users cost extra, and you can only have one to three users, making this an accounting solution for small businesses. The software also offers 200+ integrations. The downside of QuickBooks Pro is that the software comes with a steep learning curve, but for accountants, those with accounting experience, or the business owner who just wants to get their accounting right, taking the time to learn the software can pay off. Customer support could also be improved.
QuickBooks Premier: Best For Niche Industries
- Strong accounting
- Advanced features
- 200+ integrations
- Industry-specific features & reports
- Steep learning curve
Best for small to medium-sized businesses with five users or fewer in need of strong accounting and industry-specific accounting features.
QuickBooks Desktop Premier is the next step for medium-sized businesses. QuickBooks Premier is robust, locally-installed software with plenty of features and 200+ integrations.
The real thing that sets QuickBooks Premier apart from QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro is the industry-specific features. You can choose the standard edition of QuickBooks Premier, or you can choose one of six specialized editions: Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Nonprofit, Professional Services, Accountant, or Retail. These editions offer advanced features and reporting specific to your business’s industry. You also can have one to five users with QuickBooks Premier (instead of QuickBooks Pro’s three-user limit).
QuickBooks Premier’s yearly subscription costs $549.99/year. If you need payroll, QuickBooks Premier Plus + Payroll is available for $1,049.99/year. Like QuickBooks Pro, there is a steep learning curve here, but the software includes certain features Pro lacks, including business plans, inventory assemblies, and sales forecasting. However, if you don’t need these features, the industry editions, or the extra users, QuickBooks Premier could be needlessly expensive.
QuickBooks Enterprise: Best For Large Businesses
- Strong accounting
- Advanced features
- Advanced inventory
- Industry-specific features and reports
- Priority customer support
- Steep learning curve
Best for large businesses with 40 users or fewer looking for industry-specific accounting and advanced accounting.
QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise has the same great accounting capabilities as Pro and Premier but allows access for up to 40 users and much more storage space. With six industry-specific versions, QuickBooks Enterprise has highly developed features to meet the needs of nearly any large business.
In terms of features, QuickBooks Enterprise is about as close as you can get to an ERP without making the switch to full-on business management software. In addition to the strong accounting you’d expect with a QuickBooks desktop product, QuickBooks Enterprise provides invoicing, expense tracking, contact management, project management, job costing, and more. QuickBooks Enterprise also offers much better customer support than QuickBooks Pro or QuickBooks Online with its Priority Circle customer support.
QuickBooks Enterprise starts at $1,340/year. Pricing varies based on the number of users and the level of customer support you need, and if you need to add QuickBooks Desktop Payroll.
The software is incredibly expensive, and for the price you’re paying, certain features — such as invoicing, project management, time tracking, and importing — are fairly limited. Apart from being expensive, the other thing with QuickBooks Enterprise is that it really isn’t an enterprise solution — it’s best for large businesses. While this isn’t a drawback necessarily, it’s important to keep in mind.
QuickBooks For Mac: Best For Mac Users
- Easy to use
- Numerous features
- Strong accounting
- Designed specifically for Macs
- No integrations
- Poor support
- Limited users
- No mobile apps
Best for small to medium-sized businesses looking for locally-installed software compatible with Macs.
QuickBooks for Mac is locally-installed accounting software designed specifically for Mac users. The software strikes the perfect balance between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro in that QuickBooks for Mac has the usability of QBO matched with the advanced features and accounting of the other QuickBooks desktop products. The software features invoicing, contact management, expense tracking, inventory, and more.
You can purchase a QuickBooks Mac Plus subscription for $349.99/year. Additional users cost extra, and you can only have one to three users, making this an accounting solution for small businesses.
The main downside of QuickBooks for Mac is that the software doesn’t have a single integration. Additionally, QuickBooks for Mac never seems to get the same amount of attention as other QuickBooks products in terms of new features and updates.
QuickBooks Product Comparison
Each QuickBooks product varies based on price, features, and usability. QuickBooks Online is easier to use than the desktop versions, but QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Premier, and Enterprise have stronger features and accounting. This QuickBooks comparison explains the differences between each version.
This table takes a deep look into each program’s features, so you’ll know exactly what each version of QuickBooks is capable of. Comparing QuickBooks features is one of the best ways to decide which version of the software is the best fit for your business.
|Features||QuickBooks Online||QuickBooks Self-Employed||QuickBooks Pro||QuickBooks Premier||QuickBooks Enterprise||QuickBooks For Mac|
|Number Of Integrations||650||6||244||241||247||0|
|Number of Invoice Templates||6||1||4||8||10||31|
|Automatic Invoice Reminders||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Online Invoice Payments||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Customer Credit Memos||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Manage Personal Expenses||✔|
|Live Bank Feeds||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Manual Bank Statement Importing||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Chart Of Accounts||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Bill Time to Customers as Invoices||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Low Stock Reminders||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Number of Reports||80||5||130||135||200||110|
|Business Plan Creator||✔|
|Calendar & To-Do Lists||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Home Office Deduction||✔|
|Upload & Save Documents||✔||✔||✔|
|Access To Lending||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Professional Bookkeeping Support||✔|
Note: Features may vary by plan.
If you can’t decide between two programs, here’s how they stack up head-to-head to help you determine which version of QuickBooks is the best accounting solution for your business.
QuickBooks Online VS QuickBooks Pro
QuickBooks Online is cloud-based software, so it offers more mobility. But what QuickBooks Pro sacrifices in mobility, it more than makes up for in its features, which are more developed than what you’ll find in QuickBooks Online. However, QuickBooks Pro’s features do come at a price, as this software has a steep learning curve. If you’re new to accounting software, it’s important that you have the time to commit to learning the software. If not, QuickBooks Online is much more user-friendly, even for accounting newbies.
Another big difference to note is the number of supported users. QuickBooks Pro only supports up to three users, and you have to pay per user. QuickBooks Online supports up to 25 users based on the plan you select. Learn more about the differences between QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Pro.
QuickBooks Self-Employed VS QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Self-Employed is designed with the freelancer in mind. Businesses with multiple users or that need more advanced features won’t find what they’re looking for here. QuickBooks Self-Employed is more tax software than accounting software, lacking many of the features you’d find with full-fledged cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks Online.
However, freelancers that need good tax support and don’t require the more advanced features found in QBO may find everything they need with QuickBooks Self-Employed. QuickBooks Self-Employed offers basic features at a cost-effective price. However, businesses that require multiple users or want more accounting features will benefit more from using QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Pro VS QuickBooks Premier
On the surface, QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier are very similar. Both are locally-installed accounting solutions, both offer numerous features and robust reporting, and both have numerous integrations.
However, the primary difference between the two lies in QuickBooks Premier’s industry-specific editions. Users in specific industries can access unique features and industry-specific reporting. Additionally, QuickBooks Premier supports up to five users, whereas QuickBooks Pro only supports a maximum of three. However, businesses with three or fewer users that plan to use only the standard version of QuickBooks Premier are better off saving their time (and money!) by signing up for QuickBooks Pro.
QuickBooks Premier VS QuickBooks Enterprise
QuickBooks Premier is suitable for small to medium businesses with five or fewer users. On the other hand, QuickBooks Enterprise is designed for larger businesses that want access to more users and more features without fully upgrading to ERP software.
QuickBooks Enterprise supports up to 40 users, compared to Premier’s maximum of five. QuickBooks Enterprise also has a number of other useful features and tools you won’t find with Premier, such as a business plan creator.
QuickBooks Online VS QuickBooks For Mac
Mac users that want a locally-installed accounting solution will find that QuickBooks for Mac offers a pretty good set of features and is optimized for use on Mac. QuickBooks for Mac is set up in a similar way to QuickBooks Pro or Premier but is easy to use, much like QuickBooks Online, offering users the best of both worlds.
However, QuickBooks for Mac does noticeably lack some of the features available on QuickBooks Online, including recurring invoices and live bank feeds. QuickBooks for Mac also has no integrations, whereas QBO has more than 650.
How To Choose The Right Version Of QuickBooks For Your Business
If you read the overview of each QuickBooks product, you may already have an idea of which version of QuickBooks is best for your small business. If not, don’t worry. These five questions will help you narrow down your search and find what you’re looking for.
Do You Want Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed Software?
The first major deciding factor is whether or not you want cloud-based or locally-installed software.
Cloud-based software operates entirely in the cloud (on the internet), whereas locally-installed software is downloaded and installed on a single, on-premise computer.
Most small businesses prefer cloud-based software as it is more affordable, easier to use, and keeps up with our society’s mobile lifestyle. However, locally-installed software can be more secure and offers a level of feature-depth that the cloud often can’t touch.
Deciding which type of software works best for your business model can make your QuickBooks choice a whole lot easier. If you want cloud-based software, there’s QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed. If you want locally-installed software, you can take your pick from QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, or QuickBooks Enterprise.
Are You A Mac Or Windows User?
QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise are all designed for Windows. So if you’re a Mac user, you’re down to three options: QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Self-Employed, and QuickBooks for Mac.
If you’re a freelancer, QuickBooks Self-Employed is the way to go. If you are a small business owner, it will come back to the decision between cloud-based and locally-installed software to determine which software is right for you.
If you’re a PC user and you can’t decide between QuickBooks Pro vs. QuickBooks Premier vs. QuickBooks Enterprise, take a careful look at each product’s feature set to help narrow down your decision.
- Do you need industry-specific features and reporting? QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise is the way to go.
- Do you need advanced inventory? Choose QuickBooks Enterprise.
- Do you need more users? QuickBooks Pro only supports three, while Premier supports five, and Enterprise supports thirty.
What Type Of Business Do You Run?
The type of business you run has a huge influence on which QuickBooks product is right for you. If you’re a freelancer, QuickBooks Self-Employed is the obvious choice. If you’re running a small business, you’ll be comparing QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Pro.
Larger businesses will be looking at QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Enterprise, or the new QuickBooks Online Advanced plan, depending on the number of users they need.
How Many Users Do You Need?
The number of users you need will also help determine which software is best for your business. Take a look at this chart to see which product suits your business’s size.
|QuickBooks Product||Number of Users|
|QuickBooks For Mac||1-3|
Note: This chart shows the maximum number of users available with each version of QuickBooks. User allowance may vary by plan and cost extra.
How Much Accounting Experience Do You Have?
If you don’t know much about accounting, you’ll probably want to shy away from QuickBooks Pro, Premier, or Enterprise, unless you’re willing to put in the time to learn. QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed are much easier options.
On the other hand, if you’re an accountant or someone with a great deal of accounting experience, you may like QuickBooks desktop options that use traditional accounting practices.
If you want a happy medium, QuickBooks for Mac might be a good balance since its UI is easier to use without sacrificing advanced and customizable features.
Comparing QuickBooks Versions: The Bottom Line
While the numerous options seem intimidating at first, each version of QuickBooks is designed to reach a certain business size and type.
QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed are the best for businesses wanting cloud-based software with mobile apps. QuickBooks Self-Employed is specifically for freelancers, while QuickBooks Online is a good fit for nearly any size business.
QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Enterprise, and Mac are the best for users with existing accounting experience or who want a locally-installed option. The main differences between the versions are your computer’s operating system and your business’s size.
If a specific version of QuickBooks stood out to you, we recommend taking the software for a test run to make sure you love using it.
If, after reading this post, you aren’t convinced that any version of QuickBooks is right for you, or if you just want to consider all of your options, there are other solutions that may be a better fit. Check out our picks for the top QuickBooks Online alternatives and the best QuickBooks Desktop alternatives to find your perfect small business accounting solution.