QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2020 Review
- Advanced features
- Ample accounting reports
- Excellent tax support
- Numerous integrations
- Double-entry accounting
- Steep learning curve
- Limited users
QuickBooks is one of the most popular names in accounting — and for good reason. The software offers strong accounting, an incredible number of features, and tons of reports and integrations. The first version of QuickBooks Desktop was created back in 1992. Many updates and 1.5 million users later, the software remains tried and true and is the accounting software of choice for many small businesses and accountants alike. But is it the right choice for you?
While many users praise QuickBooks Pro’s strong feature-set, customizability, and traditional accounting, it comes with an incredibly steep learning curve, which may not be suitable for some users who don’t have the experience or time to learn the software well. Poor customer support, limited users, and the lack of mobility may also be downsides for some potential users.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro is ideal for businesses that want strong, traditional accounting but don’t have many users. The software is feature-rich, affordable, and reliable, although QuickBooks Pro does come with a learning curve.
Continue reading our full review to see if QuickBooks Pro is right for your business.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro
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Table of Contents
QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2019 VS QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2020
In many ways, QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2019 and QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2020 are very similar. The navigation and UI are almost identical, and both versions support the main features you’d expect to see from QuickBooks software, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, invoicing, contact management, project management, reporting, etc.
The main difference is that QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2020 has added a few new features and automations to make life easier for business owners — the most notable being automatic payment reminders and the ability to consolidate multiple invoices in one email.
Another big change is that you can now use the keyboard shortcut F1 or use the QuickBooks menu bar to access Smart Help, which gives users access to live chat expert support. Call back options are also available with Smart Help. While this feature is to be released with 2020 first, QuickBooks 2017, 2018, and 2019 users can expect to see this feature rolled out to their versions at some point as well.
Here is how the last three versions of QuickBooks compare.
|Features||QuickBooks Pro 2018||QuickBooks Pro 2019||QuickBooks Pro 2020|
|Automatic Payment Reminders:||✓|
|Consolidate Multiple Invoices:||✓|
|Add PO Numbers To Emails:||✓|
|Track Invoice Status:||✓||✓|
|Track Pending Payments To Vendors:||✓||✓|
|Improved Company File Size Management:||✓||✓|
|Easily Transfer Company File To New Device:||✓||✓|
|Searchable Chart Of Accounts:||✓||✓||✓|
|Supports Up To 3 Monitors:||✓||✓||✓|
What’s New In The 2020 Version Of QuickBooks Pro?
QuickBooks Desktop 2020 rolled out several new changes, but what exactly is different about this version? Here’s what you can do with the latest version of QuickBooks:
- Send automatic payment reminders when customer invoices are due
- Add PO numbers to subject lines
- Hide columns in reports with jobs and classes for easier viewing
- Utilize QuickBooks Smart Help
- Consolidate multiple invoices in a single email to make payment processing easier
If you are a QuickBooks Payroll user, you can also benefit from an easier payroll setup process and track the payroll status for direct deposit employees.
Should You Upgrade To QuickBooks Pro 2020?
If you are using QuickBooks Desktop 2017, support for this version ended on May 31, 2020. This includes QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2017, Premier 2017, and Enterprise 2017. While you can still technically use the software, you will no longer be able to access technical support. You will also lose access to QuickBooks Desktop payroll, online backups, online banking, and security updates if you choose not to upgrade.
So if you are still using QuickBooks Desktop 2017 (or an even earlier version), it is a good idea to upgrade to access technical support, the latest security updates, and the other QuickBooks services mentioned above.
What if you’re using QuickBooks Desktop 2018 or 2019, and your product isn’t being discontinued? Should you upgrade to QuickBooks Pro 2020?
It depends on if you need the new features provided by QuickBooks 2020. If you want to be able to send automatic invoice reminders, consolidate invoices, or add PO numbers to email subject lines, then upgrading is the way to go. If you do not require these features, you can save money by waiting until your version is discontinued or until the 2021 version is released to see if any new features strike your fancy.
If you have a QuickBooks Desktop Pro Plus subscription, then you don’t have to worry about making this decision. Your software will automatically upgrade to the latest version, and you will have access to all the new features as well as unlimited customer support and automatic data backups.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro is locally-installed software. You can purchase a QuickBooks Pro license, or you can purchase a yearly QuickBooks Pro Plus subscription, which includes tech support, automatic updates, and automatic backups.
If you purchase a QuickBooks Pro license, support will end for the product three years after the product is released. That means you’ll be forced to update and repurchase the software continuously. For the first time in years, Intuit has increased the price for its desktop licenses. Fortunately, the product is often discounted on the Intuit site and can be bought directly from Intuit or most local office supply stores (such as Staples or Office Max).
Intuit offers a 60-day guarantee. You can return the program at any time during this period and receive a full refund.
- Track income and expenses
- Manage contacts
- Send invoices and estimates
- Manage and pay bills
- Create budgets
- 120+ reports
- 200+ integrations
- Track inventory
- Sales tax and tax form capabilities
QuickBooks Pro Plus
- Track income and expenses
- Manage contacts
- Send invoices and estimates
- Manage and pay bills
- Create budgets
- 120+ reports
- 200+ integrations
- Track inventory
- Sales tax and tax form capabilities
- Built-in tech support
- Automatic data backups
There are quite a few extra costs to be aware of before purchasing QuickBooks Pro.
- Payroll: QuickBooks Pro offers three payroll plans starting at $29/month + $2/month per employee. Read our post on QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Pricing & Features to learn more.
- Tech Support: Tech support is $299.95/year or $89.95/90 days. Only QuickBooks Pro Plus subscriptions include phone support.
- Additional Users: Additional users cost $299, and there is a maximum of three users total for QuickBooks Pro. Sometimes, Intuit offers discounts for multiple users, so be sure to check its pricing page for current deals before purchasing.
- A Hosting Service: QuickBooks partners with Right Networks to provide online servers for companies in need of mobility. I’ve never received a consistent answer on pricing, so be sure to call QuickBooks directly for details.
- Live Feeds: Some banks charge a fee for working with QuickBooks. This fee can range from $10 to $15/month, depending on the bank.
- Upgrades: An upgrade costs $299.95. QuickBooks Pro Plus includes annual upgrades.
- Automatic Data Encryption Back-Ups: Backing up a single PC costs $99.95/year or $9.95/month; backing up a company file costs $49.95/year or $4.95/month. QuickBooks Pro Plus subscriptions include automatic data backups.
For larger businesses, there is also QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise — both locally-installed programs that are incredibly similar to the desktop versions above. The only difference is that these plans support more users and offer industry-specific editions for different business types, such as construction, nonprofit, manufacturing, and more.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
QuickBooks Pro is a locally-installed program, although certain functions (such as payroll) require internet access. You can purchase QuickBooks cloud-hosting at an additional cost.
Hardware & Software Requirements
QuickBooks Pro is only compatible with Windows (versions 8.1 and 10) and Windows Server 2008 R2 (SP1 or SP2), 2011, 2012 (R2), 2016, or 2019. Certain features require Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. Features requiring the internet are only available with Internet Explorer 11.
Other hardware requirements include:
- 2.4 GHz processor
- 4GB RAM (minimum), 8GB RAM (recommended)
- CD-ROM drive (for CD installations)
- 1280 x 1024 screen resolution
Visit the QuickBooks website for a full list of system requirements. You can view Linux requirements there as well.
Specific Size Of Business
QuickBooks Pro is ideal for small to mid-sized businesses in need of sound accounting and ample features. However, these features may be overkill for some smaller businesses that don’t require such in-depth accounting tools. The software is also not ideal for businesses that need the usability and mobility of cloud-based accounting software. But if you have fewer than three users and are looking for a true accounting solution, QuickBooks Pro is a great option.
QuickBooks Pro is not scalable for larger businesses, as it has a limited number of users. If you have a medium or large-sized business in need of an accounting software solution, take a look at QuickBooks Premier or QuickBooks Enterprise instead. Both are locally-installed accounting programs with more users and more industry-specific features than QuickBooks Pro.
QuickBooks Pro has strong user permissions and a detailed audit trail for the users it does allow. A QuickBooks Desktop Pro license supports multiple company files for users that run more than one business.
QuickBooks Pro uses both accrual and cash-basis accounting.
Ease Of Use
QuickBooks Pro has a notoriously steep learning curve, and it takes much more time to master than many of its cloud-based competitors. The software can be a bit confusing at first, and the setup process is quite involved. Still, once you invest time into it, everything falls into place, and using the software becomes easier and rewarding.
If you get stuck, QuickBooks does offer phone support and has a recently redesigned help center with tons of how-to articles. The customer support can be hit or miss, which is why we’ve written our own QuickBooks Pro 101 Series with dozens of articles to help you learn to navigate the software step by step.
QuickBooks provides an incredible number of features. It’s impossible to cover everything in QuickBooks Pro, but here’s a list of some of the most notable features:
- Home: QuickBooks Pro is organized a bit differently than your typical cloud-based accounting program. The homepage is divided into sections for Vendors, Customers, Employees, Banking, and Company. Icons and arrows mark important features and help show users the proper flow of accounting. The left-hand side showcases shortcuts to help you quickly access features as well as an option to easily view your balances, favorite reports, and any windows you have open. The side menu is customizable, with over 60 different shortcuts. While the bulk of the features you’ll need are on the homepage, you’ll find a ton of features in the top menu bar as well.
- Dashboard: If you’re looking for a more traditional dashboard like you’d find with QuickBooks Online, you’ll enjoy the Insights tab. This tab features charts and graphs that quickly give you insight into your company’s profit and loss, income, and expenses.
- Invoicing: There are four invoicing templates to choose from as well as a custom invoice template option. The templates themselves aren’t anything special, but you can customize the font, color theme, and all of the information shown. You can also use the Layout Designer for advanced customization. There is no option to autoschedule invoices like there is in QuickBooks Online. However, you can set recurring invoices and send batch invoices as well as track the status of your invoices. Notable new features in QuickBooks Desktop Pro 2020 include automated payment reminders for your customers and the ability to consolidate multiple invoices into one email. The latest software also offers the option to automatically add PO numbers in the subject line of invoice emails. You can attach discounts, notes, and files to invoices and send invoices by email or snail mail. You can create packing slips, sales orders, and sales receipts as well.
- Estimates: There are four template choices. You can send batch estimates and easily convert estimates into invoices. You used to be able to add a sales rep’s name to an estimate, but this option no longer exists.
- Contact Management: You can keep track of customers, vendors, and employees. You can save general contact information — name, company name, email, phone, fax, etc. — and you can add more advanced data as well, including maps and directions. You can also save default payment terms and sales tax rates to each customer. You can create customer-specific to-do lists, easily view contact history, and quickly run reports directly from the Customer Center.
- Lead Management: Unlike most accounting software, QuickBooks offers the unique ability to track leads as well. You can save lead information and categorize active leads by hot, warm, cold, and converted. You can also create to-do lists for each lead to help you seal the deal.
- Expense Tracking: You can enable live bank feeds, download and import bank statements into QuickBooks Pro via QBO files, or manually enter expenses into the software. You can set up custom bank rules and categorize transactions. You cannot categorize multiple transactions at once (this is one feature QuickBooks Pro lacks compared with QuickBooks Online). Note: Some banks may charge an additional fee to set up live bank feeds with QuickBooks.
- Bank Reconciliation: You can reconcile your bank accounts in QuickBooks.
- Chart Of Accounts: QuickBooks Pro provides an entirely customizable default chart of accounts, or you can create or import a brand new chart of accounts.
- Accounts Payable: You can create bills and recurring bills in QuickBooks Pro. There is also an appealing Bill Tracker that allows you to easily view unbilled purchase orders, unpaid bills, and paid bills.
- Checks: You can print checks in QuickBooks Pro.
- Inventory: You can add inventory items and track them by setting warnings for when an item’s quantity gets low. You can run various inventory reports and set specific inventory preferences.
- Project Management: Weirdly enough, you’ll find this feature located under Customers. Each job must be tied to a specific customer, which is a bit annoying, but the feature is easy enough to use. You can add the job type, description, and start/end dates. There is basic job costing, but you cannot add tasks.
- Time Tracking: You can easily track time by entering it manually or by using the built-in timer. Time shows up as total hours. You can add billable hours to customers’ invoices.
- Reports: QuickBooks Pro features around 130 reports and even a few graphs to help you break down and understand your financial data. The most notable reports available are the cash flow and sales reports. You can mark reports as favorites for easy access. A new feature in the 2020 version of the software allows you to collapse columns to easily view customer or class totals without having to export to Excel or scroll through the report.
- Journal Entries: If you have accountant access, you can create general journal entries.
- Budgeting: QuickBooks Pro allows you to create in-depth yearly budgets from scratch or by using the previous year’s data. You can efficiently run detailed budgeting reports.
- Sales Orders: You can create sales orders in QuickBooks.
- Purchase Orders: You can create purchase orders as well.
- Credit Memos: The software also supports credit memos.
- Sales Receipts: You can create sales receipts in QuickBooks.
- Packing Slips: QuickBooks supports packing slips.
- To-Do Lists: This feature allows you to create a to-do list for each customer. To-do list tasks include call, fax, email, meeting, and appointment. You can also set a level of priority for each task ranging from low to high.
- Calendar: QuickBooks Pro offers a simple in-program calendar — almost too simple. The calendar only shows an event and not the time.
- Letter Templates: This is one of the coolest features of QuickBooks Pro. If you have Microsoft Word, you can prepare letters directly from QuickBooks Pro. With a dozen pre-built templates and the ability to create templates, there is a letter template for anything and everything you can think of. Each template is also completely customizable and can be printed or sent as an email attachment.
- Spell Check: In case you didn’t believe QuickBooks Pro thought of everything before…
- Sales Tax: You can set unlimited sales tax rates and combine taxes in QuickBooks Pro. You can also assign a default tax to a customer or item, which saves a lot of time.
- Tax Support: QuickBooks Pro has an impressive number of tax form options, including W-2s, W-3s, 940s, 941s, 944s, 1099s, and 1096s. (Some forms are only available with a payroll plan.)
- Mileage Deductions: You can easily track your mileage deductions using QuickBooks Pro. You can also track deductions for multiple vehicles and run mileage reports.
- Multiple Currencies: QuickBooks Pro does provide multicurrency support for 155 different currencies, but enabling multicurrency support means you can no longer use the Insight, Income Tracker, or Bill Tracker features. If you do opt for currency support, you will need to download the latest exchange rates periodically within QuickBooks.
- Importing/Exporting: You can import files via XLS, IFF, and web connection, but the feature is really a glorified copy-and-paste tool. You can export data easily enough.
Customer Service & Support
If you read any customer reviews of QuickBooks, you’ll realize that customer support is not Intuit’s strong suit. This company is notorious for long phone wait times and a lack of email support. While the company still has a ways to go, it has been working on improving its support options.
Intuit has recently redesigned its Support Center and improved the in-software search bar to help you find answers to your questions. Phone wait times have also decreased significantly since our last review. When you reach a customer service rep, they are generally kind and helpful, but there can be a varying level of QuickBooks knowledge from person to person.
Only the QuickBooks Pro Plus yearly subscription includes phone support. Users who purchase a QuickBooks Pro license will need to pay extra for phone support.
Here are the places where you can look to find help with QuickBooks:
- Phone: You can call Intuit Sales for free. To be fair to Intuit, there are certain QuickBooks Pro issues and questions that don’t require paid phone support. The general rule of thumb is that “How do I do this…” questions are free, while technical questions about error messages require paid tech support.
- Help Center: QuickBooks has a QuickBooks Desktop Learn & Support center with dozens of articles that teach you how to use and troubleshoot the software with step-by-step instructions. You can also view top FAQs. A recent redesign has made the help center more intuitive. If you don’t find an answer to your question, you can ask the QB Community. You can also view past questions from other users.
- In-Software Support: The in-software search bar will not only help you locate features within QuickBooks, but it will also give instructions on how to perform specific tasks. For extra help, it will connect you to the relevant how-to article in the Learn & Support center. The newly added Smart Help feature gives you access to improved help features and live agents just by pushing F1.
- Live Chat: If you go to the QuickBooks site, there is a live chat feature, which can be helpful when you need immediate answers to questions. This form of support is best for general questions or sales questions, and the level of knowledge and helpfulness varies among representatives.
- YouTube: You can find videos on the QuickBooks YouTube channel, but the QuickBooks Pro-specific videos are few and far between. You’d have better luck looking at videos from fellow YouTube users. There are many CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) and other tech gurus who post viable demos and tutorials on YouTube.
- QuickBooks Blog: QuickBooks has a blog, but again, there is no separating QuickBooks Pro from other QuickBooks products. Articles revolve around recent updates and ongoing giveaways and mostly focus on QuickBooks Online.
- Training: You can take classes on QuickBooks Pro for an additional cost.
- Advisor: If you want personal instruction, Intuit can connect you with a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, who will walk you through the program. This service comes at an additional cost.
- Social Media: Intuit has combined Facebook and Twitter accounts for all its QuickBooks products.
If you need extra help with QuickBooks Pro, don’t forget to check out our complete QuickBooks Pro 101 Series. We have over 30 detailed how-to articles to walk you through all the basics of QuickBooks.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Intuit as a whole receives 1/5 stars on Consumer Affairs (based on 126 ratings from the last year; 62 of which were 1-star). This rating covers all Intuit products, not just QuickBooks, and only a few of these complaints revolve around QuickBooks Pro specifically.
Most users seem to have positive things to say about QuickBooks Pro overall. Still, even the positive reviews often have one con thrown in. Here are some of the recurring issues users have with QuickBooks:
- Steep Learning Curve: This is one of the most common issues users have with QuickBooks Pro.
- Poor Customer Service: Across the board, users are disappointed with the quantity and quality of customer service and report long wait times on phone calls, unhelpful scripted answers from representatives, and extra charges for support.
- Forced Upgrades: Several customers dislike having to repurchase the software every three years. QuickBooks is relatively upfront about its software losing support every three years. However, some users were irate and said they were unaware of the forced upgrades, claiming extortion and fraud. While repurchasing the software every three years does seem to go against the traditional model of locally-installed software, it can still be cheaper than paying a monthly fee for a cloud-based program. But if you want a one-time purchase of locally-installed software, check out AccountEdge instead.
- Slow & Buggy: Several users found the software loads slowly. Quite a few users report bugs in the 2016 software, saying that it crashes randomly, and their information becomes lost.
- Too Expensive: Several users find the software to be too expensive, especially after adding payroll and extra users.
Other complaints regard the outdated UI, occasional issues upgrading to a newer version of the software, some problems with bank live feed connections, not enough control over changes to transactions, and a need for better training on how to use the software.
One complaint QuickBooks did address in the 2019 edition was the size of company data files. Quite a few long-term users were encountering problems with their data files becoming exceptionally large, so QuickBooks created a way to condense past company information. QuickBooks has also made it easier to find company files by adding a search option to the 2020 version of the software.
Though the UI hasn’t changed from the previous version, QuickBooks did add a feature to enhance usability for visually-challenged users. This option is available on the Invoice, Bills, and Write Checks screens.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Despite the complaints, QuickBooks Pro still supports thousands of satisfied users. Intuit gets an A+ rating on the BBB, 4.3/5 stars on G2 Crowd (based on 1,000+ reviews), 4.5/5 stars on Capterra (based on 119 reviews), and 8.3/10 stars on TrustRadius (based on 557 reviews). These ratings have gone up since our last review, and user complaints seem to be decreasing from previous years of reviewing this software.
Here are some of the most common praises of QuickBooks Pro:
- Easy To Use: Believe it or not, many users find QuickBooks Pro easy to use. They like the intuitive organization and find it easy to teach other users.
- True Accounting: QuickBooks Pro holds to true accounting principles. Those accustomed to more traditional accounting appreciate this as opposed to cloud-based software, where almost all accounting functions take place behind the scenes. Accountants, in particular, love this aspect of QuickBooks Pro.
- Tons Of Features: Users are always amazed by the number of features offered by QuickBooks Pro, especially the reporting, invoicing, inventory, and tax support.
- Keeps Finances Organized: Multiple users say they appreciate how QuickBooks Pro has everything they need all in one place and keeps their business organized.
- Better Than QuickBooks Online: Many QuickBooks users have been arguing over which software is better — desktop or cloud? Most QuickBooks Pro users are adamant supporters of the desktop version. A few users even switched to QBO for the mobility but then immediately switched back to QuickBooks Pro for the functionality.
Here’s what a few real QuickBooks Pro users are saying:
The overall experience has been great. QB helps keep our financials well organized, and I would definitely recommend this software to anyone, small business or large.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro has been our accounting software of choice for more than 15 years and our organization probably could not survive without it. It installs in a flash, is automatically updated, is intuitive to use, and gives our checks and invoices the professional look we absolutely need. It really makes quick work of any accounting task.
Excellent accounting software for any small to medium-sized business. QuickBooks has you covered if you want to run your business and not worry about accounting. This is a very robust accounting system.
Quickbooks is the accounting standard for small businesses.
Integrations & Add-Ons
QuickBooks Pro has just over 200 integrations available for users; however, there aren’t very many payment processing options. For a larger payment gateway selection, consider checking out QuickBooks Online instead.
Are you interested in accepting online payments from your customers? Read our comprehensive merchant account reviews to learn the pros and cons of popular providers and see which payment processing option is best for your business.
As locally-installed software, data security is primarily up to you (unless you are using QuickBooks Hosting). Read our How To Keep Your Locally-Installed Accounting Software Secure post to learn about protecting your data. QuickBooks also offers wonderful online resources for learning how to protect your computer.
QuickBooks Desktop Pro
There’s a reason QuickBooks is one of the biggest names in the accounting and finance business. Given its incredibly robust and advanced set of features, is it any wonder so many users have been loyal to this product over the years? Strong accounting reports, customizable letter templates, and a large number of integrations are just icing on the cake.
QuickBooks Pro does have a steep learning curve, and the sheer number of features may be overkill for smaller businesses. However, QuickBooks Pro is an excellent choice if you take the time to learn it. The only other downsides are the limited number of users, how expensive additional users and phone support can be, and the instances of poor customer support. For businesses in need of mobility, cloud-based software such as QuickBooks Online might be a better solution.
All in all, QuickBooks Pro is a reliable, in-depth accounting tool that is suitable for many small businesses. If you still aren’t convinced that QuickBooks Pro is the right choice for your business, check out The Best Alternatives To QuickBooks Pro for more options.
QuickBooks Pro FAQs
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.