QuickBooks 2012 Inventory Center

Written by Charlie Russell

OK, one more QuickBooks 2012 inventory article. Inventory management is near and dear to my heart, as I’ve been working in that area for over 30 years. QuickBooks is a bit frustrating to me because inventory tends to be an afterthought, not one of the core areas. I’ve been very excited about the QuickBooks 2012 update because there is a real emphasis on improving inventory features (So I’m a bit of an inventory nerd, things like this get me excited). Finally, inventory has been elevated, we have an Inventory Center and many wonderful features.

I’ve talked about many inventory features in various editions of QuickBooks 2012 (FIFO, Serial numbers, enhanced inventory receiving, price/cost updates, lot tracking). Now we’ll talk about something that is a bit more generic that will apply to all Windows desktop users except for Quickbooks Pro, the Inventory Center.

This article was updated on 9/28/2011.

If you work with QuickBooks you are familiar with the item list. A simple list of your items, with some buttons at the bottom to access certain activities. You can modify the display to see different columns, but if you want to see details about the item you have to edit it, or go to a report somewhere.

QuickBooks Item List

With QuickBooks 2012, we now have the Inventory Center (you’ll find it in the Inventory menu in Enterprise, in Premier it might be in the Vendor menu).

QuickBooks 2012 Inventory Center

Lots of interesting things here. On the left you see a list of your inventory part and inventory assembly items. None of those annoying Service or Sales Tax items, etc.- just inventory.  You can modify this list to add different columns (just as in the item list). There are filters at the top of the list that let you filter what is listed. The Custom Filter option is intriguing, it lets you select for key words in item name, custom fields, and notes.

Inventory Center Filter

The top center of the window shows you basic information about the item, so that you don’t have to edit the item to see inside. I like that.

At the right you see a list of the most commonly used reports, which is nice so that I don’t have to search for them in another menu or take up space in my icon bar or favorites list. Although I wish I could edit the list, some reports aren’t there that I like to use.

In the middle you’ll see a new feature – Notes. We’ve had notes available in other lists, but not in Inventory. This is a nice addition.

At the bottom of the window is a filterable list of transactions that include the selected item, which is very convenient.

Then there is that feature you might have noticed right away from my screen shot, that I’ve been dancing around. An Image of the item. When I first saw this I was very excited, as the ability to add an image of an item has been a highly requested feature. I’m disappointed so far, though, as this is the only place you can see that image. It can’t be added to reports, invoices, purchase orders or any of several other places that I would like to see it. I’m hoping that Intuit develops this further. Also, I would like to point out that the image feature is only found in QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, you won’t get it in Premier. Another issue – these images are stored in the “Images” subfolder by your company file – which is good and bad. Good, in that your QBW file won’t grow. Bad, in that if you move a file to another location by restoring a backup, you must manually move the information to the right place to retain your image links.

I like the Inventory Center, and I hope that it will be expanded in the future. My friend Rustler wasn’t too impressed with it in the early testing rounds, so I guess it depends on what you are expecting or what gets you excited.

Some Other Things to Mention

Here are a few smaller inventory related improvements that I would like to point out:

  • You can filter the Physical Inventory Worksheet by inventory site if you have QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions with the Advanced Inventory option. Lots of requests for this one (the filter is right there at the top of the report, not buried in the Customize Report button).
  • QuickBooks has a limit of 100 records in the Price Level List table. Some people find this to be too low a number. If you have QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions that limit has been increased to 750 records now. I’m worried that people will misuse price level lists now – this isn’t enough to have one list for every customer (which is what many people ask me for) unless you have a small customer list.

My Wish List For This Feature

As always, I have a few things that I would like to see changed. Here is a quick list, I’m sure that there are more that we can all think of…

  • I would like to have the option of adding non-inventory part items to the Inventory Center display. Even though you don’t have a balance on hand, they are still inventory items that you are managing in a very similar way to inventory part items in many cases. Can we have them as an option, please?
  • Adding the item picture to the item in the Inventory Center is nice, but can we have the ability to add images to an invoice or purchase order, or reports? That would make it useful. As it stands now, the feature doesn’t give us much. I am also concerned about how the images are stored, because of potential problems for restoring backups. More on this in the future.
  • Can we get the Notes included in the Excel import and export, and in the QuickBooks SDK so that add-on developers can use it?

All in all, I like this option. And, the impact on file conversions and compatibility should be very low, so it is a safe feature to use.

About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been writing for the Accountex Report (formerly the Sleeter Report) since 2011. He retired from accounting and QuickBooks activities in early 2018.

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.


  • I’ll have to disagree about adding the non-inventory item to the list. Referring to it as non-inventory is the root cause of problems with new users (me included). It is not inventory, has nothing to do with inventory, and if I had my way would be renamed “expense item”. Because that is what it is.
    The only similarity is that you can buy it (and it expenses immediately) and sell it – but that is not much different than paying an expense, marking it billable and bringing it over to the invoice.

    • Thanks, Jim. That is why it is always so fun to have you commenting in these articles, you and I have very different ways of looking at (and using) QuickBooks, and it is great to have a different opinion expressed here.

      I still want non-inventory items there. You would have the ability to filter them out if you didn’t want them.

      I sell non-tangible goods in my business. I have them set up as non-inventory items for the most part, to separate them from “services” that I provide. I want to see them in the inventory center, I want to be able to add images to the records (and be able to add those images to invoices, which is another thing and that isn’t there). I want to be able to easily look at prices (and yes, sometimes costs). I want to see the transactions that use those items listed at the bottom.

      • Different approaches, I too sell non-tangible goods, I use inventory items with zero cost, that way I can track qty sold and it shows up in the inventory center.

        I use non-inventory items for expenses; I want to be able to get more reporting capabilities than just using an expense account.

        • Jim, you need to get a “Gravatar” account so we can see your smiling face, instead of the outline (free, at http://en.gravatar.com/)

          I dislike having to worry about negative inventory quantities on the item list, or having to do adjustments to clear them.

          But, then, different strokes for different folks. I still want the option to have non-inventory items there. I want the filters to be “sticky”. Then you can turn off non-inventory items for folks who work your way, and have them on for folks that work my way.

          Better to let ME choose, rather than have the SOFTWARE limit my options…

  • I’m excited about the Inventory Center. I think we’ll be using it as often as the Customer and Vendor Centers. Like you, I wish we could select which reports appear on the quick list (I would like the same for ALL centers, for that matter).

    * A small tweak I’d like to see is a “quick filter” for QOH < zero, which appears to be missing. I don't necessarily care if we have zero of an inventory item, but I do care if we've oversold it.

    * I'm with you on non-inventory items, Charlie. As you said, it doesn't mean that everyone would have to wade through them – just put it in the quick filter list as an option: "Inventory and Non-Inventory Items" (and maybe simply "Non-Inventory Items").

    * I'm very excited to see the notes field for Inventory items! We will use this very often — sounds like it may only be accesible from this screen, though. That is unfortunate. I'd also like to see it in the SDK and imports/exports. I doubt it, but wonder if this field can be added to a PO template?

      • I had a problem with Quickbooks inventory that it could not fractionalize, where one carton holds X amount of articles. Example I have a Master carton that holds four intermediate cartons. Each intermediate carton holds twelve products. As a wholesaler I would only sell in master cartons.
        48 items per master carton.
        All inventory items would easily be accounted for but not the intermediate cartons or the master cartons. intermediate 1 to 12 – master cartons to 48

        Is this possible in the current versions of Quickbooks?


        • Ron, you don’t mention what version you had before, however I’ll say that there hasn’t been a lot of changes with the “unit of measure” feature in awhile.

          Units of Measure only work to one level. You can specify “each”, and a UOM that says that an intermediate holds 12 each, and that a master holds 48 each, if you need to track units by eaches. Other than that, I ‘m not sure what to say about your situation as I don’t have enough details.

  • For negative inventory, I still don’t understand why Intuit does not give us the OPTION to prevent negative inventory. They should add it to the Items and Inventory Preferences. It is a no brainer. Many people have been asking for this option.

    A quick way to see negative inventory is to run the Physical Inventory Worksheet and sort on Total Quantity on Hand. All the negative quantities will appear at the top of the report. Create a memorized report, and it will only take seconds.

    The new Notes feature is really nice. This will be really useful.

    • I forgot to mention why this is on my top list of complaints/annoyances.

      We use Advanced Inventory. With multiple sites/warehouse locations, it is too easy for the person processing invoices to accidently ship inventory from the wrong site/warehouse.
      While total inventory is correct, one site will have a negative qty, and one site a positive qty, net inventory qty = zero.

      Intuit should at least add the option to not allow negative inventory in Advanced Inventory.
      And the option should work at the site level.

  • Great discussion here! It’s a shame we can’t ‘like’ comments, a la Facebook. I like the back-and-forth between Rustler & Charlie.

    I think Intuit is doing an excellent job of listening to their consumers and adding features that we want and need. Also, I’m willing to allow them a bit of time to get it right – I recognize that adding functionality takes some time and effort on their part.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s refreshing to see that they’re moving in [what I consider to be] the right direction.

  • Darn it, didn’t notice that the “transaction pane” doesn’t have Assembly Builds as one of the transactions that can be listed. That is a big omission, although I can understand why it isn’t there. Hopefully they’ll be able to add that…

  • I’d like to see the “allow negative” as a on/off option rather than an absolute “d/n allow”. I do a lot of small business inventory clean up, and help set up logistics for getting/keeping counts. For many of these clients they would simply dump QB entirely if they could not record an invoice because their inventory wasn’t counted yet.
    Negative balance (yes it’s an error) helps me point out to the client where their systems are still needing help. Items with a zero balance tend to not get any attention.

  • Ugh, just figured out that the “images” for items in the item list are stored in the “images” folder. No security, which might not be a big deal for most people, but you have to pay attention to how you restore backups because they aren’t restored to the right place….

  • I know I am late on seeing all of this discussion, however I agree with you Charlie on the allowing images in the Premier version. Also on the non-inventory items. I purchase a lot of “one-offs” that might be 2-5 of or even up to 10. Though I absolutely won’t be able to purchase them again as they are usually end of line. I still want to be able to see how quickly they move and to whom I am selling them – also where as I have different sites as well.
    I totally agree with the idea of allowing negative values in. I would like to see the ability to place non-available items on back order for customers and then have reports for all back ordered items by item/customer.
    At the other end of the scale, I am happy that Intuit has finally put an Inventory Centre in QuickBooks. It has been sadly lacking!

  • Premier 2012

    “Inventory Stock Status by Item”

    When I select the “Dates” drop-down box “This Month-to-date” vs “All”, I get totally different “On Hand” quantities.

    Why would the quantities be different ?

    This causes problems, because I use “Inventory Activites” “Adjust Quantity/Value On Hand” “Adjustment Type” “Quantity” “Adjustment Account” “Inventory Adjustment” to correct Inventory quantities.

    But the quantity I input there, is not reflected in “Vendors” “Inventory Activities” “Inventory Center” “Inventory Information”. In this area what is displayed is is that quantity from the “All” column I previously described.

    I don’t understand why the discrepancy exists. QB 2009 Premier never acted like this.

    • John, there can be several reasons. Hard to be sure what the issue is without hands on the file.

      The most likely issue has to do with the dates of inventory-related transactions. Let’s say that today is February 3rd. For some reason I have entered an item receipt and dated it February 4th. If I run the report with “this month to date” the quantity won’t include that February 4th transaction. If I run it with “all” dates, it will. So I will see a difference. Compare the quantity in the “all” report with the quantity you see in the item list, which usually isn’t affected by the date.

      You can also do a detailed or transaction list to look at the transactions by date, to see if there are post-dated transactions.

      That is the typical issue. To go beyond that we’d have to see the file.

  • I have a baby question about inventory item set up…..when it asks me to specify a GL account is this for sales, inventory or COGS? I am used to Peachtree where you can specify an account for each of these categories. Thanks!

    • Susan, I’m not sure I understand your question. When you set up an “inventory part” item, you have three accounts to set up. You can choose an account for each of sales, inventory asset and COGS.

      Perhaps you aren’t looking at an “inventory part” item? Do you have Inventory turned on in your Preferences?

  • Is there other functions that turn on with inventory that I have to worry about? Things like payroll as we outsource our payroll.
    I want to start using inventory and purchase orders but don’t want any surprises when I turn on inventory. Thanks for your help!

    • Rick, the different features are very isolated. You won’t be turning on a lot of other things if you enable Inventory. No interaction with Payroll for instance. Inventory is a built in feature and won’t incur additional costs (other than the “Advanced Inventory” feature found only in Enterprise, which provides additional inventory features for an annual fee – but you won’t turn that on by accident).

  • Looking to track inventory through Quickbooks Pro 2012. We do not buy and resell product. We buy raw materials, formulate and then sell finish product. Please let us know how or if this can be done through Quickbooks Pro 2012.


  • Charlie,

    Thank you for your help, is it possible to merge data from my existing quickbooks into premier? or do you have to re-add all the data


    • Robert, Pro and Premier are compatible, there is no conversion or merging necessary. Premier will open a Pro file. The only conversion that would be involved would be if you go from one year of QB to another – and the program handles that for you automatically.

  • We are using Premier and my warehouse person tells me that when he makes a receiving error that there is no way to fix it. Is that accurate and if so is there a way to work around it? I am new to QB and so is he.


    • The nice thing about QuickBooks is that you can always go back and edit a transaction to change it (with a few restrictions). So if your error was something like receiving the wrong quantity, you can go back to the receiving transaction and update it.

      There are cases where this might not work, or might not be a good idea, but those are usually exceptions. And, you have to have the proper permissions to do it (most likely not an issue, in Premier).

  • In quickbooks is there anyway to keep track of the samples you give away for free as write offs. In addition is there anywhere you can store standardized right offs for manufacturers?


    Robert Knaub

    • Robert, you can create a “customer” for “samples” and create an invoice that has no sales price – but that will post the COGS to your normal COGS account and that might not be what you want. Alternately you can use an inventory adjustment and select the expense account. There are probably other ways as well, depending on how you want to book this and what reports you want it to show on

      “store standardized right offs for manufacturers” – not sure what you are looking for.

  • Any news on whether non-inventory items will be included in the inventory center? That would be very helpful.

    • Michael, I agree, but I haven’t heard anything about this happening. Send in feedback to Intuit through the option in your Help menu, if enough people ask then they may respond.

  • Hi Charlie:

    Currently we are running a factory who manufactured Stabilizers.we use Quick books premier 2010.we are facing a problem to maintain inventory in Quick books.The problem is that there are many items which we are buy but not treat as inventory because we create an items which include three items (ie Packing tape,samad bond,Sleevs,copper wire pieces and fixed Cost let say = $3) and recorded under non inventory part link to the CGS Account and take those in our assembly .Now the question is when we build the assembly and check the P&L it shows (-) balance in CGS and deduct that amount from CGS. Now what i am doing at this stage.

  • Matt, it isn’t easy to give you a completely detailed answer in a blog post. In a general sense, I wouldn’t be using a COGS account for those non-inventory items to start with. And, I assume that these are items that you are purchasing? If so, when you purchase, the cost goes into that account, and when you build then the cost is taken out of that account. If your “cost” field for the item never changes, and you use up everything you buy, then this account should have a net value of zero. Price variations may make that different, so sometimes you have to do some adjustments. Take a look at this article: https://www.sleeter.com/blog/2011/02/item-types-in-a-quickbooks-bill-of-materials/

  • Hi, Charlie,

    I am glad to see some issues I have been struggling with posted here. We are a service organization using QB Enterprise. We do not do any assembly or manufacturing. We would like to track our non-asset items for insurance purposes and to have a good record for filling out our BOE 571 Business Property Tax annually. In other words, we would like to use QB Enterprise to keep something like a “home inventory” list of items that are expensed in the year they are purchased, but still need to be tracked by cost, location, serial number, and a photo would be nice too. Any ideas of how to get QB to do this or software that integrates with QB to do this?

    An improvement I would like to see: Items selected first by category in the drop down list. For example, when I enter an invoice, I need to see a list of services, but I don’t need to see 100 asset items listed also.

    I look forward to your reply.

    • Dale, I’m not an accountant, so I’m not familiar with the BOE 571 requirements. When you say “non-asset items”, I’m not sure what that would refer to.

      If these are items that you are purchasing for your own use, that remain an asset (you said “non-asset”, so I’m confused) that you are tracking, I would normally use the Fixed Asset list to track those. You have fields for location, serial number, and cost (but no photo). This list still shows in the dropdown for invoicing, but in current releases the list is sorted by “type” and the fixed asset items show lower on the list.

  • Charlie, My company does not buy and resell products. We build products from multiple raw materials. I am looking to enter our formulas and have the system (quickbooks premiere 2014 manufacturing and wholesale) pull the raw materials from inventory as we build product. Can quickbooks premiere accomplish this task?


    Robert Knaub

  • Charlie,

    I am working with the profitability by product on Premier 2014 manufacturing and wholesale. All of my actual costs are showing up as 0 when I go to the report however. Do you know how to rectify this?

    thanks again,


    • Robert, there are many variables, so it depends on how things are set up and what you are doing. The best would be to have a qualified QB consultant look at your file and your workflow.

      If you are using inventory parts, that would work differently than non-inventory parts. If you aren’t receiving items, that would have an effect. If you have negative inventory balances that has an effect. Many different things, I don’t have enough info to give you specific recommendations

  • Charlie,

    When you create a purchase order, how do you receive it so it flows through to inventory on hand??


    Robert Knaub

  • I am trying to run a report on the most commonly sold inventory items. Just looking to see how many transactions a certain inventory item is sold and sorted highest to lowest. I thank you in advance for any help you could send my way. I’m using QuickBooks 2013 Accountant version.

    • “how many transactions” – rather than just the quantity sold? Depending on what exactly you want, you may want to try a “custom transaction detail report”, filtered for inventory parts and sales transactions, sorted by item. But to get subtotal breaks you’ll have to export that to Excel and do it manually. That will list all the transactions if you want to see that detail.

  • I am new to Quick Books and I am learning as I go, no proper training. We have inventory on hand, but we also do drops ships when we run out of items and a few items are not stocked at all. Our inventory has never stayed correct and we believe it is from drop ships. Any suggestions? More than one warehouse would be helpful.

    • Stacie, I can’t give you a detailed answer in blog comments like this. If you do a drop ship and the item is an “inventory part” then you are going to still have to “receive” it when you pay for it, even if you don’t physically receive the item. It is a hassle if you have items that sometimes you drop ship, sometimes you don’t. There are other things you can do, but they involve work as well, and without knowing a LOT about your business I can’t say what would work better.

      • We are distributors of flooring and roofing tools. We can get one item from several vendors. Most of our vendors mail invoices so entering the bill prior to invoicing the customer rarely happens. We have QB Enterprise, approximately 1500 customers and over a 1000 products. I really need help with the inventory. We are currently looking into an add on just for inventory, but I was researching to see if there was something we could do different with what we have. Where besides intuit can I go for help?

        • Stacie, the best way to get a good answer for the issues for your business is to work with a knowledgeable professional who understands business, QuickBooks, and inventory. One way to find help in your area is to click on the “Find a Consultant” graphic in the upper right corner of this page to find a certified QuickBooks expert who can look at your situation and give advice.

          If you had specific questions about a particular issue we could try to answer them here, but I feel that you need a more detailed analysis than what can be done through blog comments.

          You can also try contacting Tim Grant, one of our authors (https://www.sleeter.com/blog/author/tim-grant/ ), who has extensive inventory experience