QuickBooks 2018 Has Arrived! Here Is What to Expect

Written by Charlie Russell

QuickBooks 2018 for the Windows desktop is here! This release contains several new features as well as improvements to existing ones. I’ll list the major changes that I’m aware of in this article. There are a number of small enhancements that may make your life easier, plus a significant new order fulfillment feature for QuickBooks Enterprise inventory users that has me excited.

Charlie Russell will present the session, Keeping Up With QuickBooks Desktop — A Look Ahead, at Accountex USA 2017.

Note that QuickBooks Accountant should be available now (or very soon) to members of the ProAdvisor program. The general release for everyone else will probably be available by the end of September.

I’m going to split this up into four articles that will publish this week:

QuickBooks 2018

Here’s a quick summary of the new and improved features. Note that I’m working with the US versions in this article. It is not clear to me when these features will be available in the Canadian or UK versions of QuickBooks.

Please note that these screen shots were taken from a pre-release version, so there may be some minor differences from what you see in your copy.

The following new/updated features are available in all Windows versions of QuickBooks 2018 (Pro, Premier, Accountant, and Enterprise) in the US, Canada and UK:

  • Multiple monitor support: Intuit has added some features that make it easier to work with multiple monitors (up to three). It is a nice feature, although some people might be a bit disappointed with how this was implemented.
  • Search in the Chart of Accounts: Odd, I didn’t realize that we couldn’t already search for an account in the Chart of Accounts. If you work with a lot of accounts then this will be helpful.
  • Cash/Accrual toggle on reports: A nice enhancement that makes it a bit easier to switch the basis of your financial reports. If you flip between Cash and Accrual often, this will be helpful.
  • Past Due Stamp: If you resend copies of past-due invoices to your customers, this feature makes it clear that they are past due. This is a reasonably flexible feature.
  • New keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting lines in transactions.
  • Inventory report enhancements: It has always bothered me that many of the QuickBooks inventory reports could not be modified to add columns or change filters. Finally, Intuit is addressing this shortcoming for some of the inventory reports.

QuickBooks Enterprise has a new inventory-centric feature that I’m very excited about. This year, after several years of lowered expectations, the Enterprise development team has embarked on the first step of what I hope will be a series of major new inventory features.

  • Enhanced Order Fulfillment with mobile barcode scanning: This is a major feature that I’m going to address in depth in an upcoming article. It will only be available in the US. Intuit is revamping the workflow for “picking” inventory items to fulfill open sales orders. A key part of this is the ability to work with remote devices, including a barcode scanner, in the picking process. You won’t have to be tethered directly to a desktop or laptop computer running QuickBooks when you scan items! Very exciting.

QuickBooks Accountant and QuickBooks Enterprise Accountant have this feature, which isn’t found in the non-Accountant versions:

  • Merge vendors: There is a new workflow that will let you merge vendors in your vendor list. It works nicely, but there are limitations as to when you can use this.

Security has been a big focus for the QuickBooks development team for the past couple of years, and that continues this year. If you remember last year’s security/password hullaballoo, don’t worry. I’ve not come across any security change that is going to make your life miserable. The following security enhancements will be a part of all editions of QuickBooks 2018 (US, Canada and UK):

  • Secure web mail: Intuit has updated how QuickBooks works with web mail accounts, using a more secure integration method that resolves many concerns I had about the older approach.
  • Internet Explorer support: Starting with this release you must have Internet Explorer 11 to be able to use many functions in QuickBooks. Older versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported. This is (mostly) a security update.
  • Internal component updates: Continuing with the process they started a few years ago, Intuit is updating several of the internal components to improve security. In this release, they are changing from SHA1 to SHA2 for storing user credentials, upgrading to Sybase version 17, and upgrading to .Net Framework 4.6.2. No noticeable impact that you will notice, just bringing the products up to date with modern security protocols.
  • Additional PII encryption: There were a few PII (personally identifiable information) fields in the database that should have been internally encrypted that weren’t. This update catches those.
  • Changes for QuickBooks Add-ons: If you have an add-on that works with QuickBooks in “unattended” mode (that is, it accesses QuickBooks in the background), there may be an additional preference setting that you will need to change in order for your app to continue accessing QuickBooks. Details on this are a bit vague right now.

QuickBooks Payroll has an improved function. As I avoid “payroll” religiously (any form of it, not just Intuit products), I wasn’t able to test this. Intuit is adding a payroll reminder badge that will highlight when you have an upcoming deadline for payroll liabilities.

QuickBooks Payments will add the option of providing Level 3 data to your customers who use commercial credit cards. This can shorten the time it takes certain kinds of customers to release funds to you.

I’ll go into the details of all of these changes in this and the next few articles.

Should You Install This Release?

I’ve been working with the beta-test version for a few months now, and for the most part this seems to be pretty clean. However, a few comments:

  • As a general rule of thumb, I always recommend that you wait until at least January before you use the new product to run your business. This is based on past experience. Right now Intuit is releasing the R1 update, and this has only gone through the beta testing process. I’ve seen a few minor glitches in the regular program that are hard to duplicate. Sometimes additional problems are discovered when a larger number of users start running it. I suggest you don’t want to take a chance of experiencing major upheavals until you’ve gotten through your year-end process. By January we should have a good idea of how stable the product is.
  • If you are an accounting professional or ProAdvisor, go ahead and install it now. I’m running it on a system that has older versions of QuickBooks installed and I’m not seeing anything that interferes with the older versions. You want to study the new features, and in another month you may be getting new clients that have purchased the product, so you want to be ready.
  • For Enterprise users, I would be cautious about implementing the new Enhanced Order Fulfillment. Play with it first in a test company. Several reasons for this:
    • It will take time to acquire the new scanning hardware, which really makes the feature worth using.
    • It will take time for you to change your workflow and use the new feature. There are a lot of details to understand.
    • This feature is still evolving, and I believe that there will be a lot of changes over the next few months. Wait until things have settled down.

All in all I am happy with this release. We aren’t seeing a lot of big changes in Pro and Premier, so there isn’t as much to compel those users to upgrade, but you may see something that catches your interest. Intuit is continuing with their policy of incremental user-requested features in Pro and Premier, and improving the overall security of the programs. As I expected, the only major new feature is found in QuickBooks Enterprise, and I am very excited about the direction that Intuit is taking with inventory management there.

So, let’s take a look at the details of this release.

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.


  • Hi Charlie. Thanks for the update. Being able to customize the inventory reports is HUGE. I agree, why did it take so long? I also like the concept of mobile barcode scanning in the inventory process. I’m looking forward to hearing about how exactly QuickBooks handles this.

    BTW, I tried to download my 2018 Enterprise software from my QBOA Pro Advisor account. Tried it on Chrome, IE and Edge, and the product details, as well as the licensing information windows just show spinning dials. The download button does not light up. Just me, or can others get in?

    Thank you, Tim Grant

  • Hi Charlie,
    Thanks for the update of quickbooks 2018 i am very impressed by the features of quickbooks 2018 and i totally agree with you it is helpful to make our life more easier this article is very interesting thanks for nice information.

  • Good article, however I am abet overwhelmed by all the options available.
    I am just starting a new LLC and need to figure which flavor of QuickBooks (Pro vs. Premium) you would recommend? And if Premium, which version? The type of business is real estate investments. Buying and selling residential properties (i.e. flipping houses). There WILL NOT be ANY W2 employees. Only 1099s paid to a 3rd party company. In researching the Intuit products it has become very confusing which is the best for the Real Estate industry. Can you advise which one is best for my industry?
    Thank you,
    Al Bjornnes

    • I haven’t heard of any significant changes to the SDK. Doesn’t mean that there won’t be one, but my guess is that this is very low priority for them. Besides, outside of Enterprise, QuickBooks hasn’t evolved very much, and in Enterprise they tend to not provide SDK access to advanced features.

  • Hello Charlie,

    Have you heard any rumors of an updated SDK? I know, I know the desktop version is a relic and should not expect much love and we should all be moving to the cloud… 🙂 Most of my clients, however, are using inventory features, sales orders, order fulfillment, assemblies and host of other things not coming anytime soon to the web. So, any news?

    Thank you,

      • Thank you…I had scanned the whole thread and somehow missed the very last post. :/ The answer is as I expected sadly.

        • Just one further thought. I guess it’s wishful thinking but I really wish since they have abandoned the SDK for all practical purposes that they would just give us a way to get at the raw data and let us read and write any byte of data as is the case with any modern application. Make us sign a waiver or whatever and just let us have at the information. That must be a valuable feature to a lot of folks.

          • As a long-time developer of QuickBooks SDK apps, I am extremely frustrated by the QuickBooks SDK on many levels. Lack of access to many tables and fields in tables, archaic reliance on old technologies, extremely poor performance characteristics, and more.

            On the other hand, Intuit hasn’t completely abandoned us. Last year they reopened a desktop apps marketplace, which totally surprised me. I didn’t think they would do that: https://www.accountexnetwork.com/blog/2016/09/quickbooks-desktop-app-marketplace/

            Intuit does surprise me on occasion, but in this case I don’t expect to ever have direct access to the data. Actually, very few companies allow access to raw data, they generally have you go through an API of some sort, but I don’t expect there to be an improved API either (they tried one a few years ago and it was a mess, and was abandoned). Some reasons why I think “raw data” access won’t happen:

            – Intuit wants to push developers to go to QuickBooks Online

            – “raw data” wouldn’t help developers in many cases. Lots of the data is stored in “blob” structures, rather than normal database fields. Very hard to unpack those with accuracy

            – On many levels, Intuit is very, very concerned about data security. They are tightening up data security in many ways, including greater reliance on encrypted fields as well as placing more and more restrictions on how you can access data. Allowing “raw data” access is completely the opposite of what they are trying to do to protect user data.

            Just my opinion, based on long-time experience with Intuit and QuickBooks.

  • (I generally don’t recommend putting the new version of the product into use until at least January, in general.)

    does this also apply to Security?

    • Well, I addressed that in the article in detail, Jonathan. In general, for clients, I wouldn’t move to this release yet. R1 is the last beta test release, so any issues found in beta testing last stages haven’t been fixed.

      Usually they don’t have an R2 release. R2 is reserved for emergency fixes of R1. The next release I expect to see is R3. And even then, I recommend caution.

  • I was reading your information on 2018 because I need to test my sdk products. I have custom and production products. I need to call them and get the NFR. But they may be wrong I do not think that you need Internet Explorer at all for Quickbooks starting in 2017. It uses the CEF Browser(chrome extended framework) they use a sub project called CefSharp you can find the files in the main folder and the source on GitHub so I do not know why they say anything about Intrenet Explorer.

    • While they might be using that for new features and windows, they haven’t changed over all the prior windows that rely on Internet Explorer. I can’t say if they are going to change over all of the older windows. QuickBooks still does a check for IE when it starts up, and won’t run if it isn’t found.

  • Currently running QB Pro 2016 contractor’s edition and have 180 employees. We run payroll reports but qb won’t create the report due to the 256 column limit. This limit is from excel 2003! The report winds up being around 700 columns. Our current version of excel can have more than 13,000 columns. Talked with several folks at QB including executive management and tech department. They acknowledged that was a problem but have never resolved it.

    Has QB 2018 corrected this issue?

      • Daniel, Thank you for your response. When I run a payroll report for let’s say fiscal year 2017, then click the Excel box, then click create new worksheet, then click the CSV radio button, and then Export, it states “Your report has too many columns to print. Consider splitting the report in two and printing each half separately.” This is what I’m trying to get away from because the rows on each report won’t line up correctly. For example, a garnishment for Alvarez won’t show up in the second half meaning I have to go through the entire document, re line up everything and hope I did not make a mistake.

        Is there another way to export to CSV?

    • I don’t have a way to test that, Eric. I’m not aware of a change like that, but I will note that Intuit almost never tells anyone what bugs they have fixed when they release a new year of the product.

  • I just stumbled across your page, . . . . very informative. My company has been utilizing QuickBooks for almost 18 years and it seems that when we are about to outgrow it due to one issue or another, our concern is addressed in the next update. However, I am still patiently awaiting QuickBooks to tell me the Payroll Service can now address working out of state on different line items. Meaning if a repairman is working in AR one day, MS the next and then AL the next, I can have the state withholding be withheld automatically and paid to the respective state. Has this been brought up by others OR do you know of a Qbooks addon that can accomplish this task?

  • In the new Quickbooks, is there a Year end function as my older version become very slow and every year I have to open a whole new Company and import and export everything. This is very time consuming and I struggle with the Vat account.

    • There are ways to condense a file, if it is getting very large. However, the most effective version of the Condense feature is only found in the Accountant edition. And, this is a process that has a lot of tricky issues, so it isn’t something that I recommend that you do on your own. Working with an experienced QuickBooks ProAdvisor will help, but this can be an expensive service. Also, I don’t know which national version you are using, or what year of product, so that might be a problem with finding someone to help.

    • I’m sorry, your question doesn’t make sense to me. Are you asking if the features listed here also appear in Enterprise? If so, then yes. All features that show in Pro and Premier also show in Enterprise.

  • My firm upgraded from QB Pro 2015 to QB Pro 2018. Strangely, it changed the payment method of customer payments received over many years from check (always checks, we don’t take credit cards) to either wire transfer or Visa. I’m wondering if anyone else has seen this occur(?). I didn’t find anything in the QB community.

    Thanks … Linda

  • Hi
    I see the new Quick books still has no year end function. I process a lot of invoices and after a year or two my data on the system is a lot which makes QuickBooks very slow and I then have to open a new company and transfer everything over to the new company. There are a lot of problems occurring by doing this such as vat and no comparison with previous year figures. I am sure there must be other users that has the same problem. Perhaps QuickBooks can look into this problem.

    • Hi Ivan. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘no year end function.’ There is a process for closing out at the end of a year. You can also run comparison financials by clicking on the Custom button in the report and changing the ‘Sort By’ column to a specific period like month, quarter, etc. This gives you side-by-side numbers. You are right that QuickBooks does not track VAT.

      I suggest you reach out to a QuickBooks Pro Advisor in your area that can help you with the workings of QuickBooks. The best way to do this is through the website: http://www.findaproadvisor.com. Thank you, Tim G.

  • Thanks, Charlie Russell!
    The information provided here is very helpful for Quickbooks user. The new features of Quickbooks 2018 will really prove to be great benefits for businessmen willing to manage their account and payroll.

  • Great read! love it!

    We definitely recommend QuickBooks (and QBO) to all of our accounting and tax clients. I am sure most accounting firms would agree that QB is extremely easy to use even for those who have no experience in accounting.

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