Creating an Accountant’s Copy of the QuickBooks 2018 Data File

By Stephen L. Nelson

QuickBooks makes it easier for accountants to work with client data files. Consider this scenario: You have a client who needs help finishing the year’s accounting period. You have two choices. First, you can drive over to his shop, probably getting stuck in traffic along the way, and find yourself wondering whether you can bill the client $150 for your travel time. Second, you can have the client use the Accountant’s Copy feature of QuickBooks to send you a copy of the QuickBooks data file. You can review this accountant’s copy of the data file, make whatever fixes or changes are appropriate, and then send the changes to be made back to the client. The client can easily import these changes into his existing QuickBooks file and go off on his merry way. Pretty neat, right?

Your client creates the accountant’s copy of the QuickBooks data file by using his version of QuickBooks and the real data file. Then your client creates and sends you a file (through postal mail, email, or some other secure electronic format), or Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, sends the file to you. Fortunately, the process is very straightforward either way.

Here’s what your client needs to do if the client will take care of sending the file to you:

  1. Choose the File → Create Copy command.
    QuickBooks displays the Save Copy or Backup dialog box, asking the client whether he wants one of the following: A backup copy of the file, which is a second copy of the QuickBooks file you create (usually) so that you’ll have a copy of the file in case something bad happens to the original QuickBooks data file. A portable copy of the file, which is a real live copy of the QuickBooks data file that’s been slightly scrunched in size so that it’s easier to move around (such as by emailing the file as an attachment). An accountant’s copy of the file.
    The first Save Copy or Backup dialog box.
  2. Select Accountant’s Copy and then click Next to continue.
  3. Confirm that you really want an Accountant’s Copy, and click Next.
    QuickBooks next displays another dialog box to insist that your poor stressed-out client confirm that he really wants an accountant’s copy rather than simply a portable copy of the file.
    The second Save Copy or Backup dialog box.
  4. Specify a dividing date.
    When a client clicks the Next button to continue with the creation of an accountant’s copy, QuickBooks asks him for the dividing date. Transactions falling before this date can be edited only inside the accountant’s copy. Transactions falling after this date can be edited inside both the accountant’s copy and the client’s copy.
  5. Click Next to continue.
    Another message appears, telling the client that QuickBooks must close all the windows to create an accountant’s copy.
  6. Click OK.
    QuickBooks displays an updated Save Accountant’s Copy dialog box, shown here.
    An updated Save Accountant’s Copy dialog box.
  7. Name the accountant’s copy.
    Use the File Name box of the Save Accountant’s Copy dialog box to name the accountant’s copy of the QuickBooks data file. If necessary, the client can also use the Save In drop-down list to specify where the accountant’s copy of the QuickBooks data file should be saved.

    The client needs to remember where the accountant’s copy of the file gets saved. This file is given to the accountant — via email or snail mail, or on a disc — so that he can use it.

  8. Create the file.
    After the client names the accountant’s copy of the data file and indicates, if necessary, where the accountant’s copy should be saved, the client clicks Save. QuickBooks saves an accountant’s copy of the QuickBooks data file. Then this data file is transmitted to the accountant by the client. In other words, the client needs to snail-mail or email the file. Your email provider may limit the size of attachments (including QuickBooks files) that you can send via email. If the size thing fouls you up, you can upload the QuickBooks file to the Intuit website by choosing File → Send Company File →Accountant’s Copy →Client Activities → Send to Accountant. Intuit sends the accountant a message with a clickable link that she can use to grab the file.

Accountant copies use three file types. The Accountant Transfer File (with the .qbx file extension) is what a client creates and gives to the accountant. The actual Accountant’s Copy (with the .qba file extension) is what the accountant works with after he or she opens the Accountant Transfer File. Finally, there’s the Accountant Export File (with the .qby file extension), which holds the changes that go back to the client.

Obviously, it may not actually be your client who takes these steps; you may have to do the dirty work. In either case, however, that’s how the process works. Note, however, that the real-time savings for the accountant and the cost savings to the client occur when you can get the client to choose the command and work with the dialog box. Then you can charge billable time for actually working with QuickBooks data rather than for fiddle-faddling with the file.