How to Create an Accountant’s Copy of the QuickBooks Data File

By Stephen L. Nelson

Your client creates the accountant’s copy of the QuickBooks data file by using his version of QuickBooks and the real data file, and then either creates a file that the he or she sends to you (such as through the mail or via email) or that Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, sends to you. Fortunately, the process is very straightforward either way.

Manually handling the accountant’s copy

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

    • A backup copy of the file, which is a second copy of the QuickBooks file you create (usually) so 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 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.

      The first Save Copy or Backup dialog box.
  2. Select Accountant’s Copy and then click Next to continue.

  3. Confirm you really want an Accountant’s Copy.

    QuickBooks next displays another dialog box that insists your poor stressed-out client confirm he really wants an accountant’s copy rather than simply a portable copy of the file.

    The second Save Copy or Backup dialog box.

    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.

    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.

Electronically sending the accountant’s copy

Your client can also send a copy of the QuickBooks accountant’s copy electronically by using Intuit’s file transfer service. To do this, the client chooses File→Send Company File→Accountant’s Copy→Client Activities→Send to Accountant. QuickBooks provides onscreen instructions for sending, or uploading, the accountant’s copy to the Intuit server, including the steps for adding a password to secure the uploaded file.

After the accountant’s copy is uploaded, the Intuit server sends the accountant an email message with a link the accountant can use to download the accountant’s copy file. As noted, the client provides a password to restrict access to the downloaded file, so the accountant needs this password from the client before the download. The accountant also needs any QuickBooks password to open the downloaded file.

You want to use the Send Company File command or have your clients use the Send Company File command if you can. The Send Company File command saves you much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It also provides a highly secure way to share accountant’s copies. The link in the email message you get from Intuit expires after a few days. Accordingly, if your client sends you the file on the first day of your two-week vacation, the link won’t work when you get back to the office. The link will have expired.