The free QuickBooks Online (QBO) exporter loses lots of data when it converts (or backups) to QuickBooks Desktop (QBD)

The free QuickBooks Online (QBO) exporter loses lots of data when it converts (or backups) to QuickBooks Desktop (QBD).

Advanced users knew of some losses ever since we got QBO but, even after all these years, the extent of the losses are shocking. QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) loses all attachments and many QBO fields when converting. It does not matter if you convert to QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier or QuickBooks Enterprise.

The related main Intuit QuickBooks post is Export limitations when moving from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop. I cannot effectively summarize this long post, so here it is:

If you’re considering exporting list and transaction data from QuickBooks Online (QBO) to QuickBooks Desktop, this article will help you understand the limitations and capabilities of the process. To export, see Visual Guide to Export.

Note: There are no restrictions when it comes to the size of your file (MB). As long as your system has enough disk space, you should be able to export all your data.

Here are some software requirements that may limit exporting:

  • Exporting from QuickBooks Online requires QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Premier, or Enterprise 2004 or newer installed on your Windows based computer.
  • You can export from QuickBooks Simple Start Online to QuickBooks Simple Start Desktop versions 2004 & 2005, but not to versions 2006 or newer.
  • You can export from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Basic 2004 Release 5 or later, but no older versions.
  • An additional step* is needed when exporting to the Premier Non-Profit or Retail editions.
  • You can’t export directly to any Mac versions of QuickBooks. See Exporting from QuickBooks Online to Quickbooks for Mac for more details.
  • QuickBooks Desktop versions require the use of Internet Explorer and does not support the use of other browsers at this time.
  • Exporting from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop only works with Internet Explorer 11.

*Change the Industry Edition to General Edition. When exporting is done, change it back to the Non-Profit or Retail edition.

You can use the following links to quickly jump to a specific topic:

Audit Log

Audit Log data is not exported but it can be printed within QBO or saved as a PDF.

Back to Topic List

Cash purchases

Cash purchases are converted to checks.

Back to Topic List

Chart of Accounts

All accounts are exported with the same name with some exceptions:

  • The Account Name is limited to 31 characters which includes spaces, numbers, and special characters. Parent accounts and sub-accounts are counted separately.

Note: To determine the number of characters in a list:

  1. Go to Reports from the sidebar on the left.
  2. Choose Account List and select Customize from the three-dotted line icon.
  3. Select Run report to generate the account listing.
  4. Select the export drop-down icon and choose Export to Excel.
  5. Use the Excel function LEN.
  • The detail type is not exported.
  • Account numbers are exported, but only appear if you turn on the preference. You will see instructions on how to do that after exporting successfully.
  • Deleted accounts are exported as inactive accounts and will lose their account numbers.

Back to Topic List

Class List

  • The Class Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • Deleted classes are exported as inactive classes.

Back to Topic List

Customer Center

All data about each customer is exported with the following exceptions:

  • The Display Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • The Full Name and Company Name are each limited to 41 characters.
  • You may see errors when exporting customers and sub-customers which have the same names.
  • The Billing Address and Ship Address are each limited to three lines with 41 characters each.
  • The E-mail address is limited to 81 characters.
  • The Customer Notes, Preferred Delivery Method, Mobile Number, Pager Number, and Is Taxable status are not exported.
  • Deleted customers are exported as inactive customers.
  • If a sub-customer has default terms, they are changed to match its parent customer’s default terms.
  • Customer Credit Card information is not exported due to PCI compliance. The processor compliance portion of this deals with credit card information belonging to our users’ customers. When QuickBooks Online users process merchant account transactions or use the credit card field on the customer record, rules for how those information are handled apply including transferring to another version of software.

Back to Topic List

Employee List

  • The Display Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • The Full Name is limited to 39 characters.
  • Employee Notes are not exported.
  • Deleted employees are exported as inactive employees.

Back to Topic List

Field Limitations in QuickBooks

  • QuickBooks has different character limits for certain fields. See Character limitations for fields in QuickBooks.
  • Any transaction in QBO that exceeds the limitations for QuickBooks Desktop will have the characters shortened for every field.
    For example: If your reference number for invoices in QBO is 15 characters, they will be shortened to the limit of a QuickBooks Desktop invoice reference number field which is 11.
  • Most export errors are due to list names that are too long. If you have any list names that are longer than the limits described in this article, edit the items and shorten the names before exporting.

Back to Topic List

List Item Limit

  • The number of combined list items in QuickBooks Pro or Premier is 14,500.
  • If any one list has more than 10,000 list items, only the first 10,000 will be exported.
  • If you have more than the limit in QuickBooks Online, you will have to use QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise.

Back to Topic List


  • Companies that use multi-currency should not be exported to QuickBooks Desktop. The export may fail altogether, resulting in an empty QuickBooks Desktop file. Even if the export does succeed, any transactions in currencies other than US Dollars will be changed into USD without being converted properly.
  • You may also see other errors such as duplicate or missing transactions if you export QBO files that use multi-currency.

Back to Topic List

Other Lists

The following lists don’t exist in QuickBooks Online. These lists will be created in QuickBooks Desktop and will contain their default list items except the following:

Customer TypePurchase Order
Job TypeSales Rep
Memorized ReportShip Via
Other NamesTemplates
Payroll ItemTo Do
Price LevelVendor Type

Back to Topic List

Payment Method List:

  • The Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • All data about each payment method is exported.

Back to Topic List

Payroll Information:

  • Paychecks and Liability Payments
    • They are exported as regular checks.
    • The Pay Period and Liability Period is not exported.
    • If a check number field is blank, QuickBooks Desktop will automatically assign a number that may cause duplicates.
  • After exporting, if you want to continue running your payroll with a QuickBooks payroll service (such as QuickBooks Assisted Payroll, QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll Plus, or QuickBooks Standard Payroll), you will need to set up payroll again then enter year-to-date information.

Back to Topic List


Company preferences, including company information, are not exported and will need to be populated before using other features in QuickBooks.

Back to Topic List

Products and Services List

Products and services are converted to items and are tracked in the Item List with the following exceptions:

  • Individual products and services will be converted as such:
    • Inventory items are converted as inventory items.
      • All inventory, COGs, and purchase/sales account information are exported.
      • The existing quantity on hand and the corresponding asset values are also exported.
        Note: Even though asset values are exported, inventory records will be inaccurate. The COGs and Inventory Asset accounts will have incorrect balances due to different calculation methods used by QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.
    • Non-Inventory items are converted as non-inventory items.
    • Categories are converted as inventory/non-inventory/service items.
      • A category will be converted as a service item when the sub-product/service items are tagged as service items. This behavior is the same for categories mapped to inventory/non-inventory product/services.
      • QuickBooks Desktop doesn’t allow sub-items of different types in parent/sub relationships. All categories must have items of the same type to allow all sub-items to be exported.
    • Bundle items can’t be exported.
  • The Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • The Taxable Status is not exported.

Back to Topic List


Back to Topic List

Recurring Transaction List, Terms List, and Budgets

  • Information in these lists will not be exported.
  • The corresponding lists in QuickBooks Desktop will contain their default list items.
  • Recurring templates in QBO are called memorized transactions in QuickBooks Desktop.

Back to Topic List


  • QuickBooks Online doesn’t have all the reports that QuickBooks Desktop has.
  • Some of the reports are slightly different in QuickBooks Desktop.

Although Accrual Basis reports match in both products, your Cash Basis reports may not. The cash basis calculations are subjective because the two products have different ways of determining what is paid. These differences will be displayed on the reports but the actual account balances will always match after the conversion.

For example, transactions using inventory items affect COGS and Inventory Asset accounts differently in the two products. Any unpaid or partially paid transactions using an inventory item that affects the COGS account will result in differences in the Cash Basis reports. Fully paid transactions will not be affected. The differences are:

    • In QuickBooks Desktop, every inventory item on a transaction represents three accounts and three amounts: Income, Inventory Asset, and COGS. One line in the transaction represents three lines, as shown in the Journal Report for the transaction. As Income starts to get paid off by payments, a proportional amount of the payment is included to the COGS lines. This affects the cash basis reports.
    • QuickBooks Online treats all the lines as separate, so the COGS line is fully paid by the asset line when the invoice is saved.
    • Both products treat the asset account the same way (including the way payments are made to it).

Another example is the use of negative lines on invoices. Suppose you have a service income line of $1000 and a discount of $ -100 and no payments:

    • In QuickBooks Online, your cash basis P&L report will show $100 of income and $ -100 of discount.
    • In QuickBooks Desktop, no portion of an unpaid invoice shows in any cash basis P&L report.
    • Similarly, as payments are received:
      • QuickBooks Desktop prorates the amount of the discount that shows in the P&L.
      • QuickBooks Online continues to show the entire amount.
    • Your accrual reports are unaffected by this change.
  • Memorized reports will not be exported.

Back to Topic List

Sales Tax

  • Sales tax information on invoices are not exported. Instead, invoices will gain an additional line item representing the sales tax.
  • Sales tax items/rates are exported as service items and cannot be used as sales tax items in QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Sales tax payments and sales tax adjustments are not exported.

Back to Topic List

Time-Tracking Activities

All time activity information is exported with the exception of Location, as there is no comparable feature in QuickBooks Desktop. Note that while the activities themselves are exported, the “physical” time sheets are not.

Back to Topic List


  • Credit Memos
  • Sales Receipts
  • Received payments and bill payments
  • Links between bills and bill payments
  • Links between invoices and received payments
  • Invoices
    • Invoices that contain charges, credits, billable expenses, or time associated with sub-customers will be separated into one invoice per customer.
      Note: Because of rounding differences in the two formats, there may be instances when payments applied to certain invoices will fail. In this case, you will need to manually edit the invoice and correct the amount, and enter the associated payment if it didn’t export.
  • Refund Receipts
    • Each refund receipt is converted to a credit memo and check (if the refund is from a bank account) or to a general journal entry (for refunds from other types of accounts).
  • Bills, checks, credit card charges, credit card credits, vendor credits, journal entries, and deposits
    • If a check number field is blank, QuickBooks Desktop will automatically assign a number that may cause duplicates. To avoid this, enter some notation in the check number field (for example EFT) before exporting.
  • Any transaction with two or more Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable lines become multiple journal entries. One entry is created for each A/R or A/P line.
  • Tax is exported as a detail line item, instead of using the QuickBooks Pro or Premier Tax feature.
Not Exported
  • Billable status on a deposit
  • Recurring transactions and unaccepted online banking transactions
  • Attachments linked to transactions (invoices, expenses and checks, etc)
  • Location information, custom field data, markups, and To Be Sent status
  • Voided transactions of these types: received payments, transfers, and bill payments made by check or credit card

Back to Topic List

Transfer funds

Fund transfers are converted to general journal entries.

Back to Topic List

User and Location List

  • The user list information, located on the Manage users page, does not exist in QuickBooks Desktop.
  • The locations list is also not converted. Locations have different naming conventions, but all are considered the same field in QuickBooks Online.
  • Additionally, locations may also be referred to as:
    • Business
    • Department
    • Division
    • Property
    • Store
    • Territory

Back to Topic List

Vendor List

  • The Display Name is limited to 31 characters.
  • The Full Name and Company Name are each limited to 41 characters.
  • The Print on Check As field is limited to 41 characters.
  • The Address is limited to three lines with 41 characters each.
  • The E-mail Address is limited to 81 characters.
  • The Vendor Notes, Mobile number, and Pager number are not exported.
  • Deleted vendors are exported as inactive vendors.
  • The 1099 status is not exported; vendors who receive 1099s will need to be edited and re-marked for 1099.

Back to Topic List 1447






About the Author ()

Fastest, easiest, accurate, low-cost QuickBooks! Intuit - QuickBooks CEO, "You're fantastic Mike! Absolutely fantastic!" Tax fighting CPA.

Comments are closed.

Skip to toolbar