Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fine-Tuning QuickBooks

You can specify how QuickBooks works for you by setting preferences. In fact, just so you know, much of what you do when you run the QuickBooks EasyStep Interview (when you set up QuickBooks) is provide information that QuickBooks uses to set your preferences. For example, if you indicate that you charge customers sales tax, the EasyStep Interview describes how sales tax should work for your business by using the sales tax preferences.

Because these preferences have so much effect on how QuickBooks works and on how a particular user works with QuickBooks. None of this material is particularly complicated, but because QuickBooks provides you with a rich set of preferences options, I cover quite a bit of material. Simply use it as a reference when you have a question about how to change the way QuickBooks works in a particular area.

Accessing the Preferences Settings

You can set preferences within QuickBooks in two ways:

  • During the EasyStep Interview: You actually set all the preferences, or at least all the starting preferences for QuickBooks, when you run the EasyStep Interview. Most of the time, the preferences that the EasyStep Interview sets are correct. The EasyStep Interview is very smart about the way it asks questions and translates your answers into preferences settings. But if your business changes, or if you make a mistake during the setup interview, or if someone else in your office ran the EasyStep Interview for you, you may still need to check and fiddle-faddle with these preferences.

  • By manually changing the preferences: You can manually change the preferences by choosing the Edit ð Preferences command. QuickBooks displays the Preferences dialog box, as shown in Figure 1. QuickBooks groups categories of preferences. For example, QuickBooks groups all the accounting preferences into an accounting preference set. QuickBooks groups all the checking account preferences into a checking preference set. If you look closely at Figure 1, you see that along the left edge of the Preferences dialog box, QuickBooks displays a list of icons. The first icon is Accounting. The second icon is Checking. To see the preferences within one of these groups, you click that preference's icon.

    Figure 1: The Preferences dialog box

One other item to note about the Preferences dialog box is that it supplies, in general, two tabs of preferences for each preference set. Preferences that are specific to an individual user appear on the My Preferences tab, shown in Figure 1. Preferences that are tied to the company data file appear on the Company Preferences tab, shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Company Preferences tab of the Preferences dialog box

Not every My Preferences tab gives you options for changing the way that QuickBooks works. Sometimes a particular set of preferences gives personal options; sometimes it doesn't.

For example, the My Preferences tab of the Accounting set of preferences provides no personalized options. In other words, you can't tell QuickBooks that a firm's accounting works differently for a particular person. This makes sense, right? Accounting needs to work the same way for every user within a firm. However, with other preferences settings, QuickBooks may allow different options for different users. You'll see this as I discuss the various sets of preferences in the remainder of this chapter.

And now, I'm just going to walk you through a discussion of each of these preferences sets. I talk both about the My Preferences option (if available) and the Company Preferences option.

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