Introducing QuickBooks 2020 Desktop

| September 3, 2019

Intuit has announced QuickBooks 2020 for the desktop (for the US), here’s my quick rundown of what is new, and changed, for this year. This is just a quick summary. I’ve not had a chance to actually play with all of these features in detail, yet.

Looking over the list, I have a few comments:

  • As I’ve said before, you will only see relatively small incremental changes in QuickBooks Pro and Premier (and Accountant). These are nice changes, but nothing that will make most businesses salivate over the new release.
  • It also is apparent that the most significant new features are in Enterprise, and the biggies there are related to inventory. That fits what I see as the Intuit master plan for these products. And if you really want to get the most out of the new inventory features, you need the most expensive Platinum subscription.
  • These features are being released now just to accountants, they should be available to the general public by the end of this month (my guess, based on past experience). These are the R1 release, and as always I highly recommend that you do not rush out and upgrade your business to this version. Wait for a couple of months to see if there are any new issues, any problems. The R1 release doesn’t usually have any fixes that come from the last round of beta testing – you won’t see that until the R3 release, and even then I usually recommend that you wait awhile. Why be a guinea pig? Let someone else sweat out the issues. Now, that doesn’t mean that I know of problems with this first release. I’m just very, very cautious (and experience shows that it is better to wait a bit).

New Features Available in all US Versions of QuickBooks 2020 Desktop

Customer PO Number on Invoice Email Subject Line

It seems like a silly little thing, but people ask for it (which is why Intuit added it). Why did it take so long? In your Send Forms Preferences you can insert a field in the customer invoice email template that will insert the Customer PO Number on the subject line. Some businesses require this kind of documentation in emails they receive, so this helps automate things.

Combine Multiple Emails

This works for vendors, employees, and customer:jobs. In your Send Forms Preferences you have the option to combine multiple attachments (such as invoices) for the same vendor, employee or customer:job into one email, so that you don’t have to send multiple separate emails for each document. This is a nice change that will be useful for some businesses. Note, though, that if you have links for QuickBooks Payments on your invoices, this feature won’t be available for your customers.

Automated Customer Payment Reminders

Payment Reminders menu item has been added in the Customers menu, and you can use this to send payment reminders to your clients via email. You can create an email template, manage the mailing list, and schedule email distribution for your lists. Reminders that are sent can be seen in the History link when you display an invoice, as well as in the Sent Email tab in the customer record.

Intuit has played with this concept in several different ways in the past, but none of those have stuck. This time around, I think the feature has a better chance of sticking around (I hope?). I strongly recommend testing this out before you actually use it on your “real” customers, though, so you are familiar with how it will present itself to your customers. It can be useful if you need to send reminders, BUT if you have to rely on this approach for a large number of customers then you may want to talk to your accounting adviser to see if there is a way that you can reconfigure your business practices.

Collapse Columns Horizontally

Sometimes you have a report that you see on screen that has a large number of columns – but you may want to export that to Excel (or print it) with only a few of the columns, to compress the report. You now have the option of “collapsing” columns easily on screen by just clicking a symbol on the column header. This is simpler than editing the report template.

Company File Search

This probably is more useful for accountants working with multiple client files, I think. In the No Company Open window there is a new Find a company file button that makes it easier to find a file that isn’t listed on screen

QuickBooks Payroll

If you have a current QuickBooks Payroll subscription there are a few new features. Some of these may take some time to show up, as they are being rolled out in phases over time.

  • Easy Payroll Setup is a simplified setup experience where you can invite your employee to set up their own personal information. I’m not sure if I’m in favor of this, but if you have a lot of employees (or a lot of employee turnover) it may make sense?
  • Payroll Status for Direct Deposit provides the business owner with a way to easily view the status of direct deposit processing. Very useful.

QuickBooks Enterprise Inventory

I’ve said it in the past multiple times, most of the innovative changes in QuickBooks Desktop will come in the Enterprise versions, and lots of them will be inventory-centric updates.

Inventory Cycle Count

This really isn’t new to Enterprise 2020 (V20), it has been around in some fashion since Enterprise 2019 (V19) R3. Cycle counting is an important inventory management feature for many businesses, and Intuit has been adding capabilities in this area. I’m not sure that they have gone far enough to make it REALLY useful, but they are heading in the right direction (they need better reporting functionality to support it to my satisfaction). Cycle counting is, to state it very simply, the process of counting subsets of your stock rather than having to count EVERYTHING at one time. Enterprise is supporting this, although there are differences depending on the version of Enterprise you are using.

If you have the Platinum subscription then you get cycle counting using mobile devices, which is very useful.

Landed Cost Calculation

I’m going to have to dig in to this one to see if they did it right. It is worth investigating! If you have a Platinum subscription with Advanced Inventory then you can enable a Landed Cost feature. The cost of obtaining inventory includes not only the material cost, but the cost of things like freight, insurance, and others. This feature appears to allow you to build in those costs into your inventory valuation. I really hope it works, because it is critical for some businesses!

Alternate Vendors

Again, only with a Platinum subscription. An improved view that will let you see vendor contact and pricing data when you are creating a purchase order. This is something that has been requested for years.

Express Pick-Pack

Only available with a Platinum subscription (are you seeing the trend here?). This feature allows you to combine the picker and packer functions into one process, rather then their having to be totally separate tasks. For many businesses this will be a great time saver. I wish they had done this in an earlier release, as most businesses using Enterprise are probably not separating those two functions.

QuickBooks for Mac 2020

A few years ago I said that QuickBooks for Mac was dead – boy, was I wrong! In my defense, at the time I said that, it was true, but for some reason the product was revived. I don’t work with QuickBooks for Mac so I can’t comment about these features, but here is a quick rundown:

  • Modernized Reporting: A new reporting system that provides improved customization, usability, presentation and navigation. I hope it works – this is an area where lots of QuickBooks for Mac users have been complaining about their product.
  • Improved Company Snapshot: A dashboard that gives you insight as to how your business is performing. Looks interesting, but so often Intuit goes just part way. We’ll see…
  • Mojave Operating System Dark Mode: If you use a Mac, you understand why this might be important.
  • Invoice e-Payments allows you to send customers electronic invoices with online ACH, credit card and e-check options. Something that is sorely missing in earlier versions, and this should be really useful if it works well. It should, since the back end is the QuickBooks Payments system that is used in the Windows version already. You’ll have to subscribe to QuickBooks Payments to get this.
  • Bounced Check Processing
  • iPhone Scanner to upload text searchable images to QuickBooks from your iPhone. Only if you have iOS 12 or newer.
  • Improved Text Searchable Images to search scanned PDF images for text. Note, though, that you have to have Adobe Acrobat when this is used with Intuit Online Payroll.

For more details…

For a little bit more detail on these new features, along with some screen shots, I recommend that you see the product announcement by Laura Madeira. My friend Laura has been writing these product announcements for Intuit for many years now, and I know that she spends a lot of time ferreting out the details.

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Category: Product Reviews, QuickBooks 2020

About the Author (Author Profile)

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He’s been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70’s, focusing on inventory and accounting software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Glad to see my ‘old friend’ is still staying on top of things… and giving us his conclusions and opinions. As always, words to treasure.


  2. sagar says:

    best place and price to by the desktop version for Mac. All I have heard Quciken will stop supporting the desk top version is that true? Or and when when appe updates their system quickbooks does not work with the latest updates.

    • Charlie says:

      I don’t know of any places to get a discount on QB for Mac – I don’t work with that version. “Quicken” doesn’t produce this product, Intuit does. And as I mentioned in the article, it appears that Intuit has changed course from a couple of years ago and is once again updating and supporting QB for Mac. Who knows for how long? I expect that someday they will drop it, or sell it off to someone, but I don’t have any insight as to when that will occur (or if it will occur).

  3. eric says:

    Appreciate your blog. Have a few questions about Quickbooks Enterprise:

    1. Is QB Enterprise built on the same engine as the other quickbooks versions? Ie are the other versions the same but just with certain features disabled?
    2. Is QB Enterprise faster in multi user mode than the other versions? We have QB Premier with 4 users, a 200 mb file, and about 100K targets.
    3. If considering an upgrade from QB 2018, when is it “safe” to do so? Ie 2020 has now been out since September and has had 5 updates. Should we wait a few more months for some more updates to come out?
    Thank you.

    • Charlie says:

      Eric, a few short answers to your questions:
      1: QB Enterprise is pretty much the same as Pro and Premier internally. It is almost the same code base. The database engine is a more advanced version, but it all runs the same. Pro is the base. Premier is the same as Pro but with more features enabled. Enterprise has more features, and it essentially is the same product as Pro/Premier with added features, although some sections are different code.

      2: Properly installed, Enterprise is faster than Pro/Premier. It handles multi user better, and the database engine is more robust (and generally faster). Enterprise can handle larger amounts of data. Note that you can easily convert a Pro/Premier file to Enterprise without any trouble (as long as the database is “clean”), but that you can’t easily move an Enterprise database back to Pro/Premier.

      3: It always is hard to determine when it is “safe” to upgrade to a new year of product. I haven’t heard much about problems with 2020, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. My general recommendation is to wait until after you finish your year-end processing. You don’t want to make a change and find that there IS a problem of some sort, when you are under pressure to close your books for the end of the year. This is particularly important if you are using QuickBooks to handle your payroll.