Introducing QuickBooks 2021 Desktop

| September 8, 2020

QuickBooks 2021Intuit has announced QuickBooks 2021 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:

  • Intuit’s material announcing the new features will list more than I write about here, because they will include all features that have already been released in QuickBooks 2020 in the updates that have come out since last September. I am not going to list those, since I don’t consider them a new feature in the 2021 product. You should already be getting them if you have the 2020 product. Look at the QuickBooks 2020 R7 release, for example.
  • It is interesting that there are a number of utility programs being released this year that are not built in to the normal QuickBooks program. Several tools, which I would have thought would make sense to have right in the program. However, I understand that this may be complicated – the QuickBooks desktop program is bloated and uses old technology, so maybe it makes sense to do this? Also, some of the utility programs are for mobile devices, so they couldn’t be built into the desktop. I’m pleased to see that there is some acceptance that people want some mobile features while not wanting to abandon their QuickBooks Desktop programs!
  • I’m surprised that more hasn’t been done with QuickBooks Enterprise this year? Of course, since it is a subscription product, features can be released throughout the year. There were more interesting features released in the course of the year than were released at this time.
  • There is going to be an increased emphasis on subscriptions: More on this below.

All QuickBooks 2021 Desktop Versions for Microsoft Windows

The following features will be available in all of the QuickBooks 2021 desktop versions for Microsoft Windows, including Pro, Pro Plus, Premier, Premier Plus, Accountant, and Enterprise.

New Features

  • Customer Groups: You can create rule-based groups of customers based on fields like customer status, sales rep, balance, type, and more. These groups can be used to automate sending of invoices or statements. This is accessed via Customers/Payment Reminders/Manage Customer Groups. I don’t believe you can see this when editing a customer in the customer list. I hope that they expand where this can be used, such as in reports?
  • Automated Send Statements: We have been able to create a schedule for sending Invoices, now Intuit has added Statements to the Schedule Payment Reminders function. This will require using the new Customer Groups feature. This should be very useful!
  • Customize Payment Receipt Templates: You now can edit the template used for a Payment Receipt. Odd that we haven’t been able to do that before now, but I’m happy they got around to it.
  • QuickBooks Desktop Manager: I’ve not seen this yet. It is an application you can download that can be used to install any non-subscription version of QuickBooks Desktop that you own a license for, 2010 through the current release. You can also use it to install supported versions of the subscription products. Note that you don’t have to use this app (at this time), you can get your versions through their support website (as long as they continue to make that available).
  • QuickBooks Tool Hub: I’ve also not seen this yet. Another separate application that you can download, which provides a variety of tools that you can use to troubleshoot common problems and errors. Depending on what they include, This may be very useful! However, also depending on what they include, there are some tools that can Intuit has that can cause some problems if used incorrectly, so I am slightly worried about what may be going on here.


  • Improved Bank Feeds: A new Advanced Mode has been added for bank feeds, along with the Express and Classic modes from before. This should improve matching and batch editing. A new Bank Feeds Center has been added.
  • Auto Matching Merchant Payments: If you use QuickBooks Payments then there is an improvement in how QuickBooks matches/reconciles with your merchant account, with better automatic assignment.

Some QuickBooks 2021 Desktop Versions for Microsoft Windows

The following new feature will be available in QuickBooks 2021 Pro Plus, Premier Plus, Accountant, and Enterprise (essentially, all the subscription versions).

  • Receipt Management: Available in Pro Plus, Premier Plus, Accountant, and Enterprise (essentially, all the subscription versions). You can use the QuickBooks Desktop Mobile App to capture receipt data and categorize it, and then post it to your desktop software. You can view and edit these in Vendors/Receipt Management.

QuickBooks Enterprise 21.0

It is no surprise that Intuit releases some features that are only found in the Enterprise product, in the Platinum and Diamond level subscriptions.

New Features

  • Barcode Label Prices: You now can add the sales price on printed barcode labels. It’s about time! Intuit really hasn’t put enough effort into how you can create/format barcode labels. They need to do much, much more. I don’t know anyone who is truly happy with this feature.


  • Data Level Permissions: User roles are modified to include restrictions, such as to groups of customers (using the new Customer Groups feature). I expect to see more of this kind of change in the future.

An Emphasis on Subscription

It looks as though there is an increasing emphasis on the subscription versions of QuickBooks Desktop. Intuit likes having a steady revenue stream, and the intricacies of corporate accounting for unit sales has been a thorn in their side for many years. QuickBooks Accountant is essentially a subscription, although you can use your downloaded copy for years after your “subscription” ends. QuickBooks Enterprise has been a subscription for a number of years now. QuickBooks Pro Plus and QuickBooks Premier Plus are subscription versions of Pro and Premier that have been around for even longer now.

Moving to a subscription basis solves tons of problems for Intuit, and it is something that I predicted a number of years ago (in an Accountex Report article that, sadly, was lost when the Accountex folks folded their website without letting me save my articles). In addition to the benefits (to Intuit) for their corporate financial reporting, and the benefit (to Intuit) in having a yearly revenue stream, there are benefits (to Intuit) in not having to worry about supporting older versions or in “sunsetting” products after three years. The benefit to consumers is that on a subscription you always have the latest, greatest, best supported version (whether you like it or not).

To me, on the outside looking in (and without talking to Intuit management about it), their push to move towards all-subscription versions of QuickBooks Desktop is an acknowledgement that the desktop version isn’t going to go away (at least in the near future) and in the long run that is a good thing for the consumer who really wants to continue using the desktop product instead of QuickBooks Online.

So, I believe that we are going to see more features being released only in subscription versions in the future. Note also that you will only find subscription versions in retail outlets moving forward. One-time purchase products will only be available through Intuit’s website, online retailers, or calling Intuit’s sales team.

For more details…

For a little bit more detail on these new and improved 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: QuickBooks 2021

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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  1. Hi Charlie!

    I just wanted to add that you can also buy the one-time payment versions through Intuit’s reseller channels like the QuickBooks Solutions Providers that I belong to.