QuickBooks Basic Customization

Basic Preferences

Each QuickBooks file comes with preset characteristics. Changing its preferences will allow you to personalize your file. The option to edit file preferences can be found along the ribbon under the “edit” heading. This will drop down to a list of options. Select the “preferences” button.

The preferences dialogue box gives you an opportunity to customize certain features within your QuickBooks file. There are many categories within preferences that may be adjusted:

  1. Accounting

  2. Bills

  3. Calendar

  4. Checking

  5. Desktop View

  6. Finance Charge

  7. General

  8. Integrated Applications

  9. Items & Inventory

  10. Jobs & Estimates

  11. Multiple Currencies

  12. Payments

  13. Payroll and Employees

  14. Reminders

  15. Reports & Graphs

  16. x
  17. Sales and Customers

  18. Sales Tax

  19. Search

  20. Service Connection

  21. Spelling

  22. Tax 1099

  23. Time and Expenses

Most preferences can be applied at any time, but it is beneficial to personalize your company file shortly after its creation. Some of the categories have few alterable items, but it is helpful to be aware of opportunities to make your QuickBooks file more useful. Each preference category has two tabs of customization options, “my preferences” and “company preferences.” My preferences will only affect the file for one specific user. Company preferences will alter the company file for all users. The following section will discuss a selection of the preference categories in more depth.


Company Preferences- This section allows the user, if authorized, to change a few preferences related to accounting. There is an option to add account numbers to the chart of accounts. Numerical accounts can be assigned by selecting a checkbox. Class assignment is another option available in this section. Classes allow the company to track segments for reporting purposes. If there are multiple divisions of the same company that you want to track, it may be helpful to utilize the class tracking system.

There are other relevant preferences available under the accounting section. The general journal entry number can be automatically assigned. A warning may be provided if a transaction affects retained earnings. A warning for posting outside of a specific date range is also available. This warning is helpful because it prevents transactions from being posted in the wrong period. You can set a password for posting a transaction that would affect the financial statements for a period with closed books.


Company Preferences- There are only a few bill preferences available for customization. The first section allows you to adjust the default number of days, post receipt, that bills are due. There is also an option to enable warnings for duplicate bill numbers from the same vendor. These warnings prevent bills from being mistakenly entered multiple times. The final section lets you automatically apply credits or discounts during bill payment.


My Preferences- The calendar is a useful tool to keep track of upcoming and past due data. This preference screen allows you to customize the calendar view.


My Preferences- This screen enables you to select the default bank accounts for various functions. This is useful if you have multiple bank accounts for the company. It allows you to choose which bank accounts you typically use for writing checks, paying bills, paying sales tax, and making deposits.

Company Preferences- This section focuses more on format preferences and other check details.

Desktop View

My Preferences- The desktop view is a fun customization section. It is where you get to choose the overall appearance of your company. You can choose whether you want to have a one window view or a multiple window view. In this preference section, you can also determine how your company will appear when it is opened.

The options are shown in the following image.

After you determine how you would like to save the desktop, you can switch color schemes or windows settings from this screen. Company Preferences- On this screen, you can choose which features you want to appear on the home page.

Finance Charge

Company Preferences- If your company charges financing fees, this section is useful. It will look similar to the following screen.

This allows you to input the information relevant to the financing policies of your company.


My Preferences- This section contains many checkbox items for the general QuickBooks settings. The following is an example of how the checkbox segment may look.

It is most likely that you will use this section to remove warnings and popups if you do not want them to appear. However, below the checkbox section there are a few other options that are available. QuickBooks can automatically recall transactions or pre-fill accounts. You can also decide if you want the default date to be today’s date or the last entered date.

Company Preferences- This allows you to decide the time and year format. It also has a couple of other checkboxes for saving options.

Integrated Applications

Company Preferences- If your company uses applications that interact with QuickBooks, this preference screen allows you to manage the applications and their properties.

Items and Inventory

Company Preferences- To use inventory, you must check the first box on this screen. It activates the inventory and purchase order functions. Once activated, there are warnings and advanced settings that can be customized.

Jobs and Estimates

Company Preferences- This section is used if your company will be providing estimates to customers for a specific job. This is relevant to companies whose pricing is based on actual time and materials used. Estimates show the expected financial results of the project. If you will be using estimate paperwork for your customers, you can choose the few preferences relating to that paperwork on this screen.

Multiple Currencies

Company Preferences- This preference screen allows you to designate which currencies are used within your business. This is becoming increasingly relevant due to online commerce.


Company Preferences- This section is related to customer payments. You can select checkboxes to decide if payments are automatically applied and calculated. Another checkbox lets you choose to which default account the payments will be posted. The last preference allows you to select if you will be accepting payments from customers via credit card or bank transfer.

Payroll & Employees

Many companies choose to outsource payroll services; however, QuickBooks offers payroll features. If you choose to use the payroll functions within QuickBooks, you can set the preferences in this section. This screen also allows you to make changes to pay stub printing, worker’s compensation, and sick leave. If you choose to use payroll through QuickBooks, become familiar with the payroll needs of your employees to best determine which preferences would be appropriate.


Company Preferences- You can choose the dates that you would like to receive reminders for each transaction. You can also choose to turn off reminders altogether. The following image shows some of the options for reminders.

Reports & Graphs

My Preferences- One of the greatest benefits of using a software like QuickBooks is the ease in which reports are produced. The software is also able to manipulate the data to create reports for the accounts or transactions for which the QuickBooks users would like to gather more information. This helps the users to analyze data for management or accounting functions. In this section of the preference guide, you can choose when you want your reports to be refreshed.

Company Preferences- This is where you can choose whether you will be choosing an accrual or cash basis reporting method for summary reports. This section also allows you to choose if descriptions of items and accounts will be visible on reports. This allows you to customize the Statement of Cash Flows by determining to which type of activity (operating, investing, financing) each cash account is attributed.

Sales & Customers

Company Preferences- You can choose a default shipping method, FOB, and packing slip template. Also available are options to enable the collections center and price levels.

Sales Tax

Company Preferences-. Tax law changes regularly, and you should ensure that the company’s collections and remittance of sales tax match the local and state requirements. If items are shipped to another state, vendors are typically not required to collect sales tax for that transaction. If your company charges sales tax, you will need to enable the sales tax options using this preference screen. After indicating that you charge sales tax, other preferences will become available. You will need to add an item for sales tax. This will be used to charge the customer the adequate sales tax percentage. You will typically have two tax codes for items. Each item is either taxable or non-taxable. You can change these tax codes in this screen. This section also allows you to determine when you owe and pay sales tax. The following image depicts the screen shown when setting up a new sales tax item.

As you set up a new sales tax item, you will add a name, description, the rate that is applicable to your area (state and local tax rate) and the agency to whom you will pay the collected tax. For example, the Utah State Tax Commission is the tax agency collecting for the sales of our demonstrative company. The tax agency will be added as a vendor within QuickBooks.


Company Preferences- QuickBooks has the ability to search quickly. This section allows you to choose how often the search information is updated. The default setting is every 60 minutes.

Send Forms

My Preferences- This allows you to set the connection to your email for sending items via QuickBooks. A subscription through QuickBooks is also available via the appropriate purchase.

Company Preferences- In this section you can choose the default delivery method and email template for sending QuickBooks generated documents. The template may be edited through this preference screen. You can make edits on a screen similar to the following image.

Service Connection

Company Preferences- Password protection for access to your QuickBooks file is available by selecting the option on this screen.


Company Preferences- Spell Check is available within this section. QuickBooks notifies you if you have used a word that it does not recognize. You can choose to add words to its dictionary as well.

Tax: 1099

Company Preferences- Tax forms called 1099-MISC are sent to vendors to report amounts paid to them throughout the year. These must be sent by the 31st of January each year, according to current tax law. If you will be filing these forms, the correct option must be selected in this screen. This will help you with the filing of those forms.

Time & Expenses

Company Preferences- You can choose to track time for billing. This section also lets you choose to record reimbursed expenses as income.

Preferences are helpful to ensure that your company is in an effective format for its purpose. Most selections are reversible if you decide that another option is more applicable. It is now time to test your understanding of the basic QuickBooks customization options.

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