November 21, 2022

QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online: Which Will Work Best for You?

Considering QuickBooks accounting software? Then you may be wondering which version to use, online or desktop. We'll help you decide.

Are you considering investing in the accounting software QuickBooks by Intuit? If so, you might wonder whether to install the desktop software on your computer or use the online version. In this article, we will outline the differences between the two versions: how they both work, their pricing structure, and their features so you can make an informed decision.

How the Platforms Work

QuickBooks Desktop is installed by downloading the software locally onto one computer. Accessing QuickBooks Online is through servers over the internet or the cloud. When the software resides in the cloud, you can access it from any device. You can also download the QuickBooks app to your phone from your Google Play or Apple store.

Pricing Structure

The second consideration between the desktop and the online version is pricing. The desktop software purchase is $799.99 per year. You can add users for $300 per year, per seat up to a maximum of 5 users. The subscription is annual, so you’ll need to purchase every year. QuickBooks Online pricing ranges from $30 to $200 per month, depending on the plan you use, which is based on features and the number of users. For example, their “Simple Start” plan is ideal for the entrepreneur who only needs to use it for him or herself. That plan is $30 per month for one user. The most popular online plan, the “Plus,” is $85 per month for up to 5 users and has a few more features than the Simple Start plan. These features include inventory tracking and measuring project profitability. The best plan for you will depend on how many users you need and which features are most important to you.

Another consideration is that the online version offers a free trial for 30-days whereas the desktop version does not. However, the desktop version does offer a 60-day money-back guarantee. Also, keep in mind that Intuit may offer discounts on both online and desktop versions, so check in with their pricing periodically to see if they are running price specials.

Features to Consider

One key consideration when purchasing the desktop version is that you cannot maximize tax deductions, whereas, for all the online plans, you can. What does that mean? QuickBooks online will automatically identify tax deductions you may have yet to learn about. The online software automatically sorts your business expenses into the correct tax categories to help keep what you earn. Other advantages of QuickBooks Online versus the desktop version include its ability to manage cash flow and 1099 contractors.

However, QuickBooks Desktop has a few features that none of the online plans do, including employee expenses, workflow automation, data restoration, and batching invoices and expenses.

Both online (Simple Starter plan included) and desktop versions share these features:

• Tracking of income and expenses

• Capturing and organizing receipts

• Mileage tracking

• Invoicing and accepting payments

• Creating and sending estimates

• Tracking sales and sales tax

• Managing and paying bills and tracking inventory

Lastly, both versions offer a reporting feature. The online Simple Starter plan offers general reports, including profit and loss comparison, statement of cash flow, and balance sheet. The reports get more robust as you go up in the online version’s pricing tiers. With the desktop version, you will receive powerful reporting from the start, such as monitoring revenue and cash flow. You can build customized dashboards in the desktop version and measure specific data over a specified period or budget.


Whether you purchase QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop, the affordability of the software is excellent for what you will receive. What could take hours to accomplish with an Excel spreadsheet can take minutes in QuickBooks. If you'd like more information on which version of QuickBooks is right for your business, call us at (203) 641-7678.

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