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QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop: A Detailed Comparison [2024]

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QuickBooks Online vs Desktop

Selecting the right accounting software for your business is a crucial decision, and it can be a challenging task when both options come from the same company. QuickBooks offers two popular products, QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online, each catering to different needs and business requirements. In this article, we’ll delve into the major differences between QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop, allowing you to make an informed decision based on factors such as user experience, reputation, pricing, features, and more.

QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop

Both Desktop and Online versions of QuickBooks provide robust accounting solutions, but they differ significantly in various aspects. The Desktop version of QuickBooks is locally installed software with a license purchase system, while QuickBooks Online operates as a cloud-based system with a monthly pricing model.

Comparison Chart

FeaturesQuickBooks OnlineQuickBooks Desktop
Plans4 unique plan options3 versions, each with individual plan options
CostStarts at $25 per monthStarts at $399.99
Users1 to 25 users3 to 30 users
Mobile AppYesNo
IntegrationsHundreds of third-party integrations and Intuit ProductsLimited third-party integrations
Customer SupportBased on user planBased on version and plan

What are the Major Differences Between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop?

After analyzing the major components of both programs, including pricing, features, ease of use, reviews, integrations, and user complaints, here are some key differences between QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online:

1. Pricing Structure: QuickBooks Desktop follows a license-based pricing structure, while QuickBooks Online operates on a monthly Software as a Service (SaaS) model. You can purchase a QuickBooks Desktop license for three years or make annual payments for updates, as opposed to the monthly payments for QuickBooks Online.

Also Read:- Where to find the lost QuickBooks License Information?

2. Cloud-Based vs Locally-Installed: QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based system accessible through the internet, while QuickBooks Desktop needs to be downloaded and installed on your computer. QuickBooks Desktop does not require an internet connection to work, but it may incur additional charges for hosting.

3. Security: QuickBooks Online is managed by Intuit and is considered more secure due to its cloud-based nature. QuickBooks Desktop, being locally installed, offers a different level of security.

4. Automation: QuickBooks Online offers more automation options compared to QuickBooks Desktop, thanks to its reliance on cloud technology, which enables real-time data synchronization.

5. Number of Users Allowed: QuickBooks Online permits up to 25 users, depending on the pricing plan. QuickBooks Desktop Pro allows up to 3 users, QuickBooks Desktop Premier permits up to 5 users, and QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise can accommodate up to 40 users.

6. Feature Depth: While both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop share many features, QuickBooks Desktop is known for its more advanced and developed features.

7. Access to Capital: Only QuickBooks Online users can access QuickBooks Capital, a feature not available in QuickBooks Desktop.

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop: Which is More Suitable for your Business?

Your choice of accounting software should align with your business’s specific needs. Here’s when to consider each option:

1. Select QuickBooks Online if:

  • You need a user-friendly system that is easy to learn and use.
  • Remote access to accounting is essential for your business.
  • You require time-saving automation, integrations, and real-time synchronization, particularly with banks.
  • You want payment processing integrations for direct customer invoicing.
  • Access to capital lending and international invoicing is a priority.

2. Select QuickBooks Desktop if:

  • You prefer a locally installed accounting system.
  • Your business requires industry-specific features, such as QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise or QuickBooks Desktop Premier.
  • You need sales orders and complex accounting solutions.

QuickBooks Online Overview

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting system introduced in 2004. It is designed primarily for small and medium-sized businesses, with an advanced plan for scalability to larger enterprises. It offers robust features, online payroll, efficient accounting tools, professional invoicing, and over 600 integrations. QuickBooks Online is known for its ease of use and accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. Additionally, mobile apps enhance business management.


  • Higher pricing compared to other SMB products.
  • Customer support may have limitations.
  • Offers fewer options than QuickBooks Desktop.
  • Lacks the ability to create sales orders.


  • Convenient monthly pricing model.
  • Cloud-based, enabling easy access from anywhere.
  • User-friendly interface.
  • Offers integration with 650+ third-party applications.
  • Boasts robust features and includes built-in lending capabilities.

QuickBooks Desktop Overview

QuickBooks Desktop was launched in 1992 and remains a top choice for accountants worldwide. It includes three products: QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, and QuickBooks Desktop Premier. The difference lies in their suitability for small, medium, or large businesses. QuickBooks Desktop offers extensive accounting tools, including job costing, expense tracking, and over 200 integrations. However, it is only available for Windows operating systems, and Mac users need to explore QuickBooks for Mac, a locally installed option.


  • Limited to Windows operating system.
  • Utilizes a potentially more expensive license structure.
  • Customer support may have its challenges.
  • Lacks remote access and mobile apps.
  • Offers less automation compared to QuickBooks Online.


  • Potentially provides a higher level of security.
  • Features a strong set of accounting tools.
  • Suitable for traditional accounting needs.
  • Offers integration with 200+ third-party applications.

Comparing Features of QuickBooks Desktop Pro vs QuickBooks Online

Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop offer a wide range of features, but QuickBooks Desktop excels in advanced functionalities. Here’s a breakdown of key features in comparing the two:

1. Accounting:

  • Both use double-entry accounting protocols and offer accrual and cash-basis accounting.
  • QuickBooks Desktop is considered a better reporting system, making complex tasks more manageable.
  • QuickBooks Online provides a bookkeeping service called QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, which offers professional support from certified CPAs and QuickBooks Online accountants, beneficial for small business owners.

2. Invoicing:

  • QuickBooks Online excels in creating professional-looking invoices with modern, user-friendly designs.
  • It offers better automation, including invoice reminders, recurring invoices, batch invoicing, progress invoicing, auto-scheduled invoices, a client portal for online payments, invoice tracking, and multilingual invoicing for international clients.
  • QuickBooks Desktop’s invoice templates are often viewed as outdated and less customizable.

3. Reporting:

  • QuickBooks Online offers up to 80 reports, with the number varying based on the selected plan.
  • QuickBooks Desktop Pro provides 130 reports, with more available for QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise and Premier users.

4. Contact Management:

  • Both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online offer contact management, but QuickBooks Desktop provides more advanced options for managing contacts and tracking leads.

5. Payroll:

  • Neither QuickBooks Desktop Pro nor QuickBooks Online includes built-in payroll. However, you can add QuickBooks Online Payroll starting at $45 per month, while QuickBooks Desktop Pro allows for the purchase of payroll services. QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise offers built-in enhanced payroll.

6. Sales Orders:

  • QuickBooks Desktop is preferable if your business requires sales orders, as this feature is available in QuickBooks Desktop products.

7. Financing:

  • QuickBooks Capital, a financing solution, is available in QuickBooks Online, providing working capital for small business owners looking to manage cash flow more effectively.

8. Industry-Specific Features:

  • QuickBooks Desktop Premier and QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise offer industry-specific software versions tailored to specific business types, including retail, nonprofit, general contractors, manufacturing, professional services, and more.

9. Mobile Apps:

  • QuickBooks Pro does not provide mobile applications since it’s a locally installed system, whereas QuickBooks Online offers features.

QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop: A Detailed Pricing Comparison

When it comes to choosing the right accounting software for your business, one of the critical factors to consider is pricing. QuickBooks, developed by Intuit, offers two primary versions: QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, each with its unique pricing structure. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the pricing details of both these options, compare their features, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision.

1. QuickBooks Online Pricing

QuickBooks Online adopts a Software as a Service (SaaS) pricing model, offering users the flexibility of monthly subscription plans. There are four pricing tiers available for QuickBooks Online:

1. Simple Start: Priced at $25 per month, this plan is designed for tracking income and expenses, invoicing, and basic financial management.

2. Essentials: At $50 per month, the Essentials plan adds features like managing bills and providing access for up to three users.

3. Plus: The Plus plan, costing $80 per month, includes advanced features such as tracking inventory, project profitability, and accommodating up to five users.

4. Advanced: The Advanced plan, priced at $180 per month, is tailored for businesses that require robust features, including enhanced reporting, up to 25 users, and more advanced analytics and insights.

2. QuickBooks Desktop Pricing

QuickBooks Desktop offers multiple versions, each with a different pricing structure:

1. QuickBooks Pro: Aimed at medium-sized businesses, QuickBooks Pro is priced at $466.99 for a single user.

2. QuickBooks Enterprise: Designed for small enterprises or larger businesses, QuickBooks Enterprise starts at $1,655 annually.

For those opting for QuickBooks Premier License or QuickBooks Pro, a three-year subscription option is available. Determining which product is less expensive depends on various factors, and we’ll discuss some of these factors in the FAQs section.

When QuickBooks Online Pricing is More Suitable:

1. Multiple Users: QuickBooks Online’s monthly pricing structure is ideal for businesses with multiple users and those that prefer ongoing support and access to live bank feeds.

2. Cash Flow Constraints: Small businesses with limited cash flow may find QuickBooks Online’s monthly payments more manageable compared to the upfront cost of QuickBooks Desktop.

When QuickBooks Desktop Pricing is Preferred:

1. Long-Term Use with Fewer Users: If you plan to use QuickBooks Pro for up to three years and have only a few users, QuickBooks Desktop can save you money in the long run.

2. Additional Costs: QuickBooks Desktop may be more cost-effective for businesses that don’t require many add-ons or extra features.

Considerations When Choosing Between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop

1. Ease of Use:

QuickBooks Online is often praised for its user-friendly interface, making it more accessible for individuals and business owners without extensive accounting experience. In contrast, some users find QuickBooks Desktop to have a steeper learning curve, which can be challenging for newcomers.

2. Customer Service & Support:

Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop have received mixed reviews regarding customer support. Intuit has been working on improving its support services, but there is still room for enhancement. QuickBooks Online might have a slight edge in customer service, as it does not require additional charges for support.

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3. Reviews and Complaints:

Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop have their share of positive and negative reviews. QuickBooks Online tends to have more complaints related to slow performance, bugs, and customer support. Desktop version, on the other hand, is generally well-received for its comprehensive features and reliability.

QuickBooks Desktop vs QuickBooks Online: Integrations Available 

QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Online offer various add-on products and integrations. The Online version boasts more than 650 integrations, offering a wide range of choices to meet diverse business needs. QuickBooks Desktop, however, has fewer integration options, making it somewhat challenging for modern businesses seeking seamless payment gateway integrations.


Both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop are robust accounting software options, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Your choice should be influenced by factors such as the size of your business, your specific requirements, and your familiarity with accounting software.

  • QuickBooks Online is an excellent choice for those who prefer cloud-based mobility, easy-to-learn features, and a wide array of integrations.
  • QuickBooks Desktop excels in offering advanced accounting tools, customization options, and industry-specific versions.

The decision ultimately depends on your business type and its unique needs. In-depth reviews and careful consideration will help you make an informed choice when selecting the right accounting software for your business.

If you have further queries, reach out to the QuickBooks support team for round-the-clock assistance through live chat or contact us at +1-855-875-1223.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Major Difference Between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop Pro?

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based service accounting program, accessible online with monthly subscription pricing. The Desktop version, on the other hand, is a locally installed accounting system with an annual subscription pricing structure. It provides more customization options, while QuickBooks Online offers ease of use and automation.

Is QuickBooks Desktop Better Than QuickBooks Online?

QuickBooks Online is suitable for businesses seeking a user-friendly, cloud-based system with online accessibility, integrations, and mobile apps. QuickBooks Desktop is better suited for small to large businesses with complex accounting and customization requirements.

Is QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Desktop Cheaper?

QuickBooks Online often appears more cost-effective for businesses with multiple users, thanks to its monthly subscription model. QuickBooks Desktop Pro can be more cost-effective for single users or those planning to use the software for up to three years without significant add-ons.

How Do I Switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online?

Transitioning from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online is relatively straightforward. Locate the “Company” tab in QuickBooks Desktop and select “Export File to QuickBooks Online.” Ensure you create a backup of your company file in QuickBooks Desktop for added safety.

Can I Switch from QuickBooks Online to Desktop?

Switching from QuickBooks Online to QuickBooks Desktop is possible, but it may not be as seamless. In QuickBooks Online, go to the “Settings” gear icon, select “Export Data,” choose your reason for leaving, and follow the provided instructions.

Making the right choice between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop is crucial for your business’s financial management and efficiency. Evaluate your specific needs, consider the pricing structure, and weigh the pros and cons to ensure that your accounting software aligns with your business goals.

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