When people first begin using QuickBooks a very common question is: “How can I quickly get my lists into QuickBooks?” Lists in QuickBooks refer to your Customers, Vendors, Employees, Items, Chart of Accounts, etc. There are a few different ways to get this information into QuickBooks
One way is to use the Excel import tool that is built into QB. By going into the File menu, choosing Utilites>Import>Excel files, QB will open up an Excel tool that can help you import list information from Excel to QB. You can simply choose the type of data that you want to add and QuickBooks will automatically open up a template that you can add your data to. If you want, you could also choose the Advanced Option where you can use your pre-existing excel file and just map the columns to the proper fields in QuickBooks.
Another way to import lists into QuickBooks is by using iif files. This process is a bit more difficult. This is an older format that QuickBooks still supports, to a degree. You can use Excel or other tools to create a file in this format. It is a highly structured format that is complex to set up on your own. There are several disadvantages to this approach: Error checking is minimal at best, the format is very complicated to figure out, and it is outdated. Intuit has stated that they aren’t going to advance this any further (although that could change), and newer features in QuickBooks aren’t supported. Most generally don’t work with this format, but when they do, they use a low cost tool that will take an Excel file and reformat it into the proper IIF format. One example is the IIF Transaction Creator from Big Red Consulting.
My favorite way is to use a program called Transaction Pro Importer. This software not only is inexpensive but it’s really powerful and simple to use. Just create your own excel sheet with the information you want to import then map the columns to the fields you want to populate in QuickBooks. The other nice thing about this product is the fact that it give you a log at the end of every import so you can simply see what did/didn’t go in and why. An added bonus is that you can use this same software to also import transactions into QuickBooks which we all know is not so easy to do!