One of my favorite ways to save time when I’m learning new software is to try and learn the shortcut keys for some of my more common tasks. The less time I need to spend poking around in menus and sub-menus, the more actual work I can get done. By learning some valuable shortcut keys, I give myself access to useful tools literally at my fingertips. Like most software these days, QuickBooks also includes a lot of great shortcut keys. Let’s look at some of the ones we love to use here at OUT OF THE BOX TECHNOLOGY.
A Pocket Dictionary of QuickBooks Shortcuts
Text Editing in QuickBooks
Many of the text editing shortcuts that have become the standard across Windows-based software are available in QuickBooks, including what I would call the “Big 4”. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+X, and Ctrl+Z all work as you’d probably expect when editing text, performing the Copy, Paste, Cut, and Undo functions respectively, as they do in so many other programs. One outlier to be aware of that tripped me up a lot early on is Ctrl+A. Unlike a lot of software, this does NOT select all text in QuickBooks, instead opening the Chart of Accounts. Other text entry shortcuts you may know of, such as the various combinations of Ctrl, Shift, Home, End, and the arrow keys that allow you to select text without mouse dragging, tend to work in text fields as expected besides that.
QuickBooks Date Shortcuts
With dates being such an important part of QuickBooks transactions to make sure everything is accurately reported, you’ll probably be glad to know that QuickBooks has a variety of date field shortcuts to make the process of setting the right date quick and easy.
With your cursor in a date field in QuickBooks:
- “+” key (plus) on your keyboard will change the date to one day ahead of what’s currently in the field (or tomorrow if the field is empty).
- “-“ key (minus), will similarly roll the date back by one day. It goes further than that, too.
- “T” will reset the date to today.
- “W” will set the date to the beginning of the week the field’s current date falls in or skip back a week, if we’re already at Sunday.
- “K” will likewise take us to the end of the week, or the next week.
- “M” will take us to the beginning of the month, then back by month.
- “H” will take us to the end of the month, or the next month.
If you’re spotting the pattern, by now you may have guessed that “Y” will take us to the beginning of a year, and “R” to the end, and your guess would be correct.
There are also some useful date shortcuts that don’t fit the letter pattern above.
- “ [ " will take us to the same day in the previous week (this Thursday to last Thursday, for example)
- “ ] ” takes us to the same day next week
- “ ; ” key will take us back to the same date last month, and the “ ’ ” key will take us to the same date in the next month.
If you’d prefer to use the drop-down calendar to select a date with the arrows, but don’t want to click through it with your mouse, you can also open this with the shortcut Alt+↓ (the down arrow on your keyboard).
Please note that the quotation marks in the above shortcuts are NOT part of the shortcuts and are only used for emphasizing the single characters needed.
Shortcuts to Opening Windows in QuickBooks
As mentioned above, Ctrl+A will open the Chart of Accounts rather than select all text. This can be a quick way to access that window from anywhere in QuickBooks, without going through the menus. There are some other shortcuts like this as well, quick ways to access a major QuickBooks screen from anywhere in the software.
- Ctrl+W will take us to the Write Checks window, and if this is done from the Vendor or Other Names list with a name selected, that name will be pre-filled as the payee on the new check.
- Ctrl+I will open the Create Invoices window to a new invoice. Much like the last example, if this is done with a customer selected on the customer list, the invoice will pre-populate that customer’s name at the top.
- And speaking of being in the Customer List, you can quickly jump there from anywhere else with Ctrl+J.
- Ctrl+T will take you to the Memorized Transaction List, where you can view and edit your memorized transactions.
- The F1 key, on the top row of your keyboard, will open QuickBooks Help, where you can often get quick answers to a lot of questions you might have while using QuickBooks.
- F2 or Ctrl+1 will open the Product information window. This can give you some useful information, such as your license and product number, if you can’t find them and need to install on another computer. You can also see things such as your company file size, and the size of the various lists in your file.
Quickly Access Lists and Transactions in QuickBooks
In the customer, vendor, employee, or items list, or the chart of accounts, you can use Ctrl+Q to open a Quick Report on the selected list item. This is basically a list of all transactions related to the list element in question, with a default date range of month-to-date.
If the field your cursor is in has a drop-down list, like when you’re selecting the customer on an invoice, you can use Ctrl+L to open a new window with the list that drop-down pulls from. Once you find the element you want to use, Ctrl+U will take you back to the transaction, with that element selected in the field you were originally in.
The + and - (plus and minus) keys serve another function in the reference number field for a given transaction (check #/invoice #/bill #/etc). Much like their use in the date field, they will increment or decrement the number by one digit according to the auto-numbering format QuickBooks uses for assigning the number of a new transaction.
Unlike what you may be used to in some other programs, in QuickBooks you use Alt+S to save the current transaction (Ctrl+Enter works as well). Alt+N and Alt+P take you to the next and previous transactions respectively.
Like you may have seen in other programs, Tab will move your cursor to the next field, and Shift+Tab will go back to the previous field. In the lines of a transaction form, the Up and Down arrows will move up and down the lines of the form. If the form has many lines, PgUp and PgDn will move up and down the lines a page at a time.
If you need to delete the current line in a transaction, you can use Ctrl+Del to do it. This is usually the better choice over clearing the line manually field by field, as it’s less tedious and less prone to issues.
If you need to add a line in between others that you’ve already entered, Ctrl+Insert will add a blank line above the line you currently have selected, automatically moving the selected line and all lines below it down by one.
Ctrl+N and Ctrl+D have the same function in either lists or transactions. Ctrl+N will open a form for a new transaction or list element of that type, and Ctrl+D will prompt to delete the currently selected transaction or list item.
Remember that deleting transactions linked to other transactions will break links, and that list elements used in any transaction cannot be deleted, only made inactive. In a list or an account register, Ctrl+E will take you to the appropriate form to edit the selected list element or transaction.
New in QuickBooks Desktop 2018
In 2018 and later versions only, we now have commands to copy and paste entire transaction lines. This comes with some caveats. We can only copy/paste within the same transaction and pasting onto a line that already has data will overwrite that line with no warning or prompt. Pasting a line can’t be undone with Ctrl+Z. This means it’s very important to make sure you’re pasting into a blank line, or you may find that you must revert your invoice or manually re-enter that line. To copy an invoice line, use Ctrl+Alt+Y. To paste that copied line, put your cursor somewhere in the destination line and press Ctrl+Alt+V.
This takes care of most of the basic shortcuts for navigation and editing. Now, I want to share with you some of my favorite shortcuts that can help us access options otherwise buried deep in menus, if accessible at all without them.
If you’ve ever been looking at a transaction and wished you had an easier way to get a look directly at how it’s moving money around, Ctrl+Y might be one of your best friends. Using this, we can easily access the Transaction Journal for the current transaction, allowing us to easily see all the debits and credits of the transaction in a journal format.
Hand in hand with that is another great shortcut for investigating transactions in your file. If you need to quickly find out what transactions are linked to the one you’re looking at, such as the payment for a bill or invoice, you can use Ctrl+H to see the Transaction History. This shows us a little bit of summary information about this transaction, but the big prize here is that it will tell us every transaction linked to this one, and from there we can go to those linked transactions if need be.
The next two shortcuts are only used at specific times, in specific situations, but they can save a lot of frustration. To keep QuickBooks from automatically trying to open the last company file used when launching, hold Ctrl as soon as you’ve finished clicking the shortcut to launch QuickBooks, and keep holding it until you get to the No Company Open screen. This is mostly used if QuickBooks is getting stuck or giving errors, and this happens before the login screen.
If this is happening after the login screen, the process is slightly different. After entering your password, holding Alt while you log in and the file loads will keep QuickBooks from opening the previously open sub-windows. If you had many large reports open last time, it’s possible QuickBooks may run into issues trying to load them all at once. This can help to avoid that and let you start your new QuickBooks session fresh.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of keyboard shortcuts available in QuickBooks, but it’s a good set of the most useful ones to familiarize yourself with. Further examples can be found in the QuickBooks menus and help files. Remember also that in any screen or menu where you see a word with a single letter underlined, you can usually use Alt+that letter as a context-sensitive shortcut for that item as well. Learn whichever shortcuts apply best to your workflow and soon you’ll have plenty of extra time to look back and wonder how you ever did it any other way.