QuickBooks - Changing Transactions

One feature of QuickBooks that many corporate accountants really hate is the fact that you can change almost anything you have entered in the software. Unless the entries have been locked (which I will discuss later), QuickBooks is a completely open bookkeeping software.

However, the ability to make changes is not necessarily a bad thing. Let's face it. I have yet to meet a bookkeeper or any QuickBooks user (includng myself) who doesn't make mistakes. And sometimes the information you may have entered in QB is incomplete or incorrectly distributed to the wrong account. For instance, you may have found it necessary to change one or more of the following in a transaction:

  • Amount
  • Date
  • Terms
  • Bill or invoice number
  • Purchase Order number
  • Memo description
  • Job or Customers an expense is to be billed to
  • Chart of Accounts category

So how do you find the transactions that need to be changed, and how do you change them? There are a number of different ways, and the following is a list of some of the more common ways:

If a Sales Order, Invoice, or Credit Memo for a Customer needs to be changed, go to the Customer Center and select the Customer name. All of the transactions for the individual Customer are listed, so simply double-click on the transaction to open it. Make your changes and then click on Save and Close. If, on the other hand, you need to change a Purchase Order, Bill or Credit for a Vendor, use the same procedure in the Vendor Center.

If you have to make a change in a banking transaction or a credit card transaction, open the Chart of Accounts. Double-click to open the Transaction Register for the account, find the transaction you need to change, and double-click on it to open it. A word of caution, however. If the transaction has already been reconciled (indicated by the check mark in the reconciliation column), then you shouldn't (1) change the amount of the transaction, (2) change the distribution of the transaction if it is to a balance sheet account (such as Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, or Undeposited Funds), or (3) delete it, because this will have an impact on your reconciliations that is often difficult to correct. Adjusting entries may be necessary instead to correct the error. On the other hand, you can make changes in reconciled items to such things as memo descriptions and expense categories.

Reports are a great way of finding transactions that may need to be adjusted or deleted. In a Profit and Loss Statement or a Balance Sheet, you can double-click on any total and it will generate a report showing the individual transactions. Double-click on a transaction to open it.

Another way of finding a transaction is from the Chart of Accounts. Click once on the line for the account and then press Ctl+Q. You can change the date range of the report or select all, and it will show all of the transactions recorded in that account. You can also use this technique in any list, such as the Other Names list or Items list, to generate a report of all transactions using that name or item.

And then there is the Find feature. Press Qtl+F and you can select the fields you want to search and their parameters. This is an especially powerful tool when trying to find reconciliation errors.

And finally a word about locking transactions. It is possible to lock all transactions through a specific date. Select Preferences from the Edit menu and click on Accounting. Click on the Company Preferences tab and click on the Set Date/Password button. In the next window you can select the closing date and set a password. That doesn't mean that a transaction can't be changed, but QuickBooks will ask for the password if you want to open a locked transaction. Be cautious about making any changes in locked periods because they could change the Retained Earnings for prior periods.

So changes can be made in QuickBooks, which is great when you want to correct those silly little mistakes that you made when entering a transaction, and it can be great for a professional bookkeeper who needs to make changes in how expenses are distributed. But always think twice before saving any change. QuickBooks will always warn you if you are making a change. Don't disable the warning feature. It could be a life-saver.


Robert D.

Retired Bookkeeper (Specializing in QuickBooks) & Tax Preparer

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