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Using QBO to convert QuickBooks Enterprise to Premier or Pro

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Have you been running QuickBooks Enterprise, and recently discovered that it’s overkill for your needs? If you’re only using the basic functions, you may only need QuickBooks Premier or even Pro. With the new QuickBooks Enterprise (QBES) subscription model, it may have become too expensive to just keep going that way, since it costs at least $85/month. It may be time to downgrade your file to QuickBooks Pro or Premier for Desktop!

QBES doesn’t have any way of converting to Pro or Premier. Until now, you couldn’t downgrade.

I just learned a slick, creative way of using QuickBooks Online (QBO) as a pass-through conversion tool, that can be used in simple circumstances. It involves importing your QBES data into QBO, and then exporting it back out to a Desktop version (QBDT) of your choice.

This isn’t easy to do. If you want help, there are conversion services available who can safely do it for you. Two referrals are given at the end of this article.

Here are the instructions provided by Intuit [with commentary by Alicia in brackets] :

Importing QBES into QBO

Before you get started:

  • Your QuickBooks file must be under 350,000 targets (file size does not matter). To trim it down, see Trimming your QuickBooks Windows file for import. [If you are over 350,000, you should probably stay in Enterprise, since it’s built for large files. Condensing your QB file removes your history and can cause corruption.]
  • You will need to create a QuickBooks Online free trial account at http://qbo.intuit.com.
  • You can only import QuickBooks Desktop data within the first 60 days of your QuickBooks Online company start date. If imported, your QuickBooks Desktop file will also replace your entire QuickBooks Online file and overwrite any existing information.
  • You must be an Administrator level user on your Quickbooks Online account.
  • You must be logged in as the Admin user in your Desktop file.
  • You must use Internet Explorer in Windows. Other browsers won’t work.
  • If you receive any errors regarding the file you’re importing, see Errors Importing to QuickBooks Online
  • To understand key differences and unsupported features prior to moving, see What’s not imported when you move from desktop to online.


Important notice for Enterprise users:

Intuit does not officially support moving data from QuickBooks Enterprise to QuickBooks online and data loss may occur. 

As an Enterprise user, you have access to many advanced features that are not supported or available in QuickBooks or QuickBooks online. In some cases you may have found yourself in Enterprise on accident, or only using the bare essentials, in which case moving will likely not be a problem. In all other cases however, you should strongly consider if QuickBooks online is right for your business by looking at Intuit’s import limitations above and testing out needed features first through a test drive.

[If you are running inventory, be aware that your calculations will change. QB Enterprise uses Average Cost to calculate COGS, while QBO changes it to FIFO (“first in, first out”). When you go back to Pro or Premier, you’re back to Average Cost. After your conversion, your Inventory Assets and COGS may be different than they were before.]


When you’re ready:QuickBooks Enterprise Home Screen

  1. Subscribe to QuickBooks Online.
  2. Open QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions to the Home screen.
  3. Press Ctrl+1 to open the Product Information window

QuickBooks Product Information window







  1. Sign into QuickBooks OnlineOnce opened, press Ctrl+b followed by Ctrl+q.
  2. Click OK to close the Product information window.
  3. The screen below should automatically come up. If you don’t see this screen, attempt Step 2 one more time.
  4. Enter your QuickBooks Online login info, agree to the Terms of Service, and click Submit.
  5. Pick the online company you want to import your data into.

Pick your QBO Company






  1. Note: You may only have the option to import list and balances if your company file is too large to import. If you don’t see this screen, continue to the next step below.

What would you like to import?







10. If QuickBooks is freezing or unresponsive during the import:

First, you’ll need to open Internet Explorer (Non 64-bit if you have two), then follow the guide to disable/enable the appropriate settings:

  • Press and hold ALT+T to get to the Tools Menu. From here go to Internet Options at the bottom, then go to the Security tab at the top and uncheck the Enable Protected Mode box.
  • On this same page, click on Sites and add one at a time, https://qbo.intuit.com and https://lvdc.qbo.intuit.com to the Trusted Sites, then click Close.
  • Still on the Security tab, click on the Zone with an image of a globe called Internet. Drag the slider for security level to Low or Medium. Also, uncheck Enable Protected Mode.
  • Click Apply, then OK. Now close and re-open Internet Explorer before attempting to re-do the import.


11. After following all the above steps, try the import again. During the import flow you will likely get a pop-up asking you to be redirected to qbo.intuit.com, and if you trust this site? Please click Yes to continue.

12. Click OK, Got it. Intuit will email you when your data is done converting and you can log back into QBO.

13. Compare the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet standard reports in QBO and in QuickBooks Enterprise to ensure that your data was transferred correctly.


Exporting from QBO to QBDT Premier or Pro

Once your file is up and running in QBO, use Internet Explorer to Export your QBO file into a backup for Desktop.

  1. Click on the Gear and choose Tools: Export Data.
  2. Follow the prompts to make sure ActiveX Controls are installed. Click Continue.
  3. Choose All Financial Data to convert your entire file. If you want to start fresh, choose All financial data without transactions, which will bring over balances but not the history. You can always refer to your old QBES file if needed.Export all financial data
  4. Once the file has been exported, you can open it in QuickBooks Premier or Pro, then get right to work!
  5. You can now cancel your QBO trial subscription…although you may want to poke around. A lot of people love QBO more than Desktop.
  6. Once the import has finished, you will want to restore your browser to its default setting. Do this by opening up Internet Explorer and following these steps:
  • Press and hold ALT+T to get to the Tools Menu. From here go to Internet Options at the bottom, then go to the Security tab at the top.
  • Click Reset all zones to default level, then click Apply, OK, and close Internet Explorer.


Because this technique is complex, and only to be used in very specific circumstances, I recommend you contact one of these two professionals instead of doing it yourself:


But for all of you who have found yourself on QuickBooks Enterprise, know you’re not using any Enterprise-specific features, and have wished there was a way to simplify, use this workaround to import your file into QuickBooks Online and then export it back out again, solving your problem.


25 Responses to Using QBO to convert QuickBooks Enterprise to Premier or Pro

  1. William "Murph" Murphy June 6, 2016 at 2:22 pm #

    People are always trying to figure-out one way, or another, how to get around limitations, or to do things the ‘cheap’ way.

    In my opinion, you are doing your readers an injustice by even printing this topic, which has been a known ‘trick’ for years. But that is just the thing….’it is a trick’, an ‘illusion’ at best.

    The vast majority of QB Enterprise files exceed the ‘targets limitation’ of converting a file to QBO, one reason they migrated to Enterprise in the first place was probably due to file, list and target size to begin with.

    In such cases, in order to migrate the file up, Intuit will tell you to ‘condense the file’, a known source of ‘permanent data corruption’. (And by definition a condensed file means you are NOT getting the same file as you had before, you will not have all your history, which is most likely one of the things you wanted to keep rather than simply starting a new Pro/Premier file.)

    Most files migrated up, especially those with Inventory will have serious ‘cost factors’ changing from Average Cost to FIFO resulting in out-of-balance situations between the desktop and online data. Then you turn around and try to download the same file from QBO back into QBDT and even if that goes perfect (which it rarely does), you will again end up with even more Inventory related cost irregularities.

    The combined results are a file that is NOT what you started with, even though it may now be in Pro/Premier.

    One factual aspect of this write-up is where it says….”Intuit does not officially support moving data from QuickBooks Enterprise to QuickBooks online and data loss may occur.”

    Why risk your data, or waste hours and hours of time, attempting to accomplish what a professional file service can do for you (with guaranteed satisfaction) for a reasonable fee normally within 1-day turnaround time.

    I’m sorry, but the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies in this case.

    • Alicia Katz Pollock June 6, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

      Hi Murph,

      Thanks so much for your comments! I have found this conversion pat useful when my client has been sold Enterprise when in fact it was overkill for their needs, and in that circumstance I still think it’s a viable option. But your Inventory consideration is a great point, and I will edit the article accordingly to address your comments. Thanks! Alicia

    • Frank Hermes October 28, 2016 at 3:21 pm #


      Gotta disagree with your position and heartily thanks Alicia for the tip on converting.

      My company used to be around 80-100 people doing $5-8M per year. Our chief vendor decided to give our territory to their proprietary, company-owned store – long story short, I decided to get rid of what I could and semi-retire. I work out of the house now and just do some services related work. I am the only employee.

      We used QB Enterprise for many years and loved it. At my latest renewal prompt from Intuit, I was told I had to go to the subscription service and it would be $1,000/yr., please, and, my Enterprise edition would stop working once I reached the renewal date! A $1000 is too much for me any more – no employees, little inventory, just invoices and accounting for the tax man.

      However, QB Online just does not do all I need just yet, so I wanted to move from Enterprise to Pro. I called support at Intuit and asked about converting the Enterprise data to work with Pro or Premier – they said it couldn’t be done.

      I searched a bit and found Alicia’s notes. Without Alicia’s tutorial, I doubt I could have figured it all out and would have had to build a new company instance and ultimately would have lost all my history if Enterprise quits working as the threatened.

      I went through the process yesterday and today, and though there were a few conversion issues, I was able to get it done and now have a working company in Pro with all my history, balances, etc.

      Alicia – thank you very much.

      Murph – poo on you.

  2. John CPA August 15, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    Online Quickbooks (or any online Accounting software) is a joke. I have yet to see any benefits however I see numerous problems. They start with signing up. What customers fail to realize (once they grasp how nonsensical cloud computing is) is that there is a big catch 22. QBO uses enterprise and they don’t mention there is no downgrade path when you finally realize what rubbish it is. i.e you stuck with Enterprise unless you want to start a file from scratch.
    Look at it this way. Before the Cloud the single biggest show stopper was electricity. The Cloud has now introduced a second show stopper for no real benefit. A network connection. BTW with Windows 10 you can easily connect to your own server directly anywhere in the world with no need for the Cloud at all. (Could do it before then but slightly more complicated)

    • Alicia Katz Pollock August 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

      Hi John, while I agree that not having an internet connection is a show-stopper for using QBO, I respectfully disagree with your critique. When signing up for QBO, the website lists the three levels, comparing the features of each. When signing up, it gives you a chance to select the one that’s right for you. While you can’t downgrade with the click of a button, it takes about 20 minutes to download the QBO data and then reimport it to a more basic package. I, or another QuickBooks ProAdvisor, would be more than happy to help you or your clients with this. ~Alicia

  3. Denny Khav September 21, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Did any of you actually get this to work? I have a client who accidentally fell for enterprise who really didn’t need it. I try to export the file out of QBO and it just says a problem occurred. I contacted support and they said they couldn’t help!

    • Alicia Katz Pollock September 27, 2016 at 11:49 am #

      Hi Denny,

      Yes, it works, but if they were using any of the Enterprise features at all, that information will be lost.


  4. MW November 8, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    Hi Alicia,

    I cannot get it to work. Step #2a is where things go sideways. I click OK to close the Product information window per step 2b, but the screen indicated in step 3 does not appear.

    I just created the Quickbooks online account today, so I’m within the required 60 day period. Any suggestions?


    • Alicia Katz Pollock November 10, 2016 at 10:44 am #

      Hi MW,

      Look under the File menu > Utilities > Copy Company File for QuickBooks Online.

      It’s a different route to the same end, and should also work.

      If you’re stuck, give me a call and we can walk through it together – 971-235-7119.

      Alicia 🙂

  5. AJ December 6, 2016 at 10:29 am #


    I have a client who wants to move from Enterprise to Online – but they handle a ton of transactions. 2016 alone has over 900,000 targets.

    Do you know of any clients who use online that are experiencing slowness issues? My concern is that if they move to online they will have too many transactions for online to handle.


    • Alicia Katz Pollock December 6, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      Hi AJ, Your are correct. Your client is not a good fit for QBO. They have too many transactions. The recommendation is 350,000 targets maximum to be eligible. Enterprise is the best fit for sheer file size, although Premier may possibly work. ~Alicia

      • AJ December 6, 2016 at 11:25 am #

        Thanks for your quick replay Alicia. Have ever seen a situation where someone has switched to online only to find that their file size is too big? Have they experienced slowness?

        I am trying to prove to this client that moving to online is not a good fit but I am trouble finding real examples to give them.


      • Alicia Katz Pollock December 6, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

        Yes, because it’s web-based, every time they pull up a report that has a lot of transactions they will have to wait for it to generate. That includes the Customer list and the Vendor list. Even summary reports will need to be calculated each time.

        I have a retail customer with over 2000 products. One of their sales reports takes several minutes to come up on screen.

        Even deleted names and items stay in the system and are filtered out.

        Here’s an article with more information: https://community.intuit.com/articles/1145940-quickbooks-online-file-size-and-feature-limits.

        I’m a QBO evangelist, but in this case my experience says to stay with Enterprise.

  6. AJ December 6, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks for the information Alicia, very helpful!

  7. DBZ December 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    Hey Alicia,

    Thank you SO much for posting this! I, for one, found it very useful AND necessary!

    I have moved over everything to QBO and was checking to make sure that all the data is there and it looks pretty good. The only thing I noticed did NOT transfer over was my reconciliation history. Is there a way to get this data to transfer?

    • Alicia Katz Pollock December 6, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

      Hi Dafna, You can just repeat your most recent reconciliation and select the entire history. If your reconciliations were good, and you had cleaned up all the extraneous transactions, it should all square up cleanly. For example, if your last reconciliation was October 31, use that date and ending balance again, then mark all previously reconciled transactions again. The difference will be zero again.

  8. Neil B. December 24, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    Hi Alicia,

    Thanks for posting. It is very detailed. And I really love the recommendations. What do you think about this Quickbooks Enterprise to Pro Conversion?

    Thanks in advance!

  9. C Martin January 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    I can’t thank you enough for this article!! This worked PERFECTLY for three different companies and literally saved me hundreds of dollars. My companies are very small, and just like you said, enterprise was overkill. I have been running all three on Premier for 1+ month and everything is working perfectly with no data lost. Again, THANK YOU!!

  10. Chris Munger January 9, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    Alicia, thanks a million for providing this solution that is sadly not provided by Intuit. Sad when the drive for profits means short-changing a segment of customers that would be well served by this approach.

    Although we received the email from Intuit indicating our exported file was ready to be downloaded, once we log back into QBO, we see no “To Do” list or task list from which we can access the file. Has Intuit pulled this from the QBO trial version? Or is there a semi-obvious step that I’m missing?

    Thanks again for providing this information. Very much appreciated.

    • Alicia Katz Pollock January 10, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

      Hi Chris, Simply go back into the Export Data, and follow all the prompts again as if you were starting from scratch. At some point it will indicated that an export already exists, and do you want to download it? Then you’ll pick up where you left off in the process.

  11. Leila February 21, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    Hi Alicia. Thank you so much for posting this and helping out! It is really appreciated!

    I seem to be getting stuck at step “Step 8: Pick the online company you want to import your data into.”
    I cannot get to step 9 (“Note: You may only have the option to import list and balances if your company file is too large to import. If you don’t see this screen, continue to the next step below.”) because once I do Step 8, Quickbooks just stalls at the screen that says “Preparing… This process may take up to 30 minutes.”

    I tried disabling/enabling security settings in Internet Explorer, but that also did not help.
    When I did that, i got to step 11 (“After following all the above steps, try the import again. During the import flow you will likely get a pop-up asking you to be redirected to qbo.intuit.com, and if you trust this site? Please click Yes to continue.”), but then that same screen that says “Preparing… This process may take up to 30 minutes” just continues to show up and nothing after it.

    Any chance you have a solution?
    I have been at this for 6 hours and I’m all out of solutions and I really need for this to work.
    Thank you in advance for your help!

    • Alicia Katz Pollock February 26, 2017 at 9:43 pm #

      I can think of a few things. Your Enterprise file may be using features that aren’t in QBO, so it can’t be imported. The file may also be too large – did you follow the step to confirm the number of targets? And, it really may be taking a very long time if your file is large or complex.

  12. Jack March 24, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

    It seemed like a God’s sent gift. Went trough the process. got to upload, download convert and create the file. However when i tried to open the newly created file it say ” It can only be opened in QBEnterprise….

    Followed the instruction to a T but no cookies for me. I did it all on another computer that had installed only QB Pro 2016.

    • Alicia Katz Pollock March 25, 2017 at 9:06 am #

      Hi Jack, Something went wrong or got skipped in your process. If you would like me to give it a try, give me a call at 971-235-7119. ~Alicia

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