If you’re a regular user of Quickbooks Online, you’ve probably seen a pop-up at some point introducing Quickbooks Labs. QuickBooks Labs is an area in Quickbooks Online where you can experiment with new plugins that are still in the beta-testing phase. As QuickBooks says, it’s their “high-tech playground.” After ignoring those pop-ups for a long time, I finally decided to check it out.
You can find the Labs option by going to the gear icon in the upper right corner of your QuickBooks Online home page. You’ll see “QuickBooks Labs” at the bottom of the list under “Your Company.” Here, you’ll see a list of available plugins with a brief description and demo video of each. A simple on/off switch allows you to enable the plugin - or easily turn it off again if you’re not a fan. You can also leave feedback on the plugins and ideas for new features that you would like to see.
The first plugin I tried was for a redesigned reports screen. This plugin makes it easier to customize your reports by building many different options into the main “Reports” page itself (instead of having to go into the “Customize” menu each time). You can quickly change your date range, switch between cash and accrual method, and select different columns and rows to view, among other things. There is still a “Customize” button for more advanced options, and you can still save your customizations for any reports that you run regularly. Although I enjoyed certain elements of this new reports screen, I found that there were quite a few kinks to be worked out. For example, if I clicked on a part of the report to get more detail, all my customized settings were erased when I returned to the main report screen. Little annoyances like this are to be expected in beta-testing, but QuickBooks makes it easy to give feedback when you run into issues, and they’re quick to solve the problems too.
Another QuickBooks Lab plugin I’ve been testing is “Alternate Navigation with Centers.” One of the things this feature gives you is a revised navigation menu on the left side of your screen, with a single click to open the Chart of Accounts. This might sound like a small change, but it’s huge to me. I’m constantly opening and closing the Chart of Accounts, so having one less click to get there makes me happy! It’s the little things that make the Lab plugins so useful. QuickBooks is always trying to make their products more intuitive, and QuickBooks Labs is where they learn more about the needs of customers like you and me.
There are more plugins in QuickBooks Labs that I haven’t had the chance to explore yet. One that sounds intriguing is “Company Templates for Accountants.” With this feature, you can save settings from an existing company and use them as a template when you create a new client. Another plugin lets you import your own invoice designs instead of using one of QBO’s pre-generated ones. I encourage you to explore QuickBooks Labs on your own, or ask your accountant to take a look. You’ll never know what time-saving features you might find!