Running QuickBooks for Windows on Your Mac

41 Comments

quickbookswindows

QuickBooks is one of those key business applications that many people who are considering a switch to the Mac are worried about leaving behind. While QuickBooks 2009 for Mac might be the perfect answer for many, others do not want to give up some of the key features of the Windows version.

Intuit provides a list of key differences, and I think the most important ones are the industry-specific editions of QuickBooks Premier, multi-user access, and the ability to create an Accountant’s Copy of your company file. If you need any of those features, then you’ll want to continue to run the Windows version of QuickBooks.

Fortunately, there are several good methods to accomplish this feat that won’t break the bank or leave you pulling your hair out. Just remember that you are still running Windows (with one exception pointed out below). You will need to make sure that you are protected from viruses and spyware. You might be tempted to turn off networking entirely to avoid the anti-virus tax, but QuickBooks receives frequent updates over the Internet and many people use the DirectConnect features to pull down their financial statements through the intertubes as well.

Boot Camp

You can use Boot Camp, a feature of Mac OS X Leopard, to run Windows on your Mac. This solution allows you to shut down your Mac and reboot into Windows natively. You can’t use your Mac applications while Windows is running, though. In this scenario, you are running Windows on your Mac just like you would run it on a PC. Compatibility is excellent because you really are just running Windows. The downside of this approach is that you can’t take your Mac email and documents and easily copy and paste or import that information into QuickBooks. Likewise, it can be hard to get to the Windows files when you are in the Mac side unless you install MacFUSE to read the NTFS filesystem.

CrossOver Mac

CrossOver Mac is a WINE project that tricks some (but not all) Windows software into thinking that it is talking to Windows XP and passes those requests along to Mac OS X. Because of this trickery, it doesn’t work for every application. If you search the compatibility list for “QuickBooks” you’ll see that CrossOver Mac is listed as “known not to work” for the most recent versions. It could be a good choice if you are running QuickBooks Pro 2004, but not if you have already upgraded to 2007 or 2009. Since it runs in Mac OS X, you can still pull information from your email or other documents on your Mac. And since it’s not actually Windows, you don’t have to worry so much about viruses and spyware.

CrossOver Mac is $40 for the Standard version and $70 for the Pro version. A free trial is available to download, but I can’t really recommend it until it is updated to work with the latest versions of QuickBooks for Windows.

Virtualization

Virtualization provides a way to create a virtual machine (VM) where another guest OS can run inside Mac OS X. In contrast to CrossOver, you are actually running Windows inside the VM.

There are three major virtualization packages — VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, and xVM Virtual Box. The convenience of these virtualization solutions is great because you still have access to all your Mac OS X applications and features while the virtual machine is running alongside your other Mac software. You can even hide the Windows desktop and only view the QuickBooks application window itself and use Exposé and all the other cool windowing features of OS X.

While, virtualization is not a good solution for 3D design software or computer games (as these types of software want to talk directly to the hardware rather than a virtual machine), it works great for QuickBooks and is the solution that I recommend to most users. Because you are essentially running two complete OS installs on one machine, it’s best to have at least 2GB of RAM.

One potential benefit of VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop is that they both provide Windows software to convert the entire hard drive of your existing PC into a virtual machine file that you can use on your Mac. This is great if you have a nice, lean Windows install with only the files that you need to bring with you to the Mac. It’s not so great if your PC is having problems and Windows is not running well. You’ll bring all those problems with you when you create a new VM file. If QuickBooks is the only Windows software that you need to run, I would recommend a clean install of Windows, Anti-virus software, and QuickBooks in a brand new VM.

VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop are both $80 and free trials are available to download. xVM Virtual Box is a free solution supported by Sun Microsystems. Be sure to read TheAppleBlog’s take on VMware vs Parallels and our review of Virtual Box.

Remote Desktop Client

Another solution is to continue to run QuickBooks on a PC, but access it over the network from your Mac. Remote Desktop Client from Microsoft provides a simple way to remotely control a PC running Windows XP Pro or Vista Business or Ultimate and it works just like screen sharing in Mac OS X Leopard. The killer feature is local printing so you can make hard copies of QuickBooks reports using a printer that is connected to your Mac. This can be a great solution if you already have a PC running QuickBooks on a required version of Windows and you don’t want to spend any more money on virtualization software. You can still access your Mac applications and documents and transfer information back and forth between the remote PC and the Mac you are sitting at while you work. The downside is that it’s difficult to set up to use over the Internet if you travel away from the PC with a portable Mac. Remote Desktop Client is a free download.

Specific Scenarios

I need to run the multi-user version of QuickBooks.

OK. You definitely need QuickBooks for Windows. What I recommend here is buying a cheap PC and installing QuickBooks for Windows with the “Install Database Server Only” option. This PC will then host your multi-user company file(s) which you can access over your office network from other computers running QuickBooks for Windows. Now you just need to make sure that you put your backup plan in place for the company file(s) hosted on that PC. For licensing, the host computer does not count as a user if it is running in “Database Server Only” mode. Of course, if you already have a desktop PC that is running QuickBooks, you can make that the host by configuring multi-user mode. Just make sure that you leave it turned on with QuickBooks running.

As an alternative, if you already have Windows Small Business Server 2008 in your office, you could set up a second machine as a Terminal Services host and use RDC to open sessions on that machine. That way you don’t even need to install QuickBooks on each computer, just on the terminal services host machine.

I want to backup my QuickBooks data to Time Machine (or MobileMe).

One of the amazing features of Leopard is Time Machine. If you want Time Machine to grab a copy of your QuickBooks for Windows data, then I recommend you use virtualization and then configure QuickBooks to save a backup copy of your company file to a shared folder on the Mac side so it gets picked up by Time Machine. Incidentally, this also works if you are using Backup.app to make offsite copies of critical files in the cloud.

I already have Boot Camp setup and don’t want to spend more money.

Alright, alright. I won’t force you to switch to virtualization, but this is probably the only situation where I would use Boot Camp. You would have a lot more benefits with virtualization (flexibility, convenience, snapshots, accessibility of files in either environment, etc.), but I will let you keep the Boot Camp setup you have already made.

Recommendations

If you need or want to run the Windows version of QuickBooks from your Mac, each of these four methods will help you accomplish that goal. CrossOver is hard to recommend because it will not support the latest versions of QuickBooks. Remote Desktop Client works great if your PC is working fine and is sitting in the same office as your Mac. BootCamp is simple and straightforward and included with Leopard. One important consideration is that Intuit is more likely to support a BootCamp or Remote Desktop solution because you are running Windows natively, either on your Mac with BootCamp or on a PC using Remote Desktop.

Virtualization is by far the most convenient way to take advantage of the best of both worlds. However, support can be hard to come by because you are running an Intuit product in a Microsoft OS inside a 3rd party virtual machine on an Apple computer. That’s four companies that might all try to pass the buck when you have a problem or failure. That said, I’ve found virtualization to be stable, relatively fast, and easy to manage. I love that I can hide the Windows desktop and just look at the application that I need. When I don’t need that application, I can quit the VM and continue to enjoy all the merits of Mac OS X.

Frankly, isn’t running OS X why you bought a Mac in the first place? Now you can still get all your work done and play with the shiny new toys from that store with the ginormous glowing fruit sign. Ahhh, such sweet joy to have your cake and eat it too. Or at least your Mac and QuickBooks for Windows.

Since I recommend virtualization for most users, I have some tips and tricks for you to use that I will share with you. Be sure to come back tomorrow for another helping of advice on how to run QuickBooks for Windows effectively.

41 Comments

Erica

I just bought my iMac and own a copy of QB2008 for pc that was previously installed on my old pc. What are my best options for switching my QB over to the mac? I would just run bootcamp but I don’t have a clean copy of windows. Help :)

Will

Hi Allie,
There is a Canadian edition of QuickBooks Pro 2010 (Windows). To avoid any issues that sometimes arise when setting up a virtual machine (e.g. in Parallels or VMware), I recommend using Apple’s free Bootcamp, included with Leopard and Snow Leopard. (Though you’ll still need to buy a license of Windows XP or 7.)

Best,
Will Lynes
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Allie

Hi I am thinking of buying a mac for school and i am required to use Canadian edition. Is there a Canadian edition for Quickbooks Pro 2010 and if not wut is my alternative

Andrew

I agree. Total FAIL.
I think it is an anti-trust issue with Microsoft, Intuit, and Canadian financial institutions. I have called several Canadian banks. Bottom line: qbo files from Canadian banks don’t work on Quickbooks pro 2010 for Mac “American” version (even though its use is suggested to Canadian Mac owners on the Intuit website).

Why? No one will/can say. Specifically, no one from TD Canada Trust, CIBC, Intuit Canada, or Intuit U.S.A. (for which you will need an “american” phone number to get through). But some of the banks reps have said that the Canadian banks have an “agreement” with Microsoft and not with Apple.

I’ve been a Quickbooks for Mac user since 2003 and for my bookkeeping system to continue working I’m searching the forums for “workarounds”. Thanks for more crap – to Intuit? Canadian Banks? Microsoft? All?

Chris Dunn

It absolutely blows my mind that Intuit would not have a Canadian Mac version of Quickbooks and expects users to find workarounds.

How can you have a US version for the Mac and not a Canadian, but have a Canadian PC version? How are you suppose to track time and projects while you work if your out of OSX and in BootCamp??

FAIL.

Colette

I realized I may have been a bit confusing… the QB file is hosted on a PC running Windows XP and has the Database server only option installed. The same file is being used by two separate users (each has their own licensed copy of QB). Don’t know if that was clear or not.

Sarah

Hello Colette…

Did you install the SP2 for the Windows XP? Also, are you leaving the QB file itself IN the PC? And then just accessing it by the two macs? I know that you have to leave your PC “Server” on at all times, that includes the file itself. So really, your macs would be logging on and off, not closing it down. However, I do not think that your VM being turned off and on should affect this. I’m curious if you have reached a solution at this point. For us, I am going to still consider a Mac Server (prob the mac mini server). And then do a VM with the hosted program and file.

Sarah

Hello! Thanks for the great post. Not my brain is trying to wrap itself around all this stuff…

I just bought 8 macs and need to have multi-user access to the shared QB company file. Can I install Parallels on the Mac Server and then “host” the QB file in Database server Only Mode to multiple mac users at the same time? (I am really trying to avoid telling my boss that I still need a crap PC to host my QB, after I convinced him to buy MACS!!! )

Colette

I am having issues with multi-user access using VMWare. I have two licensed versions of QB Premier 2010 running in VMWare. I have the QB file using the Database server only option. The two users (logged in under separate user names) log in and can work fine. As soon as one or both of the files are closed something seems to happen because the next time one of the two users tries to open the file we get one of a couple of different errors – either the “connection to the network is lost” or there appears to be a firewall. Neither is the case – I have completely disabled all anti-virus, firewalls, security settings, etc. on my Mac, VMWare, and the PC hosting the file. I also have ensured that all folders involved had full read/write access. In addition, I can still access files and folders through Explorer and Finder just fine after getting that message, so I know the connection is still there. From that point on, the only way that I can open the QB file is to move it to one of the local VMWare folders and use it locally in single user mode.

Oh and I should also mention that when I run the QB Database manager software on the host computer, it never shows that the users are connected, even though both appear to be working in the file just fine until we try to close them.

Any thoughts? Has anywone seen this issue and are there tricks to settings and setups that I need to look for/change?

Thanks in advance.
c.

Eileen

I am trying to install QB Pro 2010 under Windows running under VMware Fusion on my Mac and Windows sees the install desk but does not see any files on the install disk. I can read the disk under OSx and know the files are there. When I search under Windows for setup.exe it is not found. Any solutions?

Will

Hi Eileen,
In VMware, be sure that you have given your virtual machine access to the CD drive by going to Virtual Machine (menu)>CD/DVD>Connect CD/DVD. Either your Mac or your Windows VM can access the CD drive, not both at the same time.

Best,
Will Lynes
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Susan

I run QB on my PC. I will be bookkeeping for a Quickbooks Mac user. Based on your comments I will need to use the Remote Desktop Client to enter the data and my client will be able to upload the information into the QB on her Mac; correct?

Will

Hi Susan,
I’m not sure I understand the solution you propose. What purpose would Remote Desktop Client serve? Would you actually be entering data into QuickBooks on your computer, using QuickBooks for Windows, or on your client’s computer, in QuickBooks for Mac? If you are thinking you would use Remote Desktop Client to connect to the Mac and use QuickBooks for Mac by remoting into it from your PC, you should know that you cannot connect to a Mac using RDC. RDC is a proprietary Microsoft technology. Macs use VNC, an open standard for screen sharing and remote access. There are numerous (including some free) Windows-compatible VNC clients if you want to do this.

However, since you are most familiar with QuickBooks for Windows, I would recommend converting between the Mac and Windows versions so that you can work in the environment you are familiar with and the client can work in their preferred environment. You can exchange the files using a flash drive or file sharing web service. There are many, including Apple’s own iDisk.

Best,
Will Lynes
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Will

Hi Nick,
That should work, provided you convert your Mac file by going to File>Back Up to QuickBooks for Windows. If for some reason that doesn’t work, you can always search for the free QuickBooks 2010 for Mac trial to update your Mac file to a newer version before exporting to Windows.

Best,
Will
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Nick

I’m running QB Pro 2005 Mac version and want to upgrade and crossover my file to QB Pro 2010 PC version. If the PC version is installed on a PC will it read the Mac file and upgrade it?

Thanks for any help on this!

Erich C. Harper

I am running OS9.2 and would like to buy an older version of quickbooks that will run on that OS. Which version do I acquire?

Will

Hi Erich,
The most recent version of QuickBooks for Mac that is OS 9 compatible is QuickBooks Pro 6.0 for Mac. Note, however, that Intuit only supports the current version plus 2 versions prior (i.e. QuickBooks Mac 2010, 2009, 2007 this year). If you run into any issues with 6.0, you may have trouble resolving them. And you won’t benefit from the many improvements made to the product in the intervening years, including better payroll support, online banking, custom form templates, credit card processing, and improved time tracking, to name a few.

Given the number of other modern Mac applications that require OS X (and will soon require Intel processors) I’d strongly encourage you to consider upgrading to an Intel Mac.

Best,
Will Lynes
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Jamie

I am using quickbooks pro 2007 for mac, and cannot figure out how to get my check numbers to print with the checks. Is there a setting I can change to make this happen?

Will

Hi Jamie,
Thank you for your question. There is no way to get check numbers to print with the checks. I believe this is because official check paper should have your bank account number, routing number, and check numbers pre-printed on the forms. In fact, QuickBooks goes to some lengths to help ensure the check numbers in QuickBooks match the check numbers on your pre-printed forms.

This is consistent in the Mac and Windows versions of QuickBooks.

Best,
Will
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Will Lynes

Hi Dianna,
Thank you for your question. I’m not familiar with what you’re describing, but I would recoomend looking to see if other Quicken users are experiencing this–it may not be due to the fact that you’re using Parallels. There are several resources you can draw on to find an explanation and, hopefully, a solution: http://www.quickencommunity.com/ and http://www.quicken.intuit.com/support

Best,
Will
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Dianna from Dallas

I can’t open my Quicken file on Mac. Running Parallels and it had been working great. Windows does open, and then quicken does ask for my password–then I get a gray screen.

Any suggestions?

WHY do these type of problems always happen on Windows and NEVER on Mac?

Margo

I am converting everything to Mac and Intuit does not have a Mac version of Quickbooks in Canada. I have installed Parallels and it is working with testing equipment that I also have to run through Windows so I know that it is okay. My problem is that I’ve downloaded my Quickbooks installation and when I put in the license number and product number I’m told it is the wrong one. I’ve checked with Intuit Canada and actually been on the phone most of the day trying to get this figured out. My license and product numbers are correct so I was told to call support. After about 45 minutes of trying different things I was told that Parallels will not allow me to run Quickbooks. Reading this blog it seems others are running Quickbooks so my question is: is there a trick to getting this to work? Right now I’m running a business and have no way of invoicing anyone since my old PC died. HELP!!!!!!! :)

Will

Hi Margo,
I am not familiar with the Canadian version of QuickBooks, so I’m speaking purely based on my experience with Parallels. I’ve found that certain applications and activities don’t like “Shared Networking” when connecting to the Internet or networked devices…sometimes simply changing to Bridged Networking helps. In Parallels, go to Devices>Network Adapter>Bridged>(the method you want to use to connect). Then try registering again.

Alternatively, I believe Parallels can be configured to use a Bootcamp partition. This would let you get QuickBooks set up and registered in Bootcamp, then use that same partition in Parallels without having to restart your Mac (as Bootcamp requires). Since running Windows via Bootcamp on your Mac is essentially the same as running Windows on any PC, you should be able to successfully register QB this way.

Best,
Will
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Kant

I am also contemplating a switch over to a Mac but have been reluctant because I run Quickbooks Pro 2007 with Enhanced Payroll service. The Mac version of Quickbooks does not have this feature.

Is it possible for me to run Bootcamp on a Mac and be able to run my Windows Quickbooks Pro 2007 with Enhanced Payroll service? Will I be able to print checks like I do now on my PC?

Will

Hi Kant,
Running Bootcamp on a Mac is similar to running Windows on any other PC. Assuming you install a version of Windows that is compatible with QuickBooks Pro 2007, have the right printer drivers, etc, you should be able to use QuickBooks as you do today.

Best,
Will
Product Manager
QuickBooks for Mac

Will

Tami–take a look at community.intuit.com or support.apple.com. Hard to know based on your description whether the issue is a QuickBooks one or a Mac one, but folks there should help you identify the problem.

tami

i am trying to print quickbooks report etc from my laptop which is running vista to a shared printer connected to my mac. it works fine in all other apps except quickbooks. anyone have any suggestions?

LALA

I want to get Quickbooks 2009 for MAC, but if I do can I install it in more than one computer?

Will

I work on QuickBooks Mac and saw your comment.
Although QuickBooks for Mac does not currently have a multi-user version, you can save your QuickBooks data file on your network, and different individuals in your organization can access the file, but not at the same time.

Dan

I have one Quickbooks 2009 (single user) installed on an iMac running VM Fusion. This computer will host the data file. Can I install Quickbooks 2009 on a second iMac running VM Fusion using the same license? The theory is that as long as only one copy of Quickbooks is running at any given time, the user on either machine will be able to work with the data file.
That is the way I set it up at another site with Quickbooks for the Mac and it works just fine. But with QB windows who knows.

Briana

Protection for your computer.
Orbasoft Antispyware is one of the best options available when you are searching for protection for your computer that you can trust. I know because I have tried many different types of scans in the past and the biggest difference I have found between them is the price. I found the antispyware solution from Orbasoft to be a great option that is affordable and easy to use. Visit http://www.orbasoft.com to learn more about this scan and what it can do for you. If you are like me, you will be glad that you took the time to check it out.

James Garvey

Diamond Girl,
here’s what I recommend to handle your sharing of Quickbooks. I’ll caveat this with a lot of people have encountered issues with OS X’s sharing locks and SMB so be sure to backup your company file before you start moving it around. I’ve highlighted a short plan to test your sharing setup. Also below is a link to very detailed setup instructions.

1. Setup SMB share on Mac server. More info here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1627
2. Copy the QBW company file to that share
3. From each Mac, launch your Virtual Machine software (VM)
4. Open Windows Explorer and use Windows “Map Network Drive” feature to map to that new mac share using SMB (smb://)
5. Launch QBW from VM. Open the file on the new network share

http://bdogd.wordpress.com/category/quickbooks/
http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1324515&tstart=0

The major issue that you may encounter (2nd link above) are file locks on the QB company file, standard in OS X to prevent multiple people from accessing the same file. Here are a few more links to help you out:

http://macosx.com/forums/mac-os-x-system-mac-software/22937-quicken-multiple-users.html
http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2039
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=ServerAdmin/10.5/en/c4fs2.html

Wayne

Of course, what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink – bookmark this site? Regards, Reader.

Diamond Girl

I totally agree that using a virtual machine is the way to go with QB. I noticed in this article it says for multi-user access to buy a “cheap” PC and use it as a server. What if I want to use the Mac Server I already have to host the files? Right now, I have one “admin” VM that is also a user and another user maps to her computer the QB company file for reports. But her Admin computer has to be powered on. Can I move everything to our Mac server that’s on all the time–if so, what is the best method–VM or CrossOver?

Paul Houle

Hi, I hae been running QB through Parallels for a few months – was going along fine until for some reason the screen started flashing. ( making it very difficult to use). any thoughts as to why this happens?

As well, I had decided to to do a fresh install of QB Pro 2009 through BOOT Camp and I am always getting an error that prevents the installation from finishing.
Very frustrating.

Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Tamara

I have tried to install quickbooks 2007 R1 using crossover on my brand new macbook but alas it gets as far as looking for flashplayer 7 and then nose dives. Any ideas on how to install flashplayer so that crossover/quickbooks-install can see it? Thanks.

Comments are closed.