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‘Find’-ing Your Way Through QuickBooks® Without Going Crazy

Another in a series of articles about getting maximum mileage from QuickBooks® financial software.

The Challenge

Why does the QuickBooks® "Find" function only let you use the first letter in the dropdown category? This is very frustrating when I’m trying to find an entry in one of three categories: Vendors, Customers and Others. The “Find” function jumps to the first letter in the Customers category, and nine times out of 10 I need to access the Vendors category to find the name I’m searching for. This renders the “find” function basically useless.

Jeff Kemper
The Abana Group, LLC 

Diane’s Advice

There are two primary “Find” functions available in QuickBooks®:

  • The Simple Find feature
  • The Advanced Find feature

In my opinion, the Advanced Find feature is the easier and more user-friendly of the two.

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A fast way to access the Find window is to hold down your CTRL key and the “F” key at the same time. When the Find window opens, QuickBooks® defaults to the Simple Find window. Many users don’t realize that they can also access a different Find window by clicking on the button or tab labeled "Advanced."

When you get to the Advanced window, it’s easy to choose a filter (for example, Name) and then type in the beginning of the name you are looking for. In this case, when I typed in “su,” the name “Sue’s Design Services” popped up. When I added the “s” to make it “sus,” “Susan’s Landscaping” (a vendor) showed up in the window.

Here’s what you will see:

QuickBooks® will continue to match the name you are typing in (whether it’s Customer: Job, Vendor or Employee) based on what it can alphabetically match at any given point in your entry.

For example, if you had a customer named “Sudmore, Ralph,” that name would pop up first (as the “d” following “su” precedes our first “su” vendor (Sue’s Design Services). If you had a customer named “Sutton, Richard,” then the vendor names beginning with “sue” through “sus” would come up before the customer names starting with “sut.”

Once you find the name you are looking for, just hit the “tab” key to accept that filter. If that’s the only criteria you want to impose on the current search, just click on the Find button (it’s on the right side of screen) and the results will display in the window at the bottom of the screen.

Treat Yourself to Some Additional Filters

If you’re looking for some specifics related to a customer, you can save yourself some visual searching time by adding additional filtering criteria. For example, you could click on Transaction Type in the left hand menu and then choose Selected Transaction Types from the choices in the center of the screen.

A secondary dropdown list will appear. If, in this case, you wanted to review only certain types of transactions (e.g., checks, bills and credit card entries), you then check them off as shown below.

After selecting the various transaction types you want to view, click on the Find button and your results will display almost instantly.

Reports, Anyone?

Many users don’t realize that, after the search results are displayed, it’s easy to quickly turn the information into a report. The Report button turns from gray to black after the search. You can simply click on it to see your results in a Report format.

The Modify Report screen then also allows you to customize the report to meet your needs. (This feature is also available on the Simple Find screen.)

When to Use Simple Find

Although I very seldom use the Simple Find feature (probably because I’m so used to using Advanced Find), some of my clients like to use it when they are in transaction-entry mode. For example, if they are entering bills that look familiar to them, they can quickly search recent entries by clicking on the magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen (which takes them to the Simple Find window). The icon looks like this:

When you are entering a transaction, the Find feature becomes context sensitive (i.e., it’s programmed to recognize that you are in bill-entry mode). It will only give you the option of selecting vendor names (as you’ll probably be entering a vendor name related to a bill).

You can then quickly search for recent entries for that vendor.

Note: The context-sensitive feature operates similarly in other transaction-entry windows. For example, the Create Invoices Find feature allows access to only Customer: Job names.

Advance to the Head of the Class

Remember, if you want additional flexibility in your Find activities (as described above), you can just click on the Advanced button or tab at any time. I’m sure you’ll agree that gaining an “Advanced” state of knowledge and efficiency is a definite plus.

Send your QuickBooks® challenge to Diane Gilson at QBChallenge@InfoPlusAcct.com. If your challenge is selected for this series (as Jeff’s was), you will receive a free copy of Gilson’s book, "Accounting with QuickBooks® Pro for Home Builders & Remodelers" (available through www.infoplusacct.com or BuilderBooks.com).

Diane C.O. Gilson, CPA, CIA, is a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and MasterBuilder ProAdvisor, author, trainer and construction accounting coach, as well as a frequent speaker at The International Builders’ Show and the Remodeling Show. Her firm, Info Plus Accounting PC/CPA, offers bookkeeping and support services to help construction companies do more accurate and timely job costing and run better management reports. Contact Gilson via e-mail, or call her at 734-544-7620.

Please Note: This article is solely for informational purposes. Reference herein to QuickBooks® software or Intuit, Inc., or any specific commercial products, process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, warranty or guaranty by NAHB. The views and opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of NAHB. NAHB and the author expressly disclaim any responsibility for any damages arising from the use, application or reliance on any information contained in this article. We recommend that users exercise their own skill and care with respect to its use. Because software is continually modified and upgraded, please consult an accountant or information technology advisor before using the information in this article.

Free E-Newsletter: 'Quick-Tips + Business-Byte' From Gilson

To receive “Quick-Tips + Business-Bytes,” a free bi-weekly e-mail newsletter containing QuickBooks® tips and insights for small businesses, e-mail your request to Gilson.

Earlier Articles in this Series:

  • To read, “Slim and Trim: Fitness for Your QuickBooks® File,” published Aug. 2, click here.
  • To read, “Liposuction for Your Growing QuickBooks® File,” published Oct. 11, click here.


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