Securely Upload Data Using an Accountant’s Copy File

Starting with the 2008 version, QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise Solutions users can upload files to Intuit’s Accountant’s Copy File Transfer secure server. Accountant’s Copy1 files are encrypted, so even en route to the secure server they’re protected. From a user’s perspective, the entire process takes place from within QuickBooks. Best of all, it’s free! 2 There are just a few simple steps that are launched from the File->Accountant’s Copy menu. Here’s the sequence in Enterprise Solutions 8.0:

  1. Confirm sending Accountant’s Copy
  2. Set the dividing date
  3. Enter your accountant’s email (twice), your name, and your email
  4. Enter a strong password (twice) and a message to your accountant
  5. Accept the warning to close all data files
  6. Acknowledge that the Accountant’s Copy has been successfully uploaded
  7. You’ll receive an email confirming your successful upload
  8. Your accountant will receive an email notifying him there’s work to be done

It’s not recommended to include the password in the comment area. Instead, communicate the password to your accountant via a more secure method, such as by telephone call.

Like most things, there are a few restrictions to using Intuit’s secure server. Your company file must be under 200 Mb in size. Next, you have to conduct the transfer using a high-speed internet connection.

There are also a few simple things to keep in mind when uploading an Accountant’s Copy to Intuit’s server. You must use a strong password, which means one that contains at a minimum:

  • 1 uppercase character
  • 1 number
  • More than 7 total characters

Note that once you’ve completed uploading your Accountant’s Copy export file, your QuickBooks program title bar will remind you that you have an Accountant’s Copy file outstanding. If your upload session ends before the file transfer is complete, an Accountant’s Copy import file (with a .qby extension) may remain on your computer. It can be safely deleted.

One important consideration is whether the Accountant’s Copy file is the right file choice to work with your accounting support, because there are some restrictions3 on this file type.

An Accountant’s Copy file is the right choice when you want to continue working in your QuickBooks file and your accountant plans to independently perform tasks such as closing a fiscal period. When you create an Accountant’s Copy, you specify a dividing date. Your accountant can make entries on or before that date, and you can make entries after but not on that date. That allows both you and your accountant to work independently. You can continue to view data before the dividing date and attempt to make changes to that data, but when you try to save your changes, QuickBooks will warn you and ignore your changes. Once your accountant has completed his work, you’ll import your accountant’s work into your primary QuickBooks data file. There are restrictions on what your accountant can do in an Accountant’s Copy file, such as working with lists or performing reconciliations. Generally speaking, Intuit has expanded the capabilities of the Accountant’s Copy file over the years when both the client and accountant are working in the most recent version. For example, for 2009 the Accountant’s Copy allows the accountant to perform reconciliations after the dividing date or to modify classes, two things not allowed in previous versions.

Even if your accountant doesn’t plan to change data, an Accountant’s Copy file is still a good choice. For example, if we are producing custom reports for you, we recommend you make and transfer an Accountant’s Copy file using the steps described above and then immediately cancel it by removing restrictions. Canceling the Accountant’s Copy file removes the dividing date restrictions on the file, but it does not delete the file or make it unavailable to your accountant. This allows you to take advantage of free, secure transfer to your accountant without any restrictions on your continued QuickBooks work. Although Accountant’s Copy files are not intended as full backups, the transfer method we’ve described offers a fast and easy way to create a partial off-site backup, which could prove invaluable in disaster recovery.

QuickBooks offers other file types which can also be used to transfer accounting data, such as a portable file (.qbm file extension) and a backup file (.qbb file extension). Like the Accountant’s Copy file, these other file types come with different capabilities and restrictions. It’s important to pick the right file type for the task at hand. Because of the free, easy-to-use, and secure transfer process for an Accountant’s Copy file, it’s a great choice for a wide range of tasks.

We’ve extended this discussion with 3 articles in our QuickBooks KnowledgeBase.

This series of articles covers the full cycle of sending data to us or another accountant and incorporating recommended changes into your QuickBooks company file.

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  1. Specifically, a QuickBooks Accountant’s Copy export file with a .qbx extension. []
  2. Generally speaking, Intuit’s resources of this type are only available to users of versions that aren’t obsolete. If that policy remains unchanged, when the 2011 version is released in late 2010, users of the 2008 version won’t have free transfers any longer. []
  3. Some restrictions depend on other QuickBooks applications you use. For example, Velocity Inventory users running Enterprise Solutions can’t create Accountant’s Copy files. Velocity Inventory is a separate inventory management program that offers serial number tracking, multiple warehouses, and bar code support. []


  1. I am VERY DISAPPOINTED that I purchased QuickBooks Pro 2012 and learned that it CANNOT open an accountant’s copy. The removal of this functionality is clearly to induce me to purchase the accountant version. NOT after I already paid for Pro!!!! Doesn’t make any sense that a program can generate a file , that the program itself cannot utilize!!!!! When do the upgrade traps end? Anyone have a work aorund?

    • David – You have a misunderstanding of several things. First, the ability to open an accountant’s copy file was not removed from QB Pro because it was never there. This capability was always only in the higher cost Premier Accountant product. While we can’t speak for Intuit, that approach seems reasonable. Every QB Pro user should be able to generate the accountant’s copy file, but only an accountant needs the extra capabilities to work with it. Putting those features into QB Pro would make QB Pro a bigger and more expensive product for all users, when only accountants need the extra features. Second, the accountant’s copy file makes use of Intuit’s online services, which means that you and your clients would need to purchase a new QB license every 3 years. In that sense, the upgrades never end, so there is no work around. Operating the online services that are the backbone of accountant’s copy files takes money, so if there were no upgrades to provide money, accountant’s copy files couldn’t exist for very long. It’s important to put that into context. QB Pro is under $200, or about $70 per year over the 3 year period. If your client finds a $70 annual expenditure on accounting software – a vital ingredient to running a successful business – to be excessive, he’s probably not spending a lot on outside accounting services. Likewise, if you find the cost of QB Premier Accountant to be excessive, you probably don’t have clients that need to make use of the features that software provides. For those that make regular use of the features of the products, QB Pro and Premier offer solid values.

  2. I sent a accountants copy to the cpa. She says she didn’t get it. Now what can I do. I keep getting a
    screen saying a acct copy has been created. I need to send it to her again.

    • Carolyn – Anytime you create an accountant’s copy, you can cancel it. Just visit File->Accountant’s Copy->Client Activities->Remove Restrictions. When you remove restrictions, you can then create another accountant’s copy and resend it. Keep in mind that your CPA receives a notice from Intuit, so the notice may have ended up in your CPA’s spam folder if they’re not using this service regularly. Intuit’s service is extremely reliable about sending out links to these files.

  3. How does the accountant return the changed data file to the client?
    How does the client get the data on his computer?

    Thanks, Jami