Why You Should Use QuickBooks' Snapshots

One of QuickBooks’ strengths is its flexibility. It helps you find the exact information you're looking for in a variety of ways. Which one you choose at any given time depends on what screen you’re working on at the moment and precisely what slice of data you need.

For example, what do you do when you need to get information within QuickBooks about customers or payments they’ve made? You have several options. You could:

  • Create a report,
  • Go to specific Customer pages,
  • Click on Receive Payments from the Home page and use the Find arrows (not very elegant or fast, but would be an easy way to find recent payments), or
  • View Customer Snapshots.

As you can see, QuickBooks’ Snapshots feature is just one way to get the information you are looking for, but a very useful one that warrants the focus of this article. Snapshots provide quick, thorough overviews of your company, payments, and customers.

Snapshots As A Home Base

We like to refer to dashboards as home pages on steroids. The desktop version of QuickBooks doesn’t have a “dashboard” per se like most web-based financial applications do. But what it does have is Snapshots. QuickBooks' Snapshots feature displays key financial information about your business in a convenient "dashboard-like" window giving you the ability to quickly assess how your company is doing financially with just a glance.

Rather than just providing navigational tools and menus, Snapshots display charts, grids, and lists representing the data you’d most likely want to see when you first log on - account balances, summaries of income and expenses, and high-priority tasks -with links to related activity screens. And most Snapshots can be customized to further provide the information you want to easily access.

While QuickBooks’ Reminders tell you what needs to be done either today or very soon, they don’t reveal anything about your financial status. Snapshots do. There are three types of Snapshots: Company, Payments, and Customer.

A Detailed Look at the Customer Snapshot Tab

Let’s look at the Customer Snapshot tab to get an idea of how Snapshots work. To find it, click on Snapshots in the left vertical navigation pane. When the window opens, make sure that the Customer tab is active; if not, click on it. Click on the arrow next to the CUSTOMER field in the center of the very top to select a customer.

 The QuickBooks  Customer Snapshot  sums up each customer's activity and history in a one-page view.

The QuickBooks Customer Snapshot sums up each customer's activity and history in a one-page view.

You’ll see three columns of information here. The left pane displays some commonly sought numbers (like Total Sales) in addition to some numbers you might have trouble finding any other way (Average days to pay, etc.). In the middle, you’ll see Recent Invoices and Recent Payments. And the right section includes two customizable graphs, Sales History and Best Selling Items.

Customizing Your Snapshots

You can add, delete, and move blocks of data around in your Snapshots. The information boxes you’ll see when you first open the Snapshots window is the default layout.  To remove any of these boxes, click on the X in the upper right corner. You can restore them at any time by clicking the arrow next to Add Content in the upper left and then clicking the +Add button next to the one you want.

 You can add, delete, and move blocks of data around in  Customer Snapshot .

You can add, delete, and move blocks of data around in Customer Snapshot.

You can also move the blocks into different positions on the page. Grab one by clicking on its header and holding it. Drag it to the preferred position, and release it.

Users who have been assigned access to the data that each Snapshot contains can customize their own views by adding or deleting sections and rearranging them. So each employee can have his or her own unique-looking Snapshots when they log in, though the real-time data in all of them will be the same.

Note: If you’ve given employees other than yourself access to QuickBooks, it’s important that you assign permission levels to them. You probably don’t want everyone to be able to see and modify everything in your file. We can help you set these up.

Company and Payments Snapshots

The other two Snapshots are more complex, containing more data options. They can, however, be customized in the same ways you personalize the Customer tab. The Payments Snapshot can give you a quick update on things like Recent Transactions and A/R by Aging Period.

The Company Snapshot lets you display up to 12 lists and charts, including:

  • Account Balances,
  • Customers Who Owe Money,
  • Expense Breakdown, and,
  • Vendors to Pay.

This would be a good page to use as your dashboard (home page), especially since it can also show you your Reminders. To set this as your dashboard, with the Company Snapshot open, go to Edit | Preferences | Desktop View | My Preferences and click on the button in front of Save current desktop. Remove the checkmark in front of Show Home page when opening company file if one is there. Now, each time you open your company file in QuickBooks, the first page you will see will be your Company Snapshot.

 You can use  Company Snapshot  as your dashboard by setting it up to be the first page you see each time your open your company file in QuickBooks.

You can use Company Snapshot as your dashboard by setting it up to be the first page you see each time your open your company file in QuickBooks.

QuickBooks’ Snapshots can get you up to speed quickly on critical elements of your accounting file, but there are other reports you should run regularly, including complex standard financials reports that require expert analysis. We can help you interpret these, which in turn will help you make smarter, more informed business decisions.