Charging for Time in QuickBooks Online, Part 1

QuickBooks Online Plus Time Tracking

You can’t see time. Nor can you look at hours and minutes to see how many you have in inventory. But if you’re a service-based business, your income is derived from this invisible asset. Billable time needs to be entered and invoiced with absolute precision.

QuickBooks Online Plus has this covered. By using its time-tracking tools, you can:

  • Create records for single activities or for entire timesheets.
  • Give employees “Time-Tracking Only” access so they can complete their own timesheets.
  • Set up contractors as vendors.
  • Mark time as billable.
  • Invoice customers for time spent on work for them.

It is important to note, Time Tracking is not available in QuickBooks Online Simple Start or Essentials.

Here’s how to get started.

Before you can start using QuickBooks Online’s time-tracking tools, you’ll need to make sure this feature is turned on. Click on the Gear Icon in the upper right of the home page and select Account and Settings under Your Company. Click on the Advanced tab. Both of the settings in the Time Tracking section should read On. If they don’t, click on the Pencil Icon to the right and click in the boxes to the left of both lines to make checkmarks.

When you click the Pencil Icon, you will notice you have two additional options under Add Customer field to timesheets:

  1. You can check the box next to Show billing rate to users entering time to allow employees entering their time to see the billing rate for their services.
  2. You can also change the first day of the work week to be used.
QuickBooks Online Plus Time Tracking Feature

Turn on the time tracking feature in QuickBooks Online Plus under the Advanced tab in your company's Account and Settings.

Entering Time

We are going to assume that you have already created records for your employees and for your service items. If you haven’t, let’s get together and get you started on that. In order to start tracking time, you’ll need to have these thoroughly completed and ready to go.

You have two options for entering time. One involves creating a record for just one work session. The other involves entering time into a weekly timesheet.

We are going to focus on creating a record for just one work session in this article. We will cover the weekly time sheet in our upcoming article Charging Time in QuickBooks Online Plus, Part 2.

To enter time for one work session, click on the plus sign (+) at the top center of the home page. Under Employees, select Single Time Activity.

You’ll see a blank version of this screen:

QuickBooks Online Plus Time Activity Screen

You will use this QuickBooks Online Plus screen when you want to record time for a single activity.


Complete the fields here by clicking on the up/down arrows to open lists of options or by entering data when no list is available. You’ll enter the Name of the employee that provided the service and the Date it was performed. Choose the Customer who will be charged for your employee’s time and the Service received.

Be sure there is a checkmark in the box in front of the Bill at… line. The hourly rate should have filled in automatically when you selected the Service.

Note: If you do not see the Bill at… line, check the box next to Billable and the Bill at… line will appear as well as an option to choose Taxable status.

If you would like time worked to be calculated according to start and end times, check the box next to Enter Start and End Times, and the respective fields will appear. Otherwise, you will simply enter the total number of hours and minutes worked in the Time field. Finally, an expanded Description is optional but recommended. Click Save when you’ve finished, and that's it. You have successfully entered the time worked for that specific activity.

Time Tracking Only Users

If you want to have complete control over the data entry for billable time, you may choose to enter it all into QuickBooks Online yourself. Perhaps you’re employees and contractors submit paper timecards so that you can make sure that every billable increment of time gets billed back to the correct customer.

However, if you do not want to do it all yourself, you can allow your staff members to enter their own timesheet data in QuickBooks Online and restrict their access within your QuickBooks Online account to time tracking only. To do so, you’ll need to set them up as Time Tracking only users. Click on the Gear Icon next to your company name (upper right hand corner of the home page) and select Manage Users under Your Company. Click New and follow the steps in the Mini Interview window that opens to set user permissions specific to each of your staff members.

Time tracking only users in QuickBooks Online Plus

Using QuickBooks Online's Mini Interview to set up users' access permissions, you can limit employees to Time Tracking Only so they can fill in their own timesheets.


Note: If you haven’t gone through the process of assigning access rights to everyone who will be using QuickBooks Online, we can help you set this up so that individual staff members can work only in specific areas.

Be sure to look for next month's article where we’ll talk about completing weekly timesheets. We’ll also explain how billable time records make their way to customer invoices, and we’ll look at the time tracking reports available.