Like most cloud-based accounting systems, QuickBooks Online enables you to export reports that you can view on screen to Microsoft Excel. The export process within QuickBooks Online itself only involves a couple of mouse clicks, but from there you may have to perform several more actions to finally see your report in Excel. In this article I’ll reveal the path of least resistance so that you can work more efficiently, speeding up access to QuickBooks Online reports.

I tested exporting from QuickBooks Online to Excel using the following browsers:

  • Chrome for Windows
  • Firefox for Windows
  • Edge for Windows
  • Safari for Mac

I also tried the free QuickBooks Online desktop app for Windows (also available for Mac), which I hoped would offer an export experience like QuickBooks Desktop, but unfortunately does not.

If you’re a tl;dr (“Too long; didn’t read”) type of person, the Chrome and Firefox browsers are going to be your path of least resistance. A minor tweak sets either browser to open reports in Excel automatically. Conversely, you’ll have to exert a little more effort with the Edge browser, and in my view some significant effort in Safari and the desktop app.

Let’s first go through the normal workflow involved in exporting reports from QuickBooks Online to Microsoft Excel with most browsers:

  1. As shown in Figure 1, log onto your QuickBooks Online company or use the free test-drive company.
  2. Click Reports.
  3. Choose a report, such as Profit and Loss.

Speeding Up Access to QuickBooks Online Reports

Figure 1: Viewing a Profit and Loss report in QuickBooks Online.

  1. As shown in Figure 2, click the Export button that appears at the upper right-hand corner of the report.
  2. Choose Export to Excel.
  3. The next steps differ depending upon your browser:
  • Chrome, Firefox, Edge: The resulting file name appears at the bottom of the browser window. Click the file name to open the report in Excel as shown in step 6, Figure 2.

Speeding Up Access to QuickBooks Online Reports

Figure 2: Exporting a QuickBooks Online report to Microsoft Excel in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

  • Safari: You’ll see a quick flash on the screen as the file moves into your Downloads folder, if that folder is docked at the bottom of your screen. As shown in Figure 3, you can click the downloads icon, and then click the icon associated with your report. Don’t click on the file name, as that only dismisses the downloads menu.

Speeding Up Access to QuickBooks Online Reports

Figure 3: You’ll have to search for downloaded reports in Safari.

At this point your report should be open in Microsoft Excel. I’ve written previously describing how you can disable the Protected View prompt. Now let’s revisit step 6 in Figure 2 above and see how, going forward, Chrome and Firefox can open files automatically for you, as shown in Figure 4:

  1. Click the arrow adjacent to the file name in the Downloads
  2. Select Always Open Files of this Type.

Speeding Up Access to QuickBooks Online Reports

Figure 4: Click Always Open Files of this Type in Chrome and Firefox to have reports open automatically.

After this one-time tweak, both Chrome and Firefox will automatically open your report in Microsoft Excel for you. If you also turn off Protected View then you’ll have a streamlined path between QuickBooks Online and Excel.

Unfortunately, this ability to open files automatically after download is not available in the Edge or Safari browsers. You’ll also have to open reports manually if you use the QuickBooks Online desktop app. The app will prompt you to choose a name for your report, but you’ll then need to manually open the report in Excel by navigating to the folder where you saved the workbook.

Retrieving Lost QuickBooks Online Reports

Regardless of whether you choose to streamline how your reports open, you can still be subject to reports suddenly vanishing. Once you click on the file name in Step 6 of Figure 2, the downloads bar typically vanishes. Depending upon your browser there may be two different ways to retrieve lost files:

  1. By displaying a list of recent downloads within your browser; or
  2. You can navigate to your Downloads folder from within Excel’s Open dialog box.

To view recent downloads within your browser:

  • Chrome: Press Ctrl-J or choose Downloads from the menu hidden beneath the 3-dot button in the upper right-hand corner of Chrome, as shown in Figure 5.

Speeding Up Access to QuickBooks Online Reports

Figure 5: You can access your recent downloads in Chrome by way of menu or by pressing Ctrl-J.