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QuickBooks 2013 – Where Have the Colors Gone?

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QuickBooks 2013 has an entirely new look and I have to admit there are many things about the product redesign that I really like, however, the biggest issue that I have with the redesign is the fact that Intuit has removed the ability to change the color scheme of the software.

QuickBooks 2013Where oh where can my QuickBooks colors be, Intuit took them away from me…….ya, I know that sounds like a really bad rendition of an old song that went like this – “Where oh where can my baby be, the lord took her away from me, she’s gone to heaven I’ve got to be good so I can see my baby when I leave this world”.

Color is an important part of our daily lives.  Did you know that the human eye can see 7,000,000 colors?  Certain colors and color combinations can be eye irritants, cause headaches, and wreak havoc with our vision – especially if we have any sort of vision problems.  Color also has an impact on our mood.

As a bookkeeper and software developer who spends most of my day in front of a computer and working in QuickBooks; color has another use for me.  I color code my various QuickBooks files so that I know at a glance if I’m in my own company data file, in a test file, or in a client/customer file; as I’m sure most people in this situation does as well.  For us, being able to navigate through QuickBooks quickly is a must – especially when we have a client/customer on the phone who is seeking assistance – in this situation, we all rely on visual cues or icons in addition to verbal instructions in order to help our clients do what they need to do.

My preferred method of navigation is mainly keyboard shortcuts – but over the years I’ve found that many of my customers/clients rely on their mouse for navigation; so I’ve learned to tell folks click on the “whatever” icon, go here, do this.

While I understand Intuit’s desire to provide users with the most space in which to focus on the task at hand – I personally feel that they’ve been rather dismissive on the “how to get there in the first place” part of the processes.  While the top icon bar, for example, contains many shortcuts to common tasks the color and size of the icons and text makes me feel like I have to strain to see what those shortcuts and icons represent.  Below is a screenshot of the top icon bar from QuickBooks 2012 and QuickBooks 2013 – notice that the icons and the font size in 2012 are larger, more pronounced, and easier to read; while the icons and text for the exact same tasks appear to blend together in 2013.

comparing the top icon bar of QuickBooks 2012 and 2013Right click on the image to enlarge it

Personally, I find the top icon bar of QuickBooks 2012 (the one on top) to be more visually appealing and easier to work with – simply because the icons have color (making them easy to distinguish), are larger (more easily recognized or seen) and the font size used for the description is larger and more easily read.

If you feel that color impacts your mood (like many of us do), if you look a color mood chart and look at what emotions are brought on by certain colors; you’ll see that black brings on feelings of tension, nervousness, harassed, and overworked while grey represents anxieties, nervousness, and strained.  I don’t know about you – but these are not emotions that I want to feel during my workday!

What do you think of the new colors in the top icon bar of QuickBooks 2013?

 

15 Responses to QuickBooks 2013 – Where Have the Colors Gone?

  • Hi Patti
    I have to admit, I’m with you – I don’t understand why Intuit chose to make the changes to the way QuickBooks looks either. The lack of color for color coding files is very disturbing as is the fact that it needs far more space on my desktop and even when it takes up more room I don’t actually see as much information on the forms as in previous versions.
    I agree, black is for clothing – not the software that I spend most of my waking hours in!

  • I like the new features in QB 2013, but I don’t like the new color scheme. Color is important to me; it affects my mood a great deal. Black is for pants and funerals, not a software program that I work in much of the day.

    I also don’t think the new wide side icon bar is an improvement; it takes too much of my desktop. I’ve updated to R4 and use the colored icon bar. It’s something, but not much.

    I can’t understand why Intuit chose to make these changes.

  • All I can say is why would Intuit take their quickbooks product which was customizable and make it completely NOT customizable. Isn’t the product presented to the public so they can purchase it for the FEATURES it HAS. I didn’t realize the changes before I accepted the upgrade. I have found many little annoying things about 2013. They seem to have made the fonts larger which means less information on the screen at one time and that means now I have to search for it. The date field in the check register is narrower on the line you are working on because of that little calendar icon which knocks off the last number of the date. I like to see it so I know it is the one I want. Then all the empty space on the bottom of the register which could be used more effectively. Then the colors….I liked the colors and put them to use, now I can’t. So now I want to downgrade back to 2012. Can I do that?

    I think Intuit needs to make their product for their customers, not for the way some bigwig wants it. Take away what the customers like and they go elsewhere. Just like in real life.

  • Marco, you aren’t the only one who feels that QuickBooks Online is becoming Intuit’s main QuickBooks Product, many of us also feel this way. The push for the cloud is huge and everywhere.

    Somewhere I read or heard that it used to be that 85% of Intuit resources were spent on developing the desktop version; however, in the last 2-3 years that same 85% of their resources is being focused on developing QuickBooks Online – although Intuit has said (and darned if I can remember exactly where I read it – sometimes I read so much that it all becomes a jumble of information) that they would not abandon their desktop users.

    Only time will tell at this point.

  • I believe that this is another clear signal that Quickbooks Online is becoming Intuit’s main QB product. It can be an Intuit strategy to repell from QB Desktop, cause to the simple eye, it really repells. Cloud is everywhere and desktop applications are dying or being killed on purpose in favor of consumers or of companies? The answer is obvious.

    I would like any comments related to Quickbooks Desktop’s lifecycle. How many more years do we have left? Intuit is self competing with/against Intacct and Quickbooks Online. Quickbooks is the only brand I’ve ever been faithful to in my entire life and now I’m considering some cheating…Hard decision to cheat on my beloved Quickbooks.

  • Hi Dot
    Yes, it is pretty bad and is changing the way that we’ve always worked in, used, and taught our clients & customers to use the software.

    That green that you mention, well I call it Intuit “street light green” and compared to the rest of the drab colors it is pretty shocking to say the least!

    Don’t know what to tell you about the cursor thing – I haven’t experienced that problem.

  • GOOD GOD! A client has already upgraded to 2013 and it is worse than I thought… I see some things that might be improvements, but I can’t even use the arrow keys to scroll up and down. And who came up with that awful green highlight in the field your cursor is on.

    Did they make a change to 2012? I was entering items on a vendor check and I could not tell where the cursor was. I don’t remember what was there before, but I could tell where it was. We did a Windows up grade recently, so I don’t know if it is a QB or MS thing – but that missing that minor clue as to where your cursor is is annoying. But I also find the green cursor high-light extremely annoying…

  • Apparently Intuit is hearing all of the negative feedback on the lack of color and are proposing a change – if you would like to see what they are proposing (and I think it’s pretty lame) take this survey at https://survey.intuit.com/survey/survey_page.cfm

  • Hi Dot, to be honest it has put me over the edge and several others as well. Whether Intuit listens or not and at this time it appears that they are not listening. We receive “canned responses” that the program is working as designed with seemingly little interest in the WHY we don’t like the colors.

  • Black & White colors and no choice of color scheme – that really would put me over the edge and make me try out Peach Tree or some other product…

  • Hi Bruce – wow that is a big change to take your own company data file from the PC version and move it to the Mac (which I really want to get my hands on – guess it’s time to by a Mac machine!)

    While I don’t have a Mac version to drop my company file into, my own company data file (which is currently in 2011) will move to 2012 and stay there until it can’t anymore — then I’ll have to make a decision as to what to do. This decision was also based on the new grey-on-grey of 2013 as I simply can’t work in it for more than 45 minutes, yet I can work in 2011 or 2012 all day long.

    People who have “perfect” vision just don’t seem to understand how color can affect those that have trouble and just how much eye strain colors can be.

    I too have recommended that people move to 2012 while they still can.

  • Annie, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks the colors are “depressing” or that being able to color code the files that we work in is important. I too, have one color for my normal user in our QB file and another color for the Admin account – just so I know that I’m not always working in the file as the Admin.

    Visually I find the colors difficult and eye straining and I’ve had some people kind of joke that it was that was just a reaction to change.

    I’m with you –add more features and fix existing bugs — leave the color alone, or in this case bring it back!

  • The color, or the lack of it, was one big contributor in the decision to take my file and drop it in QuickBooks for Mac.
    Yes there are a great number of other factors, but the new color of the 2013 is/was the bigger push over all.

    I am color blind, I see color, just not the same as most everyone else, wasn’t even discovered until I joined the military.

    My advise to my clients and others. Get to the 2012 PC version of QB, or move to the Mac.

  • it is aweful – I agree – need the color back

  • You are absolutely right! The colors (or lack thereof) were the first change I noticed and I thought “how depressing!”. I too use the color codes so I know which file I have open and I also color code users when I set them up so I can remember if I am in Admin ❗ . Going to black and white seems like a step backwards for Intuit. As my husband reminded me when I complained about it to him, changing your branding like Coca Cola tried to do once and had it backfire, is not wise. Yes, add more features and fix the bugs, but don’t take away the familiar look that we all associate with “QuickBooks!” Bring back the colors Intuit!

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Nancy Smyth, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Nancy Smyth, Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc.
QuickBooks Construction & Payroll Expert


I've been using and supporting QuickBooks products since the early 1990's. I've worked with thousands of contractors, assisting them with QuickBooks setup, Certified Payroll Reporting requirements, AIA Billing and Weighted-Average Overtime.


QuickBooks is a powerful product, but learning how to use it in your construction business can be difficult. I hope you find resources available here to be helpful.

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