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Getting Rid of Old Account and Class Names

You probably like to keep detailed transaction records for at least the prior year--or maybe several prior years--"live" in QuickBooks or Quicken at all times. This lets you quickly get information about prior-year activities at any time.

But there's one "downside" to keeping lots of prior-year detail: you must retain the old Account and Class names used in those detailed records too--even ones you no longer want to use. (QuickBooks won't let you delete an Account or Class name if it's still in use in even one transaction record.) In QuickBooks, Intuit has provided any way to hide inactive Account and Class if you're using QuickBooks version 5.0 or later. But if you use an older version, you still have the problem.

None of this would be a problem if everyone kept the same Chart of Accounts and the same Classes list from year to year, without making changes. But for most of us make changes in those lists from time to time in an attempt to do a better job of accounting.

Following are some tips to help you keep old Account and Class names around safely (without using them in new transactions), until you decide to actually delete them (QuickBooks won't actually let you delete them, so we use another technique as described below).

Tips for Managing Old Account and Class Names

  • Be sure you don't use "old" names in "new" transactions.

    The only way to actually remove an old Account or Class name is to no longer have any detailed transactions on file which use it. So at some point you must assure that you stop using it in current-year transactions. If you can do this, eventually you'll no longer need that old Account or Class name--that is, it will only be important in viewing prior-year accounting records. Then you'll be able to get rid of it by merging it with another Account or Class. (Notice that you cannot actually delete an Account or Class if any transactions still refer to it; you can only merge it with another Account or Class...but that's almost as good as deleting it.)

    So the critical first step in removing an old Account or Class name is to be sure you've stopped using it in new transaction entries! (Some of the tips that follow tell how.)

  • Rename old Accounts and Classes so you'll remember not to use them.

    Suppose you have a Class named:

    Bucket/orphan calves

    that you no longer want to use, and would like to eventually get rid of. Rename the Class to something like:

    x_Bucket/Orphan calves

    Besides serving to remind you that this is a Class you want to discontinue using, beginning the Class name with seldom-used characters (we used "X_" here) makes it less likely QuickBooks or Quicken will be less likely to won't try to "QuickFill" the field with the unwanted Class. Using an unusual sequence of characters in the Class name also alerts you that the Class is one you should not use in new transactions.

  • When possible, move old Account and Class names lower in the Chart of Accounts or Classes list.

    A technique which helps get old names out of your way, is to move them lower in their respective list.

    If you are renaming a whole branch of the Accounts or Classes tree, you can move it all the way to the bottom of the list. If you've renamed an individual sub account or subclass, you will only be able to move it to the last position among its sibling subaccounts or subclasses.

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