It's Time for Spring Clean-up in QuickBooks!

When any of your QuickBooks® lists need to be revised -- chart of accounts, customers, vendors, items -- QuickBooks provides methods for deleting, inactivating, merging or re-sorting the list entries.


Users are often concerned about messing up their accounting by deleting an unwanted list entry. No need to worry! If you attempt to delete a list entry and it is in use somewhere within the company file, a warning message will be displayed and QuickBooks will not allow it to be deleted.

QuickBooks Message menu box

Otherwise, a list entry can be deleted in the following manner:

  1. Display the desired list.
  2. Select the desired entry from the list.
  3. From the Edit menu, choose Delete (or press Ctrl + D).
  4. You will be asked if you are sure you wish to delete the record.
QuickBooks - Delete Item

If a list entry was deleted in error, you can immediately select Undo Delete from the Edit menu. This ONLY works immediately following the accidental deletion.

QuickBooks - Edit: Undo Delete Item


If you cannot delete a list entry, you can hide the list entry by making it inactive. When you inactivate a list entry, QuickBooks keeps the information associated with that entry, but hides the record in the list and removes it from any related drop-down lists. Just highlight the list entry, right click and choose to inactivate. Once a list entry is inactive, it can be re-activated again at any time.

For example, if a job has been completed, making it inactive will shorten the customer list and prevent accidental usage on an invoice or payment window. If you later need to view or re-activate that list entry, follow these steps:

From the Customers & Jobs tab, selecting All Customers will display inactive customers/jobs with an "X" to the left of the name.

QuickBooks - Customer Information management

To reactivate the list entry, just click on the X and it will be reactivated.

Note: A Customer that has one or more jobs cannot be deleted, but it can be made inactive. A job that has one or more transactions cannot be deleted, but it can be made inactive. To delete a customer, all jobs must be deleted before the customer can be deleted. To delete a job, all transactions must be deleted before the job can be deleted.

There are some precautions to inactivating list entries that still have open balances. If you would like to inactivate an inventory item, be sure to adjust the Qty-On-Hand to zero. If a customer or vendor has a balance, be sure to adjust the balance to zero and apply the adjustment to any open balances before inactivating the name. Inactivating a list entry does NOT prevent it from being included in a memorized transaction that was previously created. Be sure to update those entries as well.


The QuickBooks merge feature allows two entries within the same list to be combined. While this is an incredibly powerful tool, merging two list entries is an irreversible operation. To safeguard against any mistakes made during merging, it is a good idea to make a back-up of the file first in case there is a need to restore the file to its original state. To merge two list entries, follow these steps:

To Merge Two Records:

  1. Highlight the list entry you wish to eliminate through the merge process.
  2. Right-click and choose to Edit the record.
  3. In the Edit window, change the list entry name to the same name as the one you wish to keep (the one to which you are merging).
  4. Click OK.
  5. Click Yes to confirm the merge.

Note: To merge entries in the chart of accounts list, the accounts must be the same account type. Also, you must be in single user mode to merge list entries.


List entries can be sorted manually by clicking and dragging the diamond to the left of the entry name. To manage longer lists, such as Items, create a new Item that represents a grouping of other Items. Click on the diamond next to an Item in the list and move it underneath the new item just created. Then, drag the item to the right as if it were indented. This Item will now be considered a Sub-Item. A similar method can be used to organize accounts and customer/jobs.

Any manual sorting of a list disables the auto-sort feature in QuickBooks. To re-sort a list alphabetically (or numerically if using account numbers):

  1. Display the desired list.
  2. Choose Re-sort List from the View menu.
  3. Click OK to confirm the re-sort.

To temporarily sort by a column in a list to ascending or descending order, click the column heading so that the arrow points up or down. To return the list to the order you started with, click the large diamond in the top left portion of the screen.

Well-organized lists make your data entry more efficient. Save time by cleaning them up!

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