I'm sure by now I have waxed nostalgic for the "good ol' days" of bookkeeping...or something like that. I'm also more than a bit ashamed of confessing nostalgia for a topic like bookkeeping, but let's move on.
A big reason I work so well with good ol' desktop software is that I can have all sorts of windows open; spread out across multiple monitors. In QuickBooks I can have the bank reconciliation open on one side, and the bank register open on the other. When I first started working with cloud-based software, being stuck in one browser tab with only one function available to me at a time was pure torture. I'm not sure if the features improved, or I just finally figured out how to use the software...but one simple thing became a game changer for how I worked online.
Not all cloud apps allow this, and the ones that do don't all do it really well. What do I mean by multiple tabs? It's pretty straightforward. Instead of keeping apps like FreshBooks or Xero inside one browser tab you can have multiple tabs or windows open at the same time.
See the image above? This is 6 different FreshBooks tabs open at once. And, what I usually do, is have another browser window open on a different monitor with a whole other set of tabs.
Here's my best example that I use almost daily. In Xero I will generate an Income Statement. Let's say Office Supplies looks really high last month. Instead of clicking the month's total and looking at the breakdown in the same tab, I will do one of two things.
- Right click on the link and choose "Open Link in New Tab" (I use Chrome...the wording on your browser might vary).
- Command+Click on the link in OS X or Control+Click in Windows.
Now I have the breakdown of Office Supplies in one tab and the report in another. I can make changes to the transactions and then go back and refresh the report to see the changes. Going one step further, I will often do this on the account tab too. If I see 3 transactions I think might need to be fixed, I will Cmd+Click each of those too. This lets me keep the breakdown open to refer back to it as I make the changes. It also gives me a visual marker to see when I'm done. I close the tabs as I fix the transactions, so once all the extra tabs are closed I know I can go back and review the original report.
I mentioned Xero and FreshBooks for a reason. So far those are the two that do this really well. Other apps I've used either don't support multiple tabs, or they seem to really slow down or develop issues when you open several tabs. This is purely anecdotal so my issues could be purely my own. I just know that I can (and very often do) have 5, 10, or 15 tabs open with both of these apps and get work done much faster than if I was stuck in one tab.
What about you?
If you have a quick tip about your favourite app, let me know in the comments or reply to this by email if you get the newsletter.