Xero Hits a Home Run with Find & Recode

Today Xero released Find & Recode, a tool for accountants and bookkeepers to quickly find and edit transactions in bulk. As with a number of Xero features, QuickBooks Online has had this one for years. But as usual, Xero came through with a tool that is far more elegant and useful—so I'm not complaining!

Here's a breakdown of Xero's Find & Recode and how it compares to QBO:

QBO's Reclassify Transactions

The QBO version of Find & Recode is called Reclassify Transactions. The Reclassify Transactions screen looks like this:

QuickBooks Online's Reclassify Transactions screen

In QBO, you can filter by:

  • Date range
  • Accrual or cash basis transactions
  • Income statement or balance sheet accounts
  • Name (contact)

You can then bulk edit either the account or class (tracking category, in Xero-speak). To modify a set of transactions, check off the transactions you want from the list, select the new account or class, and click "Reclassify." You can edit both if needed, but you'll need to do the reclassify procedure twice. You can't get more detailed with the filtering, but in general it works pretty well. 

For me, the major downside of QBO's Reclassify Transactions is the inability to recode item-based transactions to a new expense account (these can only be coded to a new class).

Xero's Find & Recode

Xero's Find & Recode takes this concept and improves it vastly by allowing for detailed search with multiple conditions. I didn't even know I needed some of these options until I saw them.

Where have these search conditions been all my life?

Here's an example:

An example of Xero's Find & Recode search with four conditions 

In the above example, the search is for transactions that match all of four conditions:

Search for up to nine conditions in Xero's Find & Recode.

  1. A spend money or bill transaction...
  2. ...coded to the General Expenses account...
  3. ...dated between January 1 and April 30...
  4. ...but NOT entered by the user named Matt Barnett. 

This ability to search for transactions by user is brilliant—I'm sure every accountant has run into a situation where an overenthusiastic employee incorrectly coded a number of transactions. Now they're easy to find.

There are nine available conditions to choose from. And unlike in QBO, you aren't limited when recoding transactions that use untracked items. (You still can't change the account for transactions that use tracked inventory.)

Once you've found the transactions you want to recode, you can then change up to four fields at once: Contact, Account, Tax Rate, or Tracking Category.

The ability to recode the tax rate is a really interesting option. For ecommerce bookkeeping, I see this being potentially a huge benefit.

Choose to recode source or make a manual journal entry.

Another thoughtful feature is the option to recode the source transactions or alternatively create a manual journal. When you're doing an annual review of client books, it's usually the best policy not to change the original coding of a transaction, but instead to post a journal entry to make the adjustment.

Recode up to four fields at once.

Finally, Xero saves the full history of recoded transactions. Select the history line item to view a description of what was recoded plus a list of the modified transactions. There's even a link to run the same search over again, just in case you need to make further changes.

Xero saves a log of all Find & Recode activity.


My initial impression is that Xero has clearly knocked one out of the park with the release of Find & Recode. It's hard to imagine how it could be designed any better.

Xero has lagged behind QuickBooks Online in terms of features, but they're catching up fast. With the recent release of Inventory, and now Find & Recode, Xero's core feature set is not that far off from QBO. Once we have Xero Payroll in all fifty states, it will be easy to make the argument for Xero for almost any business.

Progress is good, but what's better is that the company isn't rushing. Xero is taking its time to do the core feature set right. Seeing this approach in action makes me happy, both as an accountant who uses Xero as a platform, and also as someone who simply appreciates good design.