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Subscription Needs Activation in QuickBooks Desktop

    Subscription Needs Activation in QuickBooks Desktop

    Payroll subscription needs activation in QuickBooks Desktop because it isn’t available by default in both the Pro and Premier version of the software. However, you can purchase QuickBooks Payroll online and activate the feature on your system. QB will use the service key and product number to activate the product.

    Once Payroll is activated in QuickBooks Desktop, you can start working with employee data, direct deposits and taxes.

    In this article, you’ll learn how to activate Payroll subscription in QuickBooks Desktop.


    Some steps may require technical expertise. If you need any help, get in touch with our experts via live chat or call.

    Subscription Needs Activation in QuickBooks Desktop

    When you install the Pro or Premier version of QuickBooks desktop, the payroll function isn’t available because the feature is disabled by default. Only the Enterprise version provides access to the Payroll feature for free.

    With the other two versions, you must purchase a service key and use it to activate Payroll in QuickBooks Desktop. Once the information provided is verified, you can enter relevant data and enable direct deposit.

    Payroll service in QuickBooks Desktop has three plans:
    ➤ Basic
    ➤ Enhanced
    ➤ Assisted Service

    Each plan offers a different set of functionality. While basic simply provides the bare minimum to deposit paycheck and store employee information, assisted service will enable you to get help in not only setting up Payroll but also filing taxes. This can seriously make it easy for you to work efficiently directly from your accounting software.

    Online Activation

    Intuit will send you a mail on the registered email ID if you purchase the payroll service online. This mail contains the service key that is 16 digits in length. This key is essential for activating payroll, so ensure that you have access to the key.

    Note: Have you lost your Payroll service key? We’ve provided the steps to recover your lost service key later in this article. So you can go to that section first, find your service key and then come back here to activate your product.

    Steps can be Used to Activate Payroll Service in QuickBooks Desktop

    1. Launch QuickBooks Desktop from an administrator account.
    2. Open your company file.
    3. In the Employees menu, and find the payroll option and click on it.
    4. Find the Enter Payroll Service Key option and click on it to add the service key
    5. Choose Add and enter the 16-digit service key to activate the product.
    6. Select Ok when QuickBooks prompts you to update payroll.
    7. After you’re done with the steps mentioned above, verify the status of Payroll Service in QuickBooks Desktop. The status must be Active.
    8. Select Ok.
    Payroll Service Key

    You’re all done at this point. There are some problems that users have encountered, especially one in which their software simply doesn’t start because subscription error is interfering with the process. We’ve discussed this problem later in this article.


    Users who’ve purchased Payroll from a third party retailer can find the service key via the Product information mentioned by the retailer. You can also contact the retailer for further information.

    Edit Payroll Service Key in QuickBooks Desktop

    Do you want to change the service key currently used by QuickBooks Desktop to run Payroll? If yes, then you can do the same by following steps similar to the above. However, instead of selecting Add, Subscription Needs Activation you need to click on Edit, which will enable you to enter the new service key.

    Once you’ve activated the product with the new service key, the old service key will be removed and no longer be used in QuickBooks Desktop.

    Creating a Payroll PIN

    Assisted Payroll can help organizations in quickly getting through all the payroll tasks: recording and organizing employee information, depositing checks into bank accounts, and filing taxes online.

    Most organizations want to do much more than simply record employee information in their payroll software. One of the most important and handy features is direct deposit, which lets you deposit paychecks in bank accounts. So you can use the employee data in your database to easily pay your employees and contractors every month or payment cycle.

    But to ensure security, Intuit has created another layer of authentication which is required by default. Users need to create a Payroll PIN by entering essential data and enabling direct deposit.

    Create a Payroll PIN to Activate Direct Deposit

    • Info related to your Business:
      • Organization’s name
      • Office Address
      • Federal Identification Number (FEIN)
    • Info of the Principal officer:
      • Name
      • Date of birth
      • Address
      • Social security number
    • Bank account details:
      • Account Number
      • User ID
      • Password

    First gather the data mentioned above, then follow the steps given below to create a Payroll PIN:

    1. Launch QuickBooks Desktop.
    2. Go to the Employees menu.
    3. From the list of options, choose My Payroll Service.
    4. Choose to Activate Assisted Payroll.
    5. Once you’ve entered all the required information, you can create a 8-12 characters long Payroll PIN.
    Activate Assisted Payroll


    You cannot use special characters in the Payroll PIN. Only alphabets and numericals are allowed. As this is an added layer of security, you don’t have to create a really complex password using special characters.

    Remember the Payroll PIN or store it in a secure software because you’ll require it everytime you want to make a direct deposit using QuickBooks Desktop Payroll service.

    Already Activated but Payroll not Working

    In rare situations, you may encounter an error even after you’ve activated payroll in QuickBooks desktop. In such cases, usually the service key entered is incorrect or the file containing the license information is damaged.

    If the service key entered is incorrect, then you can simply follow the activation steps and edit the service key. When you click ok, QB will verify the authenticity of the service key. If it’s authentic, payroll service will be enabled on your system.

    Delete the Paysub.ini File

    When you enter a service key, the information is stored in the paysub.ini file. If the information is wrong or the file is damaged, then QB won’t be able to verify the existence of your subscription, So the software will simply throw an error every time you try to use Payroll features.

    An easy way to get around this problem is to delete the paysub.ini files present on your system. These files can be found using the search feature in windows explorer.

    Deleting these files does not alter or harm your accounting or payroll data. Instead, it simply lets you reset the service key and reactivate payroll in QB desktop.

    You can follow the steps provided below to find and delete all the paysub.ini files on your system:

    1. Log into windows with an admin account.
    2. In Windows Explorer, click on View from the top menu.
    3. Click or hover on Show, then select Hidden Items.
    4. Click on Ok to view all the hidden files present in your system.
    5. In the search field present in the top right corner of windows explorer, input paysub.ini.
    6. Delete all the paysub.ini files.


    QuickBooks desktop will automatically create a new paysub.ini file when you enter the correct service key. So you don’t have to worry about backing up this file.

    Once we’re through this, we need to get the latest payroll updates to ensure that previous issues aren’t causing the error. These updates are available for free and can be downloaded directly from within the software.

    Verify your Payroll Subscription

    Launch QuickBooks Desktop after you’ve deleted all of the paysub.ini files on your system. Use the activation method to once again activate payroll in QuickBooks desktop. If the information provided is correct and there is no network issue, payroll will be activated on your system.

    Install Latest Updates

    With each new update, the software gets a few bug fixes and a few additional features or performance improvements. In any case, if you’ve not updated QB in a while, then we recommend that you do so before moving forward with this process.

    To update QuickBooks Desktop on your system, you can follow the steps provided below:

    1. Find the QuickBooks Desktop icon and Right Click on it.
    2. Choose to Run as Administrator.
      Note: this will require an administrator account or authentication details of such an account because standard users cannot install programs on the system without permission from the admin.
    3. In the top menu, click on Help, then Update QuickBooks Desktop.
    4. Click on Options.
    5. Either select specific updates or select Mark all. Mark all downloads and install the latest updates till date.
    6. Choose Save.
    7. When you click on Update Now, you can select Reset Updates to delete any update files downloaded beforehand.
    8. QuickBooks will start downloading the update files when you click on Get Updates.
    9. Close QuickBooks Desktop.
    10. A confirmation message to install the updates will appear. Click on Yes.
    Update QuickBooks Desktop

    You can restart your system at this point to ensure that everything runs smoothly. These updates often contain fix to reported errors, so it is better to install them when available. However, you can choose specific updates if you don’t want to install all of them on your system.


    An easier way to ensure that you’ve the latest patches installed on your system is to set up automatic updates, which downloads the available update files in the background. When the files are ready, the user is prompted to install the updates. However, this can slow down your internet speed, a problem for those with slow connection speed.

    Latest Tax Tables for QuickBooks Desktop Payroll

    You’ve the latest patches available for your accounting and payroll software. But these patches contain only bug fixes, performance enhancements or new features. You’ll still require the latest tax tables and rates to file your taxes online.

    This is where the Payroll update comes in. It contains all the latest tax tables and rates in accordance with the federal and state government.

    Download the Latest Tax Tables in Payroll for QuickBooks Desktop

    1. Launch QuickBooks Desktop and Log into an admin user account.
    2. From the main menu, select Employees.
    3. Click on Get Payroll Updates option to view the available updates.
    4. Choose to Download Entire Update if you don’t want to select specific available updates to download. Downloading all the updates is better as it ensures that you have the most recent and accurate tax tables.

    QuickBooks will download and load the latest tax tables within Payroll so that you can prepare your taxes using the latest figures and forms. If the Get Payroll Updates option isn’t available in QuickBooks Desktop, then your service isn’t activated yet. Go through the activation steps once again.

    For Free Consultation with QuickBooks Experts: Just Call / Chat With us


    You’re all set to use QuickBooks Desktop Payroll to not only store data and deposit paychecks but also prepare and file taxes. The increase in productivity and ease in organization is surely going to blow your mind.


    If you’re still struggling with activating a subscription of QuickBooks Desktop Payroll, get in touch with our experts via chat or call.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q 1. How Can I File my Federal Taxes Online Using the Payroll Service?

    Ans: If you don’t have assisted payroll, then you’ll have to create the tax forms yourself. Even though you’ve to do the task yourself, it is quite easy to use the data already stored in QB Payroll to automatically fill in the tax forms. You’ll have to purchase the tax forms online from the Intuit store so that you can use the available data for filing your taxes online. You can file W-2 and other such forms easily with Payroll.

    Q 2. When Can the Employees Expect to Get the Money that I Deposited in Their Account Today?

    Ans: Every bank is different. If you deposit the money early in the morning on a weekday, the money will be cleared by the end of the day, most probably. It can take longer in some cases – especially if you deposit the paycheck on a Friday. In that case, the transactions may be cleared after the weekend.

    Q 3. Is QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Safe?

    Ans: Yes, it is. It is an amazing software that you can rely on to store all personally identifiable information related to your contractors, freelancers, and employees. You can add another layer of security by creating user roles so that certain users won’t have the authorization to access certain functions. This goes a long way in protecting your data. We also recommend that you change your account password every 30 days to ensure that no ex-employee has access to the authentication details.

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