ZipBooks offers feature-rich cloud-based accounting software for free

If you're looking for an accounting package for your small business, Jack Wallen might have found that solution in ZipBooks.

Image: Jack Wallen

Properly managing the books is as critical for small and medium businesses as it is for large enterprises. And although it may be tempting to opt for a simple spreadsheet or document, you would be better served by using a true accounting app.

If you happen to prefer your accounting in the cloud, ZipBooks could be the answer.

Zipbooks offers a full-featured accounting package that is accessible through your web browser (you can also add it as a Chrome extension) and even via the mobile app on Android. The service is free to use, although there are fees associated for processing credit card payments.

Features include:

  • Invoices
  • Customers
  • Time tracking
  • Expenses
  • Teams
  • Reporting
  • Estimates

Installing ZipBooks

As this is a cloud-based software, there really isn't any installation, per say. However, you can install the Chrome extension for ease of use. Before doing this, make sure to head over to the ZipBooks site and sign up for an account. You can login with Google to make this even easier. Once you have an account, install the Chrome extension like so:

  1. Open Chrome.
  2. Point it to the ZipBooks extension page.
  3. Click ADD TO CHROME
  4. When prompted, click Add app
  5. Allow the installation to complete

Since I spend a lot of time on a Chromebook, I set Zipbooks to run in an app window. Here's how:

  1. Open Chrome
  2. Click on the Chrome menu
  3. Locate and click the Zipbooks launcher
  4. Once the Zipbooks tab is open, click on the Chrome menu
  5. Click More tools | Add to shelf
  6. Give the launcher a name and check the box for Open as window (Figure A)
  7. Click Add

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen
Adding Zipbooks to the shelf.

Now, when you click the Zipbooks shelf launcher, it will open in an app window of its own (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B
Image: Jack Wallen
Zipbooks running in an app window on a Chromebook Pixel.

Initial setup

Zipbooks has made the process of accounting as simple as possible. In fact, as you start working with the service, you will be prompted with a guide to walk you through some of the features. The first thing you need to do, however, is set up your company. From the account drop-down (upper right corner), click Account Settings and then go through the five tabs and enter the necessary items (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C
Image: Jack Wallen
Zipbooks Account Settings.

As far as accepting credit cards, Zipbooks has partnered with Stripe and WePay. You must have an account with one of those services if you want to use Zipbooks with accepting payment.

To set up either Stripe or WePay, open up the Account Settings, click on the Accept Credit Cards tab, click either Connect Stripe or Connect WePay and then, when prompted, enter your credentials for the service to be connected. The Zipbooks credit card fees are 2.9% + 30¢ they are competitive with other services.

Beyond this, Zipbooks needs very little explanation. You can set up your bank account (or even a paypal account) in order to have Zipbooks pull in expenses for your business. You can even import client lists. Before you do any importing, understand your contacts must follow this CSV template:


Set your list up to follow that template and then go to Customers, click the Import button, click Choose File, locate your CSV list, and upload.

Does it stack up?

Zipbooks is one of the simplest accounting packages you'll find for a small business. It's intuitive, feature-rich, and accessible from any web browser. Best of all, if you don't need to accept credit card payments, you can use Zipbooks free of charge!

Is this an accounting package that might fit your small company needs? If not, what keeps you from adoption?

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....