Software Review: The Print Shop for Mac

$69.99. User group member price $39.99 plus $5.99 shipping.

Hooray! The Print Shop is back! After a hiatus of several years, while Mac users watched the Windows version march from version to version, The Print Shop for Mac has burst onto the scene with a new interface and expanded capabilities. There’s also a new school version for the Mac, The Print Shop 7, which includes an expanded set of school-related graphics.

The new Print Shop includes more than 11,500 images and 4,500 professionally designed layouts, as well as an address book, text tools, a nicely designed assortment of 3D effects for headlines, and integrated spell checker and photo editing tools. Layouts are organized by projects, which include greeting cards, pamphlets, banners, photo pages, letterheads, business cards, envelopes, calendars, signs, post cards, Post-it® Notes, online greetings, certificates and labels.

A Select a New Project screen opens automatically when the program is launched. To choose a project, you can click one of the fourteen project buttons or click the Blank Pages button to create your own project.
When you click a project button you’re presented with three choices: Personalize a Quickstart Layout, Help Me Design, and Start From Scratch. The Quickstart Layouts allow you to substitute text and, if you wish, graphics in a pre-designed layout. Many Quickstart Layouts are ready to use without any modifications. If you wish to make changes, double-clicking on the type or graphic element takes you to a dialog box where the element can be easily modified or replaced.

The Help Me Design offers a selection of layouts with placeholders for text and graphics. Dialog boxes allow you to choose backdrops, layouts, borders and other elements to customize your project. Start From Scratch gives you a choice of layouts (calendar templates, for example) and lets you choose your own design elements. Projects are keyed to standard Avery paper and label sizes.
Whichever of the three layout options you choose, the Design Desk interface allows you to customize to your heart’s content. The Design Desk consists of the text palette at the top of the window and a palette of seven Object buttons on the left. The Object buttons allow you to insert a graphic, headline, text block, border, or panel effect such as a backdrop or watermark, to create a custom graphic such as a logo, seal or signature, or to import and edit a photo.
The current version of The Print Shop for Mac makes it much easier to import and export graphics. Graphics can now be exported in JPEG, bitmap, TIFF, PICT and PNG formats, and projects can be exported as HTML files for web publishing.

Online Greetings are one of the most fun additions to The Print Shop. Once you’ve designed and saved your Online Greeting in the usual manner, selecting Send from the File menu automatically opens a new message in your email application. Add the recipient(s) and a subject, and the greeting is ready to be sent as a JPEG attachment. Just make sure that the recipient is able to read JPEG files.

The interface is clean and easy to use, though I have a few quibbles. It would be helpful if pointing to a button on the Objects palette displayed its name – the button graphics can take a little deciphering. And a Back button screen for the Design Desk would be much appreciated. When you first make choices for your project (layout, background, etc.), each dialog box includes a Back button so you can try different combinations. Once you hit the OK button in the last dialog box, however, you have to start over again if you wish to try other layouts. Closing the window leaves the work area blank; you have to choose New under the File menu to open the Start a New Project screen. It would be much more intuitive to include a screen with buttons that could take you to the beginning screen for your project type, or to the Start a New Project screen, when a project window is closed.

Quibbles aside, this is a simply wonderful program and a real steal at the user group price. The only real disappointment is that the current version is not OS X-native. Yes, it runs on a Mac using OS X, but only in Classic mode. I’m sure that the well-deserved popularity of The Print Shop for Mac will lead to an OS X-compatible version in the near future.

– Elsa Travisano

The PrintShop for Mac
System Requirements: OS 8.1 or higher, 120 MHz processor or faster, 32 MB RAM (24 free), minimum 550 MB hard-disk space, CD-ROM drive, monitor supporting thousands of colors. An email application is required to send online greetings. A web browser is required for registration to view help in OS 8.1.

Copyright ©2002 by Elsa Travisano. This article originally appeared in the June 2002 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.