The Print Shop 2 for Mac ROCKS!


Episode 51
January 6th, 2006

I don't often dedicate an entire Rants & Raves column to a single product, but there's so much that is cool about the latest release of The Print Shop for Mac (version 2) from Software MacKiev that I just couldn't help myself. Simply put, it's stunning -- the best looking, easiest to use graphics program I've ever seen. And with a retail price of just US$60, it's much more affordable than many other graphics programs.

What makes it so cool? Glad you asked. The Print Shop 2 for Mac is desktop publishing for the rest of us. It comes with really nice looking templates for 32 different projects including greeting cards, business cards, DVD cases, booklets, calendars, newsletters, envelopes, name tags, and many more. And it comes pre-configured to print perfectly on dozens of different Avery, CD Stomper, Neato, and Memorex labels.

If you're familiar with previous versions of The Print Shop you'll be amazed at all the slick new features such as rulers, guidelines, grids, special effects and edges, booklet projects, drag and drop from iPhoto, plus over 700 megabytes of high quality artwork.

With thousands of templates to choose from, even the artistically challenged (like yours truly) can get professional-looking results. Let me walk you through a typical project with The Print Shop 2 for Mac:

A project begins by choosing one of the fifteen categories or a blank page as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Start a project by choosing from 15 categories or start with a blank page-it's your choice.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image.)

For this demonstration I selected CDs and Cases as you can see above. The next screen you'll see offers three options: QuickStart Layout, Help Me Design, or Start from Scratch. The QuickStart Layout option does most of the work for you, so for this demonstration that's what I selected as you see in Figure 2.

Figure 2: A QuickStart Layout does most of the work for you, so that's what I chose.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image.)

Next you select the type of paper or label you wish to print on as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: The Print Shop 2 for Mac supports all of these label types and more.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image.)

Notice in Figure 3 that Epson Direct-CD Printing is on of the options in the Select a Format list. If you have an Epson printer that offers direct-to-CD printing such as my Epson RX700, you can design the label in The Print Shop 2 and then print it directly onto a printable CD or DVD. Labels you print this way look like you paid big bucks to have the discs professionally duplicated.

The next thing you do is choose a layout for your label as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Notice that these layouts are coordinated with the themes in iDVD.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image.)

It gets even better... Not only does The Print Shop 2 offer the same themes as iDVD, it includes every single theme from versions 3, 4, and 5 of iDVD. Sweet!

Since the project I'm working on uses the "Fun" theme from iDVD 3, that's the theme I selected before clicking the Done button. When I clicked Done, the label appeared as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5: The almost-finished label.

All that I have to do now is replace the sample text shown above with text that reflects the contents of my DVD. Speaking of contents, The Print Shop 2 can import the names of songs from your iTunes playlists, so you can create audio CD labels and case inserts without typing a word. That's sweet, too.

Finally, when everything looks just right you choose Print from the File menu or type its shortcut, Command-P. Print Shop 2's print dialog box appears as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: The Print Shop 2's Print dialog box offers several exclusive features.
(Click the thumbnail for a larger image.)

Notice that there's a List Merge option as well as a Precision Print Adjustment option in the Print dialog. The former lets you print just the outlines of graphics in your project so you can hand-color them if you wish; the latter lets you nudge the project if it doesn't print in exactly the right place for the label or paper stock you're using. If you've ever tried to align labels in programs such as Photoshop or Microsoft Word you know what a fantastic option Precision Print Adjustment is.

There are other new or improved features too numerous to mention, but let me mention just a few:

...and much, much more. What really blows my mind is that all this stuff will cost you a mere $60. My wife gives it two thumbs up, and so do I. If you need an all-purpose graphics program that's easy to use and reasonably priced, you need look no farther-The Print Shop 2 for Mac is just what the doctor ordered.

The Print Shop 2 for Mac. Software Mackiev. $59.95.

And that's all he wrote...