The Return of TypeStyler

Back in the 1990's, there was a popular text-manipulation program called TypeStyler. When Mac OS X arrived on the scene, Strider Software (TypeStyler's developer) announced that an OS X compatible version of the program was on the way.

Fast forward to September 2009. The promised TypeStyler update has still not shown up. Ordinarily, you might assume this meant that the company went belly up or otherwise abandoned the project.

Not so. The folks at Strider Software have been working on TypeStyler for Mac OS X for all of these years. In fact, Strider Software ran ads for the promised program throughout the entire period. You can still find these ads at various Web sites, including here at The Mac Observer:

TypeStyler ad

I can imagine some head-scratching at this point:

"Works great in Classic"? Are they kidding? Most Macs today don't even run Classic.

"Native OS X Version on the way"? On the way? They must have gotten seriously lost en route. Or is this some sort of joke?

Skip to the present. Here's the big surprise. It's no joke. Having overcome obstacles, both business and personal, Strider Software informs me that (trumpets, please) the wait is over! TypeStyler for Mac OS X will be available for purchase by October 15. I have the latest version of the program installed on my Mac. It's real, it runs, and it's impressive. 

I often used the original TypeStyler (the last major version was TypeStyler 3) — and loved it. It was one of those jewels that not only worked well, but triggered a rare "Holy cow! I can't believe what this program can do!" reaction. TypeStyler could manipulate text in a remarkable variety of ways. From distortions to fills to shadows to opacity level to "you name it" — TypeStyler could do it. No matter what your skill level, you could get great results in next to no time.

There isn't any Mac software, past or present, that can match TypeStyler 3. Probably the closest competitor is Art Text — an excellent program but not in the same league as TypeStyler.

In other words, all Strider had to do was convert the original TypeStyler to a Mac OS X version and it would have a winner. And that's what they did. But Strider did not stop there. They've thrown in an array of new features that make the program superior to its Classic predecessor. Here are two at the top of my list:

Container text. Any text object in TypeStyler for Mac OS X can be a container for a variety of fills. A particularly fun fill option is to use photographs from an iPhoto Library. You can choose to have each letter in a text object contain a different photo, or have one photo span across an entire object (as shown with the ocean beach photo in the Cookie Jar text below). I further spruced up the initial text with a custom style and distortion.

Cookie Jar text

Visualizer. With TypeStyler for Mac OS X, you can choose from document templates for an assortment of different projects, including 3D objects such as bags, jars and boxes. With the Visualizer tool, you can view a 3D rendering of how the finished project will look. In the figure below, I placed the Cookie Jar text as a label on a virtual jar (my idea was for the beach photo to symbolize the vacation that money stashed in the cookie jar would help pay for).


You can rotate the jar 360° and modify the text for attributes such as size and location. You can even modify the shape and size of the jar itself. You can save a rotating view as a QuickTime movie, so people without TypeStyler can watch it. When done, you can print out the project and paste the result on an actual jar.

As I've already said, the sheer number of different ways TypeStyler can manipulate text, and the diverse ways in which the effects can be combined, is immense. While this is a good thing overall, it can become overwhelming. I'm still trying to figure out a few of the options in the Style Workshop. Of course, if you wish, you can bypass this glut of choice by instead selecting from TypeStyler's preset options (which will be more than enough for most users).

TypeStyler for Mac OS X still has a few kinks to be worked out. A Fill Series dialog is present but does not yet function and the TypeStyler online FAQ is still under construction. But Strider Software assures me that these issues will be addressed before the October 15 launch. Regardless, they are not deal-breakers.

So let's give a warm welcome back to one of the Mac's finest programs. It's show time for The Return of TypeStyler! Dim the lights. Raise the curtain.