When I read that Equinux was introducing Mail Designer, an application that works with Apple’s Mail application and allows the user to send out designer emails, I was immediately interested. So interested that I asked for the opportunity to review it. I was not disappointed.
I send out at least a dozen e-mail messages a month to members of our local Macintosh Users Group. It may be a reminder of a meeting, a notice of a member discount, information about an upcoming special event, or a number of other things depending on the time of year. They all have one thing in common. They all look alike and they tend to be boring because of it.
I’ve tried two or three options for colorful e-mail messages that would open quickly and were easy and fast to use. I have been disappointed in everything I have tried. However, Mail Designer seems to meet my needs on all levels.
More to the point, it is versatile enough to meet the needs of users ranging from individuals to business situations.
Using the software
The basic Mail Designer application, which sells for US$69.95 offers a library of predesigned templates. There are designs for announcements, birthday, photos, sentiments, and stationery. Within these templates the user can change text, text color, background color, icons and even add URLs. As an example here is a copy of a sticky note from the stationery template section. I have chosen it simply because it is small and easy to use for demonstration.
Example of editing options
To make changes I click inside the content area and make all the changes noted in this example, including using any far fetched font I want to use. I click save and then choose “send as e-mail” from the File menu. The e-mail is created and I can send it. It will look the same on PCs as well as Macs.
Section of an e-mail for example purposes
The template choices lend themselves to advertising promos, sport team updates, interoffice communication, business proposals, and invitations, among other options.
A sample letter style template
A sample photos template
As you modify and create templates for your own use, you can create folders that hold them in the library.
The one thing you can’t do with the templates previously discussed is rearrange the structure other than replacing existing icons or images with your own choices. But with the Design Ideas section you can be as creative as you want.
There is a basic blank page and another 12 suggested designs that you can select and modify. To help with this process there are more than 300 background designs, more than 100 basic icon designs, 31 layouts for text and/or images, and 23 special heading fonts.
Sample of special heading fonts
A portion of the layout options
Sample modifiable design
Sample modifiable design
In the Design Ideas section there is no limit on the length of your document. Any of the backgrounds, icons, layouts etc., are added to a page using drag and drop. There is a spacer as well to help you set up your page. Some users may see elements of Pages in the setup options. For instance, when creating a newsletter. The same ease of creation is present. The difference is that with Pages you can not instantly send an e-mail.
For those who want a strictly business oriented option there are business packages ranging in price from US$99.95 to US$149.95.
Do I recommend it?
I do. It is obvious that I like this software. It’s easy to use, easy to learn, and offers a variety of user options that will appeal to individuals, members of groups, and small businesses. It can be a good buy for groups because of its formal facility to easily move and license the app on different Macs. I have not seen this in other software packages. Instructions are included for removing the software from one machine so it can be installed on a different machine. So if the person responsible for sending out messages for a group changes, the software can be removed from one machine and installed on another - assuming both use intel Macs.
And a last positive point - the Equinux web site offers video tutorials for those who might need them.
I do have some qualms about the price. US$69.95 is a lot of money for non-essential software and I feel it will prevent some potential users from considering it. For that reason I am not giving it as high a score as I otherwise would have.