Printfolio and The Print Shop for Mac Version 2

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Printfolio and The Print Shop for Mac Version 2

The main Printfolio window launches the appropriate app for the project you choose.



The Print Shop lets you search for the proper accessories for your dog’s fake ID.


Printfolio and The Print Shop for Mac can both help you design and print your own greeting cards, business cards, stationery and envelopes, brochures, disc labels and sleeves, newsletters, postcards, banners, and chicken cacciatore. (Well, maybe not that last one.) And the nice thing about these apps is that you don’t have to be a graphic artist to make good-looking projects.


Printfolio. BeLight Software’s Printfolio is really a suite of apps: four print-projects titles and the free version of Image Tricks, an image editor that uses Core Image filters (the effects in Photo Booth).


Printfolio’s main window contains four categories of projects, each category covered by a dedicated app. The disc-related projects (labels and case inserts) are handled by Disc Cover. Desktop publishing tasks (newsletters, brochures, certificates, flyers, catalogs, letterhead, menus, and postcards) get Swift Publisher. Mail Factory tackles the mailing projects (labels, envelopes, postcards). And you can probably guess what Business Card Composer does.


Selecting a project from the Printfolio window launches the assistant for the appropriate app, but Printfolio doesn’t close, resulting in two open applications in your Dock. If you aren’t sure whether to use Mail Factory or Swift Publisher for a postcard, you can launch both and see which would better suit the project. You may even decide to use a template from Swift Publisher to design your postcard, and then use Mail Factory for the addresses (it can import contact info from Address Book, Entourage, Excel, FileMaker, vCards, Eudora, text files, and others). All the apps are integrated with each other, and with Mac apps like Address Book and iPhoto - Disc Cover can import info from iTunes, Toast Titanium, iPhoto, and iDVD. Each app saves projects in a proprietary format but can also export them to PDF, JPEG, or TIFF.


All the titles in Printfolio have similar interfaces with a main window to work in, an Inspector, and Text and Color palettes. Mail Factory’s interface is a little different, but it’s more about working with mailing lists than straight-up design. They’re all easy to use, with intuitive controls and menus, and good on- and offline help resources. The plentiful clip-art and design templates didn’t wow us, although the intuitive controls make it easy to tweak them, or to start from scratch. Business Card Composer had the best prefab designs, and options for folded cards and CD cards too (which The Print Shop lacks).


All of the apps included in the Printfolio suite are available separately (Business Card Composer and Disc Cover for $34.95, Mail Factory for $39.95, and Swift Publisher for $44.95), so if you know you’re only interested in one, you’d save money going à la carte.


The Print Shop for Mac Version 2. This one launches as a single window of projects arranged in a color-coded grid. “Celebrations” projects include cards, gift tags, banners, and certificates. “Stationery” has the normal letterhead, envelopes, and labels, and also business cards and Post-It notes (which require a 3M Personalized Note Kit, available at at $79.50 for 100 sheets of six, or at $199.99 for 500 sheets of six). “News” has signs, postcards, newsletters, booklets, and pamphlets. And the “Projects” section covers disc labels and case inserts, calendars, quick prints (for printing multiple copies of a photo in various sizes), photo pages, and the ubiquitous blank canvas. The photo pages let you print album pages, collages, or funny spins on your photos, like a Wanted poster or a driver’s license for your pet.


We appreciated the ability to search the abundant clip art by size and shape, and the workspace is totally customizable. Another nice touch is the comprehensive iLife integration, including templates for DVD labels and cases that match the themes used by iDVD. Projects are saved as PSF files, but The Print Shop can also export them as PDF, JPEG, PICT, PNG, TIFF, HTML, or BMP at 72 to 1600 dpi. Most projects offer QuickStart Layouts, which are ready-to-go templates; a Help Me Design option that gets basic project info from you and then generates a basic design for you to tweak; and a Blank Page option. Right-click an image and choose Photo Workshop to crop your photos, adjust colors, and apply artistic effects. The Print Shop also includes templates for specific media from Avery, Fellowes, Memorex, and others. (Printfolio’s apps use standard sizes, which you can adjust, but it’d be easier to just choose the correct paper type from a list.)


The bottom line. Both programs are easy enough for kids about 10 and up to get into, but still let you create some pretty sophisticated designs, although we liked the prefab designs and clip art better in the cheaper Print Shop. Printfolio is a capable bundle, but the apps can be purchased separately as an alternative. Either way, you may never set foot in a Hallmark store again.


COMPANY: Software MacKiev
PRICE: $59.95
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.2 or later, 192MB RAM
Lots of possibilities, choices still easy to navigate. iLife integration. Universal binary.
Almost too many choices.


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COMPANY: BeLight Software
PRICE: $84.95 standard, $89.95 retail
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.3.9 or later (Mac OS 10.4 required for Image Tricks)
Suite of four apps plus Image Tricks. Saves money if you’re interested in more than two of the apps. Universal binary.
Standard version has fewer templates and clip art items. No iDVD themes in Disc Cover. Some templates and clip art are a little corny.




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