Belight Software's Labels and Addresses started life as MailFactory, but this new application has a lot more going for it. It has barcodes that can be automatically numbering up by connecting them to a counter, smart shapes, mail merge capabilities that look for Address Book, Entourage, or FileMaker data (and more) and a great set of features to produce the best looking labels possible. Labels and Addresses is now better than SOHO Labels.With MailFactory I had the feeling the application was developed in a sloppy way. For example, Dymo labels would print, but they never would print exactly where I wanted them. MailFactory also was quite limited in its capabilities. When I compared MailFactory to SOHO Labels at the time, I gave MailFactory a rating that was less than SOHO Labels.
But SOHO Labels had its own quirks. The HUDs were more of a nuisance than a help, the program would frequently crash and barcode and other capabilities were all a bit constrained—perhaps to have something in reserve for subsequent upgrades? After working with SOHO Labels for a while I switched to Dymo’s own label designer, because it was the only one really working well with the Dymo LabelWriter Twin Turbo. I would only switch to SOHO Labels for working with Avery label sheets—reluctantly, I might add.
Enter Belight’s Labels and Addresses. Well, I have tested the software for well over a week now, and while I can’t comment on its envelope functionality by lack of an envelope feeder on my LaserJet, I can vouch for the excellence of this program with labels. The only thing that I would have liked to be added is a merge capability for printing a folder full of images. When I asked the company if that was available by any chance, I received a surprising reply: they had initially wanted to include it, but ran into too many problems; the feature would probably be added in an updated version.
That’s excellent news, because if they keep their promise, Labels and Addresses is the ultimate labels application by far. It is well designed in terms of interface, making using it a pleasure. Labels and Addresses lets you effortlessly create labels and envelopes based on the Address Book, but also on half a dozen other database applications that run on the Mac.
Print merge and Barcodes coveredIf you have “dynamic” data like a list of names that you would like to merge on a label sheet, there is a specific merge dialogue window that lets you select the fields you want to print, the order, etc. There is a lot of feedback on these features, which is good because it decreases errors.
The integration of Labels and Addresses with Mac OS X programs is good. iPhoto is an of course, folders in the file system are supported as well. I would like to see Aperture added to that list, but I can understand why it is not there—if you’re going to support Aperture expressly, why not Lightroom as well, and Capture One, and DxO…?
The Smart Shapes functionality is great—it lets you drag shape onto your label or envelope and then change the shape’s parameters by dragging a slider—useful with hexagons, donuts, etc. I would like to see a little icon besides those shapes that you can really change, but that’s a minor detail.
The Inspector works as all Inspector in Mac OS X Leopard applications do, but it is especially useful with barcodes. In the Inspector you can change the barcode type you want to print, and whether the barcode has to be a fixed value, a counter driven value (with the counter a separately available field that you can drag on the label) or a file that holds values.
The support for barcodes is good, but if you really want to have full control over what the barcode entails, a program like Intelli Innovations’ Barcode Producer is a must. That’s also why I want to see images as one format to merge print with—that way, I can have Code 39 barcodes with a prefix and suffix added to them and print a complete folder full of them.
A dazzling number of labels supportedThe number of labels Labels and Addresses supports is stunning. Other applications are focussed on US-sized labels, but not so Labels and Addresses; it really has most existing sizes and formats covered.
If you want to get creative, Labels and Addresses has everything covered as well, including a slimmed down version of Art Text (Belight’s own “artsy” text generator).
So, at the end of the day, I don’t think you can find a better label application than Labels and Addresses. While Chronos’ SOHO Labels is a good program, and Dymo’s free program is not bad at all, Labels and Addresses is in a class of its own. It covers everything and it does so with excellence.