Label Maker/Mail List Manager. (computer programs) (reviews) (evaluation)
by Robin Minnick
In a memorable episode of "M*A*S*H," Charles Emerson Winchester III announces, "I do one thing. I do it very well, and then, I move on." He might have been speaking for Keystone Software. In Mail List Manager and Label Maker you have two dedicated programs that perform two specific tasks, and they do them efficiency. Allow them to interact, however, and you have a duo of great dexterity.
Label Maker allows you to create and print labels for such diverse things as standard mailings, file folders, envelopes (continuous and handfed), name tags, computer disks, rotary file cards, audio cassettes, videocassettes, and shipping labels. You can design your own labels from scratch or customize existing ones. You can also merge a label file with data files creates with Mail List Manager or any of several databases or world processors that let you create sequential files with lines ending in return characters.
Mail List Manager is newer and works with as much if not greater ease than its partner. Filling in the nine predefined fields is child's play. Memory resident, it sorts quickly. A list on a 64 can handle approximately 300 records; a 128 can handle about 1000. Transfer between lists are handled via exporting and importing functions. Editing is done with standard techniques.
The two programs make excellent use of drop-down menus and direct one-letter commands. Both have drivers for several printers. (Label Maker will support two at once.) Management and mastery of the programs are accomplished with ease - but with one exception. The problem comes when trying to make the finished product turn out exactly the way you've envisioned.
Generally, the problems have to do more with the vagaries of individual printers and not the printer drivers or the programs themselves. Part of the problem is due to documentation that's comprehensible but not thorough enough. As with a new graphics or desktop publishing program, you have to play around with them to really understand what you'll get.
For instance, my first Rolodex list of relatives was great. My second list, magazines and their editors, came out in an unexpected format. The editors' names were printed where I thought the magazine titles would be, and the magazine titles were listed next, after a comma, where the program expected a first name to be. Nothing I couldn't remedy, but after this error it took a trial or two to discover how to fix it. Embedded printer commands presented another difficulty until I learned to leave enough room on a line for all the commands I wanted before I entered text.
Mail List Manager works only with labels created within the Design Your Own option of Label Maker, not with those made in any of other options: Rotary Cards, Standard Mail Label, and so on. This is because Label Maker identifies each label file as it's saved by the option that created it. Labels will load back only into the same option. Mail List Manager recognizes only files coded for the Design Your Own option. On the positive side, you can load a Mail List Manager label file into Label Maker's Design Your Own option to modify it.
To boil it down, you can usually find a way to do what you want, but it takes a while and some experimentation. Like tackling a new desktop publishing project, with perseverance you can open new worlds of productivity.
It takes time to tame this dynamic duo. But old Leroy (he of Cheatsheet fame) has a good thing going. Keystone knows it, too, because the final option on Label Maker is a printout of an order form for all kinds of continuous labels.
Mail List Manager can be sufficient unto itself. It has a good selection of labels, and it's a terrific program for handling all kinds of mailing lists: relatives, clients, help services, club members, and so on. Label Maker invites you to customize labels to your heart's content, and it will work with several databases and word processors. Each program will work within the other. Together they can solve almost all your label needs.