CD juggling act
In general, Print Shop 12.0 is supereasy to use. However, you may have a tough time digging up the clip art you need on its six CDs and finding enough drive space for this monster program. Even if you stick with the minimum installation option, you must surrender 670MB of drive space. And if you go for broke and give Print Shop more than a gigabyte, you still have to keep its extra clip art CDs handy and swap them as you access the art. If your PC sports a DVD drive, get the DVD edition for the same price, and you won't have to swap discs since one DVD holds the whole shebang.
What's with all the CDs? Altogether, they contain a gargantuan collection of clip art and images (more than 134,000) and layout templates (more than 11,000). If you have another 2.4GB free on your hard drive, though, you can load all of the clip art to the drive and swear off CD swapping.
Once you get over the CD-swapping hassle, Print Shop is pretty smooth sailing--not flashy but easy to use and functional. Menus hold scores of commands and simple toolbars at the top and side icons for functions such as launching the photo editor. Finally, Print Shop leaves a large open space in the center for your work.
You'll have no problem tackling the preset projects, either. Just pick a template from one of many categories (including business cards, greeting cards, signs, and certificates), walk through a two- or three-step wizard, then replace existing place-holding text and art with your own--easy, especially since Print Shop 12.0 ships with 5,000 more templates than the previous version. Our primary interface complaint: each time you launch a project, another window opens, needlessly cluttering the screen. In the next version, Print Shop should try the slick everything-in-one-window approach of competitors such as Microsoft Publisher.
Jack-of-all-trades, master of none
Print Shop 12.0 does many tasks adequately but few superbly. People's exhibit No. 1: the integrated Photo Workshop. Although Print Shop has added plenty of new special effects for imaging editing, including warps and distortions, it's not up to the standards of, say, Picture It 2002. To crop an image tightly around its outline, for instance, you must draw lines, one at a time, to create the cropping area; there's no automated cropping tool. Ugh!
Print Shop also ships with Calendar Creator, a standalone application that churns out custom daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly calendars. You can launch Calendar Creator from within Print Shop, but that's as far as the integration goes. In fact, because Print Shop has its own calendar-making templates, it's hard to figure out when you should use Calendar Creator.