PROS / The quality of The Print Shop's template selection is refreshingly high.
CONS / You can't create tables from within the software, or even use custom guides to help you align content, since the developer has reserved both features for the line's more expensive Professional edition.
VERDICT / The Print Shop Deluxe is great for kids and families that are putting together simple projects, but if you're planning a complex layout or multi-page newsletter, pick a program with more under the hood.
The Print Shop was the earliest desktop publishing program ever created. Originally released 30 years ago for the Apple II, it was the first app to give its users a library of templates, fonts, graphics and photos they could arrange as they pleased. That formula, however, has long since been replicated and even outclassed by many competitors, and The Print Shop Deluxe is no longer an industry leader. While its professional edition remains a serviceable desktop publication application, developer Encore Software has stripped too many features out of The Print Shop Deluxe to make it worth your time and money.
True to its brand, The Print Shop Deluxe features a great selection of fun templates for you and your family, along with plenty of art assets. You won't get the commercial-use stock photos in Deluxe that you would with Pro, but you can make use of the 600+ fonts Encore includes in every box. The templates themselves are fun and attractive, but The Print Shop doesn't include Avery-compatible layouts for labels, postcards, business cards or other store-bought print stock. As ubiquitous as Avery products are, we'd have liked to see support for them included.
While you can often count on the best publishing software to offer a bevy of solid layout and publishing features, The Print Shop's feature set is comparatively dismal. There are no master pages to help you persist elements across pages, so numbering pages can be a chore. You can't import content beyond simple JPG and GIF images, nor can you create tables or graphs within the program. Users don't even have access to custom guides to help them lay out content in a clean, meaningful way. If you want to build a table, you'll have to place each cell individually and eyeball their alignment.
Thankfully, the graphic design tools in The Print Shop are passable, though they still aren't as fleshed out as we'd like to see in such a big-name desktop publishing package. You won't have access to filters or advanced effects to help you spruce up text, but you'll still be able to fix issues in photos using the built-in photo editor. From red-eye reduction to blemish removal, the editor lets you smooth out problems with pictures so they look great when you print them out – though you'll probably need a certain level of comfort with graphics editing to make full use of the toolset.
Despite its name, The Print Shop Deluxe 3.5 is not a luxurious program. We expect the standard version of a product to feel full-featured, and its professional version to offer great extras that justify a higher price. In the case of The Print Shop, however, the Pro version feels standard, while the Deluxe version seems to have had important features stripped away in order to justify a price reduction. True, its templates and art assets are of decent quality, but that's not enough to compete with the best desktop publishing software in our lineup.