By Ted Bade
Jobs might have missed the boat on getting CD recorders
into Macs, but that didn't stop Mac owners from
buying external recorders! Most of the more experienced
users I know own a CD burner. However, if there is one
thing I found lacking:it's good CD labeling software. I
decided to go on a quest to discover options for making
labels on the Macintosh and found some new and exciting
If you intend to stick a label on
the CD platter (be sure to put the label on the correct
side!!!), you should seriously consider some form of CD
label applicator. Generally these devices hold the CD and
label so the self-adhesive label sticks perfectly every
time. Often these packages include sample labels and
perhaps software to help create them.
If you follow news on the
Internet, you might have heard some rumors that placing
home-made labels on CDs might cause the CDs to play
poorly or not at all. Although I haven't seen any
personal evidence of this, it sounds possible. My CD disc
labels tends to be simple. I imagine a dense image on
half of a CD label might cause an imbalance problem, but
I haven't seen it.
disc labeler consists of
a top or dreidel-like device and a raised cylinder into
which the dreidel fits. Place the CD label (sticky side
up) on the platter and place the CD disc (recorded side
up) on the dreidel. Drop the dreidel into the hole on the
cylinder and the label is applied to the disc. It works
pretty well. The Neato package does not include Mac OS
specific software (it does come with software for
Windows), instead, if offers a variety of templates that
work with Mac OS applications. Of course this means you
need to also own one of these application such as Apple
works or Photoshop. (More on Templates later in this
is another applicator worth
mentioning. This device
consists of a cylindrical base with a spindle in the
center held up by a spring. To apply the label to the CD
place the label sticky side up on the base. Then place
the CD on the spindle, recorded side up, press down and
it's done. The Stomper package includes software for the
Macintosh, which works, pretty well. (We'll go over that
software in a moment).
other CD label applicators, but I feel these two are the
best. If you plan to
label your CDs you should definitely consider one of
them. Being a bargain hunter, I'll mention that the local
(Manchester, CT) CompUSA sometimes offers one of these
packages for next to nothing. I picked up the Stomper for
less then $1 (paid $15 with a $15 rebate) and have seen
good deals on the Neato package as well. Note that any
label applicator will work. Getting software or templates
for the Macintosh is a bonus.
There are two labeling making
options, using software designed to create labels or
using a template designed to work with another program. A
template, provides an outline to draw and write upon.
When a template is designed for a specific application,
it means the template file was created using that
application. If you double click on the template, the
application will open. Fill the outline with the text and
graphics you want and send the job to the printer. Of
course, you need to own the software the template was
created for, or another similar program which will use
the template properly. If you are experienced using a
particular application, for instance AppleWorks, locate a
template for that application. Also, consider what brand
of label you plan to use.
also designed to work with a particular brand of CD
labels, so you need to
decide which brand of CD labels you have or plan to buy
before choosing a template. For instance, use Neato
labels with AppleWorks as the application. A number of
label manufacturers offer templates for their labels and
often software (such as Corel Print House) which are
designed for making cards and banners, include templates
for CD and other disk labels.
You can also make your own
templates. If you buy a particular brand of labels, check
out their web site, there might be templates to use
Printing the CD label can be a
challenge. Although the image on your Mac's screen might
look great on the template, it might not be centered
correctly on the actual label when you print it. Because
of this, it is a good idea to run a test print on a
regular sheet of paper, then compare the test print to
the label sheet. You might need to adjust the image this
way or that to fit it onto the label.
Templates don't keep the
information inside the lines. If you place a nice photo
over a template of a CD label, you might have to shrink
or expand it to have it fit nicely over the label. A
large image will cover (and sometimes
hide) the template outlines. Also, while you are working
with the label, you might accidentally move the outline,
which will throw off your printing.
Being familiar with the
application you plan to use templates with really helps.
You might already know how to adjust printing and how to
manipulate text and graphics quite well. Consequently the
labels you make will be better.
It is always best to do a test
print before printing on the fancier (and usually more
costly) paper. A cheaper lighter paper will allow you to
hold the test copy over the actual label form and see how
Templates serve Mac users very
well and are an excellent choice if you are experienced
with a good graphics or printing package. You get the
benefits of a powerful graphics application when creating
Software specifically designed to
create labels seems like a good idea. My experiences with
some labeling software packages left me thinking that
templates were the best option. However, recently we have
seen some improvement in this area.
program to date is a relatively new program called
produced by Magic Mouse Production cost: $39, (you can
try a demo for 30 days before you must pay). This product
works with both the Mac OS and Windows. It is easy to
use, includes a number of wonderful tools for creating
labels, and comes with lots of graphics. I noticed the
newest version of Toast for the Mac OS (Titanium edition
V5) includes a version of this product.
you a powerful set of tools and some great graphics to
help produce excellent labels.
The interface is intuitive. First select a type of label
(disc, mini-disc, Business card CD, jewel case lid, and
more), then add text and/or graphics, finally
What makes Discus exemplary are
the tools provided to let your create your label. They
provide the best text manipulation I have ever seen in a
CD labeling software package. Not only can you insert and
edit the text, but you can paste it onto the CD label
either horizontally or following the curve of the disc.
There are several other ways to manipulate text as
If you create an audio CD using
from Toast or Jam, you'll be able to import the text
information this program creates as you add titles to the
Once the label is created, there
are several printing features. Discus supports many
different types of CD labels and they promise to add more
as they are developed. Additionally, this program offers
an easy tool for shifting the label image, so the printed
image fits perfectly onto the label. The only real
failing of this program is it is limited to 256-color
graphics, making imported photos look
A truly excellent program! I
intent to write a full review of it in the near future.
Labeler Pro is
another program for creating CD labels on your Mac.
Created by Pay&Play Software. It costs
Disk Labeler Pro supports a
number of label manufacturers and offers some useful
features for creating labels. You can add an image to the
label and insert text. However, the text remains
horizontal, and you must push it this way or that to get
it onto the label surface. I was disappointed to find
that when you enter text, the text insertion point is
actually off the label!
Although the software is basic,
it does the trick and makes it relatively easy to make
small adjustments on where your printer places the
The software that comes with The
Stomper package is pretty good and will do a nice job of
getting a label done. While text is only horizontal, it
keeps your work well within the template border and the
CD offers a large stock of graphics and clip art to
enhance your designs.
The interface it a bit
non-Macintosh. It doesn't use regular menus, but has
icons on the window that perform every function. It also
works only in 256 color mode, which limits the quality of
the graphics. Also, you are limited to importing .bmp
images. So if you want to use a JPEG or PICT, you'll have
to depend upon another program to convert them to .bmp
Output was pretty good, but there
was no way to adjust the printer to center images on
labels. Although this program lacks the standard Mac OS
interface, it is easy to use. The Stomper package
includes templates for label forms included in the
package. When you consider that you can get the labels,
applicator, and software for a song at a special sale,
this is probably the best deal out there!
Avery, a giant
in adhesive labels and forms, has been offering templates
for Microsoft Office on their web site for a long
time. Recently they began
offering software (MacLabelPro $65) for the Mac OS to
edit and create labels.
They offer a free trial version,
but it will cost you some information about
Needless to say, this software
gives you the ability to print to every Avery label and
form! You select an appropriate template from the
template menu and begin your creation. Labels are listed
by name and number and organized by type.
I was not impressed with the
abilities of this program to manipulate
You can insert horizontal text
only. This program works with item boxes, if you want to
insert a block of text, you create a text box and type or
paste your test in. The box can be expanded or shrunk to
suit the label. If you want to add an image, it works the
same way. This program keeps things inside the template
lines very well. Too well in fact, you cannot affect
anything outside the template line, so if the drag handle
of the image window gets moved outside the line, you've
lost it. Since the graphic is rectangular, you'll need to
move and stretch it several times to get it to fill the
circle of the CD template, since you cannot begin a
graphic box outside the template lines.
I feel this program is a bit
overpriced when compared to the other specialty programs
discussed here. Very overpriced compared to Discus, which
offers considerably more ability to format
As you can
see, there are many options for creating useful labels
for your CD's and their cases.
If you are really an organized type of person, you may be
pleased to know that most of the software discussed above
will help you create labels for other types of disks,
such as Zip disks, and even floppies (what ever they
I like to keep my CD's in Jewel
cases on a shelf, with the name of the CD on the end of
the jewel case, so things are easier to locate. All the
applications above include the ability to create nice
jewel case labels.
Neato offers an interesting new
bend on making business cards. They offer recordable CD
business cards and a label applicator for them. Record
the information you like on the CD, add a business card
label, and you have a great way to promote yourself or
you company. The business card CD store 50 Mbytes of
data, enough for a resume and a short movie! Again, some
of the label making software above provides support for
these smaller labels and Neato (an probably others) offer
What you place on the label is up
to you. It can be simple with some song titles, or
complex, including fancy graphics and home made art work.
That is what makes creating labels so much fun! Your
imagination is the limit.
Since I liked the program Discus
so much, I will follow up this article with a detailed
look at it and go over any limitations I find on the
version included with Toast Titanium edition. As always,
I look forward to your comments.
Good luck with you label making
Look for the Discus Review on
Thurs 6/14 !
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