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Free Print Shop - Free Print Shop Alternatives

program desktop publishing office

Since its release in the early 1980s, Print Shop has since become a genericized trademark for desktop publishing software. Though the days of dot matrix printing and floppy-booted drives have passed, Print Shop continues to provide photo and text effects for banners, flyers, business cards, envelopes, and other printables.

The current version is not free, but manufacturer Brøderbund offers a free Print Shop trial for three days. The trial can be downloaded from CNET. Called “Print Shop Essentials 2.1”, CNET ranks this product as #8 in their top ten list for desktop publishing software, and it remains a favorite among their editors. After three days, Brøderbund asks for $19.99 to continue using the program.

Fortunately, there are free Print Shop alternatives without time limits. The open source program Scribus features most of the publishing options of Print Shop at no cost whatsoever. The product page includes links to a mailing list, wiki, and IRC channel to aid beginning users and network the community of Scribus users. Scribus can be downloaded from Sourceforge.

Alternatively, Open Office provides desktop publishing capability comparable to Microsoft Office. A highly versatile program, it includes a word processor and an Excel-like data analysis tool. Continually updated for the past twenty years, Open Office is a reliable program made all the more popular by Microsoft’s decision to offer its Office program as a trial rather than an inclusive software package with Windows Vista machines. The program can be downloaded from the Open Office download page.

Another free Print Shop alternative is Serif PagePlus: Starter Edition. PagePlus handles business cards, posters, flyers, newsletters, menus, and brochures in a simple and easy-to-use format. Its small size and simplicity lends itself to some provisos, however: documents are limited to five pages each, the art functions are rather light, and it does not support PDF editing or printing. The lack of PDF in particular really hurts this program, as PDF files have become a common media for online documents. The full edition of PagePlus provides the features which the free version lacks, but at $99.99 it is an unlikely choice for those looking for a free Print Shop alternative. The free version can be downloaded from the Serif PagePlus: Starter Edition download page.

Lastly, Avery Design & Print Online provides an online desktop publishing suite. This clever program requires no download—users can log on from any computer to create, edit, and save projects. Use begins with a quick registration—so quick that it does not even require clicking on a confirmation link from an email. From here, desktop publishers can create cards, photo IDs, signs, banners, and other printables based on a variety of simple templates.

Though a truly free Print Shop is not available, there are enough desktop publishing options that budget users can still produce elegant printables at no charge.

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