For some time now, Mac users haven’t had a good way to print labels that include United States Postal Service (USPS) postage, but buyolympia.com, the maker of SwordfishExpress (
; “More Mac Software Bargains,”
May 2003 ), has teamed up with the online postage service Endicia to change all that, with SwordfishExpress 2.0. The new version is currently the only USPS-authorized Mac client for creating postage-paid labels. (It does not support Express Mail or international mail, but the company says that both will be available in a future release.)
The SwordfishExpress 2.0 software is free, and it’s a great label-printing program even if you don’t want to print postage. If you do, you need to sign up for an
Endicia account, which costs $20 per month or $200 per year, plus the cost of any postage used. Since the USPS discounts services such as Delivery Confirmation and Signature Confirmation when you use electronic labels, these savings will quickly make up for the recurring fee if you do a lot of shipping. However, users who ship only a few items a month will wish there were a per-package fee instead, based on the postage used.
Convenient Label Creation
To create a mailing label, you provide the software with all the relevant information, such as the recipient’s address, the service you want to use, and the weight of the package. (If you have a supported scale with a USB connection, the weight can be entered automatically; if you don’t have such a scale, you must weigh the parcel on a separate scale and enter the weight manually.) SwordfishExpress 2.0 then calculates the total fee and prints the label on 8.5-by-11-inch paper. Although you can’t yet print directly onto envelopes, the program can print to Zebra label printers and Dymo LabelWriters such as the LabelWriter 330 Turbo ( March 2004 ). As you create and print postage labels, you’re shown the balance in your Endicia account. Adding postage to your account is simple. Click on a button and indicate the amount of postage you want.
To make inputting information easy, SwordfishExpress supports vCards, provides direct access to OS X’s Address Book (a downloadable plug-in, available from the buyolympia.com Web site, even lets you generate labels directly from a contact in Address Book), and supports OS X services—so you can create a label from an address in any services-aware application.
Good Track Record
SwordfishExpress 2.0’s Mailing Log keeps track of information on every parcel mailed via the application. You can even print official USPS mailing records or export the log for use in a spreadsheet or a database. If your business uses its own inventory or fulfillment software, you can also create workflows—using AppleScript, XML, or a downloadable command-line tool—that print labels and track costs from within your software.
When shipping valuable items, you have the option of purchasing insurance through Endicia. The company says that its service is less expensive than insurance from the USPS and less of a hassle when making claims; we didn’t test this service.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
If you run a Mac-based business with even a moderate USPS shipping volume, SwordfishExpress 2.0’s convenience and tracking features will likely be worth the service fee. If you’re a home user, the product’s usefulness will depend largely on how much mail you send. In any case, SwordfishExpress 2.0 is a handy (and free) tool for creating labels.
SwordfishExpress 2.0’s main window asks you for all information required to send your package via the United States Postal Service.