Desktop publishing software for Apple computers ranges in price from free to about $800. Like all the software discussed in this report, the price you pay is dependent on what type of projects you'll use the software for. There are many helpful reviews of desktop publishing software for Macs online. In addition to Macworld, Tech Radar and Appletell, we also found helpful reviews on the U.K.-based Digital Arts, Ars Technica and Tech World websites.
Quark Xpress 9 (*Est. $800) and Adobe Indesign CS5.5 (*Est. $700 or $200 to upgrade) are the clear leaders for Mac users, although both programs can also be used on PCs. These programs were created for professional graphic designers, and while they have all the bells and whistles that desktop publishers love, they might be too much software for many users. As mentioned previously in this report, the cost and the steep learning curve make these programs poor choices for many small businesses and personal users. We'll provide an overview of the two programs here, and then provide some less expensive options for small businesses and personal users, too.
Reviews recommend Adobe InDesign CS5.5 (*Est. $700 or $200 to upgrade) as the best desktop publishing software for Mac users who need professional-level software. For home office and small-business use, where the latest time-saving features aren't crucial, consider trying Scribus (free). This open-source desktop publishing software is discussed in the next section, on free desktop publishing software.
Most reviewers say Adobe InDesign CS5.5 is worth the upgrade, which costs about $200, from InDesign CS4. Each of the products included in the Adobe InDesign Creative Suite has been refreshed in this latest version. Notable new features include cross-platform updates for digital publishing and greater integration with smartphones and tablets. Reviewers agree that the Adobe software is both more advanced and easier to use than QuarkXpress 9 (*Est. $800).
Adobe InDesign CS5.5 integrates well with other Adobe design software, including Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, Illustrator and Photoshop, say reviewers. These software titles can be purchased together as Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Premium (*Est. $1,900). Reviewers say the initial purchase price is a big investment, but note that upgrades cost much less. For professionals who use desktop publishing software every day, the initial learning curve, also quite an investment, pays off in timesaving efficiency.
There are several other worthwhile desktop publishing software titles compatible with Mac that range in price from $45 to $80. For small-business desktop publishing, iStudio Publisher (*Est. $50) is a solid choice. Mail merge isn't listed among its features, but it does provide good text tools. Unlike Apple iWork, this software is strictly for desktop publishing. Katie Gatto, reviewing the product for Appletell, likes the integration with Apple Pages '09 and the Photoshop features, as well as the numerous shortcuts and the templates. Gatto praises the software for personal use and for small business use, but says it lacked the design power needed by larger companies. A full-featured 30-day trial is available.
According to reviewers, Apple Pages '09 (*Est. $20) is basic desktop publishing software that packs quite a punch. Users can easily learn how to use the software to create basic design projects, say reviewers. Dynamic tables and charts, photo-editing tools and 180 templates allow desktop publishers to design brochures, invitations and reports.
Macworld's Jeff Battersby appreciates the changes made in the last upgrade of the software, including improved mail merge capabilities. He has concerns about file sharing, though, where multiple users can have a project open at the same time, potentially overwriting each other's changes. Other reviews in Tech Radar and The Mac Observer focus on Apple Pages '09 for iPad (*Est. $20), finding the software robust in some areas (page layout and templates) and lacking in others (no word count, and inability to print from an iPad).