Endicia for the Mac, a snap review

Endicia is a postage printing system for the Mac.

<disclaimer and rant>I have a very low opinion of the United States Postal Service. Most of this stems from my interactions with the local post office personnel. I will not allow my venomous loathing of the American Postal Workers Union and the apathetic laziness it cultivates to negatively impact my review. </disclaimer and rant>

I do a lot of mailing and for the most part the less I interact with postal workers the better. While I have found a few postal employees that have been really helpful, far to often I have encountered people who seem to actively try to thwart my attempts to use the service.

For many years I printed out labels from my printer and spent a few hours affixing labels and stamps to #10 envelopes. At the end of 500 mail peaces, I was lucky to get the label on right side up, much less straight. At some point we managed to get a printer that would print directly on to envelopes, but ever after that, we had to spend time putting stamps on.

A few years ago, I discovered the on-line postage printing system, Stamps.com. This system allows a person to print postage with just a computer, Printer, and #10 envelopes. SWEET! So my work load was cut down dramatically and I’ve been using Stamps.com happily for the most part sense shortly after they started.

However, I have always been miffed that Stamps.com did not have a Mac client, and truth be told the windows version was slow and kinda buggy, but it was better than lick’n & stick’n, so I suffered on.

With my Desktop Mac Change over, I have found a need for Postage on my Mac. For the first couple of runs, I used Stamps.com in Parallels, but this sort of defeats the purpose of trying to convert to Mac. After posting some of my thoughts on my transition, a person wrote in to tell me that there was indeed a postage system for Mac, called Endicia.

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At first glance, Endicia for Mac is pretty much like Stamps.com for Windows. It costs $15 per month, plus postage, and has similar features to Stamps.com. Oddly, Endicia does have a windows client, but the monthly cost is much lower than Stamps.com (because it lacks some features most people will never use), but the Mac client was the full $15.

I of course had to sign up before I could download the software. The service does have a free month to try, but you have to give up payment information right off the bat to get a look at the software. Fantastically, there was a screencast of the Mac software I could watch, so while I could not use the software with out singing up for the service. This answered many of my off the cuff questions.

There was a bit of trouble signing up. I went through the online process of registering, and got an email back with my combination, but I could not log in to get the software. I gave it 24 hours, but I could never get in. Now while this was a bit deflating, it did give me a opportunity to “test drive” their technical support. My first few calls to the tech support number, 800-576-3279, netted me only a voice mail box for tech support. I did leave a message, and sure enough, a few minutes later Mike called my back. After about 90 seconds on the the phone with this guy I was logged in and downloading software.

What was THIS tech support call that sold me on the company. When I first called and got the voice mail box for tech support, I though they were busy, but playing with the phone tree I soon realized that the company seems quite small. While taking to the support rep, I could here other people talking. What struck me at first was that EVERYONE seemed to be speaking American English with west coast ascents, this seemed to jive with my impression that it was a small well run company doing its own in house support. The people I spoke where not generic paid support people reading from a script, they seemed to me to be real people who cared about the company they worked for. Also there was none of the artificial “have I helped you with all your issues today Mr. Tabor?” BS that I get when I talk to Mumbai. It was refreshing.

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As far as the software itself, it’s pretty straight forward. It installs like most other Mac Applications.

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Of course I did not have any postage so I had to add $10. I had to provide my Credit Card when I signed up, so it did not ask for it again, nice touch.

Setting up my custom Mailing Graphic and Fonts was easy. Setting up the printer was a bit more diffacult. This is where I figured out that the Macintosh OS 10.5 Driver for my HP 7410 All-in-one does not recognize the second paper tray. I found a couple of forums talking about it and it turns out to be a driver bug from HP, not related to Endicia. About the only thing I had trouble finding was the option to do a sample print of postage just to see if I got the setting right. In Stamps.com you have to do a big walk through to make sure you have the envelopes pointed the right way, and you wind up burning two envelopes in the process. Annoying if you have to do a reinstall of the printer, but helpful burning a first setup. The second burned envelope in this possess is an full sample showing you exactly what the finished product will look like. Stamps.com also has a quick “sample” button to see the effects changes you make to the return address’s font or size will have on how the envelope looks.

I spent several minutes looking for a “sample” button in Endica, but could not find one. The printer setup process does not send anything to the printer, which is in contrast, to Stamps.com. Ironically, the setup process does have a print dialog window, complete with a “print” button, but a dialog warns you that clicking “Print” will only save your settings and not send something to the printer.

After 20 minutes, I decided I would burn $0.42 cents, just to see the envelope print, and clicked on the “Prepare Envelope for Printing..” button on the main window after filling out all the required stuff.

Much to my surprise, this did not “Print” anything, but did bring up a window showing me the finished product, and here is where I found a “Print a Test Envelope” button.

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I’m glad I did this, turns out the my HP Officejet 7410 had some issue printing to the edge of my #10 envelopes. I wound up fixing the issue by manually adjusting envelope size in the Printer Setup in Endicia from 9.5 inches wide, down to 9.15 inches wide. This tricked my printer into printing all the way to the edge of my #10 envelopes, the thus getting all of the bar code.

I’ve only done a couple of mail peace through Endicia. So far I’ve really liked it. the only draw backs I’ve noticed have been things not related to Endicia, such as my Business Addresses being trapped in Quickbooks Premiere 2008 for Windows. Endicia does work with Apple’s address book, and I can do batch printing. I lost my USB scale to a coffee spill some time ago, so I cannot test the interface, but Endicia does came to work with them.

Like Stamps.com Endica does have an option to just print “stamps”, Called “Netstamps” in the Stamps.com world and “InstaPostage” in the Endicia world. I have used Stamps.com photo stamps service in the past (a grade christmas gift for grandparents is a sheet of stamps with their only grand daughter on them :) ), and Endicia seems to be matching Stamps.com on this as well.

Now only if I could print those “Forever Stamps” with a photo on them. :)

All in all I have been every pleased with Endicia, and I am looking forward to using it more.

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