Mail Designer Pro 2 is perfect for the in-betweeners

For many of us, email is a way to quickly share information with a distant party. For example, a sweet message and a birthday photo will make grandma's day. For others, it's serious marketing that's managed by a director, an art department and a copywriter. Mail Designer Pro 2 (currently on sale for US$49.99, regularly $89.99), a WYSIWYG email designer for the Mac, is for everyone in between.

Mail Designer Pro 2 lets you create and deliver beautiful, custom email newsletters with no knowledge of HTML required. It's compatible with Campaign Monitor and Mail Chimp, so you can upload your designs when they're done. With 38 default templates to choose from (and more via in-app purchase) and a wealth of editing options, Mail Designer Pro 2 seems intimidating at first, but you'll soon be designing great-looking campaigns for your members, subscribers or customers. Here's our look at Mail Designer Pro 2 for Mac.

To get started, simply select a template from the library. For the sake of demonstration, I went with "Diner". There's something here that I like a whole lot. Mail Designer Pro automatically provides a desktop and mobile view, and even lets you select the very mobile device you'd like to use as your preview, across 14 devices, both landscape and portrait. Back to editing.

There's a wealth of editing tools here. Guidelines and rulers can be turned on and off, and the log enhances collaboration. Users can drag and drop comments to any section of the document, and these annotations appear in a right-hand sidebar, similar to what you might see in Word. Click any comment to reveal exactly which section of your document it's referring to. Likewise, a little chat bubble appears on the annotated section itself, so you know there's an associated comment. It's well done and manages to convey information without being cluttered, which isn't always easy in a WYSIWYG editor.

Placing shapes, text or images will be familiar to anyone who's used an editor like Keynote, etc. within the past few years. The guidelines help you line things up properly, though I couldn't find an option to snap blocks into place. Again, if you're familiar with page layout software, you'll feel right at home with Mail Designer Pro 2.

Once you're document is final, it's time to send it along. If you've got only a few recipients, Apple's Mail will do the job for you nicely. However, many email providers will flag you as a spammer if you send off hundreds or more messages at a time. Fortunately, Mail Designer Pro 2 has you covered. It's fully integrated with Mail Chimp and and Campaign Monitor, so upload your creating and reach your full list of contacts without a problem. There's also an option to export your file as a webpage, if you'd like to upload it somewhere and share it that way.

This brings me to two more features that I really like. "Check Document" reports on any trouble that my present itself it the document is sent as is. As you can see at right, I got flagged for a few troublesome fonts. It's nice to know this before hitting "Send."

The other feature I appreciate is "Lend." It lets you send your file to a collaborator with Mail Designer Pro 2 installed, so s/he can have a look and offer suggestions.

Like I said, this software is not for people who primarily send birthday photos to grandma. Nor is it for the business with a dedicated design team on staff. But everyone else, like small business owners, committee chairs, those running non-profit newsletters like you might find at a church or scouting organization will benefit from Mail Designer Pro 2 quite a bit. There's no coding to learn, collaboration is easy, design is drag-and-drop simple (once you get used to the tools) and there are several ways to share the final result. Give it a try and wow your members.