I've been making a lot of photo CDs and slide-show DVDs to give to friends and discovered I have no software for creating attractive CD...

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I’ve been making a lot of photo CDs and slide-show DVDs to give to friends and discovered I have no software for creating attractive CD and DVD disc labels.

I’m guessing many of you also burn CDs and DVDs and may be interested in learning how to make classy labels for them with easy-to-use software. So I decide to look around for the software, try a couple of possibilities, and report back.

First, I search the Internet for suggestions (using the keywords disc label software reviews) and come up with this Web page: www.ibook-user.com/reviews/2001/cd-labeling.html. It highly recommends Magic Mouse Productions Discus 3.13C ($39, Macintosh/Windows, 30-day free trial, www.magicmouse.com). The same site has a more detailed look at Discus (www.ibook-user.com/reviews/2001/review-discus.html).

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The other disc-label software I’ll try is SmileOnMyMac Disclabel 2.3 ($30, Mac only, 30-day free trial www.smileonmymac.com).

Both applications enable me to create CD and DVD disc labels, CD case covers and larger DVD case covers. Both permit me to adapt a template or design a blank disc and import my own photos and artwork. They both support direct printing on discs with printers that have that capability.

Each also has unique features. Disclabel is integrated with Apple iLife software so Mac users can import playlists and art from iTunes. Discus, on the other hand, enables Mac and PC users to design business cards as well as labels.

I download both programs and begin with Discus.

Discus: When I begin a new CD/DVD label, the screen displays a large disc with a set of tabs for working on the background canvas, inserting photos, adding text, painting and printing. Each task has easy-to-understand icons and text labels for progressing through the process.

The process begins with creating a background design. I can choose a pre-designed template or start with a white canvas. I choose the canvas, and press Photo to choose an image from my photo library. When I pick one, it automatically appears on the canvas. From there I can use the available tools to move it around, crop it, shrink or enlarge it and make other adjustments.

If I want to paint on the label, I can press the Paint tab and the appropriate tools appear, including paintbrushes and buckets, spray cans, shapes, stamps, colors and more.

Next, I press the Text tab and begin a block for the title and contents. The tools on the left enable me to arrange the text straight across, curved, vertical or curlicue. Easy sliders can alter the font, size, spacing of letters and lines, color, outline, shadow and more.

Finally, when I’m ready to print the label, I press the Print tab and select the kind of label printing paper I’ll be using. The choices include many popular brands from Avery to Canon, Epson, Verbatim and ProLabel.

The results look good. Going through the process is so easy I decide to personalize each disc I’m giving away by changing the background photo to a picture of the recipient.

This batch of DVDs contains slide shows of several karate tournaments. I make 10 copies I’m giving to the martial artists who participated. I have photos of them, so I place one on each disc for the person pictured. It takes only a few minutes to change the photo, but it makes a big difference to the recipient.

Disclabel: Next, I create a disc label for a music CD using Disclabel software. I press the disc icon and choose a template from Disclabel’s library of designs. Because I’m using a Macintosh with iTunes software, I can import the tracks from the playlist I’m burning of assorted Green Day songs. I press the Tracks button with the iTunes symbol and it shows all the playlists on my Source list. I press the playlist I’ve just burned and the titles appear on the disc label displayed on the screen.

Instead of using a template to create the next label, I start with a blank label, insert one of my photos as background, and then discover the playlist auto insertion doesn’t work — I have to use a template for that feature. So I pick the plainest template I can find that allows me to add a photo beside the playlist.

That works and saves me the few minutes it would take to type in the song titles myself.

When I’m ready to print, I press the Paper button and choose from a list of label paper brands similar to Discus’.

The printed disc label looks good.

Conclusion: Both disc-label programs work well. If you use a Windows PC, only Discus will work with your computer, which is fine because (in my opinion) Discus is a little easier to use and the results look as good or better.

Later, I’ll try printing directly on the discs (when I have a printer with that capability) and report back.

Write Linda Knapp at lknapp@seattletimes.com; to read other Getting Started columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/gettingstarted