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Turbo-Charging the Dymo LabelWriter

Dymo printer photo

I found some Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo label printers on super-sale at my local office supply store, so I snapped one up. That afternoon I discovered just how slick the little printer is. The next morning I went back and bought another one for the office.

Following is a quick how-to on using this printer super-efficiently on a Mac OS X system. I also explore using Quicksilver to speed things even more. Some of these tips may apply to the Windows software, too.

Basic Setup

First, I'm using this printer in a "Getting Things Done" environment, so my primary task is printing labels for file folders. Dymo makes labels that are just the right size for traditional manila file folders, and these are what I keep loaded in the printer. Using the Dymo software in "designer" mode, I created a basic label with one big text field, like so:

Dymo Screen Shot

Be sure to set the text field to "function as a variable text object" by double-clicking on the field for its option box:

Dymo Screen Shot

Then turn off designer mode and save your layout. Now, go through the preferences and select the following options:

  • General Settings: Suppress Print Dialog
  • General Settings: Font: Myriad Pro Semibold 18pt (or your choice of nice, clear font)
  • Functional Settings: Suppress "Save File" prompt
  • Label Editor Settings: Open Last Saved File

Now you can launch the Dymo software and it will come right up to your file folder layout. Click once on the text field to activate it, type what you want, then click the printer icon and it prints. Quit the app and go back to your other work. The software won't bug you with pesky "are you sure?" or print dialog boxes.

Quicksilver Setup

If you're using Quicksilver -- you are using Quicksilver, right? -- then you take things even further. The Dymo software has a "smart paste" feature which we can use for totally click-free printing. First, open Quicksilver, type "." (period), then the text for your label:

Quicksilver step 1

Hit tab and type "copy" if "copy to clipboard" isn't already the default action:

Quicksilver step 2

Press return to complete the action. Launch or switch over to the Dymo software. Hit command-control-P for "smart paste" and you'll get a dialog like this:

Quicksilver step 3

Hit return and the label prints.

Note that you can print multiple labels at a time with this method. In Quicksilver's edit box, press option-return after each label to start a new line. The Dymo smart paste creates separate labels for each line. Slick.

Pros/Cons of the Dymo LabelWriter

David Allen specifically says to use a stand-alone label maker instead of a computer-attached model, since the stand-alone is easier for one-off labels as you need them. I agreed at the time, but after using the LabelWriter, my opinion has shifted.

The advantages of the LabelWriter, as I see it:

  • The Dymo software is easy to configure for "power user mode" which eliminates all the extra dialog baggage, and then it's wicked fast to use. (Doubly so with Quicksilver in the mix.)
  • You get to use your computer's nice keyboard. This is especially important for me since I use the Dvorak key layout.
  • The Dymo labels are cheap and look totally pro, even better than a stand-alone label maker.
  • Labels are the same size, so reusing a folder is as simple as sticking a new label over the old one, and it still looks nice.
  • You can use fancy Mac OS X features like printer sharing if needed. (I tried it, it works great.)

The disadvantages:

  • Obviously if your computer isn't booted, you're not printing any labels.
  • You can't use glossy plastic labels, which are more durable for labeling non-paper stuff.
  • Not as portable as a stand-alone label printer.

Conclusion

This printer is a keeper. Dymo is now running ads for their 400-series label printers, and those should work just as well as my 330 Turbo. They also have a combo printer which does plastic labels in addition to paper, eliminating one of the disadvantages on my list. I highly recommend any of these models.

Comments

thanks for your really helpful set-up guide. i got one (based on the recommendation of this site and the referring 43folders) and it's great for GTD, at least so far.

I'm living at Matamoros, Let me know which dealer is nearest my city.

Phone number and contact name.

In a recent (October, 2009) video, David Allen shows off a computer attached printer, so his opinion may have changed :)

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