Buggy Microsoft Mail Merge

Microsoft Office 2008 (for Mac) is driving me craaazzzyyy!

Microsoft Office 2008 (for Mac) is driving me craaazzzyyy!

There is a bug in MailMerge for Office 2008 where all the names of the categories don’t show up by name; so you may see no text next to some of the checkboxes. It’s highly aggravating if your mailing list happens to be one of the categories that doesn’t show up. If that’s the case, the only solution I have found is to try each of the checkboxes, one at a time, and see which one has the number of records that matches your mailing list. So yes, trial and error. (How To Use Mail Merge in Office 2008 for Mac to Print a Holiday Mailing List on Labels)

Mail merging on my old DOS box in the 1980’s was pretty easy. Mail merging on all of my PCs in the 1990’s was easy. Even a handful of Mac mail merge experiences during my college years working on the student lit mag and summer jobs as a dock boy on Lake Champlain were pretty effortless. Old technology. Straightforward. Painless.

But I’ve been trying to print labels for our holiday cards using Microsoft Word (as part of the Office 2008 suite for Mac), and I’m seriously ready to start mashing things… What the heck?!?!

How can one of the simplest processes personal computers solved decades ago be sooo clunky? I couldn’t even find decent instruction within Word or Entourage (aka Outlook, where my addresses are stored) and had to hit up Google for step-by-step guidance. And I quickly realized that my question and frustration is not unique.

What is going on here? Is this a sign of the times? Have we allowed mail merge for print to slide by the wayside because nobody’s interested in paper anymore? Is Microsoft behind the national trend away from a self sustaining postal service? Is this another hint of the global digital-only future?

Mail merge should be easy. If for no other reason than businesses need it. Real people who send out mass mailings, invitations and holiday cards need it. Come on, it’s mail merge, folks. I know it’s “old school” and inevitably obsolescent. But not that “old school”! Not that obsolescent! I mean, I’m not asking for bug-free Morse Code or windless smoke signals…

Here’s the thing. I want my word processor to be able to talk to my address management software, and I want to be able to spit out labels. Or envelopes. Or — gawd-for-flippin’-bid — actual, mail merged letters without bugs. Without pulling my hair out. Without wanting to chuck my Mac out the window and cardiopulmonary resuscitate my creaky old Dell just to send out holiday cards. It should be easy. Intuitive. Quick. Bug free!

Thanks to the Ivanexpert.com, I’m stumbling forward, though not 100% successful yet. Thanks to my bride getting our holiday cards off the to-do list and into production, I’m fumbling and grumbling. Thanks to you, tolerant reader, I’m feeling vented and decidedly better. Have a nice day, and happy holidays!