PROS / It's easy to customize your user experience with this Mac typing software.
CONS / The technical support options are very weak.
VERDICT / The software has just about everything you’ll need to effectively learn to type.
Editor's note: Mavis Beacon Personal Edition is now available. Clicking the Buy button will take you to this version for purchase. The manufacturer lists the new version as offering the following features: over 100 skill checks and typing tests, a new success-based approach, and multiple interface themes. We will evaluate, rank and review Mavis Beacon Personal Edition when we next update the Mac Typing Software reviews. Meanwhile, enjoy our review below about the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Platinum edition.
Broderbund has long been known for its excellent software, and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Platinum continues with that excellence. There are a few issues, such as the lack of adjustable text size, the absence of games that teach keyboard symbols and a few missing help and support options. Therefore, it lands in fourth place on our list of Mac typing software. Overall, it is a very good typing application that offers the features you'll need to learn how to type.
While it lacks the Dvorak keyboard and adjustable text size found in similar Mac typing software programs, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Platinum has many of the features you need in order to learn typing skills. It records progress results for all members of the family, and lessons are presented simply and accompanied by encouraging messages from the software.
Some convenience options, such as background music, are customizable. You can select from your own music library or let the pre-loaded music play quietly while they practice typing. If you use a split keyboard, you can change the settings so the example keyboard and hands on the screen demonstrate proper positioning.
The training plans are easily laid out, so you can track your progress. It's easy to see how much material you have covered, how much you have left to learn and how you've done on the tests you have taken.
All 12 games can be accessed outside the training course for additional entertaining practice. The games are easy to understand, and each has a fun, unique theme.
The number of lessons and the style in which they are taught is impressive. Many Mac typing software programs simply describe how to properly strike a key with text or a simple audio clip. In Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Platinum, a pair of animated guide hands move to show you how to strike the keys with the proper technique, while the software explains the process in an audio clip.
Of course, experienced typists can use the program to identify and work on any problem areas. The software lets you skip over the how-to part and get straight to the typing practice.
The lessons and tests are accompanied by an image of a virtual keyboard and guide hands, as well as a number of progress gauges. One bar displays skill level progress while another shows how far along in the exercise you are. Time remaining counts down on a small digital clock next to a speedometer-type gauge that displays your current WPM rate. We found this layout to be one of the least distracting and easier to read among the products we reviewed.
After you finish a certain number of lessons and accompanying tests, you'll be given a certificate for reaching the end of your skill level. There are three different certificate designs to choose from, ranging from whimsical to serious.
This Mac typing software is relatively straightforward to use. It may take a moment to adjust to the format, but after becoming acquainted with the layout, you will find it is a snap to navigate. Other Mac typing software programs with similar guided path formats were unable to match Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Platinum’s level of simplicity.
All user data is automatically saved as it is created, so losing statistics because you forgot to save, or had to close the application without saving manually, won’t be a problem.
If you do find that you need a little extra help in getting adjusted to the software, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Platinum’s offers specific help screens. Each area has its own individual help screen, as opposed to one help screen that explains the whole application at once. An extensive 98-page user guide is also available.
In terms of technical support, Broderbund’s support is spotty at best; the only help available on the site itself is a list of FAQs and an email contact form for download and purchase questions only. Technical questions relating to the software are directed through a different site, which only offers an email contact form. Direct email, message boards and non-purchase FAQs are nowhere to be found, nor is the option to check for and download updates. There are no phone numbers, either.
We found that this product excelled among the Mac typing software programs we reviewed. From its highly organized teaching style to its wonderful progress-tracking options, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Platinum is a very good resource to teach you how to type or improve your typing skills.