Light Blue 8.0.3

We’ve released Light Blue 8.0.3, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 8.

  • You can now use the “Add To Found Set” section of the Records menu to add a Resource to a selection of records, and the “Remove From Found Set” section to remove a Resource from a selection of records.
  • Our QuickBooks invoice export now includes the invoice due date and the linked shoot’s title and shoot type.
  • The “Tidy Popup Menus” housekeeping command now allows you to tidy the purchase item Name field.
  • Added .cr3 and .raf file extensions to the list of unprocessed file extensions supported by our picture renaming feature.
  • The background activity window no longer contains an item unhelpfully labelled as “Description” when you first open it.
  • Updated the printed version of workflows to show email and text message steps correctly.
  • On Windows, the staff login dialog now focuses the password field when it opens to save you needing to click or tab into it.
  • Fixed a problem where underscores in contract mail-merge values could appear as \_
  • Fixed a problem where charts section could fail to take percentage discounts into account.
  • Fixed a problem with the “Staff Shoots” report that prevented shoots from being included more than once if multiple staff are assigned to it. Enquiries and cancelled shoots are no longer included in the report.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause macOS contacts to be published to an account other than the default account.
  • Fixed a database error message that could appear when using the Sales list view with both the Photographer and Salesperson columns.
  • Fixed extra text that could appear when printing a contact record.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause an attachment to be duplicated when sending emails in quick succession.
  • Fixed a printing problem that could cause the rightmost column to be cut off the Purchases section of a tax report.
  • Fixed a bug that could cause unsaved changes to be lost when dragging an attachment into an email.
  • Fixed a problem with updating workflows when upgrading from an early Light Blue 8 beta.
  • Fixed a problem where setting a custom label for a contact method wouldn’t display that custom label until you enter the phone number or email address.
  • Fixed a couple of unexpected quits that could occur in unusual circumstances.

Take control of your email with Light Blue

Light Blue includes powerful email features that you can use to respond to enquiries, stay in touch with your clients, save time, and keep all of your communications together in one place.

When a new enquiry comes in to Light Blue via email or your contact form, you can use an email template to craft the perfect response. Using a template saves you time (because you don’t have to type it out!) and makes sure that you don’t miss out any important information (because you crafted your email template in advance). But Light Blue’s email templates also allow you to personalise your responses, using intelligent mail-merge tags that customise it with your client’s details and always allowing you to add your own touch to the message before you send it to your clients.

When you’re sending an email from Light Blue, we recommend that you send it from your own email account. Using your own email account looks professional and helps your messages to get through to your client. You can add as many email accounts as you like, and if you need a hand with setting them up then we’d be delighted to help.

When a client replies to an email you’ve sent from Light Blue, the reply goes to your email address but it also appears in Light Blue’s Inbox. This makes it really easy to keep track of all of your communications with your client, because you’ll have copies of the emails you’ve sent and your clients replies in one place. This is especially useful if you’ve got more than one person working in your business, because the messages that your team are exchanging with clients aren’t spread out over lots of different systems.

If you receive an entirely new email from a client (e.g. a new enquiry), all you need to do to get it to appear in Light Blue is forward it onto your unique @lightbluecustomermail.com email address. All of our subscribers get one of these special email addresses, and anything that you forward to it will appear in the Inbox. From there, you can turn it into a new enquiry and send a reply using one of your email templates.

Light Blue 8 added lots of email and text messaging enhancements to Light Blue. As well as streamlining existing features, we added powerful automation tools that allow you to schedule messages to be sent to your clients. For example, you can set up automatic reminders that cut down on frustrating no-shows. You could also use an enquiry workflow to automatically send follow-up messages to a prospective client.

We’ll be showing you how to set up and use all of these features in next week’s webinar, and we’ve also produced a series of helpful video tutorials that you can watch at any time.

Sign up for the webinar at 13:30 GMT, Tuesday 19 February!

Light Blue 8

Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients. We’ve also added new features to Light Blue’s client portal, and lots of other changes that will help you to run a successful business.

“Light Blue 8 has definitely saved my assistant time and saved me mental stress. I work from home more, focusing on editing and family time while Light Blue handles my customer service.” – Tara Marie

Read on to find out more about the big new features in Light Blue 8, or click here to see them in action on our video tutorials page!

Automate your emails and text messages*

Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements to our workflow features that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.

“The new automated message feature has enabled me to concentrate on other things and not worry about forgetting to send reminders, etc to my clients. This has saved time which I can spend on editing & marketing.” – Raymond Redfern

“We’ve practically cut no-shows to zero. It also means that we’ve been able to spend more time on business and brand development.” – Grahame Smith

 

Image & file uploads in forms*

Photographers love Light Blue’s online contract signing and forms features, and now our forms are even more helpful because you can use them to ask your clients to upload images or files to you.

If you’re doing in-person sales, you could use this feature to ask your client to send you a photo of their living room before a viewing session. If you’re photographing a wedding, you could ask the couple to send you a copy of the spreadsheet that they’re using to organise their wedding day. Or, if you’re organising a corporate photography job, you could ask your client to upload their brand style guide.

“Adding image uploads to our forms had an immediate organised impact on our sales and workflows. Portrait clients are able to send us pictures of their rooms, which help us and the family to picture their wall art on their walls back home, getting the right sizes and finishes to compliment their interior. Our average sales doubled.” – Simon Gorges

Enhanced email and text message features*

Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent. Emails can now be composed in a separate window, allowing you to compose multiple emails at the same time or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email. Light Blue 8’s email and text message features have received a lot of tweaks and improvements to make them faster and more convenient to use!

Other workflow improvements

Light Blue 8’s workflow improvements go beyond our new automated message features, with enhancements that make them both easier to use and more flexible. We’ve also made it possible to export and import workflows, which allows you to share a workflow with someone else or import one that someone else has shared with you.

Speed improvements

Light Blue doesn’t rely on a fast internet connection, so you can use it when you’re offline or only have a slow internet connection. That means that we can make our apps really fast, and we found a couple of new ways to make Light Blue 8 even quicker than previous versions: upgrades that require a database upgrade are now 20x faster, and the Inbox and Outbox load a lot faster for studios that have tens of thousands of incoming or outgoing items.

And much, much more…

Behind the scenes there are hundreds of tweaks and refinements to make Light Blue faster, better and more intuitive. You can read the full release notes here.

“Light Blue takes care of all the organising and admin (which I’m bad at) and allows me to focus on the customer experience in the studio (which I’m good at ). Clients think I have my shizzle together! That allows me to be more creative. Light Blue’s designed by photographers for photographers and is quite simply the best on the market.” – Jenny Beckett

A free upgrade for all of our subscribers

Subscribers to Light Blue’s online services can update to Light Blue 8 by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command within the Light Blue desktop app.

If you already have a Light Blue licence, but don’t subscribe to our online services, the best way of upgrading to version 8 is to add a subscription. As well as being able to upgrade for free, subscribers have access to Light Blue’s most popular features, including our online contract signing service, forms, online invoices, and enhanced email and text messaging features.

 

 

* Some of Light Blue 8’s new features require a subscription to our online services.

Light Blue 8 release notes

Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients.

Read on to find out more about the new features that we’ve added to Light Blue 8!

 

Automate your emails and text messages with workflows

Requires a subscription to our online services

Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.

We’ve achieved this by allowing you to include emails and text messages in your workflows. Workflows could already include tasks and appointments, and you can now include templated emails and text messages. You have control over when your automated messages will be sent by telling Light Blue how many days before or after a shoot, enquiry, etc, you want them to be sent, and at what time of day they’ll be sent out. You can preview your workflow messages, and you add your own personalisation or customisation to your automated messages as well as using Light Blue’s flexible mail-merge tags.

Workflow messages are automatically rescheduled if the date that they’re based on is changed (e.g. if a shoot is rescheduled). If you’re using automated messages as part of an enquiry workflow (e.g. to send follow-up messages to your clients), they’ll be automatically deleted when you either confirm or cancel the shoot.

If you need any help setting up your workflows, get in touch and we’ll be delighted to help you get the most out of them.

Please note:

  • Workflow message features require Light Blue 8. If you add a workflow, reschedule, or change the status of a shoot from an older version of Light Blue, workflow messages might not be handled correctly. If you’re going to use workflow messages, please update all of your computers to Light Blue 8.
  • Support for workflow messages has also been added to our mobile app. If you’re using the Light Blue mobile app, please update to version 4.3 via the App Store.
  • You can use most of Light Blue’s mail-merge tags in workflow messages, but a few of them aren’t supported. If you use any mail-merge tags that aren’t supported in workflow messages, you’ll see a warning in Light Blue.

Other email and text message improvements

Requires a subscription to our online services

  • Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent.
  • Emails can now be composed in a separate window, rather than in a dialog box. This allows you to compose multiple emails at the same time, or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email.
  • You can now use one of your email templates when you’re replying to an email.
  • You can easily add contacts’ email addresses to an email by clicking the new + buttons that appear next to the To, CC, and BCC fields.
  • We’ve added a reply-to field for emails sent from Light Blue.
  • Text messages are now included in the Outbox.
  • The number badge on the Outbox shows the number of draft messages and messages that have errors. It’s shown in grey if there aren’t any errors, or red if there are any errors that need your attention.
  • On macOS, Light Blue’s dock icon now shows you the number of items in the Inbox that need your attention.
  • If you’re using the “Pending Items & Unread Messages” filter in the Inbox, marking an email or text message as read no longer makes it disappear straight away. It will only get hidden when you reload the Inbox or change your filters.
  • The “go to linked record” contextual menu command for emails in the Inbox now includes any contacts that Light Blue has automatically recognised based on the sender’s email address.
  • We’ve improved how timezones are handled when you manually schedule an email or text message to be sent in the future.
  • Images in emails can now have alt text.
  • When you reply to an email that included attachments, you now have an option to include those original attachments in your reply.
  • Fixed a problem where adding a signature to an email reply could put the signature below the quoted text.
  • When emails or text messages are sent or scheduled, their status in the Activity panel now updates as soon as it happens.
  • When you duplicate a text message template, the new template is now named as “[Original name] copy”

Other new workflow features

  • You can now export or import workflows, which allows you to share your workflows with other photographers or import a Light Blue workflow that someone else has shared with you.
  • Added “Add Workflow” buttons to shoot sessions (instead of making you go into the session’s options menu to add a workflow to it), custom date fields, and the appointment date field.
  • When you click an “Add Workflow” button for a field that allows you to specify a default workflow (e.g. the shoot enquiry date), instead of only allowing to add that default workflow the “Choose Workflow” dialog is now presented and the default workflow is pre-selected for you. This means that you just need to click the “Add” button if you want to use the default, but can select an alternative workflow if you want to.
  • The “Add Workflow to Found Set” menu command now allows you to add workflows to shoots based on their start date or enquiry date. Any shoots in the found set that don’t have your selected type of date are skipped.
  • You can now set a default confirmation workflow for appointment types.
  • Added a “Today” option to the list of key dates you can base a workflow on. The “Custom Date” option already defaulted to today, but this new option will provide a more understandable option.
  • Changed the “Delete Outstanding Tasks” command from the Activity panel options menu to “Delete Outstanding Items”. This will delete uncompleted tasks and unsent scheduled emails and text messages, but leaves any future appointments.
  • When you change the status of a shoot from “Confirmed” or “Completed” to “Enquiry”, Light Blue now offers to tidy up outstanding items (in exactly the same way as when you cancel a shoot).
  • You can now reassign multiple tasks to another member of staff from the Task Manager, or change their category.
  • Added an “Assign Workflow Tasks Without Allocated Staff To Logged In User” preference to the “General Preferences” section of the Preferences.

Online contract signing, forms, online invoice payments, and API

Requires a subscription to our online services

  • Shoot and contract forms can now include image and file upload fields. You add these to your form or template like any other field (although they can’t be included in contact forms, mostly for security reasons) and clients can use them to upload an image or file to you. If a client uploads a file to you, the filename will be included in your notification email and in the Inbox, and the uploaded file will appear in the shoot’s Activity panel. Being able to request an image or file from a client is useful in lots of situations, such as asking a client for a picture of a room they want to hang wall art in for a viewing session. Warning: although we’re not allowing image or file uploads in contact forms, you should always treat files that have been sent to you by anyone else with a certain amount of caution!
  • Added a setting to contract templates that allows you to choose whether (and which type of) booking fee you want to charge for that contract.
  • Added support for separate Stripe and PayPal details for each client portal brand, so you can have payments going to separate accounts for different shoot types. Please get in touch if you might be interested in this feature.
  • We’ve added an option to not CC you into client portal emails that we send on your behalf (e.g. when a contract is published, etc).
  • Incoming data sent to your account via Light Blue’s API now includes a date field that you can use in queries.

Fundy client order import

  • You can now import Fundy Design Suite orders into Light Blue. You’ll find commands for importing Fundy files in the Import section of the Records menu.

Speed improvements

  • Upgrading Light Blue’s database is much, much faster than before. In our tests with large databases, it’s now 20x faster to upgrade your database.
  • Loading the Inbox and Outbox is now much faster when they contain large numbers of items.

Inbox and Outbox features

  • The Outbox date filters have been changed so that you can more quickly find what you’re interested in. The “Today”, “Yesterday”, “Last 7 Days”, and “Last 28 Days” options no longer display messages scheduled to be sent on future dates, and you now have “Tomorrow”, “Next 7 Days”, and “Next 28 Days” options that will show you scheduled messages. The default option is now “All Dates”.
  • Added “Create Enquiry” and “Link To Existing Record” buttons to emails opened up from the Inbox, to save you needing to close the dialog and use the buttons in the Inbox.
  • When you’re previewing incoming data (e.g. from a contact form) that includes an email address, a new “Reply” button allows you to create an email to the first email address included in the data.
  • Text messages that you open from the Outbox now display their linked record and can be linked to a different record.

Sales and invoicing

  • You can now export a set of invoices in a format that is easier to import into QuickBooks.
  • We’ve improved the “Issue Credit” button on invoices to make it easier to credit or refund a wider variety of invoices.
  • You can now choose to include the Payment notes field when printing a receipt.
  • You can now choose to include the shoot type on a printed invoice or quote.

Calendar and Home screen

  • Added an option to display week numbers in Week and Month view.
  • We’ve added an option that allows you to display cancelled shoots in the built-in calendar.
  • We’ve added an option to include cancelled shoots in the results of quick searches. This is turned off by default, to avoid cluttering your search results with cancelled enquiries unless you’re specifically searching for one.

Reporting

  • The various data export commands that used to live in the File menu have been moved to a new “Export” sub-menu in the Records menu. This is a more logical place for them to live, is more consistent with the “Import” sub-menu, and removes clutter from the File menu.
  • The list view now remembers any column widths that you manually adjusted, and restores them when you go back to that list.
  • In list view, selecting a quick query that doesn’t include any records no longer takes you back to detail view.
  • In the query dialog, you can now query on the “role” of resources linked to a shoot.
  • You can now use “Invoice Number (without prefix)” and “Invoice Number Prefix” in the query dialog, lists, and data exports. You’ve always been able to use the full “Invoice Number” field in these situations, but these new options give you more flexibility.
  • We’ve added new fields that you can use in queries, lists, and data exports: “No. of Confirmed Shoots” has been added to the Contacts section, “First Appointment Start Date” has been added to the Shoots section; and “Shoot Start Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” have been added to the Sales section.
  • When you’re running a report, the report options dialog now defaults the most recent reporting period and output options to the options that you used for that report.
  • Calendar notes are now included in the “Today’s Information” report.

Other changes

  • Google are making a small but important change to their Google Calendar API, and Light Blue 8 is now ready for this change.
  • Improved the design of the staff login window to make it more welcoming when you launch Light Blue, as well as clearer in its purpose.
  • We’ve updated the APIs that we use to publish contacts to the macOS Contacts app, which makes publishing contacts much faster (and future-proofs this feature in case Apple decides to stop supporting their old API). This requires macOS 10.11.
  • You can now import individual contacts from the macOS Contacts app, as well as importing an entire group of contacts.
  • Added a housekeeping command that marks any Sale records in the current found set as paid.
  • Notes fields on Windows now have spell-checking enabled.
  • Added a timezone setting to the Preferences window and setup wizard. This allows us to implement the %CurrentDate% and %CurrentTime% mail-merge tags in workflow messages.
  • Added %ShootAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootNetAcceptedQuoteTotal%, %ShootPaidTotal%, and %ShootOutstandingBalance% mail-merge tags.
  • We’ve made our German localisation more comprehensive, and included both formal and informal options to give you a choice as to how formal you want to be when printing invoices, sending contracts, etc.
  • When you set up a new database, we now create a default email signature for you.
  • When you’re merging two contact records, spaces are now ignored when deciding whether to deduplicate a phone number.
  • When linking a shoot to a purchase item, the “new record” button shouldn’t be available.
  • The field label for custom paragraph text fields can now wrap onto extra lines if the label you’ve specified is long.
  • Fixed a bug where duplicating time off wouldn’t publish the duplicated event to Google Calendar or the macOS Calendars app.
  • Fixed a bug where printing a single record from the list view could print the wrong record.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when trying to attach a PDF of the built-in calendar to an email.
  • Fixed a database error that could occur when using an unusual combination of related sections in the query dialog.
  • Fixed a bug where shoots created via the API might not use their shoot type’s default session length.

Light Blue 8 public beta

After lots of hard work here at Light Blue HQ, we’re very excited to announce that we’re launching a public beta of Light Blue 8 this week.

Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients. We’ve also added new features to Light Blue’s client portal, and added lots of other changes that will help you to run a successful business.

If you subscribe to our online services, we’d be delighted to give you access to Light Blue 8 before its official release in January. You’ll be able to use all of its new features while we’re putting the finishing touches in place for the final release.

To find out more about Light Blue 8, get access to the beta, and learn how it can help you to be even more organised, please join us for one of our Light Blue 8 beta webinars. Sign up using the links below!

Light Blue 8 beta demo – Tuesday 11th December, 11:00 GMT

Light Blue 8 beta demo – Thursday 13th December, 16:30 GMT

Compatibility with macOS Mojave and iOS 12

In the very near future, Apple are going to release macOS Mojave and iOS 12. Because many of our customers like to upgrade their Macs, iPhones, and iPads as soon as new operating systems become available, we’ve been testing the latest versions of our apps with both new operating systems.

Light Blue 7 and the latest version of our iOS app appear to work well with Apple’s latest operating systems. However, we can never be entirely sure that Apple won’t change something before the release of either operating system, so please read on for the important health warning…

Health warning

As with all major operating system updates, it is a very sensible idea to be cautious about updating all of your computers and mobile devices at the same time. Although our testing of Light Blue 7 and version 4 of our iOS app has been positive so far, there is every chance that Apple could change something that breaks compatibility or that we’ve missed something because we can’t test every conceivable combination of devices and settings.

If you rely on Light Blue to run your business, we would therefore recommend holding off from updating your operating system as soon as the latest versions of macOS and iOS come out. At the very least, if you absolutely must update on day one, make sure that you have at least one computer and iOS device on the ‘old’ operating system until you’ve had a chance to test that all of the features that you depend on are fully functional.

Also, please note that our testing has been has been focussed on the latest versions of our desktop and mobile app. The vast majority of our customers are already using Light Blue 7.1.3 and version 4.2 of our iOS app, and if you’re using older version of either the desktop or mobile app then please update to the latest version to ensure that you’re able to take advantage of all of the new features and bug fixes that we’ve been adding. You can update the desktop app by using the ‘Check for updates’ command (in the ‘Light Blue’ menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the ‘Help’ menu if you’re using it on Windows), and you can update the iOS app via the App Store.

Light Blue 7.1.3

We’ve released Light Blue 7.1.3, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 7.

  • When you’re publishing a contract or form but not sending an email to your client, you can now open the contract or form in your browser as well as copying its URL to the clipboard.
  • The “Print/Send” checkbox in the print dialog now defaults to whatever you last set it to, so if you prefer to create invoices without printing them then you no longer need to un-check that box every time.
  • Added a 24 hour option to the built-in calendar’s week and day views.
  • If an email doesn’t already have attachments, you can now drag attachments onto the ‘Add Attachment’ button. You could already drag attachments into the list of existing attachments.
  • In the query dialog, you can now search on incoming data fields when you’re querying for shoots.
  • You can now query for records that have notes, tasks, or documents that are linked to a particular member of staff.
  • Added %ContactBirthDateDay%, %ContactBirthDateMonth%, and %ContactBirthDateYear% mail-merge tags.
  • Added support for detecting forwarded messages from the iOS version of Mail and the macOS version of Outlook.
  • The dialog for setting up sending a batch of text messages now closes automatically after you send or schedule your messages.
  • When you open the appointment editing dialog, the cursor will default to the start time field if the appointment doesn’t already have a start time.
  • If your country setting is set to one of France’s international territories, we now apply the French address format.
  • Fixed a problem where pasting text into an HTML editor on Windows could paste it in the wrong place.
  • Fixed a problem where you couldn’t paste formatted text into an HTML editor.
  • Fixed a problem that meant that you could only drag-reorder form fields if you kept your mouse near the left hand edge of the list of fields.
  • Fixed a problem on macOS where tabbing into an HTML editor required hitting the Tab key twice.
  • Fixed a problem where reschedule tasks that are scheduled for the same day could fail to reschedule some of those tasks.
  • On some dates, the “Last 12 months” date range in Charts view could show the wrong results.
  • Fixed a problem with the HTML editor that could make it hard to add a space in a specific place.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when opening the Charts view.
  • Fixed a bug where the %ShootRequests% mail-merge tag didn’t include some requests.

Sending text messages with Light Blue

Light Blue allows you to send text messages to your clients, which is great for appointment reminders and marketing.

There are two different ways of sending text messages from Light Blue:

  • Via our dedicated number service, which is available in most countries.
  • Or, if you’re based in the UK, Ireland, or Australia, you can send messages that appear to come from your personal mobile number or a short name.

Dedicated number service

With our dedicated number service, you rent a phone number from us. The text messages that you send from Light Blue come from this number, and any replies that your clients send will appear in the Inbox in Light Blue.

We can also forward clients’ replies to your personal phone number if you want to know about replies as soon as they arrive. This will cost you credits, because we’re effectively sending the message out again.

If someone tries to call your dedicated number, they’ll get an automated message saying that it can’t take calls. We can customise the message for you: just tell us what you’d like it to say.

This service is available in most countries. Renting a dedicated number from us costs £5 per month, and text message credits 7p each for UK numbers (please contact us for international pricing).

If you would like us to set up our dedicated number service for you, please get in touch via email!

Sending text messages that appear to come from you

Customers in the UK, Ireland, and Australia can use a version of our text messaging service where messages sent from Light Blue will appear to come from either your personal phone number or a short name.

This service can work in some other countries, but the local phone companies might change the number that the message appears to come from.

There is no monthly fee for using this version of our text messaging service, and text message credits cost between 7p and 9p depending on the quantity that you buy.

Using a “from name”

If you’re using a From Name, text messages appear from a name that can be up to 11 letters and numbers without spaces. Your customers can’t reply to those messages, because SMS only allows you to reply to a phone number. This is useful when you want to display your business name as the sender and don’t want/need to receive replies.

Using a “from number”

If you’ve set a “from number”, text messages appear to be sent from your own mobile phone number. Replies will go to your own mobile phone number just like any other text message, but replies from your clients aren’t imported into Light Blue (you need to use the dedicated number service in order for your clients’ replies to arrive in Light Blue).

How to send text messages from Light Blue

There’s a short tutorial showing how to send text messages from Light Blue, here:

You can set up text messaging from Light Blue via  your account page:

Set up text messaging with your Light Blue account

Light Blue 7.1.2

We’ve released Light Blue 7.1.2, which is another free update to everyone who subscribes to our online services or has bought Light Blue 7.

Like all of our minor updates, Light Blue 7.1.2 includes a variety of feature updates and bug fixes. We’ve also added a bigger feature that will help photographers who are keen to keep clients on their mailing list while making sure that they’re complying with the new GDPR regulations.

New Mailing List Opt-In Form

You can now send your clients to a special form that allows them to opt in to your mailing list. Each of your contact records has a special URL that identifies them, and you can get that URL in two different ways:

  • If you want to send mailing list opt-in links to lots of clients, you can export a CSV file of contact names, email addresses, and URLs from Light Blue. You can then import this spreadsheet into a service like MailChimp to email it to your clients. To do this, find the contacts or shoots that you want to send this to, go into the Housekeeping section of the Records menu and use the ‘Ask Clients To Opt-In To Mailing List’ command.
  • If you only want to send mailing list opt-in links to a small number of clients, you can use the %ContactMailingListOptInURL% mail-merge tag in an email template. If you want to customise the text of the link in your email templates, you can do so be using a tag like %ContactMailingListOptInURL:Click here to open the form%. We’ve included a sample email template in this update.

Your client portal branding is automatically applied to your mailing list opt-in form, and can customise the text that appears on the form by logging into your account on our website.

You can find out more about this feature in our blog post that explains how to use it.

Other changes

  • You can now customise more of the text that appears in your client portal when clients are signing contracts. You’ll find these customisable text options in the ‘Template Translations’ section of the Preferences window.
  • The following Sale reference values are now available in the query dialog, list views, and data exports: purchase order references, shopping cart references, courier references, client job number references, and quote references.
  • Added support for reading the original sender details from emails forwarded from Outlook for macOS to your unique Light Blue email address.
  • When you’re running a tax report, you now need to confirm that you want to mark the included records as claimed.
  • Added an option to use the shoot reference as the default prefix when you’re importing pictures for a shoot.
  • When creating a Sale record from a Quote, you’re now warned if the booking fee is greater than the quote’s total.
  • Added a “Email & Client Portal Branding” heading to the ‘Printing’ section of the Preferences window. This is to make it bit clearer where you need to go to adjust those branding settings.
  • Revised the wording of the “database upgrade required” dialog to make it less intimidating.
  • Fixed a rare problem where publishing an appointment to macOS calendars could make it appear at 12:00 instead of the correct time.
  • Fixed a problem on Windows where the email templates panel could end up with its scrollbar set to the wrong position.
  • Fixed a problem where clicking the “Save and add another” button in a form field dialog could fail to add the new item.
  • When you’re composing an email, the subject field is now always saved before you click the ‘Send’ or ‘Schedule’ button so you won’t see warning about having a blank subject. (unless you really do have a blank subject, of course!)
  • When changing a form field from a type that includes a ‘Description’ option to one that doesn’t, the description is now removed properly.
  • Fixed a problem that could affect rounding numbers to zero.
  • The quick sale dialog now works with European decimal separators.
  • The ‘add workflow’ dialog no longer gets stuck if you try to add a workflow based on a really old date.
  • Fixed unexpected quits that have been reported to us.

Importing Light Blue contract templates issued by third parties

Light Blue’s online contract signing service is one of the most popular features of our online services. It’s really easy to publish contracts for your clients to sign quickly. You need to set up at least one contract template which contains your terms and conditions in order to send contracts to your clients.

We don’t provide any sample contract templates with Light Blue, so you’ll either need to create your own,  copy and paste the text from a contract that you already have in perhaps PDF or Word format, or obtain a contract template from a reputable third party.

Only you can know if a contracts wording is right for you, so if you’re in any doubt then talk to a lawyer.

Creating your own contract template

You can create your own contract template within Light Blue by adding your own terms or copying and pasting the text from a contract that you already have. This tutorial walks through the steps of how to do that.

Adding a Light Blue contract template from a third party

Some third parties have created templates that can be imported directly into Light Blue, without needing to copy & paste any wording. There’s a short video tutorial, followed by some step by step instructions on how to import that template, below:

If you’ve obtained a contract template that’s been provided in Light Blue’s contract template format, it’ll be given to you as an XML file.

To import that into Light Blue (you need to be using Light Blue 7.1 or later), click Records > Import > Contract Template, and choose the XML file.

If the contract template also includes an accompanying form template, you’ll be prompted to choose whether or not to import the form, too. You most likely do want to import the accompanying form.

When that’s done, the contract template & form template (if you imported one) will appear in the preferences pane and will be ready to use.