Now in its fifth incarnation, iSale enables you to create and edit eBay listings on your Mac prior to uploading them to eBay.

It also enables you to track bids while the auction is running and manage completed listings, courtesy of editable groups and Smart Folders. There's a useful iSale widget that aids tracking, and this is a prime example of how iSale integrates itself seamlessly with both the eBay site and core Apple apps.

Working with the interface is easy, particularly because it ties into iCal (automatic auction-closure reminders, iPhoto (direct image uploads) and even .Mac for remote image storage.

eBay made easy for Mac

iSale makes setting up an eBay auction much simpler.

By linking directly to the eBay site, it enables you not only to create listings, but also to include specific selling options directly from eBay within those pre-prepared listings - genre, weight, condition and the like - without having to create the listing and upload it at that time. This means you can save up auctions and list a bunch of them at the same time.

New additions to version 5 include compatibility with sites such as Facebook and Flickr, great new iLife-style templates, which are all now completely editable with drag-and-drop ease, as well as Smart Folders and Groups, which will enable you to keep track of specified types of auction at any given time.

However, the most useful addition is the Research Assistant, which enables you to research your item online using bookmarked websites, and even drag and drop information, such as album listings from the web, directly into your auction. It also bookmarks searches for you, so you can return to any site you use regularly for information.

Flawed functionality

Although iSale does offer efficiency and convenience, it's still a third-party program and isn't, as yet, a perfect match for eBay's tools. It integrates seamlessly with eBay's servers, but it doesn't completely replace its listing engines, for instance, and it relies on equinux updates to keep up-to-date with pricing and genre changes.

What's more, much of the newer functionality iSale offers can already be utilised to some degree using existing Mac apps, such as Smart mailboxes in Mail instead of iSale's Smart Folders.

There's also no import option, so setting up iSale with your own seller preferences can be time-consuming and there's no way of bringing existing eBay auctions into iSale to track those. And it would be useful if iSale had a function for letting you revise auctions after listing them, too.

eBay does allow you to make changes to some information after listing the item, but iSale doesn't, which can be a pain; you need to go into your eBay account and make the changes from there.

Still a way to go for iSale

By not enabling you to revise items, or group multiple purchases together for easy tracking after purchase, iSale's potential usefulness for pro sellers is reduced, but it still pays its way by dramatically cutting down listing times in comparison to listing individual items on eBay.

For the average user, $40 (£20) isn't cheap, and the upgrade path is nearly as expensive.

At its heart, iSale is an app primarily designed to make your auctions look pretty and more appealing to potential buyers, and compared to listing through eBay you will save a lot of time.

For the Mac, you're limited to iSale and GarageSale to list volumes of items on eBay, but there's still some way to go before either one has all the features we'd like to see.