Address Book Tips

The Mac OS X Address Book is a neat little application that is often under-appreciated. As a seemingly boring application it has loads of features that are overlooked by most users. While useful on its own for organising your contacts, Address Book's real power is that it works with so many other applications. Here are a few tips to save you time and let you make the most of Address Book.

Add Contacts to your Safari Bookmarks
If lots of your contacts have their own web sites, you might be interested to know that you can automatically add these to your Safari bookmarks bar. Open up Safari go to the Preferences (in the Safari Menu). In here click the Bookmarks tab and check the box that says “Include Address Book” in the Bookmarks Bar. Now a new folder will appear at the far left of your Bookmarks bar. In here will be the web sites of all you contacts who have a home page set in their Address Book entry.

Address Book

Chat to your Contacts
Address Book integrates quite well into iChat, the Mac OS X instant messenger. If a person in your Address Book is online and using iChat, a little green dot will appear next to their picture. Clicking on the dot will open up iChat, where you can start a new conversation with the person.

Put your Contacts in the Spotlight
In Address Book, select which contact you want to search, right-click on their name and choose “Spotlight [name]”. The spotlight window will pop up, and show documents, photos, iCal events, mail messages and iChats related to this person. This is one of my favourite features of Spotlight — it allows you to use it as a personal organiser and links together Address Book, iCal, Mail and iChat.

Spotlight from Address Book

If you don't have Address Book open, you don't need to bother opening it up to Spotlight search someone. Simply type their name into Spotlight for the same results.

Moreover, Spotlight remembers files that people have sent you. When searching for one of your contacts, Spotlight will list any files they sent as attachments to you, providing you received them in Mail.

Highlight Groups
If you hold down the Option key while you are viewing a contact, all the groups that they are in are highlighted in a lovely yellow.

Merge two contacts
If somehow you end up with two entries in your address book for the same person, you can easily merge the two. Select the two entries by clicking on one in the list and then Command-clicking on the other. Now click on the Card menu and choose “Merge Selected Cards”. If you have a huge contact list and you suspect some duplicate entries, you can also choose “Look for Duplicate entries” from the Card menu.

Merge Selected Cards

Large Type
If you want to read a person's phone number off the screen while dialing it across the room, you can make it display in large numbers across the screen. To do this, click on the number and choose “Large Type” from the pop-up menu.

Address Book Sharing
If you want to share your address book (for example with your family or secretary) you can do so via MobileMe, Yahoo!, Google or an exchange account. In Address Book just go to the Preferences and click on the Accounts tab. Be careful with the Google and Yahoo synchronisation though, you might end up accidentally adding everyone you ever sent an email to into your address book.

Using vCards
In reality, most people don't have .Mac, so the standard way to share contacts is using vCards. A vCard is a file containing a contact's information that you can attach to an email and send to whoever you want. Luckily, vCards work really well with Address Book.

To create a vCard for a specific contact, select them from the list and right-click (Control-click) on their name. From the pop-up menu choose "Export vCard...".
To create a vCard that contains the information for all the people in a certain group, select the group you want from the list, right-click on it and choose "Export Group vCard...".

If you receive a vCard from someone else as an email attachment, you can add it to your address book in a couple of ways. If you received it in Mac OS X's Mail application, simply drag it from the email message across to Address Book. If not, save it to your Hard Drive and then choose Import vCards (Command-O) from the File Menu in Address Book.

Make Your Own Card
My Card
It can be quite useful to create an entry for yourself in Address Book as it is used for things like Autofilling forms in Safari. To do this, create a card as usual and fill it with all your information. Once you are done, choose "Make This My Card" from the Card menu. You will notice that your icon in the list changes and your photo now has "me" written in the corner. Now you can export your vCard using the method above to send your contact details to everyone in your address book.

Restrict Private Information
If you don't want to share all of your contact information with everyone you send your vCard to, you can choose to keep certain parts private. Go to the Address Book Preferences and check "Enable Private Me Card". Now when you edit your own card, you can use the check boxes to choose which information is exported as your vCard.

Printing Envelopes
You can print an envelope addressed to a contact by choosing Print from the File menu with the chosen person selected. In the print dialog you might have to click the blue disclosure triangle to show all the settings, and choose Envelopes from the Style drop-down menu.

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