How to get more from Apple Address Book cards

How to get more from Apple Address Book cards
Mac Tip #412, 25 November 2009

Apple Address Book cards have some features you might not realise are there. Click on field labels to see some of the actions the Address Book can help you with.

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Work with cards in the Address Book

When you add someone to your Apple Address Book their details appear on a card.

Items such as Phone Number and Address each have a label beside them. That label is a button that give you quick access to contextual actions, such as displaying a phone number in large type.

Add a photo to a card

Find a photo in the Finder and drag it onto an Address Book card. That adds the photo to the card. When you drag it in you can set the zoom level.

Add a web address from Safari

To quickly add an URL to a card first open the URL in Safari and leave the Safari window open.

Select the correct card in the ADdress Book and choose Add URL from Safari from the Card menu. The URL is automatically added to the selected card. Click the URL on the card to visit it in your default browser.

Call up a Google Map

Click the label beside an address on a card and choose Map this Address from the contextual menu. Your default web browser opens and takes you to the address in Google Maps.

In my experiments this did not always work correctly. I couldn’t see why it worked for some cards but not others.

See a phone number in large type

See a phone number in large type.

See a phone number in large type.

Click the label beside a phone number on a card and choose Show in Large Type from the contextual menu. The phone number appears in a huge size white font on a transparent gray background in the middle of your screen. Click the large type phone number to get rid of it.

Address an email

Click the label beside an email address on a card and choose Send Email from the contextual menu. Your default email application opens up with the selected address inserted in the To: field.

Use a Company name

A card can be either ‘personal’ or a ‘company’ card. For example, you might list me under Miraz Jordan or under Mac Tips.

Click the Edit button at the bottom of a card to edit it. Then check the box beside Company near the top of the card. The icon in the Name list now changes to buildings, rather than a card, and the card is sorted under the company name, rather than the individual’s name.

Just a sampler

The Apple Address book has quite a few features tucked away; these are just some of the most useful. Would you like another Tip to explore more of the Address Book? What’s your favourite Address Book tip?

Do you have any comments on this Tip? Add them below.

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  1. Miraz said:

    Jerry: Ah, OK. I can appreciate the do-it-yourself sentiment.

    I suspect adapting Address Book would be extraordinarily hard.

    I have a new suggestion for you: to use a free database.

    It could take a it of setting up, but if you enjoy the DIY challenge it could be worth looking at.

    Switch your thinking to websites – or more specifically so some of the free software that runs websites and that you could run on your Mac. Take a look at some of the free tutorials about how to turn on your Mac’s built-in webserver, and how to set up Apache and MySQL on your Mac.

    MySQL is the free database that runs many many websites.

    It’s very flexible and you could create any database you could imagine, including databases with images.



  2. Miraz said:

    Jerry: that seems like an awful lot of pointless work. After all, that’s what database software is for.

    Take a look at Bento or Filemaker, or even Numbers.



    • Jerry Mann said:

      Thanks for the reply, Miraz. I’ve used Filemaker before in OS9 but to buy it now would be expensive and overkill. I have considered Bento, but my old Filemaker data would not transfer over, if I remember correctly.

      Being a do-it-myselfer, the thought just occurred to me, perhaps Address Book could be re-purposed in a creative way. Another use I imagined is a searchable database for my photos. I thought of this when I learned how to place any photo on the image placeholder in Address Book. I could put a sample photo there, and if I could customize the headings for the dropdown menus, have searchable fields. However, now the thought occured to use some of the fields available in each photo’s IPTC metadata to do the same.

      Numbers looks pretty good, except I’m not sure from the overview if I could associate a photo with each line item entry.

      Anyway, thanks again for the suggestions!


  3. Jerry Mann said:

    I am trying to figure how to edit the Address Book program to use it for a database. For example, to use it for equipment inventory, or a project tracker. I would like to take the preset dropdown items such as Work, Home, Friend, Assistant, etc and rename them so I can use this for inventory. Machinery Name, Serial Number, Specs, Date In Service, etc.

  4. Miraz Jordan said:

    Ross emailed:

    Don’t forget the “Address Book” widget.

    * Open “Dashboard”.

    * Select the circled cross at the bottom left of the screen to access “Manage Widgets”; (this displays a selection of widgets available to be activated).

    * Select the one that looks like an opened fob watch, labelled “Widgets”.

    * From the drop down list displayed in the centre of the screen, select “Address Book”.

    The result is a very useful widget called “Address Book Search”.

    Besides searching your address book for names, you can also search on the basis of any other details you have entered; for example a birthdate.

    I do not have caller ID on my phones. One trick I find useful is to enter a missed call number from my cell phone or my cordless phone into the “Address Book Search” and the caller’s name and details are displayed if these have been entered in my Address Book. Often this trick can also be used to identify the recipient of a call on your telephone account.

  5. Pat Rosier said:

    Another great tip. I especially love enlarging the phone number, as my contacts list is now my main record and I look it up all the time to phone someone. No more squinting at the screen.

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