Use Numbers.app as an address database


Use Numbers.app as an address database
Mac Tip #546, 25 July 2012

If you need to keep a list of names and addresses, perhaps for a group you help with, then Numbers.app (US$20 in the App Store) can do a quick and easy job. It’s especially handy if you don’t want to add the names to your Address Book. Here’s how to set up the database in Numbers.

For one of my clients I support members in a Club if they need help with registering or cancelling their membership. There are a couple of thousand names with email addresses, subscription numbers and dates, and notes to track. My Numbers spreadsheet is invaluable, especially since I can easily find information, sort the names and pick out just the data I need.

Quick Start

  1. Make a new Numbers Spreadsheet.
  2. Set an appropriate number of header rows and columns.
  3. Enter column header names in Row 1.
  4. Add data in the rows.
  5. Use the Reorganize Panel to sort data.

If this Tip was useful, please leave a comment letting us know. Want more detail? Read the full Tip below.

Create a new blank spreadsheet

Open Numbers and select New from the File menu. The Template Chooser appears with the Blank template selected.

Click the Choose button or press Return to create a new blank spreadsheet.

Set the number of header rows and columns

Row 1 and Column A have a grey background because they’re assigned as header rows. While headers for the Columns are handy, you don’t need a header for the rows in this type of database. Because headers can do special things it’s a good idea to change Column A to normal cells before going any further.

Go to the Table menu and choose Header Columns. Set the number of Header Columns to 0.

The grey background in Column A changes to white and Column A is treated as a normal column.

Enter column header names in Row 1

My database needs columns for First Name, Last Name, email address and so on. Type the headings you need into Row 1. The screenshot shows my database, with dummy names and information, with the bolded column headings.

Numbers address database.

Numbers address database.

Add data in the rows

In this database every Row represents one person. Fill in the information you have, starting in the first column on row 2.

I found a very handy online tool for creating all the dummy names and addresses I needed while writing this Tip. If you want to practice with dummy data go to Identity Generator.

Enter data quickly

The quickest way to enter data is to paste it in from another source, but you may type it in too. Especially if you’re typing data use these keys to move quickly from one cell to the next:

  • Tab moves from the cell you’re in to the next cell to the right.
  • Shift Tab moves from the cell you’re in to the next cell to the left.
  • Return moves from the cell you’re in to the next cell below.
  • Shift Return moves from the cell you’re in to the next cell above.

Sort the data

You may like to organise the database in a particular way, perhaps alphabetical by first name, or in date order with oldest at the top, or to group together postcodes or zip codes. A sort is useful for this.

You can sort the whole spreadsheet or just part of it.

Note that headers are treated differently from ordinary data. You can safely select a header row as part of the sort — it’ll stay at the top and not be sorted into the middle of your database.

In the screenshot you can see the first two people in my unsorted database have the First Names Orli and Clio.

To sort all or part of the database select Table > Show Reorganize Panel. Or click the button for Reorganize in the Toolbar, if it’s there. The Reorganize Panel appears.

Numbers Reorganize Panel.

The Numbers.app Reorganize Panel.

Choose from the pop-up menus in the Reorganize Panel which column you wish to sort by and whether you want to sort ascending or descending. Also decide whether you want to sort the entire table or just rows you’ve already selected. Then click the Sort Now button.

The rows are instantly sorted according to the criteria you set. In my database after sorting by First Name Ascending the first two rows now contain information for Abigail and Adam.

Ascending means A to Z or 0 to 9, so names beginning with A would be in the first few rows, for example. Descending reverses the order so names beginning with Z would be in the first rows, or newest dates would be at the bottom.

Select chunks of data

To select a whole row click on the row number at the very left.

To select a whole column click on the column number at the top.

To select multiple rows or columns or cells click on a starting row, column or cell and then hold down the Shift (⇧) key while you click on the last row, column or cell to include.

After selecting a whole chunk of data you can deselect specific items if you hold down the Control (⌃) key and click on the items to exclude.

Scoot around the database

To quickly see different parts of the database use the following key commands:

  • The Home key scrolls the spreadsheet to display the top left.
  • The End key scrolls the spreadsheet to display the bottom right.
  • The Page Up key scrolls the spreadsheet to display the previous ‘page’.
  • The Page Down key scrolls the spreadsheet to display the next ‘page’.

On a laptop Mac use the fn key with the arrow keys: fn ← for Home and fn → for End. fn ↑ and fn ↓ page up and down respectively.

More Tips for finding data

Future Tips will explain how to filter data, how to automatically colour code it (for example, to highlight a subscription expiry date in the next few days) and how to find specific items.

See these other MacTips about Numbers.app

  1. How to make a simple year planner in Numbers.app
  2. How to fill a series of dates in Numbers.app

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