In weeks past we've talked about configuring the Mail and Calendar applications. Without the third leg of this personal information trio--Contacts--using the first two could be a lonely proposition. In this lesson we'll look at the cans and can'ts of Contacts.
Contacts was called Address Book in previous versions of the Mac OS, and that's still its most descriptive name. What with its faux-leather border and stitched pages, it reminds you of something in which your parents might have added a new neighbor or business contact. But, old-school though it may look, it has more powerful features than its paper-and-glue counterpart.
Now that you've had the chance to admire Contacts' leather look, let's peer beyond the obvious. Contacts is broken into three main sections--from left to right, groups, members of the selected group, and the card for the currently selected contact. For example, when you select All Contacts at the top of the group pane on the far left, you'll see every contact that you have in the second pane. If you select one of those contacts, that person's information appears in the third pane. (If you don't see the group pane, choose View > Groups.)
When you launch Contacts for the first time, what you see depends on whether you have an iCloud account and whether that account is configured for your Mac. If both are true, Contacts will include any contacts you've added on another iCloud-compatible device. If you've created any groups on such devices, they too will appear in Calendar. Such is the power of iCloud syncing.
If your new Mac is your first iCloud device or you haven't set up your Mac to use iCloud, you'll simply see an All My Contacts entry in the group pane and a whole lot of nothing to the right. No one should be this friendless. Let's add a contact or two.
Creating contacts is a cinch. Choose File > New Card (<Command>-N) or click the Plus (+) button at the bottom of the second column. The third column will display a series of empty fields, just ripe for the filling. Filling a field is just as easy. Click in the field and enter what information you want. Headings that include up-and-down pointing triangles indicate that a subset of selections is offered. For example, if you click on Mobile you'll see that you can choose from a wide variety of phone types--mobile, iPhone, home, work, main, home fax, work fax, other fax, pager, other, and custom. When you click on Custom, you can create a label of your own.
When you enter information in one of these fields, another similar field within that category appears below. For instance, you've entered Chuck Dickens' iPhone as 555-555-2345. As soon as you enter the first digit, another field appears below, ready for you to enter his home number. (Hint: You don't have to format telephone numbers--555-555-2345, for example. Just cram all the numbers together, and Contacts will autoformat them as (555) 555-2345).
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