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Introducing Contacts

Christopher Breen | May 3, 2013
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.

You could also create a smart group that includes just those contacts that you want on your iPhone. For instance, you may wish to carry only those contacts who have a phone number and email address in their card. It's easy to create a smart group that includes two conditions to make this happen: Phone is set and Email is set. Then choose to sync this group to your iPhone and leave the rest behind.

About distribution lists

You now know that you can create groups of contacts. Suppose that some of these contacts have multiple email addresses, physical addresses, and phone numbers. Suppose further that another application will automatically grab some of this information for its own use. For example, Mail will automatically insert Charlie Bucket's work email address when you compose a message to him. Suppose one last time that, doggone-it, you want Mail to always use his home address. How do you set the default for other applications' use?

Through the careful use of distribution lists. Choose Edit > Edit Distribution List, and a sheet will appear. On the left side is a list of your accounts with a triangle next to each. Click that triangle, and any groups in that account will appear. Select a group, and you'll see the contacts within it.

When a contact includes multiple instances of an email address, phone number, or physical address, you'll see one of these items in black--any other similar entries are in gray. To choose the default information that you'd like to use--a person's work email address versus their personal address, for example--click on it. It will turn black, which tells you that it's now the default.

Adding accounts

Services such as Yahoo and Google allow you to create contacts. And it's likely that you'll want to have those contacts appear within the Contacts application. For a Yahoo account, this is dead simple. When setting up such an account in the Mail, Contacts & Calendars system preference, just be sure to enable the Contacts option, and your Yahoo contacts will appear in Contacts.

Google is a bit trickier because there is no Contacts entry for Gmail accounts within Mail, Contacts & Calendars. It can still be done, however.

Within Contacts, choose Contacts > Preferences and click the Accounts tab. Select the On My Mac entry, and enable the Synchronize With Google option. In the sheet that appears, enter your Gmail name and password, and click OK. Contacts will now set about synchronizing with Google and import those contacts it has. If an On My Mac heading doesn't appear once this synchronization takes place, quit and relaunch Contacts. You should now see such an entry along with an All On My Mac group below. An iCloud entry will appear above if you've already synced iCloud contacts.


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