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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.

In the case where you have the same contact in different accounts--one version in iCloud and another from Facebook, for example--Contacts will attempt to merge them. You can tell if a contact has been merged by the Cards entry in the contact. It will read something like Cards: On My Mac, iCloud.

Sharing contacts

The Contacts application, like just about every address book application on earth, supports the vCard standard. This is a common contact format that allows easy export and import of contact information.

Exporting contacts is quite easy. One method is simply to drag a contact to the desktop, where it turns into a vCard file. (You can also select multiple contacts and drag them to the desktop, where all of the contacts will be combined into a single vCard file.) In addition, you can drag a group to the desktop to turn that group into a single vCard. Or, if you like, click on the Share icon at the bottom of a contact card. You'll find such options as Email Card, Message Card, and AirDrop card. The resulting card will also be in the vCard format. And you can select contacts and choose File > Export > Export vCard.

Importing contacts works similarly. Grab a vCard and haul it into a list of contacts. Or drop the vCard on the Contacts icon in the dock. Or choose File > Import, navigate to the vCard, and click Open.

About printing

One feature that escapes even advanced users is the ability to print your contacts in useful ways. Select some contacts and choose File > Print. If you see a Show Details button at the bottom of the resulting window, click it. Click the Style pop-up menu in the now-expanded print window, and you discover that you can print mailing labels, envelopes, lists, and pages for a pocket address book. When choosing labels you'll find the option to select a specific kind of label--Avery Standard, Avery A4, and Dymo.

Contacts is hardly the most complicated or comprehensive application bundled with the Mac, but it's more than capable of dealing with basic contact management. If you've been tied to paper for years for fear of the complexity that a computer-based contact application might introduce, you can put that anxiety aside. Go forth and make contacts.

Next week: Remind me to tell you about Reminders.


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