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How Mac experts deal with their contacts

Lex Friedman | Jan. 17, 2014
Used to be, people maintained literal personal phonebooks. Books into which they scrawled the names, numbers, and addresses of their friends and family members. Those were dark times.

Jaimee Newberry — a speaker, writer, and podcast host — doesn't only use Contacts; she also uses the Web service and app Sincerely to manage mailing addresses. She likes the service in part because it makes quick work of sending actual postal mail from a computer or iOS device, so she relies on it for managing those addresses.

Sparks, who is also a lawyer, occasionally considers a move beyond Contacts: "Part of me really wants to geek out with one of those online customer relationship managers to handle all my calls to clients, lawyers, and everyone else I deal with in my day job.... Instead I keep it simple and use the Apple Contacts application to sync my personal iCloud contacts and my office's Exchange-based contact list."

How they add contacts
Still, Sparks doesn't love adding or editing his contacts with Apple's Contacts. "It takes far too many mouse clicks to get things rolling." Although he stores his contacts in Apple's app, he also uses the free (with in-app purchases) Cobook app, "which is much faster and always rests in my menu bar."

Cobook, which I only looked at on Sparks's recommendation, can merge contact data from various places, including — for free — Facebook, Google, and Twitter. It can work either from the addresses stored in the Contacts app (which, in general, live in your iCloud account) or from your Google contacts. Updating contact data in Cobook definitely takes fewer steps than using the Contacts app, and the changes you make sync quickly via whichever service you rely on.

Tabini uses the Contacts app on his iPhone to add contacts, but when he's adding new entries into the database on his Mac, he actually relies on Apple's Mail app: "I've found Mail's data detectors to work well most of the time — they make adding new contacts fairly convenient, at least compared to doing so by hand."

How they share contacts (when they share at all
Both OS X and iOS aim to make it easy to share contact information through email, Messages, Mail, or AirDrop, which is especially useful when you need to give your information to someone in lieu of a traditional business card.

Tabini offered up a tip: "Make sure you keep a contact for yourself, with all your current email, address, and phone coordinates handy, so that you can quickly share it with others.... It's such a simple way to be ready whenever you need to hand off your information to someone without having to fumble through your contacts — or, worse, having to tell someone your phone number."

Most of the experts didn't care much about sharing features, though. Fleishman and Newberry both said that they don't share contact information with others. Said Moltz: "Occasionally I will share a contact with my wife. I usually do that via emailing the contact card to her."


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