Birthday Greetings by email

August 25, 2023


The Distribution List windowWhen you think of Apple’s most intriguing applications, it’s unlikely Address Book springs to mind. It offers anything but the sexiness of an iLife or iWork application. However, thanks to its close ties to Apple’s Mail and iCal as well as your iOS devices, it’s actually one of the applications you use the most. Make the time you spend with it more productive with these tips and tricks.

1. Prune addresses for your iPhone or iPad

You know that you can sync your contacts to your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but it’s likely that you don’t need to sync all of them. After all, do you really need everyone’s street address on your iPhone? Here’s a way to sync just the contacts you need to iOS devices.

I’ve found it helpful to sync only those contacts that have both an e-mail address and phone number to my iPhone. To do that, open Address Book, choose File -> New Smart Group, and in the sheet that appears, create two conditions: Email Is Set and Phone Is Set. From the pop-up menu at the top of the sheet choose All so the rule says Contains Cards Which Match All Of The Following Conditions. Click OK to dismiss the sheet and create the group.

You now have a smart group that contains just those contacts that have both an e-mail address and phone number. But you’re not done yet, because you can’t sync smart groups to iOS devices. Select all the contacts in the smart group. From the File menu choose New Group From Selection. This creates a standard (meaning, not smart) group from those contacts. In iTunes choose this new group you’ve created when you sync contacts to your iOS device.

2. Clean up your contacts

If you open Address Book and find multiple entries for the same contact, it’s time to put things in order. To do this, choose Card -> Look For Duplicates. Address Book will do exactly that and, after looking, produce a sheet that tells you how many duplicate cards and entries it’s found. By clicking the Merge button in that sheet, you can merge those duplicate cards and entries. Optionally you can also merge cards that have the same name but different information.

Automated birthday greetings3. Use the right e-mail address at the right time

Suppose you work at a company where you’ve established a social relationship with a select number of coworkers. Because of that relationship you use their company e-mail address for business and their private address for off-hour activities. Address Book makes it easy for you to send messages to either address, depending on the occasion. It works this way.

Create a group that includes your work friends and call it something like Social Workers. Select that group and choose Edit -> Edit Distribution List. In the resulting Distribution List window you’ll see the selected group and the name of each member in the group. The column header next to the list of members names should read Email (if it doesn’t, click on the header and choose Email). Locate the private address for each member and click on it, so that it becomes bold. This makes it the default address to use when you send messages to this group. Click OK when you’re done.

Now choose the group that you normally use to contact these people for work matters (this may be All Contacts). Locate these same pals and click on their work e-mail addresses so that they too are in bold. This is now the default address for work correspondence.

Do you have multiple e-mail addresses (for instance, work and personal) for your correspondents? Use groups and the Distribution List window to make sure messages go to the right address at the right time.

When you wish to send a social invitation to this group of people, send it to the Social Workers group. The invitation will be sent to their private address rather than work address. Otherwise, select them from a work group.

You can use this same technique to configure default phone numbers and street addresses. Just select Phone or Address from the Email header in the Distribution List window.


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