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Summary:

Apple’s original implementation of “smart” file management isn’t just limited to the Finder, and in fact, you’ve probably seen it more often in other applications like Address Book and Mail. Here are some ideas of how you can harness the power of these two applications using […]

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Apple’s original implementation of “smart” file management isn’t just limited to the Finder, and in fact, you’ve probably seen it more often in other applications like Address Book and Mail.

Here are some ideas of how you can harness the power of these two applications using the same idea as Smart Folders.

Smart Groups

Address Book provides support for smart groups which allow for dynamic content, just like a smart folder. As new content is added that meet your guidelines, the group will automatically update.

Creating a Smart Group is as simple as going to File and selecting “New Smart Group…” or by clicking the plus icon (+) in the lower left corner of the Address Book window. Then give your group a name and set of criteria. As you add your second criterion, you’ll have the choice for your group to consist of any of your rules or all of your rules.

Here’s some ideas for useful smart groups.

Upcoming Birthdays

Interested in who might have a birthday this month? Set the birthday criterion to include entries that occur within the next month. (This will include all birthdays within a month of the current date or when you click to view the group.)

Upcoming Birthdays

Missing Email Addresses

To see a list of people who you do not have an email address for, set the email criterion to include entries that are not set.

Missing Email Addresses

My Coworkers

Most companies offer their employees an email address that uses the corporate domain. If you created a smart group for “email” that contains “yourdomain.com” then you will have a group that is always updated with all of your coworkers. An extra bonus, these Smart Groups also show up and autocomplete in Mail.

My Coworkers

Or Anything You Want

Since the Address Book allows for a “notes” section on each card, you can use this region to “tag” cards and then use a smart group to show results based on that information. (You could also repurpose one of the other standard fields for this use.) For example, throwing the word “family” into the appropriate contacts’ card would allow for you to create a smart group that just showed your family members.

Currently, Smart Groups cannot be synced to iPods or iPhones. While they also cannot be synced through MobileMe to me.com or Windows computers, they can still sync through MobileMe to other Macs.

Smart Mailboxes

Mail has its own flavor of smart file management too with the implementation of smart mailboxes. To create one, use the Mailbox menu or the plus (+) icon in the lower left of the message viewer and select “New Smart Mailbox.”

Give your smart mailbox a name and choose the appropriate criteria for your mailbox. With the ability to create criteria based on recipient, subject, mailbox, date, message, attachment and more, you can create some pretty powerful mailboxes to help organize your workflow. Here’s a few suggestions.

Recently Viewed

Most people process tons of email on a daily basis and frequently people have multiple email addresses for different purposes. With all of these messages, is there an easy way to find that email you were looking at last night?

Sure! Create a new smart mailbox and select “date last viewed” and choose “is in the last” and specify a number of days.

Recently Viewed

Recently Sent

If I wanted to quickly find an email that I had sent recently, I could create a Smart Group that showed me messages in the mailbox “Sent” that were “date received” in the past 2 days. Also make sure you tick the “Include messages from Sent” checkbox.

Recently Sent

Emails from My Family

Remember the family smart group we made in our Address Book earlier? We can create a smart mailbox to show us all the messages from those family members.

Select “Sender is Member of Group” and then choose the appropriate group from the drop down menu.

Similar to Smart Groups, Smart Mailboxes do not sync to iPods or iPhones nor to me.com or Windows computers through MobileMe. They will only sync via MobileMe to other Macs.

Do you use Smart Groups or Smart Mailboxes? Have any tips you’d like to share? Share them in the comments.

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  1. You can also e-mail the entries in a smart group en masse by typing the name of the group into the “To:” “CC:” or “BCC:” fields and all the entries will auto-fill (provided they have e-mail addresses).

  2. Smart Groups (S.G) in the Address Book…

    I haven’t tried this in a while (and I’m at work on a Windows machine, so I can’t confirm), but not too long ago, I created a S.G. which had a single, simple rule of.. “Doesn’t belong to group: X” Unfortunately, there was a bug and this rule didn’t work in the slightest. In fact, it would include everyone in the Address Book and would also duplicate entries.

    I wonder if that’s fixed.

  3. Does anyone know if there is a way to create an alert of some sort in iCal for the “Birthday” calendar that comes from Address Book?

    1. If you put the addresses in your contacts, then you can go to iCal/Preferences/General? and check show Birthday Calendar

  4. @Clair

    It’s still there.

  5. @Greg, in BusyCal, you can, but not in the standard iCal which comes with the OS. That’s the only way I’m aware of.

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    2. Thanks, I noticed that after I’d made my comments. Real observant, I am.

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  6. @stevemoser I was afraid of that. Thanks for confirming.

  7. I really wish Mail would let me nest Smart Mailboxes into hierarchical groups. For me this is a big deal. Because of my monstrous companies-projects-contacts-mail load, I need hundreds of Smart Mailboxes, and it just gets too unwieldy to navigate. It would be much easier if I could nest them into related groups like you can with regular Mailboxes.

    1. You can in a manner of speaking.

      Mailbox/New Smart Mailbox Folder

  8. Try adding the “mailtags” extension from http://www.indev.ca and smart mailboxes will go from cool to indespensible. This extension is so obvious, I have a hard time understanding why apple doesn’t include it natively in the
    mail app.

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  10. Спасибо за полезные и интересные посты :)

  11. this is so cool

  12. i love you lord and such groups has got a degree of togetherness

  13. Does anyone know if email messages are “attached” to the email address in Mail? I use Entourage, which does that through Links, but I’d like to make the switch to Mail. I can’t figure out if this happens in Mail and Address Book. It’s very useful when you need to remember what you said a while back to a client.

  14. Christmas card time and I want to create a subset of my address book to create labels. Created a smart group but for the labels I want the “Name” to be “The Smiths” instead of “Bill Smith” (for example). When I change the name in the smart group, however, it also changes in the main book. Any ideas?

  15. How do I link my Address Book with Mail? I’m fed up with opening different windows just to find an address every time I want to mail someone. There must be a way, right? In Outlook the two were linked. Is there no way to do the same on my Mac?

  16. How can I link my Address Book and Mail program so that I don’t have to open different pages just to send an email. In Outlook they are linked. Why does the Mac not do the same? I can’t import it or drag and drop it into Mail. At the moment I have to open the Address Book from the dock to get anywhere. This is annoying as I am used to having the address book next to the To: in the address bar but now I have nothing. Can anyone help? As you can probably tell, I am not a techie so reply as if to an idiot please!

  17. This would be much more useful if each card could contain a field called “groups”. Essentially, I need the option to manually assign a contact to a group. Group names would be things like, “college”, “family”, “church”, “neighbor”, “work”, or “CompanyName” (that is, the name of a company where we both used to work).

    I also want to be able to print a piece of paper that has everything about the people who are in a group. The print dialog allows me to select certain fields, but not every field is available to be printed. When traveling, I keep a small address book in my wallet, just in case I loose the phone and computer.

    And, when printing an address book, I want to include the names of spouse and children.

    This address-book application is too simplified.

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