Blog Post

Address Book: Picked Last for Kickball

In today’s world of Google Maps, Skype, and iChat, it seems as though AddressBook.app is being used less and less. I suppose it seems silly to keep your friends’ emails written down when all you have to do is shoot them a quick IM or give them a quick call on your cell phone. And don’t get me started on addresses… who keeps track of those antiquated things anyway?

I do.

That’s right. My name is Jason… and I’m an Address Book user. I love the way that Address Book holds all of my precious information in a way that only OS X can. I love how it integrates so well with many of my other favorite applications such as Delicious Library and Quicksilver.

The reason for this post is simple – to convince you to start using Address Book too. My plan for accomplishing this includes highlighting a few plug-in, scripts, and add-ons that I’ve found over the past few months that have made Address Book more than just a place to store email addresses. Instead, Address Book is a powerful addition to my arsenal of productivity tools.

Google Maps Plug-in
For those of you who keep actual addresses inside Address Book you will find this plug-in to be extremely helpful – and may even convince the rest of you to start keeping track of those addresses. Once installed, the plug-in does just as its name implies – it allows you to instantly pull up a Google Map of that location. But even better is the plug-ins ability to instantly pull up directions to that location using the address stored under your own name.

Plaxo
Plaxo provides a free service that securely updates and maintains the information in your address book. Although you can use their website to view your contacts, the beauty of this service is it’s ability to sync with Address Book. Many of my friends and colleagues are also signed up with the service so that every time they update their contact information it is automatically updated in my address book. And since your data is stored online it is available just in case your weekly backup didn’t run.

Quicksilver
As I mentioned earlier, with the Quicksilver Address Book plug-in your contacts are only a few keystrokes away. For example, I can type in my dad’s name and be presented with all of his contact information – all without ever opening Address Book. I can then automatically compose an email or just choose one of his phone numbers that then displays across my entire screen for me to see. (Don’t worry, I changed the number)

Skype
With a little help from AppleScript and a plug-in found on MacOSXHints.com, you can call your contacts from within your Address Book application. The only trick is that your phone numbers (at least for the US) need to be formatted like this: +1-555-555-5555.

JABMenu
If Quicksilver isn’t for you, then JABMenu might be another worthy option. JABMenu lives in the menu and triggers an action such as displaying the content in large type, copying it to the clipboard, creating a new email, dialing the phone (accomplished by running a customizable AppleScript), or showing an address on a map using an online map service. This one has a 30-minute trial and runs you a cool $10 for the full version.

Well, if these plug-ins and add-ons weren’t enough to convince you of the awesome functionality and integrative power of Address Book then I don’t know what will. This list is not meant to be comprehensive in any way but hopefully it gives you a taste of what’s out there and what has worked for me. And who knows, with your email address and birth date I might even send you an automated birthday message… courtesy of Address Book and Automator.

80 Responses to “Address Book: Picked Last for Kickball”

  1. I use Address Book to maintain a local image of all the contacts in my phone. It would, however be much userful if I could use the same set of information in Thunderbird. Unfortunately that’s actually thunderbird’s fault for not using a more modular address book system.

  2. If your phone supports phonebook sync with Mac OS X over bluetooth, you can have Address Book display the name and number of the person calling you when your bluetooth phone rings. Most Sony Ericsson phones have this feature. It’s really cool.

  3. Nice evangelism for address book. I use the app very regularly.

    I primarily use address book for group e-mail lists, printing newsletter lables, and then sending e-mails to all those folks that will be getting the snail mail newsletter with the automator actions.

  4. I love AddressBook as well, for its invisibility! It holds everything so nicely and never gets in your way until you beckon it forth.

    My favorite add-on works like QuickSilver; it’s called iAddressX, by MibaSoft (www.mibasoft.com) for $8. Works flawlessly.

  5. There is also a great Vonage script that I used with Address Book that allows me to select a number and choose “Call”. It then tells Vonage to make a call to the selected number and route it to my phone. All I have to do is click the number and pick up the phone, no dialling involved.

    You can download the script here http://www.abfconsulting.com/vonage/Dial-with-Vonage.sit

    Or read more here http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20040317010729892

  6. Like the connectivity of AB but hate that I can’t keep a family together on one card. Would like to have a photo, e-mail, cell phone, and b-day for individuals in a family but have them all on the same card. Would be nice for printing out a team roster, or phone list. Right now, I have to have a seperate card for each kid and spouse. Unless I’m missing something?

  7. To Alex #43:

    Select the “Custom” label in the drop down list and then enter whatever label you would like.

    Just note, that if you sync with a cell or PDA, your custom labels may not sync across properly.

  8. Anyone interested in a Quicksilver-like app for accessing Address Book should also check out LaunchBar. Not only does it do everything that Quicksilver does with Address Book, but it also creates smart groups for all companies, job titles, email addresses, and phone numbers in your Address Book. This allows you to do searches across only email addresses or only companies, for example. On top of that, all your Address Book groups (including Smart Groups) show up in LaunchBar as well. Very handy!

  9. Yep, Address Book is a handy tool (have they fixed syncing smart groups via .Mac yet?). On a related note regarding Plaxo, there’s a video of Steve Jobs demoing NeXTSTEP 3.o on You Tube, where one of the features mentioned is “live data” (in the example, a graphic created by a coworker, and saved on that coworker’s machine is inserted into a pub Steve creates, and when the original is updated, it auto updates in Steve’s pub in real-time). Apple clearly has been mining the old NeXT attic with OSX (check out that video for proof, including the layout for Address Book!), and I wonder if this is on their radar screens? I know I love the idea behind Plaxo, but am hesitant to send my private data “out there” where I can’t know what kind of security is in place. It would be nice to get this kind of collaborative data sharing going in a big way, built in to OS X, and leveraged across many apps.

  10. I love the AB but one thing i’m missing is a text export of the complete address details. Let’s say someone asks you to send the contact details of someone in your AB. Sure, you could just send the vcf file, but some non techs will not know what to do with it, so its better just to send it as plain text in an email. If i cut/paste the complete entry, the formatting is all screwed up and i have to correct by hand. Any ideas ?? Thanks !

  11. The only thing keeping me from using Address Book, Mail, etc is the fact that Mail cannot send HTML messages. I know it can recieve them however trying to send one i have found to be impossible. I am using Entourage but would prefer to use Mail.

    Maybe once Leopard is released i will make the switch as you can use HTML emails in that version of Mail.

  12. What I would really LOVE to see is a way of changing the name of the field. I.E., instead of “Company,” Address Book should let me change it to whatever. I’m an attorney, I’d prefer “Company” to be a reference instead telling me what kind of client it is. That way, when I sync it with my Treo, it’s easier to figure who they are or letting me sort them. Any thoughts?

  13. There’s a great little program called “GeburtstagChecker” (http://www.earthlingsoft.net/) which will look at all the birthdays that are entered in Address Book and display in a little window when they are coming up. You wouldn’t believe how many “brownie points” you get for remembering people’s birthdays!!! And it’s free.

  14. Gerard Byrne

    I use address book to sync/backup (via bluetooth) my Sony Ericsson P910i contacts. I also keep a copy of the contacts on my iPod (so far so good).

    However, I hate the GUI in Address Book. Cmd N does not create a new “Address Card”. The “categories” in P910i do not correspond to anything in AB. AB is a sub-standard app.

  15. I would not recommend using Plaxo to any people I know that have PC’s. It might not matter to us lucky Mac users but for a PC user they are going to have so much trouble with Plaxo as it is stuffed to the gills with SPYWARE.
    I would avoid Plaxo completely

  16. Lest not forget the glorious ABKey plugin for the more security aware of us: It integrates AB with Mail.app, GPGMail and gnupg. It allows you to manage your GPG keys from within AB and to set preferences for sending encrypted/signed messages.

  17. I like AB, but I can never get it to sync any info beyond phone and emails with my motorola slvr. I enter, say, a full address ineither AB or in the phone, hit sync… and it doesn’t transfer. yet syncing phone and email is simple.

    I have OSX 10.4.8 and a motorola Slvr L7 (maybe L6).

  18. Address book is great
    use You Control and all the iCal stuff and Address Book data is there without opening Address book You Control will send the email of the contact to mail or flash up the phone no on the screen in large letters etc really integrated into the system. a bonus is all the other stuff with one click

  19. @ Paul (#15)
    Pick any song in your iTunes library and ctrl click on it. In the contextual menu there will be a “Show in Playlist” selection. Hover over it and voila, you have your list of every other playlist where your song is found. And if you find that a song is not in a playlist you want it to be, then just go to “Add to Playlist” right above. Your welcome. Namaste. ;-)