Blog Post

Address Book: Picked Last for Kickball

In today’s world of Google Maps, Skype, and iChat, it seems as though 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 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.

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)

With a little help from AppleScript and a plug-in found on, 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.

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. zukeeper

    I love AB too. Really, I do.
    The main irritant however, is it’s inability to make template changes apply to existing entries. I’m always tweaking the template, adding additional custom fields. I’d love to have the changes I make to the template be available to existing contacts. For some reason, they only seem to show up when I’m making a new entry. This drives me nuts. for example, I’ve added a Flickr url field last week. Today, my friend Bob shared his Flickr site with me, and I’d like to add that to his AB entry. However, when I’m in edit mode, the Flickr field won’t show up. Seems I only have one chance to have it available, and if that field is left blank, you have to manually enter it as a custom field when you want to edit the contact later. This needs a fix. Or is there one? Anyone?

  2. Thanks for the post. I’m a new mac user, and I find Address Book frustratingly close to the usable/unusable line. I ranted a bit about it here.

    Also, I wish the Quicksilver plugin for AB supported creating a new contact based on text. Auto-recognition of emails, addresses, and phone numbers (like what the new tries to do) would be *awesome*.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. I just got a Motorola Razr and am extremely dissappointed that it doesn’t sync with address book. I had a Nokia and it worked great. I loved being able to send SMS messages through my phone. Apparently Motorola is pisses about the whole iPhone thing. That and the fact that Apple switched to Intel chips. Does anyone know of a plugin or hack?

  4. Sylvester

    Jay (#47) I think I have successfully modified part of my Birthday Greeting project to send contact information via email. If you will email me I can send a sample of the output to see if it meets your needs

    slydude at

  5. Sylvester

    I was cruising the web looking for more AB actions for Automator when I stumbled on this page. Imagine my surprise to discover my Birthday Greetings article mentioned. The more I use AB the more I like it.

    Now what can I think of next?

  6. Jessica

    I saved my address data file on an external drive. I’m trying to retrieve the data from another computer but can’t seem to get the data into that computer’s address book. How do I do this??

  7. Jim Bates


    I am looking for some way to unlock custom fields in Apple’s Address Book. Since you’re Address Book LDAP is so popular, I figured you’re familiar with programming, or changing, AB.

    I know that Address Book, or at least Sync Services, keeps track of Custom Fields, because they appear in other apps.

    I know Apple has Custom fields listed in their Contacts Schema (

    But in Address Book>Preferences>Template>there is no “Custom” Field, not even grayed out.

    Address Book’s existing Relationship fields just won’t cut it.

    Who can help me get Address Book to show the existing Custom fields that are already there, but hidden?



  8. #64 just select the card and then EDIT / COPY
    or.. read the manual Daniel

    here’s one that’s NOT IN THE MANUAL

    who knows how to FIND all cards (contacts)
    from a specific country?

    who knows how to create a smartGROUP that lists all cards with an address in DE (DE is the abbreviation for Germany similar to USA for United States of …)

    if some of the addresses have an incorrect country name (abbreviation instead of full country name)
    there is no simple way to fix it today
    unless… you know of one ;-)

  9. To Jason or other address book users:

    Is there a way within Address Book or via another associated application to duplicate an Address Book Card without having to tediously cut and paste the various fields? I use Address Book for contact management and there are occassions where I would like to repeat the same card within different Groups. Thanks

  10. PD – there is a duplicates check: Card — Duplicate Entries

    I use address book a lot, keeps the Nokia synced easily.

    BUT: WHY isn’t there a way to get the letters of the alphabet as tabs on the side. I have an engineer’s memory for names, and am constantly playing the “OK, that lawyer’s name… started with an A? Oh, hell, what was the company? Stern something?” It would be nice to be able to jump quickly instead of relying on search!

  11. I agree, Address book is very cool, I use it daily but one thing bugs me… Not being able to sync to Thunderbird. Yes you read that right. I can’t stand Apple’s mail client, way to simple and a pain in the butt if you have several email accounts.