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I used to wonder why real estate and insurance agents put their photos on their business cards, even though I’m not good at connecting names and faces. Then, a couple of years ago, two things happened that made me understand how useful adding images to contact info can be.
First, I started using social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook heavily. As a result, my address book ballooned from a few hundred contacts to over 1,100. The additional contacts were all people I knew, but I hadn’t seen many of them for a long time — being able to see photos makes it much easier to find the right contact. Second, I switched to a Mac (s aapl) as my main machine, and I started using the Mac OS X Address Book. It’s a very well-designed application, and it makes adding pictures to contacts incredibly easy.
Just open the Address Book to the appropriate contact. You don’t need to click the edit button. Then, use your web browser to find a photo you want to use as that person’s image, from a web site like Facebook or LinkedIn. In the browser, click on the image, hold your mouse button down, and drag the image to the Address Book. Let go of the mouse when you’ve dragged the image to the pale-grey square immediately to the left of the person’s name. A green circle with a white plus sign in it will appear when you’re in the right place. You may then crop the image as you wish. I like to crop tightly so that the person’s face is easily recognizable in the small space provided.
Most other address books have a way to attach photos to contacts, including the address books for online services like Gmail. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any others that allow easy drag-and-drop of images like the Mac Address Book does.
There are programs that allow one to sync pictures between Facebook and the Address Book; I haven’t tried them, as I prefer to select my own images.
Finding images of your contacts is generally easy. Use an image search in your favorite search engine. Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, and sites like Twitter, encourage people to post pictures of themselves. I sometimes don’t like the pictures that people select, though; I prefer headshots that actually look like the person! For that reason, I’m not thrilled about cartoon avatars, either, unless the caricature is really good.
I suspect that more and more people have growing address books. If you want people to remember you, post picture of yourself that can easily be added to address books.
Do you add images to your contact list? Do you post headshots that can easily be imported?