Mac Address Book tips: 5 more handy hints

A few months back I listed 5 Mac Address Book tips. I’ve since discovered that there’s more to this little gem of an app than meets the eye! Here are 5 more tips and tricks to help you get the most from Address Book:

Removing duplicate contacts

If you’re as disorganised as me then you might often end up with more than one card for the same person (often with different phone numbers and email addresses in each card). If you have hundreds of contacts then finding and merging these duplicates manually can be a pain.

An easier way is to choose Card > Look for Duplicates. This automatically rummages through your contacts, identifying cards with the same name. You can choose to merge any identical cards, and also whether to merge cards with the same name but different contact details (the contact details from one card are added to the second and the first card is deleted).

You can manually merge cards too. Shift/Command-click the cards to merge, then choose Card > Merge Selected Cards. This is a safer approach as no contact details are overwritten (Look for Duplicates tends to overwrite one card’s field with the same field from the second card, which is a bit of a bug methinks – this is in Mac OS 10.5.6).

Choosing your own card

When you first set up your Mac, Address Book creates a “me” card with your own contact details. However you might find that you end up with a second card which better represents you – this can happen if, for example, you import your contacts from another app or device into Address Book.

To make this second card the “me” card instead, select it and choose Card > Make This My Card. (You can also locate the “me” card with Card > Go to My Card.)

Adding extra fields to a contact

At first I was surprised to find that there was no “URL” field type in the cards, and no obvious way to add one. In fact there are lots more fields you can add to a card, including URL, birthday, anniversary (or other date), maiden name, and so on. You just have to know how to add them!

To add a field type, choose Card > Add Field, then choose a field to add from the submenu. Some fields (such as Middle Name and Birthday) are unique – you can only have one field per card. Others – like URL or Dates – let you add multiple fields of that type, so you can have two URLs (homepage and work, for example).

On a related note: You can customise the default fields that appear in a newly-created card by choosing Card > Add Field > Edit Template.

Choosing which email address to use in a group

I find Address Book groups really useful for creating email mailing lists. Once you’ve created a group you can send an email message to all people in that group just by typing the group name into the To field in Mail.

However, many people have more than one email address. How do you choose which email address to use when sending group mails? One way is to click the Address button when composing a Mail message; you can then choose which address to use for each contact by Command- or Shift-clicking the appropriate addresses, then clicking To, Cc or Bcc:

For a big group, though, this is a drag. Fortunately Address Book lets you set a default email address to use for each contact in the group. What’s more, this is on a per-group basis, so you can use a contact’s work email for one group and their home email for another group, for example.

To do all this, choose Edit > Edit Distribution List. Click a group in the left column, then go through each email address, clicking the address you want to use for each contact (the selected address is in bold):

Now the next time you compose an email to that group, the selected address for each contact will be used.

(You can also set each contact’s default physical address and phone number for the group – used when printing contacts. To do this, click the Email column header and choose an option from the pop-up menu.)

Emailing contacts automatically when you change your details

Moving house or changing phone number/email address is enough work as it is, without having to tell all your friends and family your new contact details. Address Book has a nice feature to make this job much easier. Open the Preferences dialog (Address Book > Preferences), then in the General tab select the Notify people when my card changes option. Now, whenever you change any of your card’s fields, Address Book will ask you if you want to email a group of people about the change:

Click Notify, then select the group(s) you want to email. You can also customise the email message that is sent. Then click Send. Your message is sent with your updated vCard attached; each recipient can then just click the vCard to update your details in their address book. Easy!

(You can also send your current contact details to a bunch of people at any time by choosing File > Send Updates.)

I hope you enjoyed these Address Book tips and tricks. Know of any more? Please let me know in the comments below!

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125 Responses to “Mac Address Book tips: 5 more handy hints”

  1. edu.Mac.nation Says:

    These are awesome tips! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Matt Says:

    You’re welcome. I like your blog!

  3. jordan Says:

    is there anyway to merge groups?
    i cant figure it out, but syncing several cell phones during the years has created different groups, but now its all one on my iphone, so i need to merge all my groups in to one to tidy it up, thanks!

  4. Matt Says:

    @jordan: Create a new group in Address Book. Then, for each group you want to merge, click the group in the Group column, then click the first name in the Name column and Shift-click the last name. You can now drag all those selected names to your new group. When you’ve added all the names from the old groups to your new group, you can delete the old groups.

  5. jordan Says:

    ohhhhh, ok, scary… but i will try that, thank you!
    i cant belive you just cant merge groups though, thank you thank you.

  6. JD Says:

    this is really useful. thanks! :)

  7. denis swift Says:

    How can I send an email to all the addresses in my address book????

  8. Matt Says:


    1. Compose a new message in Mail
    2. Click the Address icon in the new message window’s toolbar
    3. Click All at the top of the left hand pane in the window that pops up
    4. Click the first contact in the right hand pane
    5. Press Command-A
    6. Click the To:, Cc:, or Bcc: button

  9. Justine Says:

    My iCal reminder keep being sent to an old email address I don’t send anymore- even though my “me” card has been updated. Is this a address book issue?

  10. Frankie Says:

    I often need to send an email to ALL the email addresses in a particular contact. (2 or 3 per contact)These contacts are part of a group .. usually a message to parents and both parties want the email. Is there a way to do this?

  11. Matt Says:

    @Justine: I think you’ll need to change the email address in the Alarm field in the iCal event(s).

    @Frankie: Not that I know of (apart, of course, from clicking the Address button in the Mail compose window then double-clicking each address in the Addresses pop-up window).

  12. Charlie Wright Says:

    Is there a way to have address book automatically capitalize new entries and suggest names of things to enter after a few letters are entered for new entries?

  13. Matt Says:

    @Charlie Wright: Not as far as I know, although it sounds like such features might appear (globally) in 10.6:

  14. @Jay Says:

    Is there a way to “email contact” from within Address book without having to drag it into the mail icon? This is awkward on a laptop trackpad and still not easy using a mouse…

    This is possible using MobileMe (from the Gear menu or CTRL+M) and this is a common feature in most all other address book funtions..

    Am I missing something?

  15. molly Says:

    Is there a way to transfer the contents of one mac address book to my mac address book without overwriting my contents?

  16. Matt Says:

    @Jay: You can right/Control-click a contact’s email address in Address Book and choose Send Email.

    @molly: I *think* you can do this by exporting/importing vCards (never tried it). On Mac #1 select the contacts you want to transfer (Command-A if you want to select all of them) then choose File > Export > Export vCard. Transfer the resulting “vCards” file to Mac #2, then in Mac #2′s Address Book choose File > Import > vCards. (You might want to take a backup of both Address Books first to be on the safe side!)

  17. Danielle Says:

    I would like to be able to automatically email reminders to the attendees, from my address book, to an event(s) in iCal, without adding them individually to all events. I have read some thing about vCards. I don’t know what vCards are and I’m not sure that when I created my address book that I made them vCards. Do I need them to be vCards? I would like my iCal to see my address book and drag and drop or choose a whole group to email a reminder. Thank you for your help.

  18. Rick Atkinson Says:

    I have a custom template order. The reason for the order modification is to make my home email appear first before my work email, for sending invitations – more specifically to ensure the recipient responds to the correct email address.

    Seems after installing SL, the template order I modified does not show in the existing cards. New cards show the modified template order when editing but then reverts to the default order (work email first). The support page says “Changing the order of field labels in the template also changes the order of field labels in existing cards.”

    Tried trashing preferences, address DB files repairing permissions. Seems to be related to recent install of Snow Leopard.

    Thanks for having a look at this problem.

  19. Matt Says:

    @Danielle: At a guess, you might be able to do that with Automator:

    e.g. there is a Group Mailer action under Contacts that lets you mail a group of people in Address Book. You can then schedule the workflow to run when you want:

    @Rick Atkinson: Not sure really – maybe try moving/deleting the Address Book preferences file? (~/Library/Preferences/

  20. Brad Teeter Says:

    some one has kindly emailed me a list of email addresses to send a public service announcement to…is there any way to cut and paste the entire list into my address group under a new PSA group or do i have to make a card for each organizations email address? thanks

  21. Matt Says:

    @Brad: I think you’ll have to add each email address as a contact, then create a group within Address Book.

    An alternative would be simply to store the email addresses in a plain text file, 1 address per line. Then, whenever you want to send out an email to the list, copy and paste the whole text file into the To: field in the New Message window in Mail. (If you don’t want each recipient seeing all the other email addresses then use the Bcc: field instead.) Be wary of sending to more than 20 or 30 recipients in this way though.

    How many email addresses are you talking about? If it’s in the hundreds then you might be better off using dedicated mailout software (e.g. ).

  22. Peter Says:

    Is there a way to have Address Book send each individual contact in my address book their information so that they could review it and correct it (or add to it) and send it back to me to update my Address Book? I know Plaxo does this, but thought maybe by now Mac would have something built in to do this?

  23. Matt Says:

    @Peter: Good question! Reading around, I don’t think this is currently possible with the Mac Address Book sadly. :(

  24. Tom Says:

    “Frankie Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    I often need to send an email to ALL the email addresses in a particular contact. (2 or 3 per contact)These contacts are part of a group .. usually a message to parents and both parties want the email. Is there a way to do this?”

    I have tried this: in the email address field and both addresses appear in the address line of new message when you click on new email from the Address Book. This will also work if the persons card is in a group and the group is sent an email.

  25. Tom Says:

    “Frankie Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    I often need to send an email to ALL the email addresses in a particular contact. (2 or 3 per contact)These contacts are part of a group .. usually a message to parents and both parties want the email. Is there a way to do this?”

    Apparently if one puts and email address in these posts it is removed, which makes the last post I made incomplete so I will rewrite it to avoid the problem. See below.

    I do this for Frankie’s problem: enter email addresses in the Address field in the following format and both addresses appear in the address line of new message when you click on New email from the Address Book. This will also work if the persons card is in a group and the group is sent an email.

  26. Tom Says:

    Well lets try again
    “Frankie Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 12:15 pm
    I often need to send an email to ALL the email addresses in a particular contact. (2 or 3 per contact)These contacts are part of a group .. usually a message to parents and both parties want the email. Is there a way to do this?”

    Apparently if one puts and email address in these posts it is removed, which makes the last post I made incomplete so I will rewrite it to avoid the problem. See below.

    I do this for Frankie’s problem: enter email addresses in the Address field in the following format: ‘lesser than symbol’address’greater than symbol’ ‘lesser than symbol’address’greater than symbol’ and both addresses appear in the address line of new message when you click on New email from the Address Book. This will also work if the persons card is in a group and the group is sent an email.

  27. Matt Says:

    @Tom: Thanks for your solution to Frankie’s problem – sorry for the trouble with the email addresses!


  28. Neal (UK) Says:

    Hi folks

    Re: vCards, exporting etc. Just FYI, I have found that exporting vCards does NOT include the Notes field :-( Very annoyin for me as I have 2,500 Contacts, with lots of CRM-type Notes…

    The only way to do so is to Export an Address Book Archive. This WILL include all fields… but you can not MErge it back in, only replace your current AB.

    Hope this saves you some time + frustration! :-)

  29. Matt Says:

    Thanks Neal. :) Strange that it doesn’t export the Notes field – maybe the vCard format doesn’t support it.

  30. Jamen Says:

    Nice tips!

    just wondering if anyone knows if you can put letter separators in the address book (like the way contacts look on the mobileme website – a letter tab inbetween the A’s and B’s and C’s etc. No biggie – but I like the way it looks on the .me site.


  31. Matt Says:

    @Jamen: Thanks! I don’t think such a layout is possible in Address Book itself, although you can print contacts in tabbed format by choosing the Pocket Address Book style.

  32. JIM G Says:

    How can you print the ME card onto a sheet of mailing labels?

  33. Matt Says:

    @Jim: It’s not totally elegant, but if you select the contact in Address book and press Command-C, you can then press Command-V 19 times to make a total of 20 copies of the contact (or as many as you need to fill a page). Then select all 20 copies and press Command-P. Click the right-hand arrow if necessary to expand the dialog, then pick the Mailing Labels style. Choose a layout in the Layout tab, such as Avery Standard 5161, and you should be good to go.

    Alternatively you could try Pages, or possibly

  34. SAH Says:

    I have received an e-mail with a number of addresses in the cc box. I want to make that a group in Address Book. Is there a way to do that, other than one at a time?

  35. Matt Says:

    @SAH: Select all the CC recipients with the mouse, then press Command-C. Open up TextEdit and press Command-V, then save the file as addresses.csv. Switch to Address Book then choose File > Import > Text File, then choose the addresses.csv file and click Open.

  36. Charlie Says:

    can anyone tell me how to print labels from my address book(mail list) on to avery labels?

  37. John Says:

    I am printing envelopes for Christmas cards, but the names in my address book are not what I want printed. For example I have my good friend John Smith and his address, but I want the envelope to read The Smith Family. Can I copy the contact and rename the name field or perhaps add a nickname and tell the print options to use the nickname instead of the name? Any ideas?

  38. Matt Says:

    @Charlie: See (“Printing” section). Click the Layout tab and choose your Avery options under Page.

    @John: See

  39. PETER Says:

    I don’t appear to have these 5 features in Mail? Info says I am running Mail 4.2??

  40. Matt Says:

    @PETER: These tips are for Address Book, not Mail.

  41. STEVE Says:

    I would like to create sub groups within groups, to keep my ‘groups’ tabs a bit neater and easier to navigate – ie. within “clients’ group, have a group for each client. When I create a new group and drag it into the ‘clients’ group it stays in the ‘group’ column. Does anyone know if that can be changed?

  42. Matt Says:

    @STEVE: I don’t think you can create a hierarchy of groups in Address Book. All your groups are always shown in the left hand column. However you can drag a group into another group, which effectively creates an alias of the child group inside the parent group.

  43. Kevin Says:

    Does anyone have a good solution for requesting updates for contacts in Address Book (all of them)? Plaxo used to do this, but they’ve changed their policy and you can only request updated one at a time – not very efficient with an Address Book of over 2000 contacts. Seems like there should be a utility to do this somewhere, but I have not been able to find out. Any solutions out there? Thanks!

  44. Stuart Says:

    Is it possible to edit two contacts at the same time? ie I want to select two or more contacts and then overwrite the work address field, to update all selected. Thank you for your time and Happy New Year!

  45. Matt Says:

    @Stuart: Happy New Year to you too!

    Unfortunately I don’t think it’s possible to edit the same field in multiple contacts simultaneously. At least, I haven’t found a way to do it.

  46. Mindi Says:

    Has anyone played with Address Book enough to figure out if there is a way to print out a small “directory” of your contacts (literally pocket-sized)? I know it can be done in MS Publisher with a lot of data-entry. If not with Address Book, is there a way to do this with another Mac program in an easier manner?

    Thanks for the help!

  47. Matt Says:

    @Mindi: Check out the “Printing” tip at . I think this will do what you need.

  48. Liana Says:

    Hi there,
    What I want is one card with various people on it. So if different people live at the same address and share all contact details excepting cell phones, you can have one card that reflects this. Is it possible?

    Many thanks!

  49. Matt Says:

    @Liana: The easiest way might be to use custom labels. Edit a contact, then click the green “plus” button to add a new phone number. Click the bold label to the left of the number you added, then choose Custom, and enter the new person’s name, e.g. “John Smith (Cell)”. Repeat for all the people that you want to add to the card.

  50. Jon Fogg Says:

    I have a list of contact information in a Numbers file. Is there a way to import them into Address Book? And I need to send each person in this file what appears to be a personalized email. Is there an “app” (just kidding) a way to do that?

  51. Russell Says:

    is there a way to export and have it export the note field!!!

  52. Alex Says:

    I am happily utilising the custom fields and birthday field etc. Wonderful.
    However to my disappointment, when syncing my address book to my iPhone these fields are not transported. Any thoughts?

  53. Enzo Says:

    Is there a way to put the fields on an address book card in a certain order and apply that order to all entries? I would like to have phone and fax numbers in a certain order.

  54. Matt Says:

    @Jon Fogg: Export your contacts from Numbers in CSV format then import the CSV file into Address Book:

    @Russell: Preferences > vCard > Export notes in vCards

    @Alex: Just tested syncing of birthdays and it works fine for me. Strange. Maybe try deleting a birthday field then re-adding it and see if it syncs across?

    @Enzo: Not as far as I know.

  55. Bob Says:

    Great help here – thank you for all your work!

    Is there a way to open a card and tell which groups it belongs to? Sure would help me!

  56. kat Says:

    I have lost some vital address info. I’ve gone to both backup & timemachine but, can not open address book, to go back in time to view where I can retrieve the lost info. I want to view the addresses by date. How can I do this?

  57. Matt Says:

    @Bob: I don’t think so, unfortunately. :(

    @kat: Use Time Machine to browse the folder ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/Metadata. This folder contains all your contacts as “.abcdp” files. Select a file or files, then hit Spacebar to Quick Look them.

  58. dpoppitt Says:

    Is there a way to create a custom card template for a specific group or are changes made to the card template applied to all groups?


  59. Longuo Says:

    Since I switched to 10.6, Adressbook is not able anymore to import vCards completely. If the vCard contains more than one email-adress, only one of them is imported, the other one(s) are lost. Same with other fields like mobile-number. In 10.5 it worked fine. Any idea?

  60. Derek Says:

    My wife and I share the same iMac desktop and the same address book. Our contacts are therefore mixed together. I woud like to sync my iphone through mobileme with my contacts in this address book. What is the best way to set up the address book so that my iphone only sync’s with my contacts?

  61. Gio Says:

    I wanted to create a group that contains all contacts living abroad and call it International. I thought of doing a Smart Group and filtering the country field but I cannot find the country field when in the filter option. There’s Address, City and State but no Country. Any suggestions?

  62. TMG Says:

    Is there anyway to list more than 1 birthday on a contacts card, such as a family with all the same information except for birthdays. I really do not want to have a separate card for each family member just so the birthdays will show up on my ical. Any ideas??

  63. Matt Says:

    @dpoppitt: I think there’s only 1 global template unfortunately.

    @Longuo: I confess I’m still on 10.5 so I’m not sure! I can confirm that it does indeed work in 10.5 though. Maybe it’s a bug? You could try submitting to

    @Derek: I don’t have MobileMe so I don’t know if there’s a way to filter the sync like that. Why not create 2 separate user accounts on the iMac, so you can keep your contacts separate?

    @Gio: That sounds like an oversight on Apple’s part! I guess you could create a note containing the word “@@international” or something, and filter on that? But then you might as well do a manual group I guess.

    @TMG: No, I don’t think so. You’d need to create separate contacts. You can at least then group the contacts into a Family group if you like.

  64. Neil Says:

    Is there a way to copy/duplicate an address card to save on input time – eg where several contacts work at the same company and share same telephone number, address etc – so the contact name can just be changed on the duplicate card?

  65. Lex Says:

    Hi. I’m new to this. While searching for a solution to an Address Book issue, I found your site with its useful tips.

    If you will indulge me, can you answer what is probably a simple question?

    I find an address on the web. For instance:

    Bruce Wayne
    1234 Bat Street
    Gotham, DC 20002

    If I select, then copy the entire address, and then try to paste the address into Address Book I find that I paste the entire address into an, um, field, then delete that part of the address that does not belong in that field. Then, I repeat the process for the remaining fields. OR, I’ll select and copy the first name, “Bruce” then paste it into the First Name field. Next will be “Wayne,” and it goes into the Last Name field. On and on it goes.

    Is there a way to avoid either of these rather cumbersome and laborious processes? I find myself avoiding using Address Book because of it.

    Your expertise is most appreciated.


  66. Susan Says:

    New user here. The newest iMac address book opens with “all contacts” group. How can I make it open with another group instead. I don’t wish to go through all my contacts to find the ones I use most regularly. THanks

  67. Longuo Says:

    The vCard import problem is solved with Mac OS X 10.6.3. Addressbook 5.0.1 (868) is now able to import contacts with multiple mobile phone numbers oder email addresses – like it worked in 10.5.

  68. Matt Says:

    @Neil: Select the card to duplicate, then hit Command-C followed by Command-V.

    @Lex: If you hover over an address in some Apple apps, such as Mail, then the address is recognised and you can click a little arrow to create a contact from an address. This is known as Data Detectors ( Unfortunately Data Detectors don’t (yet) work in Safari – here’s a (somewhat cumbersome) workaround:

    @Susan: My Address book opens the same group I was viewing when I last quit the app. Which version are you using?

    @Longuo: That’s good to know. Thanks for the update. :)

  69. Rebecca Says:

    Hello. I have a small web business and use PayPal. I would like to have a group in my address book that is all my buyers. I receive a confirmation of each order that uses the buyer’s email in the From column. However, when I highlight and then “save sender to address book”, the names just go into the big address book file. I don’t seem to be able to sort them out, or to get them to go directly into a file I choose in address book. In other words, I can save them to my address book, but they are all mixed in. At least if I could sort them by date added, that would work…Any suggestions? Is there something I’m missing? Thank you!

  70. AZHenry Says:

    I have two questions:
    1. I want to print my address book in ‘Pocket Size’ including the the ‘note’ I have on each card. When choosing ‘Pocket Address Book’, there is not an Attribute for ‘note’. Is there anything I can do to print the notes when printing ‘Pocket Address Book’?
    2. When I print the ‘Pocket address book’, I get a sheet where the names and addresses are sometimes on the next page after the Name of the person OR they are partially cut off. Any ideas of how to make sure that all info on the person is together with the name?
    If NO WAY on the above questions, is there an Address Book that works with a Mac that you can recommend?

  71. CSG Says:

    I find the address field limited. Often UK addresses might need, for example, house name, street number and street, village, postal town, county, postcode, country! I can’t find a way to customise the template to add extra lines in address field. Any suggestions? Thanks, very useful info here.

  72. AOR Says:

    Since I upgraded to 10.6 my ability to select multiple fields in an address has ceased. I used to be able to copy a contact’s address, phone number, email by clicking dragging then copy to a different application. Now all I can do is select a single field ie one address line only- this is a problem for me! Can anyone help?

  73. Dave Says:

    Going on vacation to Europe and would like to take email address with me on a flash drive so that I can email family back home – how do I do that?

  74. Matt Says:

    @Rebecca: Not sure you can put a contact into a specific Address Book group from Mail. You could of course copy the address by clicking its arrow & choosing Copy Address, then paste it into a new Address Book contact in the group you want. BTW my wife uses Billings to track her web clients and PayPal payments, and says it works well:


    1) I don’t think so – you can only print the Note field with the Lists style.

    2) Again, not sure you can do this with Address Book. You could of course export the contacts into another app such as Pages, which will let you avoid these “widows & orphans”.

    @CSG: Are you using the United Kingdom address format (Preferences > General > Address Format)?

    @AOR: No idea, I can’t even select multiple fields in 10.5!

    @Dave: Depends on what you’re using to read those addresses, but vCard is a fairly universal format (File > Export > Export vCard). Or to play it safe, print all your contacts using the Lists style and check just the Name and Email fields, then print to a PDF file to save to your flash drive.

  75. Jeff Says:

    Thanks for the helpful tips and all the responses… wow.

    I’m looking to solve an oddity between Address Book and Mail. I would like to have email addresses/names appear in the To: field when I start typing. This is a very normal behavior for Entourage and Outlook but not on my new Mac and Mail. I am required to click on the Address icon in the new message, then search or type the person’s name, select the right name and address and either double click or… you get it; It’s a lot of steps to get an address in the message. I would expect the behavior to be smarter than that with common email addresses.

    Any suggestions on how to have the Address Book automatically tied to the To: fields so the addresses begin to appear when typing?

    thanks for any suggestions or pointers.

  76. Rebecca Says:

    Thank you, Matt.

  77. Matt Says:

    @Jeff: It sounds like there’s a problem with your Mac setup. Email address autocompletion works fine for me: if I start typing a name from my address book in the To: field then Mail autocompletes the name and email address for me.

    I take it you’ve tried restarting the Mac? If so try these troubleshooting tips:

    @Rebecca: You’re welcome!

  78. Heather Says:

    Is there anyway to remove people from a distribution list? Adding new people to an existing list is easy but I can’t seem to remove anyone :(

    thanks for the great tips and help you’ve given everyone!

  79. Heather Says:

    Ugh… I figured it out… Somehow it just made sense to me that you would do things like that within the “edit distribution” pop up… I was scared to press delete when I was in the main window because I didn’t know if it would delete the contact from the entire address book without letting me confirm it first.
    SO, I created a dummy address, added it to my group and pressed delete ;)
    Guess I’m just chicken, wish this was a little more intuitive :( most Mac things are.

  80. Kim Says:

    reading Frankie’s post (of Jan 2009) I’m trying to do the same thing:

    send a Group email, some contacts within the group have 2 email addresses I’d like to send to (in the case, all the contacts do – both parents listed as “Bob & Sue Smith” for example) I know how to Edit Dist List to select which one to use, but can I choose both or all?? Help?

  81. Rebecca K Says:

    Is there a way to make a distribution list that includes only the intersection of two groups, rather than the union of the two groups? That is, all entries in the group “Friends” that are also in the group “Local,” but not those who are in the group “National”? Or do I need to make two separate groups, one for Local friends and one for National friends?

  82. Sharon Says:

    I have moved from Ibook to a new mac laptop, can you tell me how to transfer my email address book from Mac to Mac .Please!

  83. Matt Says:


    On the old mac, choose File > Export > Address Book Archive.

    On the new mac, choose File > Import and select the .abbu file you exported in the last step.

  84. David George Says:

    Hi. Is there a way to export from numbers 09 to the address book. The address book does not accept the file?? Thanking in advance. Davidmg

  85. Jessica Says:

    Is there any way to copy/export email contacts from the Previous Recipients screen on Mac mail?

  86. Jonathan Says:

    How do I change the default email of a contact if it’s not in a group? For example, I email my girlfriend at school alot, but she prefers me to send emails to the email account her school provides. When I select her name in Address Book via Mail, it always selects another email I have for her instead. How do I make her school email address the default here?


  87. Matt Says:

    @Jessica: Don’t think so – however you could click Add to Address Book to add the contact(s) to your Address Book, then export them from there.

  88. Matt Says:

    @Jonathan: Try choosing Window > Previous Recipients in Mail. You can then delete the email address that you don’t want to use.

  89. Joel Says:

    GOod Day is there a way to transfer all the names in a received email (say thirty) in the CC field to a new list in your address book? htanks

  90. Pointer Men's Basketball Says:

    You you should edit the webpage subject title
    Mac Address Book tips: 5 more handy hints —
    Reality Distortion: Macs, Mac OS X, and Apple stuff to something more catching for your webpage you make. I loved the the writing withal.

  91. sevrs Says:

    i have a friend that has over 10k contacts in his address book. it continues to “act up” regardless of upgrades of OSX over the years and archive and installs.
    My question – is there an certain limitation to how many contacts one can have in their the program? if so, can you make a recommendation for an alternative that would work just as efficiently and not falter under so many contacts.


  92. tova Says:

    I had to use back up and restore computer after it dropped and ruined the hard drive. All my addresses are there and I can search in address book, etc. BUT it won’t let me edit/delete/add ANYTHING!!! I cannot make any changes at all. I have a bunch of new addresses I need to add and a few to change. I don’t get it. Any ideas???? I need to be able to use it. Thanks!

  93. Matt Says:

    @sevrs: Wow, that’s a lot of addresses! You could maybe try exporting the contacts (File > Export >Address Book Archive), then delete all the contacts, then restore from the archive (File > Import)? (Make sure you have a backup first!)

    @tova: That’s odd. How does it prevent you editing them exactly? Do you get an error message?

    You could try the backup/restore method I outlined above, and/or repairing permissions using Disk Utility.

  94. sevrs Says:


    Thank you very much for your response. The fix you suggested was the first option we tried. The address book works for a little bit but fails to work properly after a few days. My guess there is something corrupt in there, but sifting through 10K plus contacts is not something i want to do. Do you have any other recommendations? thanks!

  95. Matt Says:

    @sevrs: Not off the top of my head. It may simply be that Address Book can’t handle that many addresses very well. I’d imagine it was engineered to deal with a few hundred.

  96. Tory Says:


    An adult conversation:

    “Do you have Rory’s Contact information?” Them

    “Yes I do” Me

    “Let me see if I can just quickly email you Rory’s contact page from Address Book” Me


    2010 and it still is about as intuitive as it ever has been…..

    Nothing really changes.

  97. sevrs Says:


    my thoughts exactly. i figured a few thousand at most, any more and you get the same issues. guess the database wasn’t engineered to manage that much metadata. ok well thanks for the help and insight. i really appreciate it.

  98. Mut Says:

    I’m trying to print labels for all my contacts, but I’m having trouble organizing them by Company.
    I want to organize all the companies in my Address Book alphabetically and then, alphabetically all the contacts I have on that company.
    I have almost 2000 contacts, so I need it to be done automatically.

    Thank you very much for your help.

  99. Matt Says:

    @Mut: I take it you’ve tried printing in Alphabetical Order and checking the Company checkbox next to Print: ?

    If so, the only other way I can think of would be to use Pages to do a mail merge – this _should_ give you more flexibility:

  100. Conrad Says:

    Is there a way to send to both or all email addresses on an address card. I see how to select which address to send to, but not how to select more than one per card.


  101. ben Says:


    Great tips but one query. I have 4 email addresses in my personal contact card. However when I send an invitation from iCal I want to be able to select which email address the invites come from or at least set a default which is not my work email.

    Any suggestions?

    Cheers Ben

  102. GT Says:

    When sending an email to someone in my address book who only has a first or last name entered, why does mail automatically enter either the first or last name of that person in the address book?

    Example…I have a contact in my address book with only the first name entered (Greg). When I send an email to “Greg”, mail will populate “Greg’s” last name in my address book with “Greg”. SO now the entry in the address book is “Greg Greg”…Why is that?

    And the same holds true if the last name was entered, but no first name. In the last name field I have “Juan” and the first name field is empty. After sending an email, the first name field will get populated with “Juan”, so now that entry in my address book is “Juan Juan”… I hate this!!!

  103. GT Says:

    When sending an email to someone in my address book who only has a first or last name entered, why does mail automatically enter either the first or last name of that person in the address book?

    Example…I have a contact in my address book with only the first name entered (Greg). When I send an email to “Greg”, mail will populate “Greg’s” last name in my address book with “Greg”. SO now the entry in the address book is “Greg Greg”…Why is that?

  104. Dennis Says:

    Hey AZHenry,

    Posting re: April 24th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Did you find an Address Book software that works with Mac that prints out the notes as well (not just the telephone numbers & names)?


  105. Matt Says:

    @ben: You might find this useful:

  106. Simon Says:

    2 questions:

    1. Is there a limit to how many people you can email through address book? Or do I have to break it down into groups?

    2. I wish to email a group of 25 and I would like them all to see each other’s phone numbers (as recorded in the address book) – is this possible?

    Many thanks – so much helpful advice here

  107. Simon Says:

    think i answered my second question – File – Export – does the trick

  108. Simon Says:

    answer to my first question is it depends on the email provider – it is not an address book issue

    wow – feeling like i might give up the day job

  109. Matt Says:

    @Simon – glad you worked it out. :) Yes, mail servers (both source and destination) often have limits on the number of recipients in a message, for anti-spam reasons.

  110. Arlette Godges Says:

    How do I send a message to my entire address book. I have been hacked!

  111. James Says:

    I have the same question Ben asked: When I send an invitation from iCal I want to be able to select which email address the invites come from or at least set a default which is not my work email.

    It seems the only solution is to delete all the e-mail addresses except the one I want iCal to use, then add them all again.

    Any other suggestions?

  112. Val Says:

    I’ve searched the web for the answer and see nothing on this. Is there any way in Address Book to align the text box in the Notes area to the left side? It’s a bummer because it’s like a narrow column positioned on the right of the box. So when I save a pdf file of all my contacts (which has been great to do periodically) then it takes a bunch of pages more.
    Anyone know?

  113. tranble Says:

    I have more than 400 addresses in a group and want to send a mail to all of them. But looks like an error happens. Is there a limit in terms of grouping addresses? Please let me know how to solve this.. thanks.

  114. Val Says:

    Is there any way to increase the margins in the Note area? When I back up my Address Book I donlt use archive because when i did that once and opened it it replace my current one with the archived ones…bummer. So what I do instead now is print the entire list with notes, etc. saving as a pdf. The problem is even when i make the page landscape view my notes overlap each other. If the margin can be changed in the address book it would be so helpful as well as not take up so so many pages. Does anyone have a similar experience or solution?

  115. Alex Says:

    is there any way to tell what group a contact is in without going to that group and seeing if that contact is in the list? It would be great if I could tell by looking at the contact’s information what group (if any) I had placed them in.


  116. Tara Says:

    Using the mac address book and it’s great, but when I add a contact manually from my cell phone, they do not get added to a group. With microsoft you could see what contacts were not yet put in a group. Is there anyway to tell that with the mac address book? They are just all under “all contacts” or in a group.

  117. Peter Says:

    In address book, when i thry to choose a birthdate-year, the Year-window disappears.
    Deleting preferences for address book? I cannot find them.

  118. Tracy Says:

    Hi. Can someone please let me know how to set up the mac address book for contacts where the husband and wife have different last names? This has been the bane of my existence. thank you!

  119. Tony Petrillo Says:

    It appears that my Mac Address Book will no longer sort when I type in the Search field.
    Any Thoughts? Running 10.7.1

  120. greg thain Says:

    the problem is most of this does not work, i have been trying to get the merge to merge for 2 hours, it just runs in a circle and the crashes the whole ap

  121. Keith Gardner Says:

    @Matt [re February 13th, 2010 at 8:18 pm post]

    Sadly, the “Export notes in vCards” feature is one-directional. There is no capability for notes included in the iPhone’s Contacts app (which I use extensively) to be exported to the Mac’s Address Book. It’s really necessary to initiate all new content in the Mac world, which is, well, vexing. (I was going to say dumb, but let’s just say it’s a feature yet to be delivered, for some reason).

  122. Norm Says:

    A ton of my contacts have all assumed a birthday of “January 1, 2000″ any idea what may have triggered this and is there any way to remedy it quickly? Thanks for the great site and quality feedback.

  123. Elisabeth Says:

    I use Adress book on my MacBook, Mobile Me (IDisk/Cloud?), IPhone and IPad.

    Before, when I only had my contacts on the MacBook, I never put much work into organising my adressbook, but now, Im trying to become more organised, Im experiencing a challenge to do with syncing cross platforms. Everytime Im tidying up the Adressbook, the old information keeps overriding my efforts and puts all the old information back in. Its very annoying. I want the “tidied” adressbook on my MacBook to be the standard. How can I make this happen?

    Thank you in advance, and thank you for all the previous great tips and anwers!

  124. Victor Says:

    I need to send an email to ALL the email addresses in a particular group. (many contacts have 2 or 3 email addresses – home, work, other).

    I tried the posted solution of separating addresses with less than/greater than symbols:

    This does not work. I’m running OS10.6.8, Address Book 5.0.3.

    Any suggestions?

  125. Jules Says:

    What if someone in my group would like to a group email to be sent to their home and work address? Does Address Book only allow one email address to be set per contact?