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Arrange Your Contact Cards in Address Book on Your MacBook

Address Book, now a standalone application on your MacBook, provides you with a method of organizing your cards into groups. A group usually consists of folks with a common link, such as your family, friends, co-workers, and others who enjoy yodeling.

For example, you could set up a Cell Phone group that you can use when syncing data with your Bluetooth cell phone. You can switch to the groups display within Address Book by clicking the red bookmark at the top of the window; if the icon shows a single profile, you’ve switched to the group display.

To create a group, choose File→New Group or press Command+Shift+N. (Using the Hollywood method, click the plus sign button at the bottom left of the group display.) Address Book adds a highlighted text box so that you can type the group name. After you type the group name, press Return to save it.

If you already selected the entries for those contacts that you want to add to the group, choose File→New Group from Selection instead. This command saves you a step because the group is created and the members are added automatically.

If you’ve created an empty group, it’s easy to add folks manually. From the group display, click the All Contacts link to see a list of everyone in your Address Book; then click and drag the entries that you want to add to the desired group name.

After you create a New Group, you can instantly display members of that group by clicking its name in the group display. To return to the display of all your contacts, click the All Contacts link, or click the bookmark to switch back to individual display.

To further organize your groups, you can drag and drop a group on top of another group. It becomes a subgroup, which is handy for things like branch offices within your company or perhaps relatives to whom you’re not speaking at the moment.

Need an even harder-working group? Create a Smart Group, which — get this — automatically adds new contacts you create to the proper group or removes them from the group, depending on the criteria you specify! To create a Smart Group, follow these steps:

  1. Click File and click New Smart Group.

  2. Type a name for the new Smart Group.

  3. Click the Card pop-up menu and choose the item that will trigger the action.

    For example, you can choose to automate a Smart Group according to the contents of each new card, a company name, or a particular city or state.

  4. Click the Contains pop-up menu and choose the criteria for the item.

    An item might contain (or not contain) a specific string of characters, or it might have changed in a certain amount of time. To illustrate, one of my hardest-working Smart Groups automatically checks the Company field in every new card for my publisher’s company name and adds that contact card to my Wiley Publishing group if a match occurs.

  5. To add another criteria line, click the button with the plus sign at the end of the first text field.

    If you decide that you have one criteria line too many, click the button with the minus sign next to the offending rule.

  6. After your Smart Group criteria are correct, click OK.

    The Smart Group name appears in your group list, complete with a gear icon to indicate its intelligent status. Voilà!

Here’s another handy feature of an Address Book group: You can send all the members of a group the same e-mail message at one time. Within Mail, simply enter the Group name in the To field in the Compose window, and the same message is sent to everyone.

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