Arrange Your Contact Cards on Your iMac

By Mark L. Chambers

Your iMac’s Contacts provides you with a method of organizing your cards into groups. Use a group to identify folks with a common link, such as family, friends, co-workers, or folks who enjoy yodeling. For example, you could set up a Cell Phone group that you can use when syncing data with your Bluetooth smartphone. You can hide or display the Groups list at the left of the Contacts window by choosing View→Hide/Show Groups (or by pressing the Command key+1).

To create and name a group, click the Add button at the bottom of the window and click New Group. (You can also choose File→New Group or press the Command key+Shift+N.) Contacts adds a highlighted text box where you can type the group name. Then press Return to save it.

Then, with your new (empty) group created, just add folks manually. From the group list, click the All Contacts link to see a list of everyone in Contacts database, and then click and drag the entries that you want to add to the desired group name.

Or, you can first select the entries for those contacts you want to add to the group, and then choose File→New Group from Selection instead. This saves you a step because the group is created and the members are added automatically simultaneously.

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

To further organize your groups, you can drag and drop a group on top of another group. The “dropped” group becomes a subgroup, which is handy for organizing things, such as branch offices in 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. Choose File→New Smart Group.

  2. Type a name for the new smart group.

  3. From the Card pop-up menu, 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. From the Contains pop-up menu, choose the criteria for the item.

    You can set an item to contain (or not contain) a specific string of characters, or change it in a certain amount of time. For example, if you work for ABC Corp, you can create a smart group that automatically checks the Company field in every new card for ABC and adds that contact card to your ABC Corp group if a match occurs.

    • To add another criteria line: Click the button with the plus sign at the end of the first text field.

    • To delete a criteria line: Conversely, if you decide you have one criteria line too many, click the button with the minus sign next to the offending rule.

  5. After your smart group criteria are correct, click OK.

    The smart group name appears in your group list. Voilà!

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