How to Enter Contact Info into Your iMac

By Mark L. Chambers

In early versions of OS X, Contacts (then called Address Book) was relegated to the minor leagues and usually appeared only when you asked for it in Mail. It could be run as a separate application, but most iMac owners never launched it as a standalone. Now, however, the Contacts application appears in the default location on the Dock and available whenever you need it.

Unless you actually meet and hire a group of Data Elves, you do have to either add contacts to Contacts manually or import your contacts from another existing address book application. Here’s how to create a new contact card:

  1. From the Dock, launch Contacts by clicking its icon.

    The icon looks like an old-fashioned paper address book with an @ symbol on the cover.

  2. Press the Command key+N shortcut to create a new contact.

    Alternatively, choose File→New Card, or click the Add button (which carries a plus sign) at the bottom of the window and then click New Contact from the menu that appears.

    Contacts displays the template that you see in the following figure, with the First (name) field highlighted and ready for you to type.

  3. Enter the contact’s first name and press Tab to move to the Last name field.

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  4. Continue entering the corresponding information in each field, pressing Tab to move through the fields.

    If a field isn’t applicable (for example, if a person has no home page), just press Tab again to skip it. (Note that when you’re browsing your contacts, fields show up within a card only if you’ve already entered a value — in other words, the fields you skip won’t appear unless you add them later.) You can press Return to add extra lines to the Address field.

    Note the up- and down-arrow icons next to each field. When you see those, Contacts is telling you that there are additional versions of the field that you can enter as well. (Think home and work addresses.) Click the up/down arrow, and a pop-up menu appears, allowing you to choose which version of the field will be displayed. Depending on the field, Contacts may automatically display an additional version; for example, if you enter a work address for the contact, another field for the contact’s home address appears. Click this new field and then you can enter the contact’s home address, too.

    You can also add new fields to a card, such as web addresses (URLs), birthdays, and maiden names. To add a new field, choose Card→Add Field and then choose the field you want to add from the menu that appears. You can also click the Add button at the bottom of the window to display the same menu.

  5. To add a photograph to the card, choose Card→Choose Custom Image (or drag an image from a Finder window, Mail message, web page, or iPhoto on top of the thumbnail square).

    If you choose to assign an image, click Defaults to select an image from the Mavericks thumbnail set (which is the same set you get when assigning a user account image). Click Photo Stream to choose an image from your Photo Stream, or click Faces to select an image of someone’s face that you’ve tagged in iPhoto. You can also drag an image from a Finder window or paste an image you copied to your Clipboard earlier.

    Because your iMac has a built-in FaceTime HD camera, you can click the Camera tab to take a new image. You can also choose to add a Photo Booth effect to your new image.

  6. When you’re done, click the Done button at the bottom of the Contacts window to save the card.

You can edit the contents of a card at any time by displaying it and clicking the Edit button at the bottom (or by pressing ⌘+L, or even by clicking Edit on the Contacts menu bar and choosing the Edit Card menu item). When you’re finished editing the card, click Done at the bottom of the Contacts window.

No need to edit a card to add information to the Note field. Just click and type.

You can also add contact cards directly to Contacts from the OS X Mail application as well as a number of third-party e-mail applications (go figure). In Mail, click the message (to highlight it) from the person whom you want to add, click the friendly Message menu, and then choose Add Sender to Contacts. However, adding contacts this way doesn’t add their supporting information — just their name and e-mail address — and, if they used Mail on their end to send the message and they have a photo attached to their personal card, their photo gets imported as well. Once again, your nimble fingers have to manually enter the rest.

If you never use the Home Page field when you add a contact, you can get rid of it completely. To customize the default fields that appear when you create a new contact card, open the Contacts menu, choose Preferences, and then click the Template tab. Each field has a Delete icon (the red minus sign) and some have an Add icon (the green plus sign). To remove a field from your template, click the Delete icon. To add a new version of a field (for example, a home e-mail address), click the Add icon next to the existing field of the same type, and then click the up/down arrow icon to select the field name. To add a completely new field (such as Middle or Maiden Name), click the Add Field drop-down menu.

Don’t forget to add those fax numbers! If you have an external USB analog modem that’s compatible with OS X Mavericks (or a multifunction printer that supports faxing), you can fax from any application. Just choose File→Print (or press the Command key+P), click the PDF button at the bottom of the Print dialog, and choose Fax PDF. OS X automatically fills in the address for you but only if the contact has a fax number entered as part of the contact card.

If someone sends you an e-mail message with a vCard, consider yourself lucky. Just drag the vCard from the attachment window in Mail and drop it in your Contacts; any information that the person wants you to have is added automatically.

To delete a card, right-click the unlucky name and then choose Delete Card.