Use Network Directories on Your iMac

By Mark L. Chambers

Your personal contacts have to be entered into your iMac manually (unless it’s possible to import them). You can, however, also access five types of external directories from Contacts:

  • iMac users working in a Windows network environment can use Exchange 2007 (or later) or Outlook network directories.

  • If you’re a member of a company NetInfo network — and if you don’t know, ask your wizened network administrator — you can search network directory servers from Contacts. These servers are available automatically, so no configuration is necessary.

  • OS X Mavericks Server — a separate purchase from the App Store — offers a Contacts server feature for sharing directories across your network, using the CardDAV standard.

  • Contacts can share contact information using your iCloud, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Yahoo! account.

  • You can search Internet-based LDAP directories. Again, suffice it to say that your network guru can tell you whether LDAP servers are available to you. (In another blazing display of techno-nerd acronym addiction, LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol.) With LDAP, you can search a central company directory from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. Your network administrator or the LDAP server administrator can supply you with these settings.

To search any network directory, you need to create a corresponding directory account. Follow these steps to add a directory account:

  1. Choose Contacts→Preferences to display the Preferences window.

  2. Click the Accounts tab.

  3. Click the Add button at the bottom of the Accounts list to launch the Add Account assistant.

  4. If you’re using an Exchange directory, click Exchange from the list. If you’re connecting to a CardDAV or LDAP directory, choose Other Contacts Account from the list.

  5. Click Continue.

    Type the required information in the fields that appear. (Your network administrator should be able to provide you with the necessary values.)

  6. Click Create.

    You’ll see the blue network directory entry appear in the Group column.

The rest is easy! Click the desired directory link in the group display and use the Search field as you normally would. Matching entries display the person’s name, e-mail address, and phone number.

What if you’re not online, is your company’s LDAP directory any good then? Normally, LDAP information is available to you only when you’re online and the LDAP server is available. To make a person’s information always available (even if your network is unavailable), search the LDAP database and drag the resulting entry from the contacts list to the desired group (or the All Contacts link) on the group display. You’ll import the information to your local Contacts database — and you’ll see it even when you’re not online! (You should repeat this import step on a regular basis, since the import is a “snapshot” of the current database and doesn’t automatically update with any changes made later.)