Utility software

Google instead of Quest

Many users know that if you Control/right-click on a contact’s address in Address Book, one of the options in the resulting contextual menu is “Map of.” Choosing this item opens your Web browser to a map of the address on MapQuest.com:

Address Book stock menu

The thing is, many people—including me—prefer the steadily improving (but still in beta) Google Maps. That’s where Brian Toth’s free Google Maps Plugin 2.1.1 (   ) comes in—it lets you use Google Maps, instead.

To install Google Maps Plugin, you drag its three components (BTGoogleMaps, BTGoogleDirections, and BTGooglePreferences) to one of your Address Book Plug-Ins folders: Placing the files in /Library/Address Book Plug-Ins will make the options available to all users of your Mac; placing them in /Users/ your username /Library/Address Book Plug-Ins means they’ll only appear in your own Address Book. Once you’ve installed the files and relaunched Address Book, right-clicking on an address reveals three new options:

Address Book Google Maps Plugin menu

Google Map for name does exactly what you’d expect: It opens your Web browser to a map of the person/company’s address in Google Maps. The Google Directions feature is a nice time-saver: It opens a dialog where you can enter a start point and an end point; your home address and the current Address Book contact are automatically entered as the start and end points, respectively, but you can also choose from among your Address Book contacts or enter a custom address. Clicking the OK button opens your browser to Google Maps’ directions for traveling between the two locations.

Address Book Google Directions dialog

Finally, there’s also a Google Maps Preferences menu item. Since Google Maps is still in beta, it doesn’t always find addresses on the first try. One of the most common reasons for such glitches is odd characters in addresses or things such as apartment numbers and “+four” zip codes. The Google Maps Plugin preferences dialog lets you determine how the Plugin passes addresses to Google, allowing you to avoid many such failures.

I’ve heard more than a few “I wish Address Book would use Google instead of MapQuest” comments from readers and colleagues; Google Maps Plugin gives you that option and more.

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