Address Book and multiple contact exports

In OS X 10.4, one of Address Book’s features is the easy export of contacts to vCards —just drag and drop any one contact’s name from Address Book to your Desktop (for instance), and a new vCard will be created for that contact. You can then import this vCard into any application that supports the standard, including Entourage and Outlook on Windows.

If you try this same drag-and-drop trick with multiple contacts selected in Address Book, you’ll find that the Mac creates one vCard file, named something like Sally Sample and five others . While this seems like a nice timesaver, certain programs (Entourage and Outlook, to name two) cannot handle these multiple vCards. Drop your newly-exported multiple vCard onto Entourage, for instance, and only the first contact will show up. These programs can handle only one contact per vCard, so you need to export them that way from Address Book. But does that mean you need to manually drag-and-drop each contact you wish to transfer?

Thankfully, no. The trick is to use the Option key when dragging your contacts out of Address Book. But you have to use the Option key before you start your drag operation—if you hold the Option key down after you start dragging your selection, you’ll wind up with a single vCard file containing the selected contacts. First make your selection in Address Book, then press the Option key and hold it down. Now click and hold the mouse over your selection for about a second, then drag the contacts to your Desktop (or other location). If you’ve done everything correctly, you’ll be rewarded with individual vCards for each contact in your selection.

Once you have the individual vCards, you can import them into Entourage or Outlook—Entourage will gladly accept all of them at once, for instance, if you drag and drop the whole selection of exported files onto its Dock icon. While it’d be great if these programs understood the multiple vCard format, at least Address Book provides a relatively simple method of creating individual vCards from a selection.

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