In weeks past we’ve talked about configuring the Mail and Calendar applications. Without the third leg of this personal information trio—Contacts—using the first two could be a lonely proposition. In this lesson we’ll look at the cans and can’ts of Contacts.
Contacts was called Address Book in previous versions of the Mac OS, and that’s still its most descriptive name. What with its faux-leather border and stitched pages, it reminds you of something in which your parents might have added a new neighbor or business contact. But, old-school though it may look, it has more powerful features than its paper-and-glue counterpart.
Creating groups and smart groups
As I mentioned, Contacts has singular advantages over “real” address books. One is that you can create groups of contacts—your business associates, friends, family, bowling teammates, and political action committee members. To create a group, choose File > New Group (<Shift>-<Command>-N) and name your group. That group appears in the group pane.
To add members to your group, just select All Contacts, select the contacts you want to add to the group, and drag them in. They’ll continue to appear in All Contacts because, well, it includes all of your contacts. But they’ll also appear in the group. Should you delete someone from a group—because your sloshball team’s third baseman has concentrated on the slosh to the exclusion of the ball—that person remains in your All Contacts list. Delete them from All Contacts, and they’re truly gone.
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Last week we took a very long look at the workings of Mountain Lion’s Calendar application. This week, we’ll delve into some of the details. Specifically, getting calendars in and out of the application and how to use Calendar with services such as Google and Yahoo.
We’ll get to shared calendars in a bit, but now I’d like to discuss copying calendars and events out of Calendar as well as importing these things into the application.
Sharing Google and Yahoo calendars
iCloud presents a distinct advantage to those who want to share calendars with other people: It allows you to do everything in Calendar—create the calendars, choose recipients, and send invitations all from within the Calendar application. In the case of Google calendars, you can view and edit them within Calendar, but you can’t create them. For this you must go to your Gmail page within a Web browser. When you’ve done that, you can view your calendar. You can’t, however, share any of these calendars from within the Calendar application. Again, it’s back to the Gmail site to do that.
With a Yahoo account you can create calendars within the Calendars application. But, as with Google calendars, you can’t share these calendars unless you do so from Yahoo’s site.
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Mountain Lion can help you do more than organize your music library, compose and receive email, and work out the complex equations necessary to design a hamster capable of sustained flight. With the aid of a bundled application, it can ensure that you know about upcoming chiropractic appointments, a favorite grandchild’s birthday, or the dreaded yearly visit from a particularly long-winded cousin. That application is Calendar.
Launch Calendar (you’ll find it in the Dock by default, as well as within the Applications folder at the root level of your Mac’s hard drive), and you’re presented with what’s supposed to look like a real-world desk calendar—complete with leatherette top and bits of torn paper where pages have been ripped away.
The big picture
Though Home and Work may cover much of your life, you’ll undoubtedly wish to create more-specific calendars. For instance, a performance calendar for your dad band or a schedule for your kid’s jai alai team.
Adding calendars is a little confusing. The command is simple enough—just choose File > New Calendar. But if you’ve configured your Mac with an iCloud account, your only option is to create a new calendar in iCloud. What if you want to create it on just your Mac? (Because, for example, you don’t want it to be shared with your iOS devices.) There’s a trick to doing this.
If all you could do with Calendar was scribble down events, you’d be just as well served by a paper calendar (with real leatherette). But Calendar does far more—and it does much of that within the Event Edit window.
To expose the Event Edit window, create an event using the Create Quick Event field (or select an existing event and press Command-E). In the window you’ll find the following elements.
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Technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it allows for wonderful means of communication—free voice and video calls, no-cost text messaging, and the ability to share your life with thousands of strangers you can call friends. On the other—like in the real world plagued by department store flyers jammed into mailboxes, robocalls, and acolytes moving from door to door to spread The Word—it provides a means for others to junk up your inbox with unwanted missives. In this lesson we’ll look at Mail’s junk mail protections, as well as at other ways you can keep from being overwhelmed with Internet offal.
Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam …
You’ve likely heard the term spam used to refer to junk email. This is a reference to a sketch from the BBC’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus where the word spam is chanted over and over. It was specifically applied to unwanted communications thanks to miscreants of the era who filed posts on electronic bulletin boards that repeated the word often enough to scroll other users’ messages off the screen.
Normally I’d wrap this up with “And that’s junk mail filtering under Mail.” But because Mail can do only so much (and I really, really hate spam), I’m going to suggest that there are more things you can do. (As well as things you shouldn’t do.)
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Back in Mac 101’s long-ago days when we were first getting our feet wet with the Finder, I introduced you to smart searching—the process of creating a series of conditions that would display matching files in a list. For instance, you might set up a list of JPEG image files that were over a megabyte in size. As I explained at the time, the idea of stringing together conditions to filter the information you see is a concept that runs throughout Mountain Lion.
One area where this concept is apparent is in Mail’s rules. But rather than using such conditions to deal with files already on your Mac, more often than not, you employ rules to sort your email as it’s delivered to your Mac. Just as an example, let’s apply this idea to the real-life paper mail that we still receive from time to time.
When you open your physical mailbox at home, you find all your mail bunched together—catalogs, magazines, letters from your Auntie Di, bills, advertisements, and Netflix envelopes. Now imagine, instead, opening that mailbox and finding your most important mail (say, envelopes stuffed with money) right up front, personal correspondence that you care about in a little bin to the right side, your Netflix envelope in yet another bin to the left, magazines sitting in their own container near the back of the box, and any junk mail reduced to a bare few ashes. Far more convenient, yes?
The two-condition rule: I cited this rule when discussing how to end the annoyance from everyone in your company hitting the Reply All button when they should instead click Reply. It requires two conditions.
Here’s the scenario: Some division in your company is clueless about when you should and shouldn’t use Reply All. This leads to your receiving one “Welcome Aboard” message followed by umpteen “Me Too!” replies that you care nothing about. But you’d like to filter these things out without missing any important messages directed to you.
In this case, you first configure the very top pop-up menu that appears in the ‘If x of the following conditions are met’ statement. The x, in this case can be either any or all. If you choose any, only one of the conditions has to be met for the following action to be imposed. With all, every condition must be met for the rule to function.
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Last week we began our exploration of Apple’s Mail application. Having read through that lesson, you’re familiar with the makeup of the Mail window. This week we’ll turn from geography to communication—creating, sending, and retrieving email. Taking it from the top ...
The New Message window
Click the toolbar’s New Message button, or press Command-N, and the New Message window appears. It has its own toolbar that contains, by default, the following buttons: Send Message, Attach Document, Show Format Bar, Show/Hide Photo Browser, and Show/Hide Stationery Pane. Like Mail’s toolbar, this one is also customizable. Just Control-click (right-click) the toolbar, choose Customize Toolbar, and from the sheet that appears drag the tools you want to the toolbar. From this moment forward, those buttons will appear in every New Message window (or at least until you hold down the Command key and drag them out). We’ll explore these buttons further later in the lesson.
Finally, to the message body—that large area at the bottom of the New Message window that begs to be filled. You could, of course, simply click in this area and start typing, but there are more interesting ways to fill this void. To see what I mean, let’s return to the toolbar.
Attach Document: This first button is one way to send one or more files along with your message. Click it and a navigation sheet appears, which you use to choose the documents that will be bundled with your message.
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There are many ways to communicate with others using the tools Apple provides—text, voice and video chats, and posts to social networking sites. But the one most frequently used by many of us is email. You create an account, compose a message, slap on an attachment if you like, add a recipient and subject heading, and send.
Some time ago, I showed you how to set up email accounts on your Mac through Mountain Lion’s Mail, Contacts & Calendars system preference. With this lesson we begin exploring the application you’ll use to create, send, and receive email messages—Apple’s Mail.
By default the Mail window is a fairly straightforward affair. Along the top you see the toolbar as well as a Search field. Just below the toolbar are heading for mailboxes you’ll routinely access. If you click the Show button in this area, a Mailboxes pane appears. Below this area is a list of messages contained within the selected mailbox. And to the right is the message area, which takes up the bulk of the window. Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the Mail window.
Below the bar
By default you will see five items below the toolbar—Show, Inbox, VIPs, Sent, and Drafts. We’ll look at the effects of clicking the Show button shortly. In the meantime, I’ll just explain that if you click one of the mailbox links you’ll see the contents of that mailbox listed in the messages pane. The number of unread messages will appear to the right of the mailbox listing—Inbox (25), for example.
The VIPs entry has a downward-pointing triangle next to it. Click this triangle and you can opt to view all VIPs or just one of your choosing. (I’ll explain VIPs in a future lesson.)
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