Exporting Individual vCards

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In the old days, when you selected and dragged a group of individual contacts from Mac OS X’s Address Book, the contacts were exported as individual vCards. Under the current version of OS X and Address Book, performing this action exports all your contacts as a single vCard.

While this may be handy for moving contacts to another copy of Address Book or onto an iPod, it plays merry hell with Microsoft’s email clients. Neither Entourage or Outlook have a clue how to handle a vCard file that contains multiple contacts. When you try to import such a file by dragging it into either program, the first contact in the file is added and nothing more.

Yet Address Book now has no obvious way to export individual cards. Ah, but there is a not-so-obvious way. That way is to hold the Option key while dragging the contacts out of Address Book. When you do, you’ll discover that you create individual vCards rather than a single vCard that holds your contacts.

There is one gotcha, however. If you attempt to Option-drag a group of vCards that contain cards with duplicate names—two cards for John Smith, for example—you’ll receive a warning that reads: “The selected items cannot all be put into the same location, because at least one of them named ‘John Smith’ is busy.” When you click OK you’ll find that none of the cards has been copied.

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