Use relative dates in Address Book

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Here’s a little tidbit you may not have known about Apple’s Address Book: when entering dates (for birthdays or the custom Dates field), you can use plain-language phrases and certain numeric inputs, instead of a specific date. For instance, say you discover that an acquaintance’s anniversary is coming up a week from today.

In Address Book, edit that person’s card, click on the Anniversary field (you may have to add Dates via the Card -> Add Field menu item), and then type next week . Address Book will populate the field with a date that’s seven days from today. If their anniversary is today, just type today , or yesterday if that was the case. If it was last week, try last week . A month from now? You got it, next month . Last month? Yep, last month . Next year? I bet you can guess that one by now…

You can also use this technique in the Birthday field, but it’s probably not as useful there—it will append the current year to your entry as the person’s birthdate. And unless you’re dealing with an Address Book entry for a newborn (do they have an email address yet?), it’s unlikely that’s the correct year for the contact’s birthday.

So instead of using phrases, if today happens to be the contact’s birthday, try just entering their birth year in the field—type 1971 in the Birthday field, press Return, and the field will auto-fill with the current month and day, and the year 1971. It would be great if you could say something like “next week in 1971,” but alas, that won’t work (Address Book will see the year, and use that with today’s month and day).

There are probably other phrases that work as well, so feel free to experiment.

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