Part five of our six-part series takes a look at TIger’s core communication tools: Address Book, iCal and Mail. They not only keep you in touch with the world, but also provide the means to keep your busy life organized.
Organize Address Book entries using smart groups
Here’s a simple but useful tip—you can use Address Book’s Smart Groups feature to organize your Address Book entries.
Want a group that includes all your friends in Colorado? Select File: New Smart Group, give the group a name, choose State from the first pop-up menu, choose Is from the second, and type
into the next field. Click on OK to create the group.
By adding multiple conditions, you can impart a high degree of organization to your Address Book. Just click on the plus sign (+) to add more conditions, and you can group contacts by, for example, state and city, or company and zip code.
Autocomplete Address Book smart groups in Mail
Once you’ve used Address Book’s Smart Groups feature to build a dynamic list of related contacts—for example, everyone on your daughter’s soccer team—you might find it useful to be able to send an e-mail to everyone in that smart group.
But while Mail makes it easy to send an e-mail to a traditional Address Book group—just enter the name of the group, and Mail populates the To field with any e-mail addresses in that group—the program doesn’t know how to do this with smart groups. Here’s a simple workaround:
Create your smart group in Address Book. When you’re done, create a standard group; then drag and drop the smart group into the standard group. Back in Mail, use the name of that standard group when addressing e-mails. Mail will automatically fill in the e-mail addresses of the contacts in your Smart Group. (When you do this, use the BCC field so you don’t send a huge list of e-mail addresses to all the contacts.)
Tiger’s Little Black Book
Address Book lets you create a tabbed hard copy of your electronic contacts, for times when you can’t get to your computer.
Print your Address Book
Want a printed copy of your Address Book—maybe to keep in the car for emergencies? In Tiger, Address Book offers four printing templates for outputting contact details to paper: Envelopes; Labels; Lists; and Pocket Address Book, which produces a small tab-style address booklet. Go to Print and choose Pocket Address Book from the Style menu. Set the Paper Size setting to US Letter and choose the contact attributes—Company, E-mail, Address, and so on—you’d like to include for each contact (see “Tiger’s Little Black Book”).
To conserve paper, Tiger prints several Address Book pages on one sheet, with cutting guides. Cut out the pages and staple them together, and you’ll have a handy paper backup of your electronic address book.
You can now choose to have birthdays that you’ve recorded in Address Book appear in iCal. To create a birthday entry in Address Book, select Address Book: Preferences, click on the Template tab, and choose Birthday from the Add Field pop-up menu. After closing the Preferences window, add the birthdays of your nearest and dearest. Now launch iCal, select iCal: Preferences, click on the General tab, and enable the Show Birthdays Calendar option. iCal will display a new Birthdays calendar.
If you’d like more warning of iCal birthday events, try iCal-Alarmist.
Regrettably, the Birthdays calendar isn’t a standard calendar file—it doesn’t support alarms. There’s a way around this shortcoming, however. Nip on over to
and download iCal-Alarmist, a €3 (about $4 at press time) utility from Knowledge Logistics that allows you to assign global or individual alarms to iCal calendar events (see “Birthday Wishes”). To use it for this task, simply select the Birthdays calendar and choose File: Export. In the resulting dialog box, save the calendar to the desk-top and click on the Export button. Choose File: Import. From the resulting menu, choose the Birthdays calendar you just exported. With all your birthdays tucked neatly into this new calendar, you can use iCal-Alarmist to create an alarm for the events it contains. The folks at Knowledge Logistics tell me they’re working on a more elegant solution that may be available by the time you read this.
Easily edit smart mailboxes in Mail
Like Address Book (with its smart groups) and the Finder (with its smart folders), the new version of Mail lets you create smart mailboxes, which update themselves based on rules you define. For example, you can create a smart mailbox containing only messages that you received in the last week and that had attachments.
If you need to edit a smart mailbox that you’ve already set up, just double-click directly on the smart folder’s icon; you’ll jump to edit mode.
Back up without breaking a sweat
It’s always good to have a backup of your entire drive, or at least your entire Home directory, in case trouble strikes. But there are cer-tain files that you may want to back up more frequently, such as your Address Book or iCal databases. Tiger makes doing this especially easy. To save a backup of your Address Book contacts, open the application and select File: Back Up Address Book. To make a backup of your iCal data, open the application and select File: Back Up Database. If you have a .Mac account, check out the new Sync tab in the .Mac preference pane for even more quick backup options (such as saving your bookmarks, contacts, calendars and Mail messages
Mail files quickly
If you need to e-mail a file to someone, you can drag and drop the file onto Mail’s Dock icon to open a new message with the file attached. But what if Mail isn’t in your Dock? Or what if you don’t feel like dragging a file all the way across your screen? Wouldn’t it be easier to just control-click on the file and have the job done for you? All you need is Automator, OS X’s easy-to-use automation tool.
Launch the program (in /Applications) and then click on Finder in the Library column. Drag the Get Selected Finder Items action from the Actions column into the Workflow area on the right side of the screen. Next, click on Mail in the Library column, and drag the New Mail Message action into the Workflow area, below the Finder action you already placed there. Select File: Save As Plug-In, give your new action a name (Mail This File, for example), and make sure Plug-In For is set to Finder. Then click on Save.
Go back to the Finder, select a file (or files), control-click on the selection, and then choose Automator: Mail This File from the pop-up menu that appears. Mail will open a new blank message with the selected Finder file attached.
Resize files via Mail
If you drag a large photo into an open Compose window in Mail, an Image Size pop-up menu appears in the bottom right corner of the window, offering options for resizing all the photos in that window. Of course, you can do this directly from iPhoto, but if you find iPhoto too slow to use (I prefer Rune Lindman Development’s
[$35]), this trick can come in handy.—
Contributing Editor Christopher Breen writes
Mac 911 column.
Senior Editor Rob Griffiths runs the
Mac OS X Hints
Web site. Contributing Editor Ted Landau is the author of
Mac OS X Help Line: Tiger Edition
(Peachpit Press, 2005). Kelly Lunsford is
senior how-to editor.
is a coauthor of
Mastering Mac OS X
, fourth edition (Sybex, 2005). Dori Smith is the author of
Dashboard Widgets of Mac OS X Tiger: Visual QuickStart Guide
(Peachpit Press, 2005).
This Automator plug-in lets you attach files to a Mail message with a single click.