MacMost Now 623: Address Book Special Fields

Keeping your Address Book contacts in a good state is even more important now because of integration with iCloud, iOS 5 and social networks. There are several fields in Address Book that are more than just bare information. Learn the special properties of the birthday, nickname, phonetics and URL fields.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. In today's episode, let's take a closer look at some of the special fields in your Mac address book. For* the simple address book programs becoming more and more important, an iCloud allows you to share your contacts between all your different devices. So let's take a look at some of the fields that are more than just fields in your address book contacts. When you look in your contacts, you can select a name here, on the left, and look at the contact on the right. Click edit to edit the field. Now you can go up to card and add field to add a variety of different things. For instance, let's take a look at this first one here, phonetic first and last name. So, what's the difference between a regular last name and the phonetic name? Well, phonetic name is kind of written as it's pronounced. So if you've got a name in your address book that's hard to pronounce and you can't remember how to pronounce it, you can put a first and last name in these fields and their actual name spelled the way it should in the regular fields. Now, this is somewhat useful, but it's even more useful now when you realize that with the iPhone 4S and Serie, it will use the phonetic spellings to pronounce the name. So if the name is being mispronounced by Serie, perhaps your own name is being mispronounced, you can use this to fill in the correct pronunciation. Now in addition to that, you also have this photo field here. You can double click on it and choose a photo that you've got, you can take one with your camera if you have one attached to your Mac. These are even more important because they're shared between your different devices. If you have an iPhone, for instance, they'll see this picture when somebody calls you, if the phone number matches the phone number in the contact. You can actually take a picture with your iPhone, store it in a contact there, and it would sync back through iCloud and appear here and then, if, say you get an email from that person, you'll actually see their picture in the top where it says who the email is from, you'll see the same icon that appears in here, so it's very useful to have these filled out for as many contacts as you can. Now, another one you can use is nickname. Now, you can use nickname for the obvious thing, like if you have a friend Bob who's real name is Robert, you can put their real name up here and Bob as the nickname. Or you can use it to, say, put Dad for your father's contact, and then you can address an email on your Mac to Dad or Bob and it will know which one you're talking about. And also, of course, if you're sticking to your iPhone, you can use those nicknames there. Matter of fact, Serie will use your nickname to address you, and you can use nicknames of other people to ask to make phone calls or send emails to them. Now you may be thinking well, if I don't have Serie, what's the use of having phonetic names or nicknames? Well, they're still kind of useful, like nicknames for mail, and also, in the future, you may have an iPhone that has Serie, or some of these features may find a way to the Mac, and it will be useful to have a nice set of contacts with all this information there. Now, another field you can add, you may already know about this, is the birthday field. You put birthday fields in for a lot of your contacts, they become very useful because they're available in the calendar, in iCal. You see, right here, there's that birthday, and you can see under calendars I added a description to my birthdays calendar, and that comes completely from address book birthdays. Now, another one you could add is a URL field. Now when you do this, you can type in any URL. You can choose homepage, homework, other. Whichever one you choose, you can put in a URL and what'll happen now is if you go to Safari, and you go to your bookmarks in Safari, there's actually an address book set of bookmarks, and you can see that all the URLs for your address book that are filled in those fields will appear here, so it could be a useful way to get to different websites to different people in your contacts. Likewise, you can also now add a field for Twitter. The interesting thing about the Twitter field is now that Twitter is integrated with iOS, this is now actually used in a lot of different places. Now if instead of adding these individually all the time, you can go to your address book preferences, go to template, and here you can actually decide which ones will appear there all the time, so you can choose any of these things here, and say add a birthday field, make it default when you create a new contact it'll be there for you to enter in. And don't overlook the usefulness of the note field at the bottom. Of course, you can add notes about the person there, but you can also use it for keyboard tagging. For instance, I put the word party here, maybe I'm planning a party and I want to figure out who I want to invite. So I can go to different contacts and add this keyword here, so I will put party here and I will say, a third person. And now I can actually search for that keyword, and come up with a list of people that have that in their notes field. So, computers have always been used to organize our lives, like keeping lists of contacts like this. But now, it's even more important than ever. With iOS 5, iCloud, Lion, and all the social media networks, everything is becoming a lot more integrated, so having a nice clean set of contacts with all the information you need can be even more useful. So, I hope you've found this interesting, until next time, this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 10 Responses to “MacMost Now 623: Address Book Special Fields”

    Stan Shapiro
    10/27/11 @ 9:50 am

    In addition to birthdays which then show up on ical, it would be nice to have other important dates, such as anniversary, show up on ical as well. Right now I have cheated by inserting the anniversary date in the birthday field. Is there another way of doing it?

      10/27/11 @ 9:57 am

      Not an easy way, no. But creating another calendar specifically for this is probably the best way. You just have to enter the dates in twice. A useful calendar, though.

        Stan Shapiro
        10/28/11 @ 12:32 pm

        I did slightly differently. In Addressbook, I still used the Birthday Field but inserted both names in the “Name” field. Still shows up as a “birthday” but with two names – I simply understand it to be an anniversary. It does mean creating extra vcards.

    Daniel EYER
    10/27/11 @ 12:15 pm

    Using the photo id in iCal it should show up when a call comes in. My iPhone does not do that – is there a preference that needs to be checked or something that gets this to work?

      10/27/11 @ 1:39 pm

      Does the photo of the person show un in your Contacts app on the iPhone?

        Daniel EYER
        10/31/11 @ 10:10 am


          10/31/11 @ 11:23 am

          I think it has to be a photo that is in your Photos collection. I think when it is just a tiny icon that is part of the contact it works differently.

    Scott Pesetsky
    11/9/11 @ 6:43 pm

    Can I create custom fields and use them for “mail merges” for auto document assembly?

    John Chavez
    12/3/11 @ 9:39 am


    Thank you very much for your dedication to Apple products and to our community. I wish you and your loved ones a safe and festive holiday season.

Comments Closed.