MacMost Now 396: Using Mail Merge in Pages

You can use the Mail Merge feature in iWork Pages to print envelopes, letters or any document that uses different names and addresses on each page. You can get the data from your Address Book or from a Numbers spreadsheet.

Video Transcript
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now and today's episode let's look at mail merge in Pages. So one of the things computers have done for more than half a century is the mail merge. This is where you take a list of names and addresses and you can use a program like a word processor to print out either envelopes with one name and address on each envelope, or letters replacing the name as beginning of the letter with one of the names from the list. So you can have one letter and then printout say thousands of copies of it, each one with its own heading with a different name in it. So you can do this in iWork Pages as well. Let me show you how. So when we run Pages, we're given the template chooser, and we can choose a blank document, but in this case, let's start using letters or envelopes. Starting with envelopes, we'll just pick a traditional envelope here, choose it, and then we get to see this simple envelope document with some sample text in there. Now, we wanted to print out, say a whole bunch of envelopes based on a list, we would do that using the edit mail merge option. Then it asks us to choose a source. There's two different sources you can choose. Either your address book or a numbers document. So if you choose your address book obviously, you'd be using addresses that are in your address book. Let's try that. Now we can merge this to a new document so we create a new document where each page hass a different address, or we can simply send it directly to the printer. Well as you can choose to substitute the closest match here, so for instance use a work address if a home address is missing, things like that that you can play around with. So let's check off merge and we'll see we're going to get a document here with five Pages and the first one's going to have an address near its a sample address included with address book for apple and then we've got some other addresses that are in there. It's a sample address book. I don't have complete addresses so we're just putting in names there. Now we could instead do a mail merge using a numbers document. I've got a numbers document right here, if you can see, I've just put three names in it and I've labeled the fields pretty clearly at the top last name, first name, etc. So I'm gonna use that instead. So I'll do edit, mail merge and I'll choose numbers document. It will ask me to select the numbers document so I'm gonna do so. And there it is. And it's gonna come up with this list of fields here and what it should map to. So, what I wanna do is map say the street to the field name's street, its looking for one column called work street. So I wanna note that for later on that I can actually call a field work street and it will be able to grab it right away. But I can map work state to state, work zip to zip and when I have nothing else that's a red here on the right then I have a complete set of data. I choose merge, merges into a new document. So how does Pages know where to substitute each thing like a name? Well if I select it and then I go to View and I select Show Inspector, I can go to the links section of the inspector which is second from the right here. There's hyperlink, bookmark and merge. And I select merge. And I can see that here the first name is this merge field here with its targeted first name. I can choose the last name, title things like that so if I wanna get rid of this title 1, I can simple select that, delete it. I can also map things to different fields here in the document before I even go to the mail merge function. So I can create my own mail merge document by starting a blank document here, and let's say I just type some text and where it says name, I'm going to substitute the name, so I'm going to select it and with the Inspector open and set to the Link Inspector merge, I'm going to add plus at a merge field and I'm gonna set the merge field name goes to target First Name. So now I've create my own document that has merges in it. I can then go to Edit Mail Merge, select that same numbers document and now I can merge it And I'll get three Pages here each one with the first names substituted for the word name. So you see you can actually use mail merge for more than just envelopes and letters. You can have any document you want and substitute any number of fields from a number spreadsheet to create multiple versions of that document and different Pages. So for instance if I was printing an evaluations either for say students in a class or workers in a workplace I could print out different ones with the name and evaluation scores from a numbers database into a letter format and will print out a different page for each person with their correct name matching the scores. And probably a ton of other uses as well. So hope you found this useful till next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 41 Responses to “MacMost Now 396: Using Mail Merge in Pages”

    5/11/10 @ 11:33 am

    I tried to use my new iMac for generating mailing labels for Christmas cards this Christmas past. No can do. Mail Merge does documents and envelopes, but not mailing labels (as does Microsoft Word, which does a ton of labels).

    While Pages has lots of interesting other features the lack of such a basic feature seems rather unforgivable to me. It has made migrating to an all-Mac world a bit more difficult.

    Oddly enough the entire experience brought about another complain I have that isn’t necessarily Apple specific. When using one’s contact or address book (be it on a Mac or some Windows application) I often have a Mr. & Mrs. in their own cards because it’s the only way to track their individual phone numbers and birthdays. This, of course, presents problems when using mail merge as I wind up with two items (envelopes, letters, etc.) for one household.

    I really wish Apple (and all other address book/contacts) application writers would do something about this.

      5/12/10 @ 11:59 am

      I had so many problems with Pages that I tried various workarounds to run MS Office apps on my iMac. What worked was Office for the Mac. It lets me do label printing, and more importantly lets me work on saved Word and Excel documents without screwing up the formatting as did Pages and Numbers. I recommend Office for the Mac over the Apple apps.

        5/12/10 @ 12:11 pm

        Pages is not Word. If you need to work with Word documents and have them look and work like Word documents, then getting Word is your best bet. But if you need a word processor and can choose to use any, then Pages is a good one.

    Andreas Penn
    5/12/10 @ 1:12 am

    Hi Gary

    That was very interesting. Does it work with the Mail app. as well?



      5/12/10 @ 6:09 am

      In what way would you want it to work with Mail?

    6/6/10 @ 12:31 pm

    I want to copy my a group from my address book onto labels, but use them for a purpose other than mailing. I also want to have the phone numbers copied. Can’t do it through print address book. I tried downloading and avery file folder labels template into Pages and saved that as a template. Then I set up merge fields which worked as well. Problem is when I drag a group from address book it is giving me a page of labels for each listing rather than each listing in one label on the page.

      9/16/10 @ 10:34 am

      How did you get Pages to do labels? I have been messing with this all day to no avail! I downloaded an avery template and opened it in pages, and I’m trying to mail merge addresses from a Numbers document. In mail merge, did you print directly or open a new document? Teach me! :)

        9/16/10 @ 11:21 am

        I don’t think Pages does labels. I’ve never seen it handle that. Usually, you need to use a template from the label maker to build something in a page layout program.

    Andrés Alarcón G.
    6/12/10 @ 10:04 am

    Hi Gary!

    I’m really happy following your podcast on iTunes. It’s really helpful!!!

    It’s great to merge documents, but how can you send by mail each document to the specific receiver?

    Merge option basically create a single document with page breaks for each contact. If you send this document by mail, it will send a single section of the document to the specific receiver?

      6/12/10 @ 10:37 am

      I think you are thinking of email, right? This sort of thing is meant for physical mail, where someone will be sorting and stuffing envelopes (or routing the pages through a mail system). For email, you wouldn’t do this.

        Alex Hummington
        9/17/10 @ 12:53 pm

        So.. What would you do if you where beyond paper, and wanted to merge documents for email?

        Would you have to purchase a program for this? THere are several programs on sale that is supposed to be doing this, but I cannot understand that the normal OS cannot take care of this?

        Thanks a lot for a great podcast!

          9/17/10 @ 1:42 pm

          If the number is small (100 or less) then just send an email out. One email, one document, 100 Bcc email addresses (the “to” is from you). If you are looking at more, then an external service (not a program) should be used. Lots of email sending services around. But that’s outside my area of expertise. Aweber is what I use for the MacMost newsletter.

    Craig Beaumont
    7/10/10 @ 7:18 pm

    Loved your video, and thought it would my solution for mail sending copies of the same document to almost 700 people. It SHOULD be the solution, but I get the Spinning Ball of Death on choosing “send to printer”, Merge, and have to force shutdown after 15 mins. I’m merging from an Excel file opened and saved as Numbers. And no amount of cleaning and checking that data has delivered a different result. Thoughts?

      7/10/10 @ 7:22 pm

      Are you trying to “print” 700 versions of the document to a PDF? That might be the issue. It might just take a really long time (or lock up because of the size of such a document). Even if it worked, you would end up with a single large document, which you couldn’t really use for such an email.
      Do you need each PDF to have a difference between them? Can you just send exactly the same document to each person, or do they need to be customized?

        Craig Beaumont
        7/15/10 @ 8:20 am

        Not PDF. I have “exactly the same” Legal sized document (Newsletter) constructed in Pages that I want individually addressed to 700 recipients on printing, as opposed to printing and sticking address labels on each.

          7/15/10 @ 7:21 pm

          Oh, sorry. Not sure why I thought it was to a PDF.
          OK, so if 700 locks up Pages, then experiment. What happens if you do only 50? Or 100? 350? See if there is a limit where it becomes a problem. If it happens with even just a few, then you know it must be something to do with the format of the documents. But if it works for 100, but not 200, then you know that Pages has a bug.

    Laura Bartlett
    7/16/10 @ 9:57 am

    I understand and have used the mail merge concept for doing a batch of individualized letters. My issue is trying to create a list of names in a Pages document, using the data from a Numbers document. (This is a process I used to accomplish using the “directory” template in Word’s merge) I can only get the merge to give me the first name and last name from the first cells in the spreadsheet–it won’t continue down the list, and I’m not sure why.

      7/16/10 @ 10:05 am

      Hard to tell what what might wrong. Have you considered having another Pages user take a look? If you don’t know anyone nearby, then maybe a visit to the Apple store?

    Andrew Hagenauer
    8/9/10 @ 7:01 am

    I created a small section in my address book to do a mailmerge label for mailing. My problem is that the final clients street address gets copied over for all 10 clients, everything else merges correctly….I hope I explained the issue clear enough. Any help is appreciated

    kim b
    9/8/10 @ 3:39 am

    I have recently moved to a Mac environment and found your video as I was searching for info about how to use mail merge with Pages and Numbers. I am interested in printing a school telephone directory (name, homeroom teacher, address, parent names, phone number, etc…) using student information from a Numbers document. How can I print all of one student’s info, skip a line (not an entire page) and then print the next student’s info?

      9/8/10 @ 6:08 am

      So the data is in Numbers? I’d look into the Numbers printing options to see what you can do. You may have to export from Numbers into a Pages document if you have a very specific need. It may take a look of finesse if you have specific printing format requirements. (In other words, there may not be an easy way to do it).

        7/10/11 @ 5:44 am

        Hi Gary
        Great videos on mail merge.
        What happens if I have a Numbers document in which there are 4 Address columns, say Address1=Apartment Address2=Building Name Address3=Sreet Address4=City, State and Zip but not all names in the Numbers doc have a building name – how do I skip that line in the printout without leaving a blank line in the address block? Thanks very much

          7/10/11 @ 10:08 am

          You should create a new column, AddressComplete, that is the full address and use that in the mail merge.

    Scott Lipscomb
    9/20/10 @ 9:24 am

    I am a big fan of your books & resources, Gary … especially your “ActionScript for Fun & Games” text, which I use as a primary resource for some of my university-level music technology courses (wish it were updated for a more current version of Flash!)

    Anyway, I too am stymied by what appears to be Pages/Numbers inability to *email* mail merge documents. I use this method all the time in Word/Excel for communicating Progress Reports to students enrolled in my classes. Due to the continuing “war” between Apple & Microsoft, the Mac version of Office requires that I use Entourage in order to have the email function available in Word for merging documents. Our university has recently switched to Gmail for our official email server and there are some compatibility issues with Entourage. As a result, I had hoped to simply jump over to Pages/Numbers using Mac Mail as the email client to send merged docs … I don’t see that this is a possibility. Can this really be true? I don’t want to print docs – I’m existing in an economical, tree-saving mental space these days – I want to send them to students virtually.

    Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the excellent work!!

    Scott Lipscomb, Associate Professor of Music Education
    University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

      9/20/10 @ 9:31 am

      Thanks. Still using the old AS1 books, eh? AS3 is so much better…
      I’m not sure what you are trying to do. Can’t you just send the email to a “group” and attach the document? Why do you need to do it from Pages?

    11/22/10 @ 2:08 pm

    Love your videos! I have a question/problem. I am working on a blank document that needs to have two different contacts from my address book, not just one. I am unsure where to specify how to do this. The program merges the newly “dragged” contact into both text boxes, thus replacing the first contact. I don’t want the same contact in BOTH text boxes. I need Contact 1 in Box 1 and Contact 2 in Box 2. Is there something I am missing? Hope that makes sense.

    12/11/10 @ 3:56 pm

    I have a Avery J8159 form in Pages and want to use mail merge.
    I want to select one address, but that is not possible.
    He print all addresses.

    Can I select one address in Pages?

      12/11/10 @ 3:59 pm

      If you just need one address, then copy and paste that address in the area. No need to use mail merge.

    toni smith
    1/5/11 @ 12:53 pm

    Hi Gary,
    Helpful video, but I got as far as opening up the numbers documents and received this message “Please select a Numbers document that has one or more named header columns and one or more rows of data.” I created a database, using row one as the title of the field and there are at least 57 entries. Any ideas?

      1/5/11 @ 2:35 pm

      It sounds like the Numbers document doesn’t contain any header (the gray cells). Create a default blank Numbers document and you will see the difference in cells. See the Numbers help for more info on header columns and rows.

    3/5/11 @ 4:08 am

    For years my business has been using excel and word to make a lot of mail merge type of things, address lables, table cards and so on. The possibilities in Excel/word was that I could use my excel database with some 30.000 records (exported from our datasystem) and then use IF, ELSE and so on to select the target I wanted to merge to the word document.

    Now, after moving all over to iWork, we discovered some very bad things with iWork. There is no way to do this anymore. You could do all the selection in Numbers and then export it to addressbook, but there is no way to make lables other than the doll templates. I want to use my setup from Pages and make them there (several records on one page, not one on each page).

    Its kind of sad that Apple does not see that there is a lot small businesses coming to the Apple platform and that we need these simple tools to make our day happy.

    Sorry for my bad english Gary ;)

      3/5/11 @ 11:10 am

      Excel is much much older than Numbers and definitely has more features. Excel and Numbers are different and will never be the same — there will always be things you can find that Numbers won’t do. But on the other hand I find it much easier to use than Excel in many ways.
      I disagree with your last sentence. Apple knows that there is Office for Mac. So why duplicate it? They have created an alternative to Office, not a copy of Office. Your needs are more than met by simply getting Office for Mac. You’ve got pretty high-end business needs (30,000 records exported from a database and then merged with a document). Office for Mac would be the thing to use.
      If you drove an SUV and then switch to a Prius, would you then complain that the Prius didn’t have the cargo space or 4 wheel drive of the SUV?

      5/15/11 @ 11:45 am

      I agree that Pages mail merge can only print sequential labels one to a page. However, the Avery web site has a label making program that you can download to a Mac. It is called Design Pro for Mac. I exported info from a Numbers spreadsheet to a .csv file, formatted fields (font, size, bold, italics, etc.)in one label of an Avery template (included as part of the program) and then used the Avery mail merge function to populate the text fields for every in the template. Each template page contained 8 unique name tag labels. I printed name tags for 120 individuals which required 15 Avery label sheets. My initial learning curve took a while to figure it out, but I found the instructions on the Avery Help site adequate to figure it out. It worked great!

        10/2/11 @ 3:14 pm

        Thank you!! Thank you!!!! This worked perfectly!! Downloaded the program and had my labels done within 5 minutes!! So simple and easy!! You saved me hours of work trying to format a document and trying to merge with my spreadsheet!! Thanks again for the info :)

    5/15/11 @ 7:03 pm

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for all your posts on this topic so far. And the YouTube video was great too. I’m getting much closer to understanding how all this works on mac.

    I have not yet been able to find an answer to the following problem though…

    I currently have a client database with over 20 columns of related data in an excell spreadsheet. I have a word template set up with merge fields of all info I want in the doc. Not just address fields. I use mail merge to create an individual doc for each client. But I send them as an imbedded email one at a time. In MS this is done by editing the recipient list and ticking the 1 record I want to merge. Then I can email it straight from word.

    Is there any way to do this in pages, or mail and numbers.

    At present I’m creating it in word/excel as before and cutting and pasting into a new email each time.

    Thanks for your help

      5/15/11 @ 7:08 pm

      No. I’m pretty sure there is no way to do this with Pages and Numbers. Perhaps there is a specialty piece of software that can do it. Though it sounds to me that if you are sending out mass emails, that a server solution would be the way to go. Lots of companies specialize in sending out emails to databases.

    7/18/11 @ 10:17 am

    Thanks for this video! It was exactly what I was looking to do. I’m glad I can do this with Pages now.

    9/14/11 @ 10:28 pm

    Thanks so much for this video. Helped me get the project I was trying to finish done in a hurry!

    11/1/11 @ 5:01 pm

    I’m trying to send out a mass email (to about 120 recipients). I would like to individualize the letters by merging certain information from a Numbers file onto a Pages document, then emailing it to all with a click of a button. I’ve learned how to merge the documents, but I can’t figure out how to send them as an attachment to an email and to send them all at once with just 1 click. I used to do this on Word, and now I have a Mac.

    Greg Stewart
    12/17/11 @ 9:14 am

    I, too, had moved over from Microsoft Office for Mac 2004 when I upgraded to Lion and wasn’t interested in buying Office 2011 for Mac. But, the Numbers/Pages interface in Mail Merge did one record at a time and was most decidedly NOT Avery label friendly. I wasn’t interested in using Mail or Address Book as my source (this is my holiday card list and culling that down from Mail or Address Book, where I have all of my professional contacts would have been crazy). I have a long-standing formerly Excel and now Numbers spreadsheet where I have my holiday list and I update it throughout the year as people move, etc.

    Anyway, I went to Avery’s site and downloaded Design Pro for Mac and it worked like a charm. If you’ve been doing Mail Merge type things for years, this was all very intuitive. And, literally, 15 minutes later, I had 7 sheets of beautifully printed labels with a little mistletoe bauble in the upper right of each label (something Microsoft Word never did!). It was way too easy.

    So, forget trying to make Pages/Numbers do your labels. Avery has it down and you just tell it what style labels you have and you’re off to the races. I love my Mac; I think Pages and Numbers do great work and I’ve converted from Excel and Word rather seamlessly. But, this was really easy and if you’ve moved over to Lion, try this out. You won’t be disappointed.

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