Get smart with Con­tacts

Use con­tact in­for­ma­tion more ef­fec­tively by set­ting up au­to­mated groups

Mac Format - - APPLE SKILLS - Craig Gran­nell

The idea of creat­ing groups of dig­i­tal ob­jects is as old as the Mac, but man­ual or­gan­i­sa­tion can be time-con­sum­ing and

in­ef­fi­cient. A clev­erer method is to use so-called ‘smart’ col­lec­tions, such as Smart Fold­ers in Finder, Smart Playlists in iTunes, or Smart Mail­boxes in Mail.

In the Con­tacts app, this idea is re­alised as Smart Groups. Rather than man­u­ally adding peo­ple to a group of con­tacts, Smart Groups are pop­u­lated ac­cord­ing to which of your con­tacts match con­di­tions you spec­ify. Their con­tents even up­date as you change de­tails stored about peo­ple. So, if you have a Smart Group based on a sur­name and add a new con­tact with that sur­name, that per­son will be added to the Smart Group au­to­mat­i­cally.

In fact, Smart Groups can con­tain mul­ti­ple con­di­tions, each look­ing at dif­fer­ent bits of in­for­ma­tion at­tached to your con­tacts. So, as well as some­one’s name, a Smart Group might check com­pany names, the do­main name of com­pany web­sites, cities and much more. Along with the afore­men­tioned group that could be used for con­tact­ing fam­ily, you could cre­ate one based on a lo­ca­tion, or for each of your con­tacts at a spe­cific com­pany.

This is par­tic­u­larly help­ful in Mail. When you type a group’s name in the To field and press ® , the group’s name is re­placed by the con­tacts in that group, which you can amend as ap­pro­pri­ate for the mes­sage you’re writ­ing. Us­ing a Smart Group means there’s less chance of some­one be­ing missed out, be­cause the re­cip­i­ents will be based on cur­rent info stored in Con­tacts. Even within the Con­tacts app, Smart Groups can be use­ful for quickly work­ing your way through a spe­cific list of peo­ple you need to call or send some­thing.

Smartly plug in­for­ma­tion gaps

In the walk­through, we pro­vide ideas for Smart Groups that can save you time. In some cases, we’ll be work­ing with the app’s Note field, which al­lows you to add ar­bi­trary in­for­ma­tion. When do­ing so, try to be con­sis­tent. If you use this field to list peo­ple’s chil­dren, say, don’t pre­fix it with ‘Chil­dren:’ in some con­tacts and ‘Kids:’ in oth­ers, be­cause you’ll have to search for both in a Smart Group’s con­di­tions. Also, to dif­fer­en­ti­ate Smart Groups from nor­mal ones, and to speed things along in Mail, con­sider adding a char­ac­ter to the start of ev­ery Smart Group’s name, such as ‘@Sur­name’ rather than plain old ‘Sur­name’.

Smart Groups can help to en­sure email reaches all the right peo­ple

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