Get smart with Contacts
Use contact information more effectively by setting up automated groups
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