Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

How Mac experts deal with their contacts

Lex Friedman | Jan. 17, 2014
Used to be, people maintained literal personal phonebooks. Books into which they scrawled the names, numbers, and addresses of their friends and family members. Those were dark times.

Sparks added: "I've never bumped anyone."

How they manage contacts
Managing your contacts — keeping them up-to-date and error-free — takes work. And keeping them truly organized takes even more work.

"I'm terrible at it," Fleishman said, regarding his own contact management. Newberry shared a similar sentiment with slightly more colorful language.

Sparks, however, offered up some tips on his approach for keeping contacts organized. Chief among them is to make good use of the Notes field (which you can access in both Cobook and Contacts).

"I add lots of data there that doesn't fit anywhere else," he says. "I may keep Lex's favorite Starbucks drink or a list of important conversations we've had if we are working on a project together."

For quick searching, Sparks also employs what he calls "rudimentary tags" in the Notes field, like #referral or #holidaycard. That makes it easy for him to quickly search for all contacts with that tag, on demand. "I understand I could do the same thing with additional Contacts groups, but I try to keep the number of groups down to a dull roar — and searching contacts for a few tags works just fine."

Complaints department
A couple of the experts I spoke to aired a few grievances about contact management within Apple's ecosystem. "The biggest problem for me is the OS X Contacts interface," Sparks said. "Things got better with 10.9 Mavericks, but it still involves way too many mouse clicks to change someone's phone number."

Sparks also runs into issues where Contacts tries too hard to combine multiple contacts into a single person — in those rare instances where he knows multiple people with the same name: "That never works out well."

Fleishman said, "I wish that I could have something today that seemed as good at contact/calendar/to-do integration as the old Now Up-To-Date/Now Calendar. For all its horribleness, [that system] actually all flowed together." He longs for "a BusyCal-style approach that could suck in Google, iCloud, and so on, and sync, automatically, while also giving him control over how he shares events and contact information with other people."

So what have we learned?
None of the five experts have encountered syncing catastrophes with iCloud, which is a good sign. Interestingly, Apple's own apps — like many others — are pretty good at handling contact data from multiple sources; so even as a Google-based contact-syncer, I'm able to use Apple's apps (and now Cobook!) to manage my address book.

The best advice I gleaned from the folks I spoke to is that you need to find some consistent approach to handling contacts. I occasionally hear from friends with contact-syncing issues — only some contacts from their iPhones appear on their Mac, for instance. Invariably, they're unknowingly syncing their contacts in multiple, simultaneous ways. They've stored some contacts in Google, others in iCloud, and a few only on the device itself.


Previous Page  1  2  3  4  Next Page 

Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.