Address Book: Using Smart Groups to Find Missing Data

I admit that I’m fanatical about my Address Book. If I had card after card listed as “No Name,” it’d probably drive me quite insane, and somebody’d find me hiding in the closet dressed up like Commander Riker. So to avoid doing that more than necessary, I’ve figured out how to clean up my Address Book both by resolving duplicates and by using Smart Groups to discover missing data. So my contacts are clean as a whistle, and I hope that after this tip, yours are, too. No Rikering out for anyone.

First, open Address Book (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?). Then choose File > New Smart Group or hit Option-Command-N.

You’ll then be asked which parameters you want to set for your Smart Group. If you’d like, you can use this as a simple canned search. You know, “all people whose e-mail addresses end in,” for example, or “all cards that have addresses in Colorado.” Whatever makes you happy.

If you choose “Card” as the first option, you can also get some pretty useful date-based selections (such as which cards have been edited in the last year or month or whenever).

When you hit the OK button to accept your choices, your new group appears below any others you may already have. You can then Control- or right-click on its name to edit the group you’ve created if it doesn’t do what you hoped it would.

These Smart Groups, though, have some options that’ll help you figure out where missing information is in your cards. Let’s say, for example, that you imported a lot of your contacts from Gmail, and so you have a bunch of cards that are only e-mail addresses with no first or last names. You can use the “is not set” option that appears under many of the categories to sort those cards out and edit them all in one fell swoop. 

As you can imagine, it’s pretty easy then to find out which cards don’t have associated phone numbers, e-mails, and so on if you’re interested in that sort of thing. 

Smart Groups are awfully cool, right? That’ll teach you to listen when I say something. If only the people I know in real life would listen, then I would NEVER have to end up in the closet dressed as Riker. And the most terrible part about when I do is that I always have to be dumb old first-season Riker. I have trouble growing a beard, you see.