One of the great advantages of using a Mac system is that so many apps are well integrated and very nicely share data amongst themselves.
For example, have you seen how easy it is to email photos from within iPhoto directly through Apple Mail? Similarly, you can access your iPhoto images, movies and iTunes songs and playlists within apps such as Pages, Keynote and Numbers utilizing the Media Drawer. These are just some of many examples where, because of this kind of integration, working in an Apple ecosystem makes your workflow so much easier and more productive, while maintaining a high level of just plain-ole fun.
Together in this article, we’ll take a look at how this kind of data integration can be used in the Contacts app. Contacts has hooks into mapping data, thanks to the debut of the Maps app in OS X 10.9 Mavericks. Furthermore, Contacts and Maps integrate perfectly with the Mail app.
By way of illustration, I will show you how a friend takes advantage of this inter-application cooperation.
My pal and confessor, Father Guido S., wants an easy way to email his residence address to members of his flock, but he also would like the message to include an actual street map showing his location. Father G’s in luck because with Mavericks, he can finally accomplish this quite easily, replacing an obscure cut-and-paste technique that was conceived by monks cloistered in their abbeys during the Middle Ages.
This is Father Guido’s contact card as it appears in the Contact app on his Mac
When you first set up your new Mac or you create a logon account, you generally have your own personal contact card configured for you. It's called the “Me” Contact Card. This allows the Mac to identify you as the owner of the account, and is used in several handy ways. For instance, when you open correspondence templates in Pages, the address content from your contact card is automatically entered in the sender portion of the document.
Open Contacts, and bring up your contact card. At the top of the card, in the profile picture box, you will see a “me” prominently shown, identifying this as your contact card. This is the information that is used in case you want to distribute your vCard. This is an electronic, virtual business card that can be attached to an email.
By hovering or rolling over the address, the Show Map link becomes visible
Next, go to the section of the card that displays your mailing address, and hover your cursor over the address section. You will see a “Show Map” line appear on the right edge of the card’s window. This is one of those unfortunate annoyances where many commands are invisible until you hover over a particular area. I call this unfortunate because many people simply miss these fleeting features. It’s not too intuitive at first, but once you learn about these, you don’t tend to forget.
OK, so click on Show Map, and your address information is transferred to the Maps app, which opens to a map detail showing your location.
Father G’s address is sent to Maps. View modifications can be made, then email via the Share Button
You can zoom in and out to have as much detail shown as you need. Some ways you can zoom include the use of the little -/+ buttons on the lower-right corner, the Command - + and Command - – shortcut keys, or a two finger swipe up and down on the trackpad.
The Share popup menu offers Father G several options for sending out his map information
By clicking on the Share button on the Maps toolbar, a popup menu appears offering several options for sharing this map information including the address, of course. One of the choices available is email. Selecting that will launch the Mail app, open a new message window, and paste in a copy of the map with the address listed in the subject line.
I receive Father G’s email with his vCard and map
All that’s left for you to do is to address the email, add additional body text if desired, and send it on its way. Also included within the message body is a link that your Mac or iDevice-toting recipient can use to open your map in his own Maps app. Finally, your multi-platform compatible vCard is also included as a file attachment. The recipient simply double-clicks on the vCard icon to have it imported into whatever contacts application is in use.
You can also have a specific driving route to or from your address plotted directly onto the map you are sharing. To do this, once you are in the Maps app and your location is displayed, click on the Directions button next to the Share button in the Maps toolbar.
Father G can be nice and send me directions to his palatial estate from the airport
The Directions Panel opens on the right, into which you can configure your Start and End points based on your address. Use the squiggly arrow button to the left of the Start and End fields to switch the contents of those two fields if needed.
So, for example, you could use the Directions panel to include a route plot showing your recipient the best way to travel from his address to your place, or from the airport to your location. Just think how you will be lauded for being so considerate!
Father G sends me route information. It comes attached as a PDF file
Finally, don’t forget that you can also choose to send either a Standard road map, a Satellite photo, or a Hybrid map – a road map superimposed over a Satellite photo. These controls are found at the very top of the map window.
To summarize, taking advantage of app synergy on your Mac (and iOS devices) will definitely boost your productivity and delight you along the way. The new Contacts/Maps/Mail integration in Mavericks is one of many examples of the true power of Apple computing through cooperative interaction between apps.