Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Is the OS X Addressbook brain dead - or the lesser of two evils
It's a long story but an isync foul up after a change to my Entourage configuration caused my Addressbook to double in size. Okay - so go to the backup - you say. Yes I did have a backup. But how was I going to identify the changes that had taken place since the last backup and reapply them. Anyway, the end result was that it was easier to slog through the addressbook and finally bring it up to date. It was this exercise that allowed me to delve in to some of the capabilities of AddressBook. The SmartGroup feature is a great tool. I was able to select records that had been updated a particular time window. Select all the records in the group and bingo! Hit delete and the duplicate records were gone. Nice! Now for the record updates. I needed to apply phone number edits to a whole bunch of UK numbers. Something I have been putting off forever. I also needed to update addresses and change URL references. This is where it got painful. There does not appear to be an easy way to do a search and replace in the Mac OS X Addressbook. Yes - you can find records easily enough. For example hit the spotlight search feature and you can select any record that mentions London. But that might include London, Canada too. What Addressbook needs is a powerful search and replace function where we can specify change "(0)181." in a phone entry to "208." or replace "(0)" with "" in any phone entry. Or how about - change Old Company Name to New Company name. I want to be able to create a group and populate it with the records I want to change and then apply a search and replace to the group, or to selected entries. Come on, Apple! The AddressBook is a central component in OS X. I love the integration with mail and iChat. Paul Berkowitz's entourage sync scripts were a blessing for Entourage and now the iSync integration in the latest Office 2004 for Mac service pack takes us a step closer to a transparent integration. What we need are a bunch of features for Addressbook. I want to be able to make changes to addresses without having to resort to Applescript. One enhancement I would love to see is the ability to right click (Ctrl-Click) a field and copy it to a buffer and then be able to do a Ctrl-Click when editing a record and paste the last entry. I don't want a dumb paste where the clipboard is pasted in to the field. I want to be able to paste the URL entry in to the URL field or the Street Address in to the Street Address field. Now, I have tried to use Entourage, but I don't like the IM support in the addressbook. It doesn't translate cleanly to AddressBook. I prefer the one pane mode of Addressbook to the multi-tab mode of Entourage. So to me Addressbook is the lesser of two evils. Now, Apple - if you are looking for inspiration take a look at the shareware windows application "Time and Chaos" from Chaos Software group. Its ability to remember field values was a great timesaver. It had search and replace that was invaluable. That application was the hardest thing to give up when I moved from a PC to a Mac two and a half years ago. I work with many large companies and musical offices seems to be a popular past time. It gets old really quickly when you have to make the same address change to each of 50 to 100 entries. We don't have the time to sit down and learn the ins and outs of Applescript to automate the process.
Posted by Mark Scrimshire at 4:07 PM