Create contact information from copied text

I’ve been looking for a smooth way to add contact information from text I’ve copied from a web site. The key is to use Apple’s Data Detectors feature in TextEdit.

First, you want to set TextEdit to be always ready for this action:

  1. Open TextEdit.
  2. Go to TextEdit menu > Preferences…
  3. Turn on Data Detectors, at the very bottom of the New Document tab.
  4. (I also like to change my default document format to Plain Text, but that’s not necessary to this procedure.)
  5. Close the Preferences window.

OK, now you’re ready to do this anytime:

  1. Create a new TextEdit document.
  2. Paste in any kind of contact information, e.g. name, address, email, phone number.
  3. Hover over what you just pasted. See that little drop-down arrow? Click it.
  4. You’ll see what to do from there!

Here’s a quick screencast. Enjoy!

What are Smart Folders?

What are Smart Folders?

They are super helpful, is what!

On the Mac, Smart Folders in Finder (also Smart Playlists in iTunes, Smart Albums in iPhoto, Smart Mailboxes in Mail, Smart Groups in Address Book, etc.) are containers for files or folders that meet a certain criteria. Think of them as a permanent search.

For example, you could make a Smart Folder that shows you all the documents you’ve opened in the last 3 days, or one for all your PDFs that are bigger than 2 megabytes.

In iTunes, you could have a Smart Playlist that always has the jazz songs you’ve added this week. In iPhoto, I created a Smart Album for all the photos I’ve rated above 3 stars, and I sync that to my iPhone.

You can create a smart container in the File menu of any of these programs. You’ll immediately be presented with a dialog box that lets you pick your search criteria, stacking them with “any” (if this OR that) or “all” (if this AND that AND that).

Smart containers appear in the same list with their manual counterparts, but have a gear icon on them.

Try ’em out. They can really speed up your workflow!

Backup Address Book & iCal, and troubleshoot syncing

Just a quick note of instructions for Leopard.
1) Backup Address Book
File > Export > Address Book Archive …
Agree to the default file name, saving it with a date

2) Backup iCal
File > Backup iCal
Agree to the default file name, saving it with a date

3) Quit all applications on the iMac.
Then open iSync in Applications.
iSync menu > Reset Sync Data

4) Let syncing happen. If it comes up with conflicts, review them, and choose the item in each conflict most likely to be accurate.

Address Book contacts are gone

I recently realized that all my contacts in my address book are gone. I was wondering how I should go about getting them back. I figure I need to use the back-up hard drive for this, but don’t know what to do exactly.

Exactly. As long as you haven’t backed up to the external since the contacts went away, you’re good. So:

  1. Quit Address Book
  2. In your home folder on your laptop, go to ~/Library/Application Support (where “~” is your home folder).
  3. Inside there, change the name of the folder AddressBook to “AddressBook old” (no quotes)
  4. Now plug in the external drive, and from your backup’s Application Support folder, drag that AddressBook folder into your laptop ~/Library/Application Support.
  5. Eject the external (just in case)
  6. Open Address Book. Your contacts should be there.

BTW, if that drive is the LaCie I remember it to be, with USB in addition to Firewire, then with the new Airport Base Station, we can plug the drive into the Base Station and share it to your network. Instant Network Attached Storage. Sweet!