Microsoft/Mac Monday

These days, it can be difficult to manually keep track of contact information for family, friends, and co-workers. Not only is there usually a phone number to remember, but often times there are multiple phone numbers, email addresses, fax numbers, pager numbers, etc. One way to solve the problem of trying to keep up with all of your contact’s information is to use an application for managing them. Luckily for both Vista and Leopard users, there’s a solution built right-in to the operating system. If you’re using Vista it’s called Windows Contacts and if you’re using Leopard it’s simply called Address Book. Today we’ll be comparing the features of both and covering some of the best features that each offers.

Finding Windows Contacts and Address Book

While this may be very basic, if you can’t locate Windows Contacts or Address Book on a Mac, they will be of no use to you! So for those who aren’t quite sure where to look…

To find Windows Contacts

Press Start key and start typing “Windows Contacts” — it comes with Vista so you already have it on your computer. This is what you’ll be looking for:

windows contacts.png

To find Address Book (Mac)

Address Book comes with Leopard and should already be located on your Dock. Just look for this icon:

address book.png

Highlights of each…

One of the nicest parts of both Windows Contacts and Address Book is that they come with the operating system. It’s not that either is an extravagant way to manage contacts – it’s simple and that’s what is great about it. Both options allow you to include all of the important details you would need for your various contacts including email addresses, telephone numbers, a photo, extra notes, etc.

Using Windows Contacts

For those of you using Windows Contacts, your navigation bar is at the top of Windows Explorer. From there you can add new contacts, create a new contact group, and import or export your contacts. If you decide to export your contacts, you can select among CSV or vCard formats.

windows contacts 2.png

You can either have a list with all of your contacts, or you can divide them into groups by creating “Contact Groups.” Examples of Contact Groups you’d have include family, friends, and co-workers. Using the groups really helps to keep everything organized and also makes it easier if you need to email all of the members of one group and you’re using Outlook.

Another aspect that is nice is for when you’re entering all of the information for your contacts. Microsoft chose a tabbed interface which divides the information into the following categories:

  • Name and Email
  • Home
  • Work
  • Family
  • Notes
  • ID’s

It’s nice to have the information broken down for two reasons. First, it makes entering the information a little more organized. Secondly, it makes finding the information when you need it effortless. Take a look at the tabbed interface that I’m talking about:

windows contacts 3.png

For the basics, Windows Contacts gets the job done in a very simple way.

Using Address Book

After using Windows Contacts, using Address Book on a Mac was pretty different because there’s more to it and the interface is completely different. It’s integrated with Mail, iChat, and other apps which means accessing your contact’s information from those apps is simple. Here’s an example of this integration. I created a contact group labeled “Family” and it has all of my family members listed. When I went to Mail to send a message, all I had to type was the group name which was “Family” into the “to” field and it pulled in all of their email addresses.

address book-1.png

The Address Book is divided into 3 panes (you can also switch to a “Card Only” view), and to add a contact, you just click the “plus” sign in the 2nd pane. In the 3rd pane you’ll see all of the information. There are no tabs, you just scroll to come across all of the information. Like Windows Contacts, you can add a picture and if you have any extra information you’d like to add, there’s a “notes” section.

Extra features that Address Book offers that I really like include the option to print a “Pocket-sized” version of your contacts list as well as the option to create a “Smart Group” which will update itself “if any contact fits the same search criteria you set for a Smart Group.

Wrapping it up…

Overall I’d say Apple did a better job with Address Book than Microsoft did with Windows Contacts, but both get the job done of providing a simple way for people to keep track of their contacts.

So far we’ve taken a look at the following Leopard vs. Vista comparisons: