Tis the season to hack your address book…

fa la la la la, la la la la!

Every Christmastime, I have to relearn how to make the Mac OS X Address Book behave.  A couple years ago, Sarah and I started using my address book (which is entered in our iMac’s Address Book application) to store all our Christmas letter addresses.  Well, as it turns out, if you have two separate entries each member of a couple (say, John Doe and Jane Doe), if you were to print either one of these, the other’s spouse won’t show up on an envelope.

Forget that there is a special field seemingly for this purpose called, fittingly, “spouse”.  Apple, in all their wisdom, apparently disabled the special printing feature which would allow you to print the spouse’s name along with the contact’s name on envelopes.

After much reading on the Apple user forums, the good tech nerds there pointed me toward a solution.  One needs to create a new plist file and add it to the Address Book.  Here is the file you need:

ABRelatedNamesConfig.plist

Instructions

  • Save the above file to: /Applications/Address Book.app/Contents/Resources/
  • Prep your contacts so that the Spouse – Name entry is the full name. For instance, for a contact named John Doe, the Spouse field should read “Jane Doe” and then the printed label for John will read “John and Jane Doe”

Update (12/15/2013)

A reader rightly noted that the above instructions don’t quite work for OS 10.9.  Note that the genies at Apple renamed Address Book.app to Contacts.app.  Otherwise, the exact same steps above still work.

13 Replies to “Tis the season to hack your address book…”

  1. I’m pleased to report that this hack still mostly works, even after upgrading to OS X Lion. There are a few of my address entries that refuse to “find” the spouse field and print. Hmmmm.

    1. Adrienne, that’s going to be harder (impossible?) to do. Contacts matches the people based on their last name.

      Oddly, Apple isn’t feeling very progressive in this regard. 😉

        1. You should remind people that they will need to select Show Package Contents under Applications/Contacts to view these files in newer OS versions. I got this to work in Mavericks.

          1. That’s a good point, Bruce.

            I’ve also noticed that this fix isn’t very perfect. In my own address book, I had some contacts with “sister” or “brother” or “son/daughter” keys attached. And unfortunately, it would include all children as well, rather than just spouse. Oh well, time to just get it done and move on…

  2. Do you know how to make this work in Yosemite? It won’t let me add a file to the folder. I try to change the read/write priveledges on the folder and it says “The operation can’t be completed because you don’t have the necessary permission.” and I am the adminsistrator (and owner) of the computer.

    1. Hmm, no I haven’t tried it yet this year. Bummer, as I’m on Yosemite now too.

      However, I’ve moved over to Google services for my address book. So, I don’t know that I’ll have to revisit this again this year.

  3. Couldn’t get the file to move into contacts.app in OSX 10.11 el capitan, but copying contacts.app to a different folder and then putting the file within that copy worked.

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