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Syncing contacts

From: Up and Running with iCloud

Video: Syncing contacts

If you have watched the movie on creating and managing iCloud Calendar events, what you're about to see will be somewhat familiar. Like Calendar events, Contacts are synced in much the same way with iCloud. Let's take a look on a Mac. As we did when speaking about Calendars, let's be sure that we're syncing Contacts, and to do that, once again, we go back to System Preferences. Select iCloud, and sure enough, we have Contacts enabled. If you don't, just check that box. I'll quit iCloud, and on to the next step.

Syncing contacts

If you have watched the movie on creating and managing iCloud Calendar events, what you're about to see will be somewhat familiar. Like Calendar events, Contacts are synced in much the same way with iCloud. Let's take a look on a Mac. As we did when speaking about Calendars, let's be sure that we're syncing Contacts, and to do that, once again, we go back to System Preferences. Select iCloud, and sure enough, we have Contacts enabled. If you don't, just check that box. I'll quit iCloud, and on to the next step.

On the Mac under Mountain Lion, Contacts are managed by, well, the Contacts application. Under previous versions of the Mac OS, this was known as Address Book. So we'll launch Contacts by going to the dock, and click on Contacts, and here are my Contacts. On the left side of the address book-like interface are your groups. This is a bunch of contacts that seemed to fit logically together, from friends, family, and business contacts, for example. You can create a new group by simply going to the File menu, and choosing New Group, enter a name for the group, and there's a group.

To add contacts to a group, I'm going to choose all my contacts, and then I'll just drag some contacts over. I select that group, and here are the members of the group. Contacts can belong to multiple groups, so Joe Blow, for example, could be in my band, he could be a friend, and he may also be a business contact. If you click All Contacts, you'll of course see all your contacts. In the second pane are any contacts that belong to the selected group.

So for example, in this case, I have All Contacts selected, so all my contacts will appear here, but if I go back to My band, we'll see just those contacts. At this point, I can select a contact, and I'll see any information about that contact on the right. So, you may see very little information. In this case, I just have a phone number, or if you've entered more information about the contact, you'll see a lot of information on the right. If you'd like to edit some of that information, because maybe a phone number has changed, for example, click on the Edit button, and then you have the opportunity to select a field, and enter new information, and press Return. And you notice that it auto formats phone numbers.

If you want to remove an entry altogether, just click on the minus button, and that entry will be removed. When you're finished editing your contact, click on Done. To create a new contact, just click on the plus button, and fill in some information, and again, Done when you're finished. To be sure that we are really sharing Contacts over iCloud, we'll go to the Preferences from the Contacts menu, and choose Accounts. If you are sharing contacts over iCloud, iCloud will be the first thing that appears, and you'll see that this says Enable this account, and that option is checked. Then there is a Description, and your Apple ID.

You also have the option to store contacts locally, but in order to do this, you have to turn off iCloud sync, so I'll turn that off, and you notice what happened in the address book. All my contacts disappeared, and that's because all of them are stored in iCloud, but they're not gone forever; I can simply enable iCloud again, and there they are. So for the time being, let's disable it to see what happens. When I do that, On My Mac goes to the top of the list. I can select that, and you see that there's an option to synchronize with Google, so if you have some contacts on Google, you can synchronize in this way.

Enable that option, click on Agree, and you will be prompted for your Google account, and its password. When you do that, your contacts are synchronized between the two. So any contacts that are stored on Google for this account will then be brought into the Contacts application. We're not going to do that now, but I did want you to see how that's done. Click on Cancel, go back to iCloud, you see that it's inactive, and we'll enable it, and the contacts are back. To see how contact syncing works across devices, I'm going to create one more contact.

Jane Example, generic phone number, and we'll give her a generic e-mail address. Let's give her a picture too, so I'll click on Edit, and I'm going to give here a penguin picture, and click Done, and then Done again. Now let's see what this looks like under Windows. As you should now know, on a Windows PC, iCloud interacts with Outlook, rather than an Apple created calendar or address book. So to see how iCloud works with Contacts, I'm going to launch Outlook on my PC, and to see your contacts, simply click on Contacts.

Now, when I first do that, I see no contacts, and the reason is because by default, Outlook is going to show you My Contacts. These are contacts that are stored locally on your computer's hard drive, and I don't have any contacts on my hard drive. If I want to see my contacts in iCloud, all I have to do is move down to the iCloud heading, and choose Contacts in iCloud, and there are my contacts. Now, unlike a Mac, you have multiple ways to view your contacts. Business Cards is the default, but you could also look at them as Address Cards, Detailed Address Cards, a Phone List, By Category, By Company, By Location, and by Outlook Data Files, for example. For now, we'll use Phone List.

In Outlook, you can also create iCloud groups, but not in the way that you might guess. For example, if you were to right-click on the iCloud heading, and choose New Group, you'd think you have a new group, and in a way you do. So I'll name this. Then I'll grab a contact to add it to the group. I do that, and oh, I see the black forbidden sign, and the reason is that when you create a new group in this way, Outlook assumes that you are creating a new group for your local contacts, not for those stored in iCloud.

So let's get rid of that group by right-clicking on it, and choosing Remove Group. But you can add groups to iCloud, and there are couple ways to do it. The first is to select any group under the iCloud heading, and then click on Create New Group, Name your group, and OK, and there's your group. I can now select some contacts, drag them over, and we don't see the forbidden sign, and when I select the group, sure enough, there are the contacts that I dragged over.

Now, let's get rid of this group, just to show you the other way. So I'll Delete 'My Cool Group'. Again, I haven't lost my contacts; I just lost that group. Now I'll right-click in this area, and I'll choose New Folder, and OK, and here's the group, and it works just like the other one. Drag contacts over, and they appear in the group. You can also create new contacts in Outlook, and to do that, go to New > Contact, enter a name for your contact, give them an e-mail address, and we'll figure that's just enough information, so we'll click on Save & Close.

Now, because My Coolish New Group was selected, he's automatically added to that group. However, he's also in all my contacts, and here he is: Billy Joe Contactface. Now that we've created that new contact, let's see if iCloud has synced it to my iPad. Just like on the Mac, on the iPad, and other iOS devices, your address book is called Contacts, so let's open that by tapping on Contacts, and here are my contacts. If I would like to look at my groups, I tap on the Groups bookmark, and there are my groups along the left side.

Now, note the My band and My Coolish New Group groups; these are groups that I added elsewhere. I added My band on my Mac, and I added My Coolish New Group on the Windows PC, so this demonstrates that iCloud is doing its job, and these groups have been synced to my other devices. So I'll tap Done to move to my contacts, and here are my contacts. Now let's see if the new contacts are there that I added elsewhere. Sure enough, here's Billy Joe Contactface that I added on my Windows PC, and here's Jane Example that I created on my Mac, complete with a penguin icon.

Now, just like on a Mac, and on a PC, you can edit your contacts within an iOS device as well. So I'll tap on Edit, the contact shifts over a little bit, and you see the little minus signs, indicating that if I'd like, I can delete some of this information. I don't choose to, so I tap the minus sign again, but I can also add more, so I'll tap on this phone field. Hit Return. I can add another phone number if I'd like. I'll remove the keyboard. If I wanted to, I could add another e-mail address. I don't choose to; remove the keyboard again, and I'm finished editing, so I tap on Done.

I can also create a new contact from scratch by tapping on the plus button, tap in a new field, tap in the phone field, and let's give to Tim a picture, so I'll tap on add photo, Choose Photo from my photo library, and I'm going to make him a flower. Tap on Use, and there's Tim's icon. I'm finished editing.

I tap on Done, and now Tim has been added to my address book, and because I'm syncing contacts with iCloud on my iPad, that contact will then be added to my Mac, my Windows PC, and any other iOS device that uses my Apple ID. And so we see, as with Calendars, it's very easy to sync your Contacts using iCloud.

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Up and Running with iCloud

25 video lessons · 14684 viewers

Christopher Breen
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