Thunderbird Addresses

April 10, 2009 at 12:12 am | Posted in Internet, Software | Leave a comment

The Address book implementation in Thunderbird has a few curious gaps. Here are some tips to working with addresses better.

1 – By default, you can’t copy content in your address book card for pasting into something else, like a label. As I merged all address books here, this is not good.
A basic fix is the Addon “Select Address Book Text“.  To get fancier, “More Functions for Address Book” allows you to also export a card and do a bunch of bits outlined on this site. (download it there too)
(Get Addons from the TB site unless otherwise mentioned: Tools, Addons, Get Extensions)

More Functions also adds 2 more tabs to an address card (standards based). A photo (to 30K) and Other Data:  Birthdate, Anniversary, Spouse name, and Modified date & Category.  (ThunderBirdDay Addon will display the birthday in Lightening with this extension but appears to work just for one address book.)

2 –  if you imported a bunch of address books together, you may find a bunch of duplicates. “Duplicate Contact Manager” to the rescue. It will show both copies and allow you to merge data or copy and paste. Great tool.

But there’s also the opposite issue – you WANT duplicate contacts in different address books.
3 – Lists – I maintain several email address lists. In TB, lists suck. They’re all or nothing and duplicate their addresses in the root address book. I found this real easy to mess up. Add them to the list, and they’re added to the book. Drop them off the list and they stay in the book. Delete them from the book and mess up your list.

What works much better than Lists is Address Books. I create an address book for each list. You can then Select all,  deselect given addresses,  Right click to choose BCC, and thus work with it much more easily. Only problem is, you can’t copy an address card from one to another address book. (really) Move only. But you CAN copy them to another list.
SO – create a list in the address book you use for the list. (Button, or right click or file, new) Drag the “Cards” you want on the list from other address books. Then delete the list. The addresses remain in the root address book. Weird workaround but it’s fast. Just be careful with Duplicate Contact Manager in 2 above after you set this up.

Why do this?  Say you have local office, corporate staff, and client address books. You have a specific list you send updates to that includes a mixture of all 3. If you make the list in any of those 3 address books,  the others will get mixed in. Create a new Address book for your list – but then it’s hard to manage sets. You know client X is on holidays and your boss doesn’t want to hear from you today. With Lists – they get the email anyway. By just using the address book, you can deselect the 2 and then BCC the group. You can scroll to double check the list and email addresses in use. Much more professional…

Yeah, if it’s all in one address book, you can create lists for each group I mention with no duplicates, but again, you get into list limitations and lists for each possible circumstance. And I find working with sets of people much easier, even if there are a few duplicates to update.

Updates: If you use a list or use the above – remember to update addresses in both the address book and list book. I call the list address books ‘lists’ to keep clear. They’re all lists, but some are grouped by relationship and some by type of email.

Other handy Addons:
– If you do use lists and want some control in the email, Add Expanded List displays all addresses in the email so it can be checked and edited. Not possible otherwise, but still clumsy for a long list – all in one row.

I outline more Addons in a prior article on migrating to Thunderbird – including Lightning and Thundernote.

I mention Folderpane Tools in the comments. This allows your start folder to be the Inbox, also merging the Inboxes  Sent, Junk, etc folders of all accounts. You can also keep accounts separate if they’re, for example, for home and work. The Copy Sent to Current allows you to set where the Sent message is filed. I prefer to keep both sides of the conversation together. I’ve not found TB filters that useful yet.

One day, maybe TB will have Address Book folder trees and full featured lists. Then you can avoid duplicates and manage them like any other file. Sure like it better than Outlook though…


[Update – the More Functions category field adds some interesting possibilities. Sort, display and search by Category. That would change the need for a folder tree. Presently it’s just a text field so not constrained. And the data organization could use work – a Personal tab for home address, spouse, and dates for example.

Ooo – it also has a Call To setting that turns phone numbers into clickable links if you have SkypeOut or similar. Click to dial…]

Palm to TB link

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