Most versions of Windows include an electronic 'Filofax'. We explain how to make the most of this feature and keep all vital names, addresses and numbers safe
All popular versions of Windows come with an electronic address book that stores contact information, such as people’s postal address, phone numbers, email addresses, website details and so on. The most recent versions can even add photographs to contact records, as a useful visual aid.
In this Back to Basics, we will explore the tools built in to Windows XP, Vista and 7 to allow you to store contact information about friends, family and business associates. We will explain how to add contacts, manage existing records and then look at the ways these can be used with other programs.
What is Windows Contacts?
Windows Contacts is a program that is included with Windows. It is designed to store names, addresses, phone numbers and other details. In Windows XP, it’s called Address Book, but in Vista and Windows 7 it’s called Windows Contacts and Contacts, respectively.
If you are using XP, click the Start button and then choose All Programs, Accessories and then select Address Book from the menu.
To find someone’s details, either pick their name off the list (if there are only a few contacts) or type it into the empty search box. If using Vista, click the Start button, type Windows Contacts into the Start Search box and then left-click the program when it appears on the menu.
Windows 7 users should click Start, then type Contacts into the Start Search box and then pick the program off the menu. To find a particular contact, scroll through the list or type their name into the Search box at the top right.
Adding a new contact
If using Windows XP, launch the Address Book as described above, click the New button and choose New Contact from the dropdown menu.
When the Properties dialogue box opens, fill in as many details as you like – there are a series of tabs along the top that allow you to, for example, separate personal and business contact information. There are no hard and fast rules governing what to type in here, but the more information you have got, the more useful the record will be.
At a minimum we would recommend name, email and postal addresses, phone number and website address. More than one email address can be added, and any one can be set as the default.
To do this, type in the first address and click the Add button. Now type an alternative email address and click Add. From the list below, click to select the address you normally use and then click the Set as Default button. When done, click OK to store the details in the Address Book.
Windows Contacts and Contacts are pretty similar. Launch them as described above and click the New Contact button. Fill in the details by working through the tabs.
Although Vista and Windows 7 talk about a ‘preferred’ email address, rather than a default one, it means the same thing. Click the Set Preferred button. You can also add a photograph to go with your contacts – see the mini-workshop at the end of the article for an explanation.
Contacts can be listed individually or arranged into groups. In XP, click the New button and choose New Group. When the Properties dialogue box opens, give the group a name and click Select Members.
Pick the people you want to include from the list in the left-hand column and click Select to add them. Click OK when finished and then OK again to create the group.
In Vista and Windows 7, click the New Contact Group button and when the Properties dialogue box opens, give the group a name, then click Add to Contact Group, select the people to include and click Add.
Then click OK. The new group will appear alongside other contacts. Groups are useful when, for example, you wish to send the same email to more than one recipient – right-click on the group name and choose Action, then Send Mail (or Send Email).
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