Ask the MACist

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Welcome to the latest edition of Ask the MACist, the column where I answer your Mac and Mac-related questions with hopefully more clarity and insight than you could ever need. As always, I want to thank those of you who sent in questions this week. They are much appreciated. Keep it up!

And remember, if you have a question about anything Macintosh, Macintosh-related, or even something about another technology like TiVo, Blackberry, XBox 360, High-Def TV or whatever, send it to me at: themacist [at] gmail dot com. Ok, let's get to it.

As LAist Co-Editor Zach pointed out recently, at LAist we love Google and its various apps, especially Gmail and Google Calendar. So, to build on Zach’s post, and to answer some reader email, here's our question for the week from Gil in North Hollywood. He asks: " I want to use Gmail and the other Google apps for everything but I currently use Apple's Address Book and Mail. How do I get my contacts out of Address Book and into Gmail?"

Google offers a host of great features that are very useful and helpful to users. Best of all, they don't charge for any of these services — including Gmail, Google Calendar and the rest. For the Mac user wishing to switch to Gmail full time who has information currently in Apple's Address Book, there are a couple of ways to get your contact data out of Address Book and into Gmail's contact list so you can use it.

macist2.jpgBecause Address Book and Gmail don’t store contact data in the same format, you need to take the data out of Address Book and translate it into a format that Gmail can understand. One of the best ways to do this is to use a program called Address Book to CSV Exporter. This program takes contact data (called a vCard) you export from Address Book -- by selecting all of your contacts and going to the File Menu and selecting Export -- and converts it into a format you can import into Gmail’s contact list.

You can also use a free web-based tool made by a really nice guy at B Labs. It works the same way as the other program, only this time you’re using a web-based application instead of one you download to your computer. This tool will also take Address Book data and concert it for use in Mozilla’s Thunderbird email program – a very nice replacement for Apple’s Mail application. Although, I still prefer Apple's Mail program, Thunderbird is something worth exploring if you are looking for a feature-rich email program from the makers of Firefox.

Once you have your address book data as a CSV file after converting it with one of these tools, you then go to the Gmail interface and select "Contacts" on the left near the center. Then, once you are in contacts, click on the "Import" link on the far right. That will take you to another window where you can navigate to your CSV contact file (most-likely on your Mac's desktop) and import it into Gmail's contact database.

In future articles I will explore some of the other great features and applications Google has to offer. Plus, I'll show you how to get the most from your included Apple applications like Mail, iCal and Address Book. Until then, thanks for reading this latest edition of Ask the MACist.

About Chris Ullrich: Chris is the Technology Editor at LAist as well as a frequent contributor to other sites like Cinematical and Comic Book Resources. He also consults with clients in entertainment and related industries about how technology can help them exceed their goals.

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