Mac OS X Tips

Every day of the week, we have social connections with various groups of individuals. These groups of people can be family, friends, colleagues, clients, and any other group of people you interact with. All their names, addresses, phone numbers, etc can fit in the palm of your hand, in a virtual contact book.

The contact book can be kind of a mess sometimes though. How do you separate all your contacts into distinct groups? How can you quickly email your work colleagues without manually inputting each email address? The answer is contact groups. Just like you put a label on certain groups of contacts in your life, you can do the same with these same contacts in your address book.

A group list can be handy if you want to create a distribution list for example, or simply if you want to quickly send messages to a group list.

In this post, we’ll show you how to create contact groups on your Mac. There are several ways to go at it. You can manually create groups of contacts or let Mac OS X do the heavy lifting for you by quickly creating smart groups. Of course, we’ll show you how to edit and delete those contact groups as well…

How to create a group of contacts on a Mac

Step 1: Launch the Contacts app on your Mac.

Step 2: In the Menu bar, go to View > Show Groups. This will bring up a sidebar in the Contacts app.

Show Groups

Step 3: Go back to the Menu bar, and go to File > New Group.

New contacts group

Step 4: A new “untitled group” will then be created. Double click on the “untitled group” and rename it something more descriptive. For example, you can rename it “Colleagues.” You now have a new group but as you can tell, it is empty.

new untitled group

Step 5: To populate your newly create group, click on “All Contacts,” then find a contact you want to add to your group. Simply click on, then drag and drop the contact in the group to add him to it. Repeat this process with every contact you want to add to specific groups.

add contact to group

Pro tip: You can add several contacts at a time to an existing group by holding the Command key of your keyboard while selecting multiple contacts with your mouse. Once you have selected several contacts, just drag them to the group you want to.

How to quickly create a group from selected contacts

As an alternative to the method described above, you can quickly create a group by individually selecting several contacts at a time and add them all to a newly created group.

Step 1: Launch the Contacts app on your Mac.

Step 2: In the Menu bar, go to View > Show Groups.

Step 3: Click on the “All Contacts” group to highlight it.

Step 4: Hold the Command key of your keyboard while selecting several contacts with your mouse. The selected contacts will be highlighted in blue.

Step 5: Go to File > New Group From Selection. This will automatically add your selected contacts to a new group.

new group from selection

Step 6: Rename the newly created “untitled group” to whatever you see fit.

How to create Smart Groups of contacts

Mac OS X has this great feature that allows you to quickly create contact groups based on predefined criteria that you select. For example, you can tell your Mac to create a group and include all contacts who work for XYZ company. Assuming you have this data in your contact cards, your Mac will be able to intelligently group these people together.

In the following example, I will create a contact group of iDownloadBlog staffers based on their email address.

Step 1: Go to File > New Smart Group.

new smart group

Step 2: Name your smart group whatever you see fit. I chose to name it “iDownloadBlog.”

create smart group

Step 3: Select what piece of data you want to base your smart group on. I chose “email,” but you can choose from many data points including company, name, city, etc…

Step 4: Select the matching condition. I chose “contains.”

Step 5: Select the condition. In my case, I typed “idownloadblog” as I want all contacts that have an email address that contains “idownloadblog” to be added to a new group.

Step 5: Click OK. Your new group will then appear in your list of groups on the left side of the Contacts app, in a newly created subcategory called Smart Groups.

Note that you can’t manually add or remove contacts from a Smart Group once it has been created. For instance, in my example above, I wouldn’t be able to add a specific contact to my iDownloadBlog smart group. However, and this is where smart grouping gets even smarter, if I add a new contact to my address book, and assuming this new contact has an @iDownloadBlog email address, he will automatically be added to the Smart Group without any manual input on my end.

Pro tip: You can fine tune your Smart Groups by adding up to two levels of conditions. In this example, I am creating a group of people who have an email address containing “idownloadblog” and who live in California. Simply click on the + icon to add a new condition.

smart group finetune

How to remove specific contacts from contact groups

You do have a couple options to remove a contact from a group, both of them will be listed in step 3.

Step 1: Click to select the group from which you want to remove a contact.

Step 2: Click on a contact from that group to select it.

Step 3: Hit the Delete key on your keyboard once. A warning message will pop up asking you if you want to delete the contact or simply remove it from the group. Click on “Remove from Group.” You can repeat the process with any contact you want to remove from a group.

remove contact from group

Alternatively, after selecting a contact you want to remove from a group, you can go to Edit > Remove from Group. This will remove the contact from your group, but it will keep it in your All Contacts group.

How to delete a group

It is fairly quick and simple to delete a group. Note that even though the group itself will be deleted, none of the contacts inside this group will be deleted. All your contacts will remain intact in your All Contacts group, which you can’t delete.

Step 1: Click to select a group you want to delete.

Step 2: Go to Edit > Delete Group. As an alternative, you can just hit the Delete key on your keyboard. A warning pop up will ask you if you are sure you want to delete the group. Click “Delete’ to confirm.

Again, none of your contacts from the deleted group will be deleted. Only the group label is deleted.

I believe this covers the various ways of creating contact groups on Mac. Now instead of having to manually add the email address of all your work colleagues, you can email them all in one scoop by just typing in the name of the group. This is a definite time saver, but also a good way to keep your contacts organized.

  • Bob Niffen

    Now if the iPhone would allow you to do the same so that you could email everyone in your group all at once I would be a happy camper!

    • QuarterSwede

      Yeah, no kidding. I can’t even remember the last time I used Contacys on my Mac.

  • Prathik Nair

    idownloadblog looks so much better on mobile devices now

  • Aaron de Silva

    Thanks! Really needed this!

  • Hyr3m

    Woah! Next time can you show us how to click on the “Save as…” option in Microsoft Word’s ‘File’ menu ?

  • Robert Goldberg

    So you can send an email to a group from the contacts app, but how do you do that with one click from the mail app? I only seem to be able to pull up all the email addresses within the group in the mail app, but I can’t add them all at once… Thanks.

    • I am not sure I understand what you’re saying

    • Paul K

      In Mail – click on New Message and in the To field enter the name of the Smart Group. It should autofill with the e-mail addresses of all group members.

      • Robert Goldberg

        Well that was pretty simple, as everything with apple… Thanks Paul!

  • Stephen D

    Hey! Fairly fresh to Apple/Mac, have had my 4S for a couple years but really havent used it to its fullest. Just got a used MacBook last month and trying to get it all linked up so I can send group texts from both my phone and mac and so they populate both text threads…Possibe? it looks like Cnnect Conacts Manager is only for Phone. How do you marry the platforms?

  • Vanessa Fanning

    Uesless information for anyone who wants to create a distribution list of people who they have no need to place in their contacts as they are a member of a Group but not necessarily friends. How do you create a group that may only exist for a limited period of time and who you never email except for a specific purpose e.g. art group, book group etc. It is eay to do this in Outlook. Why doesn’t Mac have this functionality? scallions of people need an easy solution

  • Chris H

    If a contact has multiple email address, how can I define one email address to use within the group?

  • Allen

    It seems like these groups should be synced to the iphone but aren’t. Is that just a problem with my system, or a weird disconnect on Apples part?

  • Very well written and step by step explanation, appreciate work of writer

  • Kat

    How do I remove my email address from a group?