Friday, September 7, 2012

Managing Email and Contacts (vCards) on the iPad

Managing contacts on the iPad can be a little tricky to learn, but once you are set up and understand a few of the basics, it is seamless and a far better experience than you may be used to.

In this post, we are going to review a few of the basic steps and also address getting contact information into your contacts using the electronic vCards.  Once this process is mastered, business cards will seem outdated (although everyone still uses them...).

Setting up Email; Designating Contacts Accounts

Multiple email accounts are simple to setup, and even simpler to manage!
Below are my email accounts – of which three are my “main” accounts.

When the accounts were setup, two accounts were indicated as “Contacts” accounts.  This means that my iPad reflects the contents of all contacts included in my main Gmail account and my work Outlook account.
When you have more than one account with contacts, you need to designate a “default” account.  Translated, this means…

“what account do you want me to put new contacts in?”

Once set, the iPad will set all new contacts to sync with that account.  In my case, I chose my Don Gmail (Main) account.

Setting Your Default Contacts Account

To set a default contacts list on the iPad, follow these steps:
1.     Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
2.     Scroll down to the section labeled Contacts.
3.     Tap Default Account.
o    If Default Account does not exist in the Contacts section, then your device has only one contacts list.
4.     Select the account you want to set as the default contacts list for your iPad.
5.     Tap Mail... at the top of the screen to return to the Mail, Contacts, Calendars page.

Sample screen below

Sending Email

It is simple to send email from either any of your email accounts, or when sharing from an application on the iPad.  If you send directly from your email account(s), the “From” address is the account you chose to start the email.  If you initiate an email from another app, the “From” address is your default email account.  However, this is easy to change, as shown below:

Tip:  Many times, depending on whether the information you send is professional or personal, you want the email to come from the proper account.  So, for example, if you are forwarding an article from the web to a colleague/client, you change the “From” address to your work address.

Managing Digital Business Cards (vCards)

Although many professionals use paper business cards, this is almost unnecessary today.  We operate in a digital world, where contact information is received (or capable of being received) seamlessly into our contact management process. 

Although managing this on the iPad is not necessarily intuitive, it is basic, and implementing a few simple steps will enable you to eliminate virtually all of your manual entering (or scanning) of business cards.

Typical sources of digital business cards are through an email or through the web (company website, links to digital business cards, etc.).

A few examples follow:


Link to business card included in email signature:


LinkedIn Connection


Company website contacts page

Digital Business Card to iPad Contacts

Now that we can obtain contact information digitally – virtually everyone provides this access – the goal is to create a seamless process for getting the data into your contact management system.

Import vCard Received as Email Attachment

If a vCard is received as an attachment, it is very simple to import into contacts
1.     Tap vCard attachment in email
2.     Tap “Create New Contact” in open contact information screen that appears
See the screenshot below.

Import vCard From a Web Link

This is more of a challenge – although it is a simple two step process to execute, it does require a third-party app (at least that I know of…).  This appears to be a fundamental oversight on Apple’s part.  Although there are at least several approaches to accomplishing this, I found the simplest method to be through the Evernote app.

The steps are simple:

  •   Open vCard in Evernote
  •   Open attachment in Evernote and tap “Create New Contact”
  •   Done

The visual of this process is below.

  • Tap vCard website link

  • Tap "Open in Evernote" button

  • Open vCard in Evernote and tap “Create New Contact

  • "Edit" mode once you tap "Create New Contact" (edit, if necessary, then tap Done)

  • Contact in Address Book


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