I’m writing about ten pieces a week for MacNN.com to do primarily with software and given my obsessions, naturally productivity stuff crops up a lot. I mean, a lot. I’ve had the chance to evangelise software that has transformed my working life and I’ve also had the chance to try a range of new applications I wouldn’t – to be truthful here – have been able to afford.
Of the 100+ pieces I’ve written so far, there are many standouts but a recent one that was entirely new to me is BusyContacts. It’s a Mac-only address book and it is tremendous. I don’t think it’s gorgeous, I long to change parts of its look, but for features, it’s great. In fact, it is excellent – and chiefly because of one single feature in it.
From my MacNN review:
That feature is the Activities List. Like any other Contacts app, you can look up someone’s details and get all the regular stuff, like their many phone numbers, email addresses, and so on. In BusyContacts, though, you also get Activities. Right next to their contact card, you get a list of the last emails you two have sent each other (this only works with Apple Mail at present). You also get your most recent iMessage exchanges. Their latest tweets or Facebook updates. All there, all the time and immeasurably useful.
If you know you’ve got to call Bert, look up his contact card — and right there is when you last emailed him. You get the date, time, subject and opening lines, so you are instantly briefed on what you were last doing together. The more people you have to juggle and the more projects you are doing, the greater and greater this feature is.
That was posted nearly two weeks ago now and I’ve only come to like this app more. Here’s an example of something I’ve found useful that has previously been enough of a chore that I didn’t do it. There is one group of people I need to email from time to time. I could set a group email address but those are oddly awkward to do on Macs and the groups don’t cross over to the iPhone or iPad. It’s not that groups cross over in BusyContacts either, they don’t, but awkwardness and inability to use groups everywhere meant I didn’t bother with them at all.
I used to just find the last email I sent the group, quickly check through the names to make sure I remove a person who asked to be let out of the set, then I write the new email.
With BusyContacts, I can assign tags to contacts. As you read their address book card, type a keystroke and add a tag. It’s easy to do and as you go along merrily adding things like “Writers’ Guild” to a name, you build up a list of such tags in the app. Now I can drag someone’s name to the tag and have it applied.
I can click on the Writers’ Guild tag and only see those people who I’ve tagged with this. So far, so underwhelming, except that once this is what I see in my contacts app, I can Select All and email everybody. BusyContacts lets me send an email to everyone in that list – and it lets me send separate emails to each of them.
That plus the Activity List, it is just startlingly useful. I wish there were an iOS version, I’d be on that like a shot. Read the full piece.