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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels Apps
Recently, I was attempting to use the Address Book label (and envelope) printing function. It pretty much worked as expected, except for one thing. I noticed that on one of my cards for John Doe, it addressed the label as John and Jane Doe.

Sure enough, I had listed a spouse field for John. This got me interested, as it makes use for holiday cards a little more personal. Next I added a spouse to one of my other entries, but much to my surprise, the special salutation was not created. I started experimenting, and eventually discovered some of the (undocumented) logic behind all this:
  • Address Book looks at the country code (ISO code) of the address that will be used. If that country indicates US, Canada, France or UK, it is eligible for this special processing. This will not work for any other country, but this can be changed, see below.
  • If the spouse's last name is identical, the entry will become John and Jane Doe, otherwise you'll get John Doe and Jane Smith.
  • Entries for children are also eligible. Result could be John, Jane, and Baby Doe.
  • It appears that if children are listed by first name only, and there is a single card in the Address Book with that same first name, or if they are listed by a full name and they have a card, they must have the same address on that card in order to be listed.
Now this can be put to use, although it has limitations in the case of children living with Mom, but carrying Dad's last name etc. I'll leave it to others to comment on the short-sightedness of this restricted logic, but the feature has promise. The other problem exists if you want this for an address that is not in one of the countries specified.

Some hints, tricks and tips:
  • The country code defaults to your Mac's installation country (I presume), which means for most of us, it means the vast majority of our cards will have addresses in that same country. For US, CA, FR and UK users, that means special processing.

  • The country code can be changed by clicking on the address label (home, work, etc.) while in edit mode, and selecting "Change Address Format..." Note that doing so will also force the contents of the country field to the same spelling as in the menu. For example, USA gets changed to "United States." You may later change this to whatever you want without affecting the country code. This is a bug in my opinion, but never mind.

  • The country code is also accessible via AppleScript. The salutation, however, is not, nor can it be edited directly. If this were possible, it would be a lot easier to get around the logic if it does not do the right thing.
    tell application "Address Book"
      set country code of first address of first item in selection to "nl"
    end tell
  • In some cases, the country code appears to be OK, and yet the formatting does not take place. Changing the country code to something else, and back, usually fixes this.

  • Be meticulous about checking correct addresses on all cards for names that need to appear together, otherwise it won't work.

  • The list of countries that gets this special treatment is controlled by a file called ABRelatedNamesConfig.plist, living inside the Address Book application bundle (control click the app and choose Show Package Contents), in the folder Contents:Resources. This file is in XML format, and contains entries with Boolean values set to yes for eligible countries. So you can set the boolean to no, or add lines for other countries. Use your favorite plist editor to do the work.
I am sure the logic I presented is not complete, but it is quite an exercise to try and figure this one out. Good luck!
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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: terrywhite on Dec 28, '05 08:01:37AM

There also seems to be some logic going on with the SEX of the individual. For example, if I add a spouse to a woman's card, it DOESN'T print on the envelope. However if I add a spouse to a man's card it does. If I add a child to either a man or a woman's card it does print. So the bigger question is how is Address Book guessing who's a man and who's a woman? Is it by the name?

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: chabig on Dec 28, '05 08:08:21AM

You're exactly right! I couldn't get some of my cards to exhibit this behavior. Now I see that if the woman is listed on the card and the husband is the spouse, it won't work. But if I simply switch the first names so the husband is listed and the wife is the spouse, it does work. Why would they do this? And as you asked, how does it know?

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Spouse name
Authored by: ngb on Dec 29, '05 01:03:26PM

I just tried this (OSX 10.4.3, Address Book 4.0.3) and the husband's name printed fine for most entries when he's listed as the spouse on the wife's card. We do a lot of pre-wedding sales and so we almost always have different last names for both.

Strangely enough, though, some address labels would not list the spouse and I could not find any common element. I had spouses with the first letter of their name work and I had husbands as the primary who's wife wouldn't print. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to when it does or doesn't work.

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: rspeed on Dec 28, '05 11:08:53AM

This is a great hint! It's amazing how much work Apple puts into things like this that so rarely get seen. Hopefully they'll make it work better in the future.

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: mastige on Dec 28, '05 02:14:04PM

Some other oddities:

I f the card says John Smith and spouse is Jane, then the label says John Smith and Jane. However if the card gives a full name to Jane Smith, then the label will be John and Jane Smith.

The spouse feature is erratic. I have a nephew Alasdair with spouse Karen. The label does not include Karen. Similarly my niece Ingrid has a spouse Martin and he does not get on the label. Clearly the sex of the primary person on the card is not the issue. This would be a great feature but for this bug.

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: mastige on Dec 28, '05 02:33:01PM

As I look further into this, it looks like the spouse gets on the label if the first letter of their name is earlier in the alphabet than that of the primary person on the card.

So Michael and Ellen works, but Michael and Nancy does not. So far I can find no exceptions. Anyone else?

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: arfore on Dec 28, '05 06:29:14PM

It appears that this goes a little deeper than that. I have found that Henry listed with a spouse of Andy, does not work however Henry with a spouse of Andrea does. Also, Henry with a spouse of Martha works.

Another listing with John Doe with a spouse of Mary Jane works if Mary Jane has a card that lists John Doe as the spouse.

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: sd on Dec 29, '05 11:05:38AM

Interesting hint...
Unfortunately, this feature is not localized.
In French, if I have a card for 'Jean Dupont', with spouse 'Michèle Dupont', the printed label is 'Jean and Michèle Dupont' (instead of 'Jean et Michèle Dupont', 'and' remains in English).

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: ngb on Dec 29, '05 01:06:04PM
It seems this feature needs a lot of work. And some options that could be toggled. There are many times I might want to print a label for John Doe and not include his wife Jane.

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: What's a cubit? on Mar 10, '06 03:45:22PM

It seems that if the spouse or child has the same first name as someone else in the addressbook, it won't be printed on the envelope. Kind of makes things erratic as an envelope will print fine for Bill and Hillary Clinton, but as soon as you add Hillary Duff to your addressbook, Hillary gets dropped from Bill's envelope. Feh.

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Tiger only?
Authored by: Montreal on Jan 07, '06 07:57:20AM

Is this just a 10.4 hint, or does it work in Panther as well? Playing around, the spouse field doesn't seem to do anything on my 10.3 copy of Address Book (3.1.2 v321)

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Spouse not printing in Address Book workaround
Authored by: noworryz on Dec 16, '06 06:50:18PM

Here's a workaround for the spouse not printing in Address Book, e.g., when printing envelopes. This is also known as the "Address Book missing spouse problem."

As mentioned above, the spouse will not print if the spouse's name matches the first name of any card (more accurately, neither the spouse or children will print if the first name on any card is a prefix of the spouse's or children's name). We are going to ensure that this never occurs.

The trick is to insert an invisible character at the beginning of the spouse's and children's name. A non-breaking space will not work but the unicode character 'hex 80' will work. (You could use a period, instead, but it will show on the envelope.)

Here is how to rapidly insert this character at the beginning of each name. If the Character Palette is not in your menu bar, go to System Preferences->International->Input Menu and turn it on.

Select Character Palette from the menu bar. Select Code Tables in the View pull-down menu. Click on the Unicode tab. In the center panel, scroll down until "0080" is on the left. Click once in the first column to the right of "0080" (under the "0" at the top). Go to the bottom of the palette and select "Add to favorites" from the little gear-shaped Action pull-down menu.

Click on the Favorites tab at the top of the palette. You should see something that looks like a fancy backwards-N. If you single-click on it, its information will say "Unicode: 0080 UTF8: C2 80."

Keep the palette open and go back to Address Book. Click twice (slowly, not a double-click) at the beginning of a spouse or child name to get a vertical insertion bar. Then double-click the backwards-N in the character palette. Repeat until all names on the card are altered. If you then print the card, the spouse will appear.

Don't bother trying to cut and paste the special character; it won't work.

You can quickly flip between cards by holding down the command key and pressing the "]" key. This will let you fix your entire address book in about 20 seconds per card.

Enjoy the holidays now that you can print your cards and not have to explain to your spouse why the other spouse's names won't print.

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Spouse not printing in Address Book workaround
Authored by: ElectroLund on Dec 17, '09 12:09:47AM

This is a great howto post, but in Snow Leopard, this doesnt seem to work any longer.

My labels arent printing spouses. :( Any thoughts?

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Spouse not printing in Address Book workaround
Authored by: barefootguru on Dec 18, '09 01:06:54PM

You can hack it by copying ABRelatedNamesConfig.plist from a Leopard copy of Address Book into the Snow Leopard Address Book.

See posting by Steve Rhyne in this thread:

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How to NOT print spouse and child fields
Authored by: noworryz on Dec 17, '06 12:24:33PM

I've also been asked how to NOT print the spouse and child fields in OS X 10.4. Subject to the rules above (no card has a first name that is a prefix of the spouse/child/etc. name and an address that does not match), Address Book will try to print the father, mother, parent, brother, sister, child and spouse names.

The trick is to make the names either type "other" or a custom type.

In Address Book card edit mode (entered by pressing the "Edit" button), click and hold on the word "spouse" or "child." Select either "other" or "Custom...". For custom names, you can enter something like "xChild," however, the new definition will not show up in the menu on other cards; you will have to type in in every time.

Of course, all these workarounds are necessary because Apple botched the feature definition. Let's hope they fix these problems in Panther with an option on the print menu and correct combining of cards.

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How to NOT print spouse and child fields
Authored by: ganoe on Dec 20, '06 08:01:51AM

Actually you can NOT print the spouse and child fields by choosing a "Distribution List" for "Addresses" on the "Label" tab. I found this tip on the Apple Discussion boards, and it works for me.

It would have been nicer to print the spouse and child names on my Christmas cards (Apple should have two checkboxes one to include the spouse name and one to include the child names), but unfortunately, it's inconsistently buggy. At least finally I was able to use Address Book to print my card envelopes (envelope printing AFAIK wasn't available prior to Tiger). I'm shocked that this bug hasn't been fixed, since it could easily be a nice feature. You'd think some business/sales/marketing types who keep meticulous records about their clients would be up in arms over this not working.

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How to NOT print spouse and child fields
Authored by: wanna1x on Apr 20, '07 06:58:32AM

Newbie to site here so bear with me.
I've read through this thread and ( help info in Address book ). but here is my question.

When attempting to print envelopes / labels form address book I get"

John Doe and Jane
11111 Main Street
City State Zip Note no comma after State

I don't see a way to have:

John and Jane Doe
11111 Main Street
City, State Zip

Or format for:

Mr. and Mrs. John Doe
11111 Main Street
City, State Zip

With out entering prefix for each and every card.

Or format for:

The John Doe Family
11111 Main Street
City, State Zip

Or format for:

The Family of John and Jane Doe
11111 Main Street
City, State Zip

Address Book version 4.04

Any one know what da heck ?

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Some tips and tricks for Address Book labels
Authored by: leturner on Dec 30, '09 10:42:02AM

An updated Apple Support Document details when label printing does (and does not) include related names on a label in OS 10.4 -10.5 and 10.6.


The short of it is they made a nice feature that tried too hard to be smart.

In 10.4-10.5:
Address Book will NOT print a related name (ID'd as spouse, child, etc,) on a label IF another Address Book card has the same first name with a different address.

You can force it to work despite the above if you make a card for each related person that includes matching addresses.

In 10.6:
Address Book does not print related names in labels.

The work arounds are:
- Manually: use "John & Jane" or whatever you want for the first name
- Hack: add the 10.5 Address Book plist file to the 10.6 version (search for ABRelatedNamesConfig.plist)

but honestly I think the feature's logic limits don't make it worth the trouble.

A shame. Because if it was "dumber" and just included related names, or a toggle at print time to do so, it would be fine.

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