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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info Apps
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[Score: 8 out of 10]
TapDex is a System Preferences panel that lets you work with Address Book contacts without launching Address Book. Press a definable hotkey, and a floating search box appears. Enter some portion of a contact's name and or company, and you'll see a list of matches along with detailed info for each match -- you can cycle between the matches by using the mouse or arrow keys.

Once you've selected a contact, you can do quite a few things with their information. Click on the contact's name to open their record directly in Address Book; click on phone numbers or addresses to display those records in large type; click on an email address and your default email client will open a new message to that address. You can also control-click on the label next to the values to do other things -- for addresses, you can select Copy, Map Of, Copy Map Link, or Large Type. For other data fields, you can choose Copy or Large Type. If you've paid the $4.95 for the Pro version of the app, you can also dial phone numbers via Vonage (but not Skype) via the contextual menu.

The free version includes an unobtrusive (one line of text) advertisement for Yellow Mug Software's other products; pay the $4.95 registration fee, and that ad goes away.

Dan Frakes covered TapDex in this recent Macworld Mac Gems entry. One of his minor issues -- the ability to only see one row of the notes field -- seems to have been addressed, perhaps via a silent upgrade? I'm using the same version of TapDex that Dan covered, and I can see the full notes field for each contact. You can also customize the colors that are used for the large type foreground and background, as well as the color of card headers for contact and company names (and one background color for both).

My main issues with TapDex lie with its interface window. It pops up in a fixed location and can't be moved -- so if it's obscuring something you'd like to see along with the contact information, you have to close TapDex, move the background window, and reopen TapDex. In addition to being able to move the TapDex window within a given screen, I'd like to have the option of having it appear wherever the cursor happens to be -- so if I'm working on my second screen and I activate TapDex, it would appear on the second screen, right under the mouse cursor. Other utility apps (Butler, DejaMenu) work this way, and I find it quite intuitive. My final gripe with the interface is that the window is very transient -- if you run a search, and then accidentally click outside the TapDex window, TapDex vanishes, taking your results with it. To get back to where you were, you have to invoke TapDex again, then repeat your search. I would prefer it if TapDex could remember its window state when it vanished, and just bring that back when it was activated the next time.

But overall, those are relatively minor issues for a well-priced and useful utility program.

Edited: To correct an inaccurate comment regarding Dan's Gems entry, and fix an incorrect reference to Yellow Dog instead of Yellow Mug.
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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info | 16 comments | Create New Account
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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info
Authored by: gregpare on May 19, '08 06:50:40AM

"The free version includes an unobtrusive (one line of text) advertisement for Yellow Dog Software's other products"

I believe you meant Yellow Mug (not dog). Linux on the brain?



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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info
Authored by: robg on May 19, '08 08:26:42AM

Yes, not sure why YDL was on the brain (especially as I use Fedora when I visit Linux-land!), but I've now fixed the reference.

Thanks;
-rob.



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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info
Authored by: mpress25 on May 19, '08 07:38:28AM

Personally, I much prefer BuddyPop which performs the same functions with a more pleasant looking, customizable interface. Not free, not $4.95, but worth every penny anyway. Especially since I use it every day.



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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info
Authored by: macavenger on May 19, '08 07:40:48AM

So basically this is the Apple Address book dashboard widget with a couple of minor additions such as mapping, but without the ability to move it and with the requirement of yet another hot key to memorize/use as well as a one-line ad or else the request to pay? Or am I missing something? :)

---
Aluminum iMac 20" 2.4 GHz/3GB/300GB HD



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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info
Authored by: robg on May 19, '08 08:29:20AM

I don't like Dashboard widgets, primarily because they dim the screen and takeover the interface when in use. Yes, I know how to put them onscreen, and I know about Amnesty, which converts widgets to apps ... but I still usually prefer alternative solutions. (My machine typically doesn't have any third-party widgets installed; I use the stock tracker, weather, and movie widgets, and that's about it.)

-rob.



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TapDex - Quick access to Address Book contact info
Authored by: cleanhead on May 19, '08 09:38:17AM

To be fair, TapDex has been around since before Dashboard widgets. If anything, the Dashboard Address Book widget is a ripoff of TapDex. (And what's the difference between memorizing a hotkey for TapDex and memorizing a hotkey for Dashboard?)



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I prefer BuddyPop
Authored by: earthsaver on May 19, '08 08:18:38AM
BuddyPop was an immediate purchase when it was released several years ago. I was thrilled to find this convenient AB access app. BuddyPop runs in the background (no System Preferences) and appears with a keyboard shortcut. I can search any contact fields and I can choose which fields are searchable, among all that Address Book has. There is also integration with Bluetooth, modem, and VoIP dialing. Licenses are 10 €; volume licensing discounted.

---
- Ben Rosenthal
PBG4 1.25 - Leopard

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I prefer BuddyPop
Authored by: robg on May 19, '08 08:31:53AM

BuddyPop is an excellent solution as well, particularly if you use the phone a ton. But I don't, and for my needs, TapDex gets it done for free (or $5), which is quite a savings over the $20ish cost of BuddyPop.

Different products for different users...

-rob.



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I prefer BuddyPop
Authored by: ybizeul on May 19, '08 11:31:36AM

Hello Rob,

I red your article with interest, I was always wondering why someone would copy an application to add just no feature and release a cheaper price... Well, I guess your comment is a partial answer, nevertheless I maintain good developer should try to enhance, not copy.

That to say I may be releasing a cheaper version of BuddyPop without Bluetooth feature some day !

Regards,



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I prefer BuddyPop
Authored by: jcteo on May 19, '08 09:27:42AM

Yes, BuddyPop is a nice app with some features that TapDex doesn't.

I just want to point out that TapDex runs in the background just like BuddyPop. There seems to be a common misconception that System Preferences "plug-ins" somehow consume more resources or do some low-level system stuff. This is not the case.

For an app that doesn't show up in the Dock or have a menu, the most logical place for its preferences to live is in System Preferences. And that's all System Preferences is to TapDex, a place for its configuration interface. The actual app runs in the background and has nothing to do with System Preferences.

Also, to remove TapDex (or any other System Preferences add-on panes), simply Ctrl-click on it in System Preferences and select "Remove" from the contextual menu.

I hope that alleviates the anxiety some folks have when installing an add-on pane! :-)


-Jay Teo
Yellow Mug Software



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Quicksilver
Authored by: Akira on May 19, '08 12:50:02PM

Why would you need another app when almost every power-user has Quicksilver installed?
I often use Quicksilver for mailing and calling contacts.



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Quicksilver/address book plugin
Authored by: Anonymous on May 19, '08 03:38:05PM

Exactly. Install the Quicksilver address book plugin, then:

bring up quicksilver and type "adres" or something (select "Address Book), and right-arrow.
Then you can select a contact, see all stored information (emails/phone numbers etc), right-arrow into a phone-number and you can copy it, display it as huge text on screen, send it in an email, send it to iCal etc



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Quicksilver/address book plugin
Authored by: jcteo on May 19, '08 05:12:32PM
What you described actually sounds like an argument FOR TapDex. :-)

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore Quicksilver and cannot imagine using a Mac without it. Even though I am the author of TapDex, if I have to pick one, I would pick Quicksilver over TapDex (luckily there's no reason I can't have both!).

I use Quicksilver hundreds of times a day, but I don't use it to access my contacts. Following the steps you described, it takes me 14 keystrokes to reach my contact "Melissa". Using TapDex, I am there is 4 keystrokes and there's no need to pause, look at a list and select "Address Book" using the arrow key and then pause again to see if the search string "mel" actually lands me on that contact.

Spotlight finds everything on your Mac, so why do we use Quicksilver to launch apps instead of Spotlight? Because it's made for that purpose and does it better than Spotlight. Similarly, TapDex is made for Address Book contacts and does that better than Quicksilver.

TapDex is not for everyone, but if you look up contacts often enough, do give it a try.


-Jay Teo
www.YellowMug.com

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Quicksilver/address book plugin
Authored by: Sevan on May 20, '08 01:45:37AM

I don't know how you use Quicksilver to reach your Address Book's contacts but I need way less keystrokes to reach mine. I'd say 5 or 6 max. And even if Quicksilver wasn't done only to access contacts' information, it's plugin is more powerfull than TapDex IMHO. For example: in TapDex, are you able to select a file in the finder than press a keystroke, find a contact, open an e-mail message in Mail.app with the previously selected file attached, the subject line and the message pre-formatted? Or even send the mail directly from TapDex?

Well I use Quicksilver to do that about 10 times a day and it saves me so much time! BTW Quicksilver isn't -just- an Application launcher...


I didn't try TapDex, but if it does what I described it may be more suited for the job than Quicksilver. :-)



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Quicksilver
Authored by: SeanAhern on May 20, '08 12:30:30PM

14 keystrokes??! I can't think of anything in Quicksilver that takes that many keys.

I hope you know that Quicksilver adjusts to your abbreviations. Getting access to "Mellissa" should be no more than 3, maybe 4, in general. For example, getting access to Address Book is "AB" for me. Getting access to, say, Mark Miller, is "MM". Less frequent people, like, say, Mike Akridge, is "MIA". Always seek to reduce the number of keystrokes you use.



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Launchbar
Authored by: ptwithy on May 20, '08 02:31:53PM

Big fan of Launchbar. I only have to remember one hot key. I start typing a person's name, their address card comes up, I arrow over, depending on what I pick Launchbar will start an email to the person, show their phone or address in large type, or I can copy my selection and paste it. Etc.

I know lots of folks prefer Quicksilver. I just think Launchbar does more.



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