Panther’s Mail: always defaults to “home” address in Address Book groups

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 9th, 2004 • 12:17 am

Here’s the full text of a bug report I’ve just submitted to Apple via Bug Reporter:

Mail: For Address Book entries with multiple email addresses, Mail always defaults to “home” address (or to first one when no “home” address).


  1. Create an entry in Address Book with several different email addresses (home, work, other, etc.).
  2. Go to Mail application.
  3. Display Address Panel (View menu).
  4. Select individual’s entry in Address Panel. “home” address is selected by default.
  5. Click on “work” email address to select it for said individual.
  6. Click on another individual.
  7. Click back on said individual.

After 7., “home” address is selected again, even though the last selected one was “work”.

It SEEMS to me that, in previous versions of Mail, the Address Panel was able to remember which email address had been selected. But I am not sure. In any case, it SHOULD remember.

This causes several problems:

*A* Mail rules don’t work right

Say you have an individual named Jane Doe who has two email addresses: a “home” one and a “work” one. You add Jane Doe to two user-created groups in Address Book: “Friends” and “Work”. You create a Mail rule that colors all messages whose sender is part of the “Friends” group in purple, and another Mail rule that colors all messages whose sender is part of the “Work” group in red. Since Jane Doe is in both the “Friends” group and the “Work” group, both rules apply to her. The color assigned by Mail to messages from her will be the color of whichever rule is applied last.

But in fact what you want is for messages that she sends from her home address to be labelled as from a friend (purple), and messages that she sends from her work address to be labelled as work (red).

In other words, when a single Address Book card is part of TWO groups, “Work” and “Friends”, you SHOULD be able to say: for the “Friends” group, I want her email address to be her home address; for the “Work” group, I want her email address to be her work address.

It is impossible to do this in the Address Book application.

But in Mail’s Address Panel, it LOOKS like you can select an individual in a group and select which of her email addresses you want to use for that particular group. That’s what the selection looks like when you click on one of the addresses in the panel. But in fact Mail forgets that selection as soon as you switch to another individual and come back. It reselects the “home” email address by default and, if there is no email address with the “home” label, it selects the first one in the list by default.

*B* Using Address Book groups as mailing lists

The second problem is that you might want to send an email to all the people that are in your “Work” group in Address Book, but of course in the case of Jane Doe you want the email to go to her “work” email address, not to her “home” email address. Unfortunately, here again, there is no way to specify which email address to use in which group. So you end up sending a message to her “home” address even though you wanted to send it to her “work” address and had selected the “Work” group in Address Book.

These flaws are a big obstacle if you are trying to use Mail and Address Book for serious email correspondence and mail filtering.

This is obviously a serious problem. I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that this used to work properly in previous versions of Mail. In other words, you could go to the Address Panel, select the appropriate address for the group in question, like so:

Address Panel

And then Mail would remember this selection permanently as the correct email address for the individual for this particular group.

Anyone has any recollection of whether this worked (i.e. Mail remembered the selected address in the Address Panel)?

4 Responses to “Panther’s Mail: always defaults to “home” address in Address Book groups”

  1. ssp says:

    While I haven’t come up with an explanation for <em>how</em> Mail selects an e-mail address out of multiple addresses myself yet, I can’t remember Mail ever selecting the correct address automatically by default.

    Actually, I think Mail should be able to remember a default address for each person (which admittedly is less sophisticated than what you outline for groups.) Indeed the VCard format does support that by having a line containing <code>EMAIL;type=INTERNET;type=HOME;</code> and Address Book does support that property for the first address. Yet, Mail doesn’t choose that address by default.

    I like to keep multiple e-mail addresses of people for historical reasons – so I can still have their picture displayed next to their old messages, btw.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Yes, we would need something more sophisticated than just a “preferred” email address. I am not sure quite how to implement it, but for each group that the individual is part of, we should be able to specify the email address to use in that group.

    People don’t have multiple email addresses just for historical reasons. They also often have a work and a home address.

    Thanks for the info about the vCard format. I guess it would be better than nothing.

  3. ssp says:

    Re. Multiple e-mail addresses.

    While I have a few of them myself and my parents to as well. The first thing we tend to do is forward all of them to a single place. Thus minimising the number of mailboxes you have to check (and potentially have to work around firewalls for…)

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    I’ve just (re)discovered the “Edit Distribution List” command in Address Book’s “Edit” menu, which effectively solves problem B in my post.

    But it still won’t solve A, because Mail’s rules do not take the Distribution List setting into account when filtering messages.

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