Apple Contacts: A Complex Beast
Understanding how Apple Contacts does structure and organize data is the key to work efficiently with Exporter for Contacts. As you may already know, for certain contact fields, Apple Contacts allows you to enter an unlimited number of different values per contact. These multi-value fields can be tagged with pre-defined labels, some field types can even have custom labels that you define.
For example, contact A can have two email addresses of type "home" and "work", while contact B can have two email addresses of type "home", one of type "work" and one with a custom label of your choice, say "office". The same applies to many other fields as well: You can enter as many different street addresses, phone numbers, etc., per contact as you like.
CSV and Excel files are storing data in rows and columns – a so-called two-dimensional table. When exporting contacts data to these formats, Exporter for Contacts needs to transform the flexible structure of Apple Contacts into the rigid grid of that table. In this grid structure, a row represents a contact, while a column represents a field type of a certain label.
As a consequence, when exporting email addresses, you have to tell Exporter for Contacts which email types you want to include in the export. For each email address/label combination that you specify in the export layout, a separate column in the Excel file will be created. Of course, if -- for example -- a contact has no email address of type "work", the corresponding Excel cell would then be empty.
About the “Primary” Label
Sometimes you only want to export the primary/default email address or phone number of a contact instead of all available values. But while contact A's primary email address is its work email address, contact B's primary email address is the one with the "office" custom label. To define a preferred value of a multi-value field in a group context, Apple Contacts offers a cool feature: distribution lists. Each group can have its own distribution list. To setup a distribution list for a group, select the group and choose "Edit Distribution List..." from the Contacts’ "Edit" menu.
Exporter for Contacts does support distribution lists. To export the primary email address only, remove all email rows except one from the export template. Then change the label of the remaining email row to "Primary". Now add the group for which you have defined the distribution list before to the list of items to export. Make sure to add the group itself and not its members and don’t add additional contacts or groups to the list.
Note that this works for phone numbers and street addresses, too.
Note: If you have selected more than one group or individual contacts for the export or if you do not have defined a distribution list, the app exports the first value it can find.