Mac OS X: Print Mailing Labels directly from Address Book

Mac OS X comes with a simple but very usable address book application. Before taking a box for shipping, I thought to print out the destination address from my address book rather than scribbling it down. The options for printing information from Address Book are varied — mailing labels (including to Dymo label printers), envelopes, full page or small pocket lists. This tech-recipe describes printing mailing labels directly from Address Book.


From the Address Book screen, select the addresses you wish to print (command-clicking to select multiple addresses).

Click File -> Print… and you’ll see a print dialog window. The right side of this window contains configuration options as shown here:

The Style pulldown menu allows selecting Mailing Labels, Envelopes, and so on. Many sheets of labels are described by an Avery number on the box or carton which can be used in Address Book to indicate the layout of the mailing labels you have. If you know the Avery number, select Avery Standard in the Page option (as shown) and the Avery number in the pulldown to the right (the example above shows Avery number 5161).

The left side of the print window shows a preview of the labels:

If your labels do not have an Avery number, don’t despair (much). You can make a custom layout. While this seems deterministic, in my experience it will take a little trial and error to get the layout just right.

In the Page: pulldown, select Define Custom… which will open a small dialog box asking you to name the new layout. Enter an appropriate name and click OK. The margins set the unusable space between an edge of the sheet and the nearest label. In the Labels section, you define how many rows and columns of labels there are on a sheet. The Gutters section defines the unused space between labels, either horizontally (between columns) or vertically (up and down between labels).

If you are uncertain about the layout or other settings (and definitely if you have defined your own custom layout), try printing to a normal sheet of paper first and hold that page up against a bright light together with a real sheet of labels to check the alignment.

Once you have everything set the way you want, click Print.

 

About Quinn McHenry

Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.
View more articles by Quinn McHenry

The Conversation

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  • kaplan

    I keep getting the kids names in my mailing labels. How do I just get:
    Mr. & Mrs. Steve Smith
    (address)

    • Nick C

      You can’t you have a Mac (like me) and they look easy cos they don’t let you do anything!

  • Anonymous

    Have you figured out a way to print labels in Address Book that include, Name, COMPANY, and address? I have spoken with Apple and they said there is freeware or something out there that will enable me to print labels that include the COMPANY name.

  • Alan Joslin

    How does one get the company names to print on mailing lables, below the person’s name? I can only get the name and address to print, not the company. This is a real problem.

    Please help.

    • Harris

      >Unquestionably, the very easiest way to print labels or envelopes on a Mac is to Download Ambrosia’s “Easy Envelopes” widget to your Dashboard. Yes, it will find all the addresses in your address book. You’re welcome.

  • stacyq

    A workaround to add the Company name: Add the Company name to the 1st line of the address field, hit the return key, then enter the 1st line of the street address. Fill out the rest of the fields normally. HTH.

  • GuidoMac

    I couldn’t get the formatting the way I needed it, and couldn’t remember what I used on my old mac for labels(which wasn’t much better). I saw a youtube vid on this topic, and went with an obvious suggestion…Avery.com…They have a simple FREE downloadable software that powerfully does everything I wanted and more, including logos, images(included), different fonts per label(but you need one text field per font/logo style[think of "move forward" "move to back" menu]). Total control!

  • C. Wheeler

    What if I want to print 30 labels of the same address… how do I get that one address to appear on each label?

    • Mimi

      Did you get an answer? I’m trying to do the same thing…

    • NormanMcN

      I did it by taking the one address and copying it 29 times (to use on a 30 label sheet) and then selecting those 30 entries. Of course, one then has to delete the 29 unwanted copies of the address, but that is no big deal to me.

      • http://johnmichl.com/ John

        Instead of duplicating an entry 30 times, create a Group and copy/paste the card there 30 times. Now use that Group when printing the label.

        • Anonymous

          …Instead of duplicating an entry 30 times, create a Group and copy/paste the card there 30 times. Now use that Group when printing the label…

          This worked perfectly – Thanks!

    • alley1971

      Use the Avery template under “Design & Print Online”. Works genius when it comes to creating personal address labels, meaning a whole page of the same.

    • Linda

      Easier to just use Word for this. Go into Tools, Labels, put the one address in, and off you go.>

  • Anonymous

    I am use the iwinsoft label maker professional to make my label.

  • Chuck Taylor

    Like you show here in the demo if you printed this sheet how would you the rest of the labels? When you go to print the next time it always starts in the top left side. There is six labels left on your demo sheet.

    • heismylight

      Start your sheet upside down the next time for the remaining labels.

  • AppleJunkie

    Works exactly as advertised! I used to key my addresses into Excel, then import them into Word via mail merge to print my annual Christmas labels. This is much easier. I simply tagged all of my contacts by entering the keyword “Xmas” in the Notes field, then created a Smart Group filtering on Notes containing “Xmas”. Much easier that the Excel/Word approach. Thanks for this info!

    • ShB

      A few common Mac Address Book issues with easy solutions:

      (1) Printing labels with name AND company: You can do this directly from the default address book software of your Mac, but you have to select the options and set the fields in a very particular order or it won’t work.
      File–>Print
      Then set the following fields:
      Label: Addresses
      Label: Print in
      Layout: Page (including the format number, e.g. Avery Standard 5160)
      Then you click CANCEL (it will save the settings)
      File–>Print
      Then set the following fields only:
      Label: Print: Company (Check)
      Label: Print: Country (Check) — country specification is optional
      Then click PRINT

      (2) Another problem I see people describing is that they are unable to easily import address from one contact into another. Solution is to click on a contact from the same company, then go to the Edit menu and click copy then Paste. Then you will have two identical entries, just go into one of them and modify the name and phone number and any other contact specific info.

      (3) Printing identical labels: Avery has free templates you can download. They take no time at all to use, and they will repeat the addresses on the whole page. Much easier than copying your contacts 30 times then deleting them.

      (4) What to do with the remaining labels after you print half the sheet: One solution is to insert the label paper in the other way around, as long as the number of labels you are printing is less than the number of labels left. Another option is to use up the remaining labels using the free Avery template, and just putting your sender address on them (we can never have enough of those!).

      Hope these tips help!

      • ShB

        PS. In order for the above to work (especially with respect to printing company and name), you may need to download the free Avery template. I understand there is some communication that goes on between Avery download and your address book.

        Also, you may need to have the Mac updates if any.

      • Smith

        Hi,
        I am having a problem printing labels from Address book. I followed your instructions to include company and it worked. However, it is printing two labels for each contact. One with the entire name, company & address and then another label with the same name and company, but with no address. I can’t figure out why it is doing this…can you help??

        Thank you!!!!

  • http://www.gregthompson.org/ Greg Thompson

    I can not BELIEVE they didn’t program Address Book to do a simple thing like print a whole sheet of 30 labels of the same person’s name and address.

    Ok, so I read the rest of the comments and am right now downloading Avery’s Design Pro for Mac… but what are these templates you’re talking about? I looked at the template section on Avery.com and they’re all for Microsoft Word, Photoshop, etc … says nothing about using them with the Address Book database or anything Mac related… so how do we do this???

  • Anonymous

    Dear Help,
    Typically, I want to print one or two labels on a sheet of 10 or fewer blank labels. How do I direct the printer to print the selected address to blank label six on the sheet. Note: this is easy with PalmDesktop. tks, Russ

  • fjpoblam

    Thanks for that! I’ve been struggling worthlessly, needlessly with OpenOffice, and was even looking at iWork. What a waste of time! K.I.S.S.! Does exactly what I need. (Shows you what a little binging around will do.)

  • Nancy

    Worked perfectly! I too was struggling and I can’t believe how easy this was! Thank you! I easily set up a distribution list and printed out just what I needed. :-)

  • Gayesf

    For Christmas card labels, I want it to say Karen and Pete Nova or Mr. and Mrs. Pete Nova (whichever is easier to set up). My contacts are listed only under my friends’ names, with the spouse entered in its own field. If I just print labels, they come out with only Karen Nova. Do I have to make a second contact for each for use only with Christmas labels using the form I want?

    I noted an answer the someone put Xmas in the Notes section and used a Smart group filter to pull those contacts into a label form to print. Would I have to make a second contact for each friend that has the husband’s name in the name field and put ‘Xmas’ in the notes area and use the smart group filter to create the Christmas list labels each time? Then I end up with duplicate contacts for everyone – one I use every day, and the other I use only at Christmas. Help!

    • JDH30350

      did you ever find a solution to this? we have the same issue!

    • Rob

      I’m trying to figure out a solution to the same issue. Any luck?

    • Pwest

      Me too. I thought switching to a Mac was supposed to simplify my life. Instead I take inordinate amounts of time to find out it just can’t be done like I used to be able to do simply on a PC.

      • Anonymous

        I can’t find a solution to this problem, either. Seems like such a shame, since it is an obvious and useful feature to have. I don’t understand.

        • gina

          I have been researching this same issues for YEARS! For now, I handle it differently for couples vs. families. For couples, I added the prefix “Mr. & Mrs.” and changed the first name to the husband’s name. If its a girlfriend of mine, I put her first name in the company field just so it’s there. For families, from the contact card, I enter “The Blank Family” into the company field and check the box for “company.” Assuming that you have already compiled your smart group, when you go to print, it will only print “The Blank Family” on the first line and then the address on the 2nd and 3rd line. Don’t bother with the “My Card Lists” app – it stinks and it’s formatted for UK addressing. Hope that helps!

        • gina

          I have been researching this same issues for YEARS! For now, I handle it differently for couples vs. families. For couples, I added the prefix “Mr. & Mrs.” and changed the first name to the husband’s name. If its a girlfriend of mine, I put her first name in the company field just so it’s there. For families, from the contact card, I enter “The Blank Family” into the company field and check the box for “company.” Assuming that you have already compiled your smart group for christmas card recipients, when you go to print, it will only print “The Blank Family” on the first line and then the address on the 2nd and 3rd line. Don’t bother with the “My Card Lists” app – it stinks and it’s formatted for UK addressing. Hope that helps!

  • Willard202

    For printing to those spare labels left over on a sheet, create a number of “blank” address cards (as many as you need to create blank spaces), with just one character in the address field (in my case I used a “period”, but anything will do so that address book recognizes it as a valid address), then make a new group (Shift-apple-n) which I called “Print Group”. Then add in all those blanks to fill up those spaces and the addresses you want to print. Select print and preview. You’ll soon see how to “trick” it into jogging the labels down the list. Clunky, but it works. Keep the “Print Group” until Apple comes up with a fix.

  • Cathy

    My printer dialog window doesn’t show a drop down for Style. How do I get the dialog window to show this?

  • http://? Kimberly Winnicki

    What was the response to Gaysesf from November 1 of 2010? About printing Christmas labels from the address book? I want mine to read Mr. and Mrs. or the The XYZ Family. How do I set that up to print? do I need multiple listings? with Christmas in the notes?

    • L.

      I am trying to print x-mas card labels…The Baker Family or Mr. & Mrs. Baker. Did you figure out how to do this?
      I entered The Baker Family on the Company line so I Just need to print Company name and Address. No contact name. Is this possible? Thanks.

      • gina

        I am trying to print x-mas card labels…The Baker Family or Mr. & Mrs. Baker. Did you figure out how to do this?
        I entered The Baker Family on the Company line so I Just need to print Company name and Address. No contact name. Is this possible?

        You cant still have a contact name but if you put The Baker Family in the company line, make sure you check the box next to company. Otherwise the labels will print with both the company name and the regular name. The only drawback to this method is that my friends, i.e, Sally, are now called “The XYZ Family” in my iphone. So annoying.

        • Ged Watts

          It’s that time of year and I’m sorting out my too! Here’s a solution to mixing up Christmas card mailing label names and ‘normal’ address book/contact names:

          1. Set up a group called Christmas Cards or any appropriate name
          2. Copy all the card recipients into that group
          3. Make sure that they all have ‘company’ names entered as your preferred mailing name, such as ‘The Wilson Family’
          4.Highlight all of the names in your Christmas Card group (click on any name and then command A)
          5. From the ‘card menu (at the top) select ‘Mark as company’ (this will convert all of the entries to your preferred mailing’ name). If ‘Mark as company’ doesn’t appear, click ‘Mark as person’ first, then ‘Mark as company’
          6. Print your mailing labels
          7. Highlight all of the names again
          8. From the Card menu select ‘Mark as person’ – all of the names will revert to the surname alphabetical listing, so they will appear as normal in the iPhone contacts listing (assuming that you are using iCloud)

          Good luck – and Happy Christmas!

          • Simon Westwood

            Worked great, thanks…

          • Andy

            Well done Ged, inspired :)
            Next it’s Apple’s turn to fix this one properly…

          • Don McClurg

            I am trying to print mailing labels on my Mac, for the first time. I have followed the various instructions. My challenge is that I have MS word, which does not have a label print option as in MS word. My OS X does not have a label option on the print menu. I have tried and failed attempts to convert my address files to .csv to import into Avery, but cannot seem to do that either, since my Xcel does not allow import of the address book files. Suggestions?

            Thanks,

            Don M

  • Wes Welch

    How does one get the address’s into the Address book?

  • kmklawns.com

    I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and exposure!

    Keep up the very good works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to blogroll.

  • L.

    Did you ever figure this out? I am trying to do the same thing.

  • Catherine Rowett

    This is absurd: the Mail programme used to assemble families with no problem, and connect spouses at the same address, and put in the title Mr and Mrs and all the rest of it. I was having no problem last Christmas. Now this time, having “upgraded” it won’t do anything right! What a load of nonsense! Call this progress: why don’t they just bring back the old tools?

  • Deb

    Unfortunately, all my preferred mailing names “The Adams Family” I have put into a nickname and would prefer not to have to copy and paste all into the company section. You solution above works for company name. Is there an option like this for nicknames?

  • jeff

    We have created our table…we have all of our address labels in it…when we go to print out the labels the only the first entry is showing up in the print preview…the same address is showing up in all 30 boxes even tho we have NOT selected the option that says print 1 address multiple times…we want to print out the 30 individual addresses we have loaded into the table…why won’t it do this…?

  • Clyde

    Very helpfull completed Xmas mailing list now I wish to up date my phone list, How do I do it. I tried marking the info I wanted to show up on a list but it just keeps saying “sorting”
    Help! Clyde

    • Clyde

      > What does moderation mean?

  • Bill O.

    Your description of how to print labels from Mac’s Address Book was very helpful. Could you please expand it a little and tell how to select which label on the page you want to print on.

    Thank you.

  • Craig Minor

    How do I get only the info of only selected contacts’ to print onto my Avery 8460 mailing labels?

    • William

      Create another group in Contacts. Drag the contacts for whom you wish to print labels into the new group. Then highlight the name of the group and follow the steps above!!

  • Willaim

    Great! I have Christmas Card lists in my contacts and tried for hours to convert an exported file that could be imported into Avery software to print labels. Finally I asked a different question and got this. Could not be simpler. In a matter of seconds I had all the labels I needed to affix to envelopes.

  • jth717

    How can you get the labels to print if you only have a first name, last name entered? Right now it only prints the labels if they have an address listed, but at times we need to print labels with just names so we can hand them out. ie “Mom and Dad”

  • john r

    thanks – this was very helpful – much better/clearer than other explanations…

  • Sharon Cook

    What do I do if when I go to “print” it won’t recognize any names? I have used this program many times. The addresses I’ve selected don’t show up no matter how I try to adjust it.

  • George Shanks

    This solution is ok if you want only one label but I want 30 labels all the same and I cannot get it. May have to ditch this Mac and go back to Microsoft.

  • juan

    Using Avery 5160 on Brother laser printer and Mac osx, only one label is printed, remaining 29 empty. Print window indicates 3 columns and 10 rows. How to solve this problem?