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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.

Quinn McHenry
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.


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