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Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Yosemite Edition by David Pogue

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Data Detectors

Here’s a cool step-saver, something no other operating system offers—a little something Apple likes to call data detectors.

In short, Mac programs like Mail and TextEdit can recognize commonly used bits of information that may appear in your text: a physical address, a phone number, a date and time, and so on. With one quick click, you can send that information into the appropriate program, like Calendar, Contacts, or your Web browser (for looking up an address on a map).

Here’s how it works: When you spot a name, address, date, or time, point to it without clicking. A dotted rectangle appears around it. Right-click (or two-finger click) inside the rectangle, or click the at the right side.

A shortcut menu appears. Its contents vary depending on what you’re pointing to:

  • A mailing address. You can choose Show Address in Google Maps from the shortcut menu; your Web browser opens automatically and shows you that address on a Google map.

    Alternatively, you can choose Create New Contact (to add a Contacts entry for this address) or Add to Existing Contact (if the person is in your address book—just not the address). Like magic, a little editing box sprouts out of the data-detected rectangle, prefilled with the information from the message, so that you can approve it.

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