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Illustrates how to open the Apple AddressBook programmatically.

I have been using the new Address Book APIs… very powerful. Just one question: I have an application I wrote in Cocoa which checks our local, proprietary address database and puts the results in a window. Using the new APIs, it now checks to see if this person exists in the computer’s Address Book, and offers to add the person if he/she doesn’t. I want to add an additional button that will open the address book to that person if they do exist. I am stumped… there seems to be no way to do this (although mail does it). Any ideas would be much appreciated! Thanks!!!


I have looked through the Address Book AppleScript dictionary and all available documentation… does not seem to be a way to do it (or, at least not a way I can figure out).

The proper AppleScript code is

tell app "Address Book" to activate 

you could build and send it using NSAppleScript, I guess.

The following text is taken from an email on the cocoaDevList: ( – DiggoryLaycock

Address Book knows how to deal with an URL of the following format




So to simply open address book with a person selected

ABPerson *selectedPerson = ….; NSString *uniqueId = [selectedPerson uniqueId]; NSString *urlString = [NSString stringWithFormat:@”addressbook://%@”, uniqueId]; [[NSWorkspace sharedWorkspace] openURL:[NSURL URLWithString:urlString]];

If you want address book to be in edit mode add ‘?edit’ at the end of the URL

ABPerson *selectedPerson = ….; NSString *uniqueId = [selectedPerson uniqueId]; NSString *urlString = [NSString stringWithFormat:@”addressbook://%@?edit”, uniqueId]; [[NSWorkspace sharedWorkspace] openURL:[NSURL URLWithString:urlString]];

Woah. That’s way cool. A not-so-cool way to do it is to use NSTask and run the /usr/bin/open command with an argument of “/Applications/” which of course only works if the user hasn’t moved his or her In fact it would almost certainly be better to use [[NSWorkspace sharedWorkspace] launchApplication:@”AddressBook”]; …as documented here: —- No, don’t do this either, it’s bad to assume nobody’s renamed an application. Use LaunchServices to find the app by its bundle identifier (, or better yet, just use the ‘addressbook:’ URL by itself without any argument.

Looking at the comments above, “addressbook://” (just as well as webcal and ical) seem to be formal protocols. Hence I was looking for a documentation, but until now wasn’t able to find one. Has anyone an idea how these protocols work and what commands are accepted?

The docs are in AddressBook/ABAddressBook.h

It’s through the GetURL AppleEvents. Take a look at Address Book’s Info.plist and you’ll find protocol definitions. The application is then sent an AppleEvent, and can do whatever it wants with the URL string - it doesn’t technically even have to be a well-formed URL - although it would be wise to enforce this as the Apple applications do. Someone posted sample code a while ago for a GURL AE handler; search mamasam and you should find it. I’ve managed to implemented it in one of my applications.