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Hands-On

Interact Scratchpad 1.0.2 brings refined contact data mining to macOS

Interact Scratchpad makes adding contacts fast and accurate, bringing the best features of the iOS app to the Mac.




It does one thing, but it does it really well. Interact Scratchpad lets you paste or write every detail you can think of for a contact and pops it all into the right places. So forget clicking in the Job Title section of Contacts and writing CEO, Interact Scratchpad recognizes what's a job, what's a company, who's a person.

It's the way you tell it. Interact Scratchpad is a macOS menubar app so if the phone rings, you can click on it and be writing whatever your caller tells you.




If they're halfway through giving you their office address and suddenly remember to invite you to the company picnic, go add that to your calendar. The scratchpad window will close but when you click on it again, the details are still there and they'll stay there until you say you're done.

You type in as much detail as you have, or as you want, and then Interact Scratchpad goes over what you've written. When it recognizes that something is a name or a phone number, it turns that text bold. Make any changes, preview what it would all look like when entered into Apple's Contacts app and then either click Create if it's a new contact or Add To if it's an existing one.

As well as being a scratchpad for jotting contact details, Scratchpad also accepts pasted data. Highlight the contacts details on a website, copy, paste and have Interact Scratchpad do its thing.

You can copy from anywhere, so you'll end up using it when you get emails with contact details in the signature. That's less useful because Apple Mail has strong data detectors —it spots a phone number and can add it to Contacts for you. Except with Interact Scratchpad, you can take a mass of text from another app and let itself sort through for relevant information.

Paste in the entire bottom half of an email signature and it will pick out the relevant bits. Similarly, paste in the whole of an About Us webpage and do the same thing.

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It takes longer to talk you through the steps than actually doing them. First, on the left, a contact's details are pasted in. Then Interact turns bold each bit that it recognizes. In the example, it's not sure about the person's or the company's name but it got the address.

Next, you highlight something it didn't guess or guessed incorrectly and then select what it should be. When you've done that for everything, you can choose to Preview how it will look in Apple's Contacts.

If you know it's a new contact you hit Create. If you know it isn't, you click on Add To.

As good as Mail is with its data detectors, it's fiddly on this point. It will make a good stab at guessing who the person is and will show you that name in place, ready for you to confirm. It's almost always the wrong name because the data detectors will often pick out an address, but not the name or phone number at the same time.

So you have to realize that if it shows a name, it's just temporary and you have a dropdown menu listing all of the others.

That's not exactly perplexing. But, it still takes a moment to comprehend, and if you're only occasionally adding to your contacts address book through Mail, it takes a moment next time too.

Plus, when you're doing this and you figure out along the way that what you're entering isn't an existing contact after all, the most prominent buttons are Cancel and Create. You have to know that you can ignore the suggested name and just type in a new one.

With Interact Scratchpad, you stay with your contact detail in front of you and get a drop down, searchable window for looking up your existing contacts. If it turns out this new friend is actually a high school buddy you've forgotten, just click Add To.

If there's no sign of the newcomer in your address book, just click the blue Create button and you're done.




Interact Scratchpad is just handier when there's a lot of detail that for any reason isn't clear enough to Mail's detectors. Plus, you can edit the text and add notes before you commit it to Contacts.

Not to mention that getting your cursor into just the right spot to use what the data detectors have detected in Mail is a bit finicky.

This scratchpad feature requires iOS 10.0 or higher and the $3.99 Interact Contacts for iOS app by the same developer —and it is the best feature in that. The Mac one is actually better, however, in that all the options you'll need are right there in front of you. With the iOS app you have to swipe and tap more: it works fine but it's not as fast.

The scratchpad is the only part of the app that is coming to the Mac: the developer says there are already good solutions for contacts on macOS.

Apple's own Contacts is good, while something like BusyContacts is more powerful. Whatever contacts app you use on Mac, though, Interact Scratchpad is a fast way to enter details of new people or organizations. It would be good if Interact Scratchpad had some way of adding photos to your contacts as you create them. Then, too, it would be great to have keyboard shortcuts so that could mark a section of text as job title or whatever.

That would make things faster but Interact Scratchpad is already a tremendously quick and actually a rather satisfying way to enter contact details.

Interact Scratchpad 1.0.2 for the Mac requires OS X 10.11 or higher and costs $4.99 on the Mac App Store.