Flexibits just released their new Mac contact management app, Cardhop. I’ve been beta testing this app for a bit and it immediately became as much a part of my workflow as Fantastical (not coincidentally also by Flexibits), which is an app I use all day, every day.

Cardhop is similar to what FullContact has tried to be, and has some features you’ll find in Interact Contacts for iOS, but as it stands on the Mac right now, this is the most elegant contact management solution I’ve seen.

Let’s Take a Look

Just like Fantastical on the Mac, Cardhop sits in your menu bar, and you can bring it up with a key combo or a click. The window pops up, showing today’s birthdays and your recent contacts (and optionally a sidebar with all of your contact groups). At the top sits a universal entry field, already focused and ready for you to type. Start typing part of a name and it will filter the list. Type until you find the contact you want and click to interact with it, or just use the entry bar: type “email ben k” (or even “ben k email”) and send an email to the primary email address for the first match of Ben K. Or type “email elle work” to start an email to Elle’s work email instead of her default address.

You can also create new contacts by typing a name that doesn’t exist along with things like phone numbers and email addresses, and they’ll all be intelligently parsed and included in the new contact. You can update contacts just as easily by typing enough of a name to match, and then continuing with new information. Type “Ben K 555-1212” and add that phone number to Ben’s contact card.

It can also parse entire blocks of text, such as email signatures, which you can get to Cardhop either by copying from an email, hitting the keyboard shortcut, and pasting, or just use the included Service to right click and send it directly.

Cardhop makes use of Contact groups, which is great for me. I’d previously used apps that let me add #tags in the notes field and do cool things with those. This was faster than building groups and dragging contacts around, so I’ve never used the official “groups” all that much. With Cardhop it’s easy to add a contact to a group by using a /group_name notation when adding or updating a contact, and easy to interact with the group (e.g. send a group email) by starting out with a command like “email /betatesters”.

When you type an action word, if the first match doesn’t have an appropriate matching key, it will try for the next one that does, further saving time. And when you type “call,” if there’s a phone number it can automatically make the call on your iPhone and you can just walk away from your computer.

There are many subtle delights you’ll find as you use Cardhop. Because it’s designed to work with natural language, you can often just type what you think should do the trick, and it will.

My friend John Voorhees wrote about Cardhop over at Macstories, and he included a note that none of the people he asked used any contact management apps, and thus Cardhop would have limited appeal to them. That’s the thing, though; most people who don’t use contacts apps don’t because they’re cumbersome (or overkill). Cardhop makes contact management so convenient that people who’ve always relied on autocomplete can now actually manage and interact with their contacts without having to launch an app and trudge through it. I’d say for those who don’t currently use any contact apps, it potentially has even more appeal. That’s not to say it’s ideal for everyone, but I wouldn’t exclude that entire segment.

Regarding the icon, I asked Michael Simmons “what’s the story there?”, and his response was “that Cardhop is not just another ‘boring database’.” A contact card that’s also a delicious sandwich? “Exactly.”

Check out Cardhop on the Mac App Store (or straight from Flexibits). It costs $19.99 USD, but there’s a limited-time launch price of $14.99.