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I need to know about setting up the OS X Server. What I would like to have is a unified Contact database, so that all of the contact info for the entire church is the same on all of the devices that the employees, and pastors have access to.

An issue has arisen where one individuals contacts are different from another's, and now I'm tasked with cleaning it up. I do not want to change them both to be identical, but I do want them to be accurate.

An example of what I'm talking about is that I prefer my Last names first, then the First name following. I put notes in my contacts, to help me remember certain things. I do not want to lose this info, but I want all of the other info correct. 

Let me know my options please. And I do know that this is going to e a lot of fun.

First, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to purchase the server package from the app store. Available here. The next thing I might suggest is going to each individual’s computer or iCloud account and exporting a card containing all of their contacts. Don’t choose archive. This would overwrite the data of the previous contacts when trying to import. After you have a vcard for each employee’s contact. Now import all of those into one address book on the server. You may want to create sub groups for each employee. While the entire database will contain everyone, each subgroup would only have the contacts that particular person had in their own address book. They will loose their own subgroups in this process.

After you’ve done all that you will next want to make a backup of that state. Now choose “archive” from the export menu. You now have a copy of the total number of contacts before you merge and possibly damage them. Next, choose merge under card in the menu bar. You should see the number of contacts go down. In this process, no data “should” be lost as the process takes two contacts who have different data but the same name and puts it into one card. If they had 2 different addresses, now they have one card with 2 addresses. etc…

The notes (if they were in the notes field) will all merge into the notes field of the new card however it is important to remember: These notes are visible to all contact subscribers from the server. So if you put a personal note about your boss in your contacts notes field, they are going to see it.

The first name, last name concern you mentioned is controlled locally with each person’s preference. This is called sort order and can be found in the iOS settings or the Mac’s contact preferences. The server does not control display order.

The big thing to consider here is this. Some people don’t pay attention when they enter a contact so they will often type the entire name in the “first name” field and leave the last name field blank. Or they will type the last name in the first name field and vise versa. If you have anyone that has done this, it will make your job extremely more difficult to weed out and correct the contacts.

After you have accomplished all that, it’s now time to set up your server and start sharing contacts. By the way, nothing is preventing each employee from keeping their own contacts as well as subscribing to the server list. They will have many duplicates but that may solve your personal notes issue. But it would be confusing.

Remember, backup after each step so if you go down the road road you have an exit strategy. May the force be with you.
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