What is a vCard?
The easiest way to think of a vCard is as a "virtual" business card. It's one of the standards from the Internet Mail Consortium concerning Personal Data Interchange (PDI). The card contains all the elements you'd expect to have on your business card. Some people also include photographs, logos, sound files and GPS information although some of these fields are not interpreted by receiving applications.
What's great about these electronic business cards is you can use them with many email and contact management programs. Also, since the vCard is a standard, the format works with other operating systems including those found on cell phones. For example, an iPod user could read the business card you created from Microsoft Outlook.
The appeal of these online cards is that a user can click the card and if you have an application that reads the vCard format, the data can be saved as a new contact record. This is an efficient way to add records to your contact management software. And let's not even mention my favorite activity, transposing characters when retyping.
These cards can also be posted to web pages. To see an example, go to our Contact Us page. You will see a link underneath the address to Download information as a vCard. When you click the link, you'll probably see that the Open with list box is showing an application that can read this format. Or, you can download the file and open it with that application.
Even though vCard is a standard, not all applications fully recognize the format. Some companies use a different name. For example, America Online calls these cards "internet address cards". Some applications such as Microsoft Outlook and the Palm Desktop allow you to forward any contact as a vCard. Other applications such as Mozilla's Thunderbird only allow you to send your own card.
It's likely you've received a vCard with an email. The card shows as an attachment with a person's name and a .vcf extension (james madison.vcf). Depending on your email program, you can double-click the file to open it or import it to your address book. The card information can create a contact record for the individual thus saving the user from retyping the information.
Creating your vCard
Many email programs can create these business cards. If yours doesn't you can use Outlook Express. The program is bundled with every version of Microsoft Windows. This is probably an easier option than using some of the online card creators.
To create your card using Outlook Express,
1. Open Outlook Express
2. From the Tools menu, select Address Book
3. Click the New toolbar button
4. Select New Contact
5. Enter your data in the Name, Home, and Business tabs. (Just fill in those fields you want to make public as you would with a business card.)
6. Click OK
7. Highlight your entry.
8. From the File menu, select Export
9. From the sub-menu, select Export Business Card.
10. Save the file in a convenient location.
Assigning your vCard to Your Outlook Signature
Some email programs such as Microsoft Outlook provide an easy means to include your card with your email signature. These files are small (about 1k).
To add your card to your Microsoft Outlook signature,
1. Open Microsoft Outlook
2. From the Tools menu, select Options
3. On the Options dialog, click the Mail Format tab
4. Click the Signatures button toward the bottom.
5. In the Create Signature dialog, click New?
6. In the Create New Signature dialog, enter the name for your signature such as "business card"
7. Click Next.
8. In the Edit Signature dialog, type any text to accompany your card. For example, you might want to add a line explaining the card.
9. In the vCard options section, click New vCard from Contact? button.
10. In the Select contacts dialog, double click on your contact record. (This assumes you have a contact record for yourself.)
11. Click OK.
12. Click Finish.
13. Click OK.
You now have a new signature that you can insert in emails or use for new emails messages.
So, the next time someone requests your contact information, make it easy for them and include a vCard.
Last Updated (Friday, 18 June 2010 17:00)