It’s all about Services
OS X comes with a collection of handy little commands called Services. These commands appear on each application’s Services menu. Often, you need to save something selected – such as text or an image – in order for commands to appear in the Services menu. They are also contextual – that is to say, only services relevant to your task display in the menu. For example, when you are working in the Mail application, only commands relevant to working with e-mail are displayed.
Where to Find Them
There are several ways to access Services:
- Click the name of the active application (the program that you’re currently working in) on the menu bar and then point to the Services submenu.
- Right-click(or two-finger tap) on your screen and point to Services from the contextual menu.
- Right-click any highlighted text in your program.
To see a list of all the services available on your Mac, open System Preferences, click the Keyboard icon, click the Shortcuts tab and then click Services (you might be staring at the Beach Ball for a bit – it takes Services a few moments to load).
What are they used for?
Many folks wrongly don’t pay enough attention to the Services menu or forget about it entirely. I find that OS X’s Services can be real time-savers, once you get the hang of them as they help you automate your workflow in ways that can perhaps save you hours of time during a typical week (depending on your workflow, of course). OS X comes with plenty of built-in services and you also download many more. I personally find Brett Terpstra’s Markdown Service Tools to be an essential part of my workflow. Check them out if you work in Markdown (Thanks Brett!) If you use Omnifocus, a service that you might find useful is the Omnifocus: Send to Inbox service, one that I personally use daily. I often will highlight portions of an e-mail, text on a Webpage or in another document and add it to my Omnifocus Inbox with one click of a mouse.
Where to Find More Services
If you want to check out some additional services that you can download, visit macosxautomation.com, where you can down a variety of different types of services: Navigation Services, Applescript Services, Unix Services, Internet Services, Finder Services, iPhoto Services, Image Services, Audio Services and much more. Once downloaded, double-click on a Service file to install it – or copy the file to your Library > Services folder.
Turning ‘em Off and On
If there are services that you know you’ll never need or use (or frankly, are tired of seeing them), you can turn them off so they won’t appear again. To do so, click any application’s name on the menubar, point to Services and then click Services Preferences. Uncheck the box next to any services that you don’t want to see. So that is your tip for today and a call to action: Whenever you are working in an application, make a point to check out what’s available on the Services menu. You might just find something that’ll make your work a whole lot easier.
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