Macworld Secrets: How to use services in Mac OS X

One of the little-known time-saving options of Mac OS X is services—hidden, single-feature instructions that you’ll get entry to from a unique Services menu, or, occasionally, from a contextual menu. These options are normally supplied through packages—built-in OS X packages or third-party techniques—and help you briefly preform movements that normally require launching further techniques and taking many steps. Here are solutions to often requested questions on how to to find, use, and organize services.

Q: What are services?

A: Simply put, OS X services help you borrow options from different techniques. So, as I write this text in Bare Bones Software’s BBEdit, I will be able to choose some textual content, choose the Services menu (discovered in ApplicationName -> Services, in this situation, BBEdit -> Services), after which make a selection New Email With Selection. A brand new message window opens in Apple’s Mail, full of my textual content variety, that I will be able to simply cope with and ship to ship to my editor.

As this screenshot displays, the Services menu lets in me to do many stuff with decided on textual content—all with out leaving BBEdit. I will be able to seek in Dictionary, Google or Spotlight; I will be able to upload the textual content to Literature and Latte’s Scrivener, make a brand new sticky observe, or a brand new observe in Bare Bones Software’s Yojimbo; or I will be able to ship the textual content to Mail to make a remark or an e-mail. What you spot in your Services menu is dependent upon which packages you will have put in in your Mac.

Services are grouped in classes, and feature utility icons subsequent to them. They’re discovered in the Services submenu of the menu named after the appliance. For instance, BBEdit -> Services.

Q: Can I right-click to use services?

A: You don’t at all times have to use the Services menu to get entry to services. Right-click, or Control-click, on decided on textual content in a record, and also you’ll see both a Services menu close to the ground of the contextual menu, or just an inventory of services (this is dependent upon the appliance). You’ll see just a few services there; no longer as many as in the menu bar Services menu. So until you’re positive the provider you need is in the contextual menu, you’re the use of the menubar menu.

Q: Where’d all my services cross? I don’t see the rest in the Services menu.

A: If you don’t choose the rest ahead of you get entry to the Services menu, you could to find the menu is empty or has only a few choices. This is as a result of services are contextual; what you spot is dependent upon what’s decided on. With not anything decided on in TextEdit and Pages, as an example, I see handiest the choice to take a screenshot or import a picture. In basic, services serve as when you choose content material. This can also be textual content or graphics in an utility, and even information in the Finder. Also, some packages don’t give a boost to services: that is the case for Microsoft Office 2008; Office 2011 does give a boost to them, despite the fact that.

Q: My Services menu is out of regulate. Can I lower down the choice of issues I see there?

A: If you will have numerous packages, you might have numerous services. In reality, there could also be too many to make the use of the Services menu sensible. Fortunately, in OS X Lion, you’ll make a selection which of them are visual. Go to System Preferences, click on at the Keyboard pane, and choose the Keyboard Shortcuts tab. Click on Services to see an inventory of the entire services in your Mac. Here, you’ll test or uncheck those you use maximum or certainly not. Note that simply because you test one doesn’t imply it’ll show always; take into accout, services handiest show once they’re related to the kind of content material you’ve decided on.

The Keyboard personal tastes permits you to get entry to services, and make a selection which of them show in the Services menu.

Services are grouped right here through class—Pictures, Internet, Files & Folders, and so forth—however they don’t show with utility icons, so it can be laborious to see precisely which program they belong to. If you get puzzled, test the Services menu (which does show program icons) to work out what utility a selected provider is for, so you’ll higher come to a decision what to test or uncheck.

Q: Where are services put in?

A: Services can also be put in in 3 puts. First, they are able to be within packages. Second, packages can set up them in the /Nameofstartupdisk/Library/Services folder. Finally, some packages set up them in the /Library/Services folder in your person folder. Some of those could also be .provider information, however others could also be automator movements, with a .workflow extension.

Q: Is there any more uncomplicated manner to get to the services I would like to use essentially the most?

A: Using the Services menu can also be demanding as a result of you will have to click on at the utility menu, then the Services submenu, after which make a selection the provider you need to use. (As I discussed ahead of, many services don’t display up in the contextual menu.) If you propose to use a selected provider frequently, creating a keyboard shortcut for it’ll prevent time. To do that, open the Keyboard pane in System Preferences, click on at the Keyboard Shortcuts tab, after which in Services. Find the provider you need to get entry to with a shortcut, after which double-click to the proper of it.

Get fast get entry to to a provider through making a keyboard shortcut for it. Enter the keyboard shortcut you need in this pane, ensuring it’s not utilized by every other utility. Using the Control key (^) in the shortcut normally guarantees that different techniques do not use it.

After you’ve set the shortcut and pressed go back, the provider will change into unchecked. Select it once more to ensure that it displays up in the Services menu. If you fail to remember the shortcuts you will have implemented to services, glance in the menu to jog your reminiscence—they’ll be displayed to the proper of the provider’s identify.

Q: Can I obtain extra services?

A: Yes, you’ll. I’ll talk about third-party services (ones no longer incorporated with packages) in every other article this week, in addition to how you’ll make your personal services. In the interim, please let us know about your favorites in the feedback.

Senior contributor Kirk McElhearn writes about extra than simply Macs on his weblog Kirkville. Twitter: @mcelhearn Kirk is the creator of Take Control of Scrivener 2.

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