More Appreciation For The OS X Services Submenu

/ 12 May 2008

Though I’ve known of the potential for the Services submenu in Mac OS X, I’ve rarely (if ever) used any of the items in it. After finding a few useful Service plugins I’ve now drastically changed that stance and now I’m quite aware of how important this seemingly simple and well (for the worse) hidden feature of the operating system is.

For those that are unaware, Services are ways of closely integrating and extending any application by providing extended functionality activated by the Services submenu in every application menu. So, as you can tell, it is a hidden gem of the operating system that is well worth the time to get used to.

The first Service that I came across as a useful one and as the first one that got me fully aware of the potential for the Services submenu was the Speak to iTunes Audiobook one. That service is written in Applescript and translates the selected text into an Audiobook that gets imported to you iTunes library.

The second Service that got me downright loving the Services submenu was the CalcService Service. This service takes the input of math problem (ie: 5+6 or 6*3(8-4) or any other one) and appends to the end the answer (ie: 5+6 = 11). This will be a very useful Service item for Math classes!

Following the same Services developer as the CalcService led me to the PDF2RTFService, a Service that doesn’t show up in the Services submenu but rather modifies the Open… dialogs to allow any application that can open RTF files to open PDF files, just showing the text.

Again along the lines of that same developer I found WordService, this contains many additions to the Services submenu that add many functions to any text editor, these include text statistics, and many others. Just make sure to select the text first.

You’d install all these Services into ~/Library/Services if you want them for yourself, or /Library/Services if you want all users on your system to have them. To activate the Services you’ll need to log out and back in. Enjoy, Alex.