Apr 27 2009
By: Jon Gales
If you’d like to submit a topic for a future PowerUser Monday please let
OS X introduced a lot of new things for Mac users… Most of them good. One
of the biggies that most people still don’t use is the Services menu. You know
that thing off the Application menu that seems to always have what you want
grayed out? That’s it. Hopefully this article will help dymystify it a bit…
Maybe you’ll even learn to love it.
What’s Been Said
Services are only used by Cocoa Applications.
I subscribed to this, but then had a talk with a Cocoa/Carbon programmer.
It’s insanely easy to use services in Cocoa… It takes some work in Carbon.
They can be used in both. However, you’ll find most Carbon apps don’t use it
(it’s possible though just look at the Finder having services).
Invariably the option I want isn’t available (it’s grayed out).
I know it seems like that… You just have to learn how to
use the services menu. There’s only one exception I know of… Grab’s menu.
Only seems to work in TextEdit.
With those out of the way, let’s get on to the meaty stuff. Here’s what
a typical services menu looks like (perhaps minus the Bluetooth option):
Here’s what mine looks like after some apps I have added to it:
The one I use most often is Subscribe In NetNewsWire which puts
my selection into my subscription list for one of my favorite apps of all
NetNewsWire. If you
don’t use it but have broadband you’re probably not fit to be a Mac user.
Brent posted a great
video of how to subscribe via the services menu that you should
check out (even if you don’t use NNW, because it will convince you how handy
Most services use text in some way, for example if you’re at a website that
has a killer joke and you want to send it to a friend, you can just highlight
the text, go to the services menu, hit Mail and then choose send selection.
It will open Mail.app (if needed) create a new message, and make the body
the text you selected. A real time saver!
Try out some of the others now that you know most of them rely on selected
text in an app that supports them (try using Safari or Camino instead of
There are tons of third party services that you can snag for free. Just searching
for ‘service’ on MacUpdate yielded tons of results.
If you find a service that’s just too cool to not tell everyone about, send
it to me and if it really is cool, I’ll add it to the list below.