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mac servicesOne of the most overlooked great features of Mac OS X is probably “Services“. There are people who have used Mac for years and still don’t have slightest idea about this feature. Maybe it’s because this feature is “hidden” within the menu.

Services can unleash the potential power within Mac OS X and help any Mac users to be more productive. For example, one can quickly rotate images, rename files, or even convert video for iPod without the need to open any application. So let’s get acquainted with this feature and learn more about it.

A Little Bit About It

Finding the right words to explain about Services is not easy. So I’ll just tell you Apple’s definition, quoted from Automator:

Services are contextual workflows available throughout Mac OS X. They accept text or files from the current application or the Finder. Services appear in the Services menu.

From what I understand, Services allow users to access features of one application from within another application. For example, you can select text from a website in Safari and create and send an email message using the selected text.

mac services

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The term “contextual” means that only a specific kind of Services will appear from within specific file types or applications. PDF-related services will only accessible from PDF files or applications which support PDF. So, even though there are literary hundreds of Services available, the Services menu won’t be cluttered with unused items.

You can access Services items via the application’s menu or via the pop-up right click menu. To access Services which are related to a specific file type, right click on the file from Finder, or select the file and click the task button.

mac services menu

Enabling, Disabling And Customizing

Applications that come with Mac OS X have services items related to their features. Most third party applications add their own services to enhance usage. Users can also create their own customized services if they want to. All of these services items can easily be enabled/disabled and customized according to your needs.

Open “System Preferences” and navigate to “Keyboard“.

mac services menu

From within Keyboard Preferences, go to “Keyboard Shortcuts” and choose “Services” from the left pane.

mac services menu

You will have the list of all available services items. To enable an item, check the box next to it. To disable, do the opposite.

The “Plus (+)” button is useful to add shortcuts to application’s menu. But that’s the topic of another discussion How To Master The Power of Mac Shortcut Keys How To Master The Power of Mac Shortcut Keys Read More .

You can add shortcuts to Services items that you use a lot and save yourself several clicks to access them. To do that, select an item, press “Return“, and key in the combination that you like.

After enabling and assigning shortcut to an item, it will appear on the Services menu. As an example, I enabled the ability to turn selected text into spoken audio track. The result is a track called “Text to Speech” spoken by the chosen System Voice How To Use Speech Commands on Your Mac How To Use Speech Commands on Your Mac Read More .

Now, every time I come across articles that I want to save and listen to from my iPod while I’m on the road, I just highlight the text and press the shortcut combination (Command + Option + T). I’m sure you can duplicate the method for other Services that useful for you.

Adding More Services

As mentioned above, Mac users can create their own customized services. But we would need a little help from an automation friend 10 Automator Apps You Can Create in Under 5 Minutes [Mac] 10 Automator Apps You Can Create in Under 5 Minutes [Mac] Read More to achieve that.

Open Automator, and choose “Service“.

Decide what kind of input should the service that you are building receive. Also choose what application should this Service related to. Then drag and drop actions to build your Service.

mac services

Don’t forget to save your work after the building process is done.

Another way to add more services is by using pre-made services. You can use search engine to find services scattered around the net. One of the site that you can visit to get more ready to use services is Mac OS X Automation. The site also has nice tutorials on building Services.

Now that we are more familiar with Services, we can integrate more Services to our daily Mac usage. Hopefully Services can help us become more productive.

Do you use Services? Have you tried to build one tailored to your need? Share your experiences using the comment below.

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