How To Create Your Own Services Menu Options on Mac

Bakari Chavanu 13-01-2010

How To Create Your Own Services Menu Options on Mac Screenshot 2010 01 11 14h 28m 44sHey you wanna-be Mac Power users, this article is a follow-up to Your Quick Guide To The Services Menu On Snow Leopard published on Monday.


While Apple has improved its Services Menu in Snow Leopard, it’s not very useful unless you have items in it that you can use. Some 3rd party applications will automatically include Services items, but the best use of Services is to custom build your own items, which can be done with Automator, a program installed with OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard.

MUO published an article last year, How To Use Automator To Batch Rename Images on Mac How To Use Automator To Batch Rename Images on Mac Read More about how to use a previous version of Automator. This how-to will show you how to use the newest version, incorporating the Services template to help you get started.

The focus on this automation tutorial will show you how to create a Services menu item for the Mac that resizes a selected image on your Mac and attaches it to an email. It works similar to emailing a photo directly from iPhoto, but with this Services hack, you can resize and email images from any application.

Step 1

Launch Automator, found in your applications folder. A drop-down window will appear with templates to help you get started. Select the Service template and click Choose.

services menu mac


Step 2

At the top of the workflow section, select “Image files” from the drop-down menu that appears next to the words, “Service receives selected.” Make sure “any application” is selected in the drop-down menu beside the first one. These selections tell when and where this Services item can be used.

services menu mac

Step 3

1. Now go to the Actions library of the first column of Automator.

2. Select Files & Folders. In the next column, select the action Get Specified Finder Items and drag it into the workflow pane. This action will grab your selected image on your computer.


services menu mac

Step 4

1. Select Photos from the Actions library.

2. Select and add Scale Images to the workflow pane.

3. You will get a message asking if you want to make a copy of the original selected images before they are re-sized. Click Add if you want images copied. Click Don’t Add if you don’t want images copied.


services menu snow leopard

4. This action includes a default size of 480px, but you can change to any default size you like. Also, you can check the “Show this action when the workflow runs,” which will allow you to also change the scale size before the the action re-sizes the selected image.

services menu snow leopard

Step 5

1. Select Mail from the Actions library


2. Select and add New Mail Message to the workflow pane.

3. Fill in any default information you like. If there’s a particular person that you always want to email photos to, include that person’s address. Same goes for the default subject and your selected account for email. On other hand you can leave all this information blank and fill it in as the Service action runs.

4. Clicking the box next “Show this action when the workflow runs” will enable you to add or change any information in the email before it is sent off.

services menu snow leopard

Step 6

Save your workflow with a name that will help you remember what it is. You must save this action before it can run from the Services menu. If you need to make changes to the workflow, you can do so and just re-save it. It will be updated in the Services menu.

Step 7

Now right or control-click on an image that you want to resize and email. A contextual menu will appear and your new Services item should be listed in Services, at the bottom of the contextual menu. Click and let the automation run. It will re-size the selected image and attach to a new email message.

mac services menu

Keyboard Shortcut

If you think you’ll be using this Services item on a regular basis, you can add a keyboard shortcut that will run the action for you. Launch System preferences, select Keyboard, and then select Services. Locate the Services item you saved. Double click on the item and assign a keyboard shortcut. Be careful that you’re not assigning a shortcut that is already in use.

mac services menu

That’s it. Now that you’ve created this Services item, you can create other useful ones, such as a similar workflow for sending and emailing selected text or documents. Simply see what actions are available in Automator and how they might be used for your particular needs. Macautomaton provides a few tutorials, as well as pre-developed Services items that you can download and install. I’m also developing a series of video tutorials on Vimeo that includes this and other automation tutorials.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, ask it in the comment box. Let us also know how you’re using Automator in your Mac related computer work.

Related topics: Computer Automation, OS X Snow Leopard.

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  1. Simon Forth
    January 21, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Currently, when I right click on a page of text or email page, my services menu includes 2 services: 'import image' and 'capture selection from screen'.

    I am wanting to add to this list, the Snippets service of the clipboard managing utility, ClipMenu. Snippets can be activated with a hotkey (in my case, the F8 key) but it would be much faster to be able to access the snippets menu directly by a right click rather than have to activate F8.

    Is it possible to directly add Snippets to above list of 2 services? An alternative of being able to right click and select F8 would achieve the same result.

    I have tried for many hours to work this out using Automator but I cannot see how it could be done.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      January 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Simon, sorry I can't help you on this issue. I downloaded ClipMenu, and I see that it includes a keyboard shortcut. So I mapped that shortcut to a BetterTouchTool action, which allows me to bring up the menu using an assigned trackpad finger gesture. I can't figure out how to do that with Automator.