Let’s say you just switched from Windows to the Mac. Where’s the Mac’s manual? For the most part, new customers to the Mac are forced to fend for themselves to figure out what’s what and where and why. Here’s the absolute perfect example of a useful but mostly hidden function in OS X.
Services? What Services?
Longtime Mac geeks know how well AppleScript is built-in to OS X. Many of the rest of us know that Automator’s attempts to, well, automate certain tasks for users has never made it mainstream. Most of us don’t what to think. We want to point and click and have someone else’s work do the the work for us.
Inside nearly every Mac app’s dropdown menu in the Menubar is a selection called Services. In Safari or Chrome you’ll see this and not much more.
See? No Services to speak of because Services doesn’t get much love from almost anyone.
Services can be implemented as application services, which expose a portion of the functionality of an application to operate on selected data, usually without displaying an interface. In its developer documentation, Apple recommends that applications use services to provide features that are “generally useful”, giving as an example a Usenet client providing ROT13 encryption as a service. Standalone services may also be created without a host application. Their simple, one-purpose nature and the fact that they don’t require a GUI to be designed makes writing standalone services popular beginner’s Mac OS X programming projects
Is it any wonder few Mac users know about Services or understand their power? App developers may drop in functions to Services but don’t bother to promote it to users. Here’s an inexpensive Mac app called Useful Mac Services which brings such services to life through the Services menu.
What you get for a few bucks are all the Services services you can eat from one drop down or context-sensitive right-click menu.
Instead of opening up Mail, creating a new message, then selecting Attachment and navigating to find the attachment to include in the message, simple select the attachment and right-click to the Services menu and create the message from there. Services– and the Useful Mac Services app– makes the whole workflow faster and easier.
Out of sight, out of mind means if you don’t know about a feature or function it’s the same as not having it in the first place, and that’s kinda sorta what Apple has done with Services, yet there’s all kinds of power, capability, and functionality there.
For example, many Mac users who have long and clumsy and complicated URLs to send to people will use TinyURL to make the URL short and easy to send to others so it won’t break. But look at all the steps it requires to get the shortened URL. Make URL Tiny is built into Useful Mac Services so all you have to do is select the long, complicated and ugly URL, right-click, and get a shortened TinyURL to the clipboard.
That’s exactly the type of so-called services that Services provides, but made easier with the Useful Mac Services app.