Good Service Is Hard To Find These Days

by Matthew Russell

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I'm constantly telling myself that I need to start taking advantage of the Services menu -- but I never do because there's something that I just don't like about it being up in the corner of the screen. I feel like this location is rather inconvenient to get at compared to a simple "right-click," so for the longest time I didn’t even remember that it was there. Then when I did start trying to use it, I proceeded to repeatedly forget that it’s under the application’s main menu and not under the system (Apple) menu. But it only took me about 100 times to finally get it right. Maybe it’s just me, but maybe there’s a more natural place for it. Anyway, I find these issues to form an interesting situation, because they collectively make the Services menu more of a disservice than a service -- at least to me.

If the services menu were easily customizable and available from a “right-click” contextual menu, however, I have to think that there are lots of other people besides myself who would find this to be a welcome convenience. I'm well aware of all the Carbon/Cocoa implementation issues involved with the Services and contextual menus in OS X, but let's throw those to the side for a moment and pretend that they doesn't exist. Let’s assume that developers could choose one just as easily as the other.

If that were the case, what are the top two or three Services menu items that you'd like to slap into a contextual menu? If there's one you’d like to see that doesn't exist, what would it be?

What have been your experiences with the Services menu?


2005-09-19 10:35:36
Long live Services!
I've long considered OS X's Services one of the untold advantages of the OS. I use Services many times each day to transfer data from Safari or text files into either DEVONthink or OmniOutliner with a few simple key combos.

DEVON Technologies offers a free HotServices input manager that puts the Services menu in an app's menu bar, which makes it much easier to use. Well-designed service items include key combos which makes using them pretty easy.

And then there's the Services pref panel (it's been a beta from for a long time, but it's still very usable) that lets you hide services items from apps you don't want -- a great way to get rid of the clutter that having installed many apps can cause.

Lastly, there's DejaMenu which allows the user to pop up the app's menu items as a contextual menu by selecting a cmd-key combo of your choice. It's not as convenient as the regular contextual menu generated with a right-click, but it gets the Services menu away from the menu bar if you need it. With a programmable multi-button mouse, you could always assign DejaMenu's key combo to one of the buttons.


2005-09-19 10:38:31
Yeah, know what you mean...
I came to the same conclusions some years ago, see

But, there is (was?) a solution

Don't know if it works with 10.4 though.


2005-09-19 10:59:26
Accessors and Grab
Accessor Generator and Grab are the only two Services I use regularly, and I would definitely like it if they were available via contextual menu.

I occasionally use CalcService, but that's rare enough that I don't really need a new way to access it.

2005-09-19 11:28:36
Yeah, know what you mean...
The newest version is reported to work with 10.4:

ICeCoffEE 1.4.2

2005-09-19 11:38:45
Thanks for these hints!
Thank you very much for helping with this hints, I didn't know them.
2005-09-23 16:28:28
Services Tip
Coming to the conversation a little late, but...

One of the great features of Services is in combination with note taking, outlining, or word processing applications. In many of these apps, you can create templates or clippings. Once created, you can access these via Services menu. For example, highlight text from this blog and send it to a template called "Apple Feedback" via Services. Then when you want to file an Apple bug, you simply access data you've been accumulating in the template file. Create one for third-party app feedback or a to do file or a trouble shooting file, etc.