My Favorite Contextual Menu Plug-Ins

by Derrick Story

I really like the two-button mouse. And even though Apple has yet to offer their own, Mac OS X does a great job of supporting right-clicking mice by other folks.

So what's the big deal about right-clicking? Ah ... contexual menus. What a joy! In case you haven't wandered into these waters, the contextual menu is what appears when you right-click on a two-button mouse, or for single-button mice users, hold down the ctrl key while clicking. These menus are called contextual because what you see listed depends on where you are when you click. You'll get a different menu in Safari than when you right-click in the Finder.

Mac OS X includes some nifty features in its default contextual menus. One of my favorites is the Open With command that allows me to open a file with a different application than what I've set in my system preferences. Maybe I don't want to load Photoshop right now, and would rather use Preview to look at that Jpeg. Open With easily allows that.

But independent developers have also been busy scratching their own itches by building contextual menu plug-ins, and I want to share my three current favorites.

  • GrimRipperCM 1.3.2 -- Tired of looking like a dope when you send Jpegs to your Windows friends? You send one file, but Windows users receive two and have to guess which one is the picture, and which one is the stupid resource file. GrimRipper lets your right-click on a file and remove its resource fork. Nice.

  • PicturePopCM 1.0 -- Maybe you just want to see what "IMG_1579.jpg" is without opening Photoshop, or any other application for that matter. Simply right-click on the file, select PicturePop from the contextual menu, and the image appears on your screen. Now that's convenient. And you even get some metadata.

  • MP3-Info CMM 1.1.1 -- Speaking of metadata, Norbert Doerner of CDFinder fame, offers a slick little contextual menu plug-in that lets you see the metadata for your MP3 files right there in the Finder. This is very helpful when you're moving lots of MP3s around on your Mac.

And the best part ... all of these helpful plug-ins are free. You can download them right now and start playing.

If you're interested in creating your own gems, then take a look at Contextual Menu Workshop 1.3.1, which is a free framework for creating Contextual Menu plug-ins for Mac OS X. It's also free.

That's why I like the two-button mouse. Even though I could hold down the ctrl key and get the same results, right-clicking is faster. And besides, I need my left had to hold my coffee cup.

If you have a cool CM plug-in you'd like people to know about, post it here.


2003-02-11 12:25:11
Big Cat Scripts Plugin
You can add AppleScripts or shell scripts to the contextual menu with Big Cat Scripts Plugin .
2003-02-11 13:19:48
Hi Derek,
Since you like the "Open With..." item, check out my Zingg! CM plug-in at:
It's free, and it does a few things "Open With..." doesn't: you can open several items at once, exclude or include certain applications, and even open folders. For instance, I always include DropStuff, BBEdit Lite and Resorcerer.
2003-02-11 16:18:38
OnMyCommand is a contextual menu framework that allows you to easily define new items, how they'll appear and *when* they'll appear. There's a very nice front end called OMCEdit that allows easy creation of these items, and if you follow the documentation to the home page for OMC you'll find a hundred or so examples to play with.

Oh yeah, it's free (as in beer), and source is available for OMC at least.

2003-02-11 18:52:20
OnMyCommand -- URL
If you want to take a closer look, here's the URL:
2003-02-11 19:16:22
Two button mouse is still the best!
I still don't understand why Apple is sticking to one-button mouse. Despite the claim that one button mouse is for simplicity, I am of the opinion that this view is outdated. When I started using Mac, I tried to refrain from using two-button mouse to see why one-button mouse is good (and also not to be seen as any less "mac"). But after some time, I really have to switch to a two-button mouse. It really makes you more productive!


2003-02-12 08:22:05
Hi Apple,

Faithful user since my Classic II. Love the new machines and plan to buy a new iMac any day now.

This is what's on my mind--when I buy my new iMac, I'm going to get the Apple "Pro" mouse included with my purchase. The thing is, I don't want this mouse. I will just use my Logitech Dual Optical. The Logitech is a superior mouse. I love it.

How much does your Pro mouse add to the overall cost my computer? $30-50? I know this is a small figure when I'm buying a $1799 machine, but it still irks me. How about giving customers the option of dropping the mouse and/or keyboard from the package they purchase? I envision the Apple Store with a "no mouse" option that would save 50 bucks.

Mice are just a weak area for you guys. The hockey puck was horrible. The current Pro line is a laugh next to the Logitech (and Microsoft) products. No one wants a one-button with no scroll wheel anymore.

Great computers, but the mice need work!

Phil Dangler

2003-02-12 09:01:27
Contextual menu for text selection work only in Carbon applications. This is a limitation of ALL contextual menu plug-ins. Cocoa applications work with services plugins. You may encourage Apple to fix this by going to Mac OS X Feedback page and telling them how badly you need contextual menu plug-ins working in Cocoa applications.
2003-02-12 15:44:36
Finder Pop and Fruit Menu
Not exactly plug-ins, but Finder Pop (in OS 9) and Fruit Menu (in OS X) let you add folders, documents and apps to your contextual menu. Can't live without 'em!
2003-02-12 16:55:57
I Love this line ...
"... Mice are just a weak area for you guys. The hockey puck was horrible. The current Pro line is a laugh next to the Logitech (and Microsoft) products. No one wants a one-button with no scroll wheel anymore."

I couldn't agree more! :) :)

2003-02-13 07:47:56
Re:but -- you can get contextual menus on text
Download IceCoffee to get contextual menu access to
Services to act on selected text. I can't recommend this enough: select an address in any Cocoa application and right-click (or control-click) on it to get a map of the location, for example, after installing InstantLinks and IceCoffee. Some links are here:

2003-02-14 14:24:52
Big Cat Scripts Plugin
Indeed - his plugin gets another healthy vote from me. Considering that the shell "cp" command doesn't preserve a file's resource fork, it shouldn't be too much effort to replicate GrimReaper's functionality with a simple script (I bet you could probably delete it with Applescript too).
2003-05-01 14:27:51
OnMyCommand - editing path names
OnMyCommand looks like it fills a significant gap within OS X -- it bridges the nice GUI world and the powerful command line.

For example, if I wind up with a bunch of files I can't delete (this keeps happening), then I have to start over in Terminal: navigate to the files again and sudo rm them.

OnMyCommand lets me right-click on those files within Finder and do "sudo rm".

For people familiar with OnMyCommand:

That said, I still have a question. I want to use OMC to ftp the selected file to my web server. OMC can tell my command-line FTP program (lftp) to put the file in the "Common Parent Directory". However, I needed to edit that path to remove the "Users/myname/mydocs..." junk that comes before "/webdocs/..." I wrote a perl script (one of my first!) that does this, but now what? How do I feed that edited path back to OMC?

Thanks, all.

2003-09-05 22:20:39
Two button mouse is still the best!
Envision the following scenario:

You are an elementary school teacher with 20 7-year-old kids. Half of them have never used a computer of any kind before. All of them have somewhat clumsy sensory-motor skills.

Which would you rather have, a lab full of Macs with one-button mice, or a lab full of two-button mice?

For advanced users, a two-button mouse is a great thing. For them, I suggest a trip to Logitech's website; they sell an excellent two-button optical USB mouse with scroll wheel for under $20. If you're advanced enough to use a two-button mouse, you're advanced enough to go out and buy one.

Since schools (which buy a lot of Macs) have limited budgets and limited time with which to equip computers, I strongly believe that a single-button mouse should be the standard choice. A two button mouse should be an option for users who desire one, as it is now.