The right context

by Giles Turnbull

One of the myths about OS X that pervades among Windows users is “There’s no right-click options, because you can’t right-click on a Mac.”

Well, of course you can right-click on a Mac, if you just plug in a standard USB mouse. Or you can Control-click, or use any of the default clicking-and-tapping arrangements on offer in those new-fangled Mighty Mice. Whatever means you use, a contextual menu is never very far away.

Windows users have all sorts of options to expand what the computer offers them when they right-click, and might think that the same expandability is not available in OS X. It’s easy, though, thanks to Automator.

Ever since Tiger was released, I’ve tinkered with ideas for Automator-based contextual menus. None of the workflows I’ve created has ever been very complex (most of them are just two or three actions long), but several have been incredibly useful. Especially because they can be saved as Finder plugins, and therefore made available in every right-click contextual menu that appears.


2007-03-05 09:24:45
Any sort of interaction with a computer where:
- a right mouse click is needed to do something that can't be done using a 'standard click' in some menu
- features are only accessible using the right mouse click
- no keyboard short cut is implemented and therefore right mouse clicking is a 'faster' option
is crap because even smart people (like some 30 to 40 year olds I work with) just don't get the concept of right-clicking.

Apple should challenge the rest of the computer world in posted and broadcast ads to abandon the need for a right mouse click.

I AM NOT saying that contextual menu are bad... but click'n hold should be re-implemeted as it was in old Mac-webbrowsers.

Josh Peters
2007-03-05 09:48:08
This is a bit off-topic, but do you know of any good way to take control of what gets installed into the "Open With" context menu? Specifically, I'm not too keen on the myriad of Photoshop-related mini-apps that are related to every image file's open with menu.

Thanks in advance!

2007-03-05 09:56:31
I keep forgetting that Finder even offers a contextual menu on items, so rarely I need to use it :-) And right now I can't think of anything in my workflow in dire need to automatization.
2007-03-05 10:22:48
I always laugh when I hear Windows users talking about the alleged lack of a right-button on a mouse while implying somehow that it's because the Mac is simplistic. Advanced users barely need any mouse button let alone one with 2 buttons. Try this for the resize450:
Sc Tab
450px Return

The joys of Quicksilver.

Josh could try it too for his issue:
ow return [Open with...]
P [Photoshop]

Randy Smith
2007-03-05 10:29:18
I use Automator for almost any repetitive task I can think of. From resizing pics for cellphones, moving cellphone pix to iPhoto, opening contest entry froms all in tabs, running applescipts and shell scripts and much more. I even have a x10 firecracker on my PDA/USB adapter that I control via shells scripts to a unix program I complied to control it, so I can turn lights off and of via automator. I have one just for fun that uses a shell script to open and close all my DVD drives one at a time and then call together. With 4 DVD drives it is fun to watch and that is why I called the action CD Fun!
2007-03-05 11:05:59
I'm so used to having a contextual menu that it's part of my Mac experience. Most of the time I use Subversion (while I program), Automator, and Renamer4Mac (to rename and organize my files).
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
2007-03-05 12:45:55
Hi, I was wondering what your 'zap!' command does ;-)) Mine deletes all exif data from a jpg file.

I'm still on OSX 10.3.9 and find 'Pixture Studios' context menue items very helpful. Especially the PhotoTool and QuickImage plug-ins. ( These two are perfect for simple image manipulation and viewing, with lossless rotation, access to exif data, quick conversion to many formats, and even manipulating or setting the comment in the exif data. Two extremely usefull tools.

One other essential tool for the context menue is OnMyCommand (, which lets you configure your own menue items, using unix commands or applescript. I have created one, which copies the selected text from a web page, adds the URL of the site and the title of the page and saves it as a text file into a folder with the date, time and title as the file name. Very usefull for quick researches on the net. But actually the possibilities are nearly infinite. It is more or less the terminal at your fingertips. Great tool.

Greetings, Michael

2007-03-05 14:05:54
michael: I *think* the Zap! command was auto-installed by AppZapper, which, um, zaps apps.
2007-03-05 18:23:01
I remember the wonderful Pixture Finder Plug-Ins which by the way are doing very well in Tiger, but since I moved to my MacBook Pro as they aren't Universal the game is over... Unfortunately...

2007-03-06 09:35:37
This is a few years old problem. All macs now have a mouse that windows users can only dream at night! The problem remains with laptops, but just plug a MightyMouse if you need.
2007-03-14 13:10:00
I love the two-finger "option-click" tap on the trackpad. Option-clicking with a two button mouse is not an issue. The problem is I'm a keyboard person.

How, on my mac, do I "right-click" or "option-click" with the keyboard like I could with Windows? It is driving me nuts.

The Ctrl-Space in Firefox is nice with Firefox's spell check (like in what I'm typing right now), much better/faster than moving the mouse pointer over the word where the cursor is and then option-clicking. But I need that functionality in all mac apps not just Firefox. Any ideas?

2007-08-07 10:51:54
Hey so i just got a new mac book n i want to right click n save a photo but i dont know how could you tell me how