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Better management of OS X Services System
It's widely known that the OS X Services infrastructure was completely overhauled (and made significantly more useful) in Snow Leopard. What virtually no one seems to be aware of is that Apple released a 'Services Manager' tool as long ago as 2009, which offers significant advantages over using the built-in support in the Keyboard preference panel.

In Snow Leopard (and now in Lion), it's possible to create your own Services (using e.g. Automator), and it's also possible to disable or enable Services provided either by applications or the system itself, by going to the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard preference panel.

However, the Keyboard preference panel has a number of limitations when it comes to editing Services, and unfortunately these limitations add up to it being just about unusable in practice. For example, while you can activate or deactivate a particular Service, there's no way to specify whether that Service will only be available on the Services menu, or (much more usefully) on relevant contextual menus as well. OS X seems to decide which Services appear on contextual menus based on its own arcane rules.

Services are listed by name only in categories based on their function. There's no easy way to see whether a particular Service is offered by the system itself, a third party application, or (say) an Automator workflow in /Library/Services or ~/Library/Services.

Back in pre-10.6 days, when there was no officially supported way of editing Services, a free tool called Service Scrubber by Many Tricks Software could be used for this purpose. Due to the changes made to Services in Snow Leopard, Service Scrubber no longer works in 10.6+. I've often wished there were a modern replacement.

As it turns out, there is! A tool named Service Manager is provided by Apple itself, hidden away on its macosxautomation.com website. You can download it here, and you'll find it provides all the functionality mentioned above, and more. Services Manager was intended for use with Snow Leopard, but I have so far found no problems using it in Lion.

[crarko adds: Works the same in either Lion or Snow Leopard. This is a great little utility.

Note: since some people seem to be freaking out in the comments here is some referential information about Sal. He's pretty much the boss of Services.]
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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: r-spx on Aug 22, '11 08:54:28AM

The site linked to isn't run by Apple. This is stated quite clearly at the top of the site: THIS WEBSITE IS NOT HOSTED BY APPLE, INC.

The site is not registered by Apple. Here's the Whois record:

Soghoian, Sal
ATTN MACOSXAUTOMATION.COM
care of Network Solutions
PO Box 459
Drums, PA. US 18222

I can't tell if the app is actually official (apart from license agreements, which can easily be faked by copy and pasting). There's no "(c) Apple" in the app menu -> About Service Manager, which is perhaps the killer blow indicating this isn't an official app. Apple always make that kind of thing very, very clear.

This tip needs editing to point all of this out, and that this is essentially a third-party app masquerading as an official app.



Edited on Aug 22, '11 08:57:53AM by r-spx



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: rusty on Aug 22, '11 09:29:05AM

Yes, thanks for taking the time to post this, and it concerned me as well.

Also it concerns me that the package installer asks for admin access to install this app.

The file list looks to be benign (ie: ./Services Manager.app/Contents/*) but think some more diligence might be due on this hint.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: felibb on Aug 22, '11 09:34:36AM

To be fair, this guy actually works for Apple: http://seminars.apple.com/seminarsonline/applescript/apple/index.html



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: dronkert on Aug 22, '11 09:41:37AM

That adds a bit more credence to it but I did find the masquerading part disquieting.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: astrosmash on Aug 22, '11 09:49:02AM

Sal Soghoian is a long time AppleScript advocate who is now a product manager in the automation group at Apple, which is responsible for AppleScript, Automator, and Terminal in OS X. He routinely gives talks about the automation features in OS X, on behalf of Apple.

That said, the web site is his, not Apple's, and the software on that site would be provided by him, not Apple. But that is perfectly clear if you visit the website. So it's "3rd party" software written an Apple employee.

You won't find a more reliable source if you're looking for OS X automation information and tools.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: BiL Castine on Aug 22, '11 09:53:51AM
I'm not sure how you determined this wasn't an official Apple app, the license agreement presented before downloading the app clearly states (italics are mine):
Software Agreement
Services Manager (v1.0) © Copyright 2009 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.

IMPORTANT: This Apple software is supplied to you by Apple Computer, Inc. (“Apple”) in consideration of your agreement to the following terms, and your use, installation, modification or redistribution of this Apple software constitutes acceptance of these terms. If you do not agree with these terms, please do not use, install, modify or redistribute this Apple software.
Sal Soghoianis the AppleScript Product Manager at Apple.

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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: David Ledger on Aug 23, '11 09:41:41AM

It's not unusual for an employer to claim all rights to anything an employee creates, even in their own time. Don't know if Apple does this.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: Sesquipedalian on Aug 22, '11 09:58:03AM

I think "just about unusable in practice" is rather an exaggeration. Nevertheless, this app is a good find.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: TonyT on Aug 23, '11 05:37:18AM

Thanks for this hint.
In addition to what you posted, I like that I can increase the number of services displayed directly in the contactual menu before going to the "Services" submenu. Worth the price (free) for this alone.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: TonyT on Aug 23, '11 08:34:55AM

If I need to uninstall, other than dragging the App to the Trash, what else needs to be done? (couldn't see what the installer was doing)



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: billearl on Aug 23, '11 10:57:44AM
To uninstall Service Manager, delete the app, and search for "Service-Manager" (including hidden files). That will turn up a plist file and two (hidden) receipt files, which can then be deleted.

I found another free app "Services Item Menu Utility" on this page of the same website, which simply sets the maximum number of contextual menu services without a sub-menu. Actually, I extracted the AppleScript code from this app and use a modified version of that instead.

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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: TonyT on Aug 23, '11 02:25:12PM

Never mind. Command-I in Installer showed me that only the Services Manager App is created, no other files installed (not counting any plists, package receipts, etc.)

Edited on Aug 23, '11 02:26:24PM by TonyT



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: Hamo on Aug 23, '11 03:43:41PM

I find it a bit odd that there is no link the mentioned utility from within the macosxautomation.com site itself.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: TonyT on Aug 24, '11 06:47:14AM

I had the same thought, but I think it may be because since Leopard it's
not really needed (although I like it). As he states on his Website:
"ENABLE-DISABLE SERVICES
Services can be turned off and on in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard system preference pane (view)."



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: miz_mdk on Feb 04, '12 11:37:18PM

Sounds great, but the link isn't working and I can't find it on the macosxautomation.com website.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: miz_mdk on Feb 04, '12 11:40:12PM

I take it back. I had disabled vigilink ( via ghostery). The link worked when I enabled it.



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Better management of OS X Services
Authored by: lavoie.sl on Aug 31, '13 10:26:18AM
For service management using the command line, I suggest checking this launchctl helper.

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