Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

OS X has a system-wide Services menu available ... how often do you use something from it?

1/1: OS X has a system-wide Services menu available ... how often do you use something from it?

Never -- I didn't know it existed 504 (19.47%)
Never -- I don't like it (or don't need it) 1,206 (46.60%)
A few times a week 603 (23.30%)
Once or twice a day 86 (3.32%)
A few times a day 99 (3.83%)
Five to ten times a day 38 (1.47%)
Over ten times a day 27 (1.04%)
So often I'm in Services rehab now 25 (0.97%)
Other polls | 2,588 votes | 50 comments

OS X has a system-wide Services menu available ... how often do you use something from it? | 50 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'OS X has a system-wide Services menu available ... how often do you use something from it?' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Services menu
Authored by: darrell on Aug 17, '05 12:19:40PM

it's not that i don't like the Services menu, it's just that i have no use for it.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Services menu
Authored by: robg on Aug 17, '05 01:13:22PM

Good point; I changed the "don't like" option to include "don't need" as well.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: ebow on Aug 17, '05 12:47:16PM

I do use the menu, but very infrequently. I think Services are a great idea, but there are not enough of them, and they're "too hard" to get at. If the Services menu were available from all contextual (right-click) menus, I'd probably make more use of it.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Services - menu vs. shortcuts
Authored by: sjk on Aug 17, '05 04:25:11PM
HotService 2.0 from DEVONtechnologies installs a second Services menu in the main menu bar. I think there's some hack that adds it to the contextual menu but I don't remember what it is.

I mostly (and frequently) use shortcuts for accessing items in the Services menu, reassigning them when necessary to avoid conflicts as I described yesterday in another comment. Command-( (Take Rich Note) is invaluable for capturing rich text snippets in DEVONthink. And I can't count how often I use command-F (Spotlight).

I'm surprised at the high responses for Never in this poll. Many things I do would be crippled without Services (and are, in apps that don't provide/support them).

[ Reply to This | # ]
IceCoffee does the same thing but it uses APE
Authored by: on Aug 21, '05 11:30:53AM

It's IceCoffee, but it uses APE. For now I have stayed away from applications that use APE.



[ Reply to This | # ]
IceCoffee does the same thing but it uses APE
Authored by: dave1212 on Aug 26, '05 02:33:30PM

no problems with APE, been using it since 10.2 for ClearDock, a necessity in my opinion.

I've never had a conflict or issue with it.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Great Idea
Authored by: lightsteel on Aug 26, '05 02:21:51AM

I think your idea is very practical and a darn good one. To take things a step further I think only the services which apply should be visible. For example, if you select text, then you should not see any greyed out services only things that apply like adding the selected text into a new textedit doc. Or perhaps, if you place your cursor over an image let say in Safari, doing a "right click" ----> "services" should show services which only apply to images......I think more people would become aware of services and would therefore use them if your idea was implemented.

[ Reply to This | # ]
too hard
Authored by: technomage on Aug 17, '05 06:53:29PM

I've pretty much given up on Services after going several OSX releases with the menu broken in Carbon apps and without a GUI to edit them. The Carbon issue may be fixed now, but it's too little too late. Having to manually hack .plist files to disable useless and redundant items and to get a manageable list is just bad implementation. I'd much rather have 10 useful items then slog through 40-50 (really) submenus, and I hate having to clobber entries for programs I don't use like Mail, Safari, and Stickies after every OS update.

[ Reply to This | # ]
too hard?
Authored by: sjk on Aug 18, '05 05:04:43PM
Have you tried using Keyboard Shortcuts under System Preferences (indirectly referred to in my previous posting) and/or Service Manager instead of manually hacking .plist files?

[ Reply to This | # ]
too hard?
Authored by: technomage on Sep 10, '05 05:42:12PM

I don't find system-wide keyboard shortcuts to be efficient or safe for anything but the most basic universal operations (cut/copy/paste/open/close), and nothing in the Services menu qualifies as that necessary or frequent. Readily remembered and activated key combos should be reserved for application-specific functions, as that's where the work that pays the bills happens. As for Services Manager, it has access to only a small subset of available Services--not worth bothering with. It isn't capable of killing or modifying the most annoying/useless ones that Apple forces on us. ACP Web Services has a sort-of GUI control, but it cannot manipulate anything but its own items. Still, they're actually implementing some useful functions. Services in the contextual menu are a more sensible from the standpoint of having the GUI efficiently expose this functionality, but the menus are now one layer deeper and just as cluttered.

[ Reply to This | # ]
too hard
Authored by: hptroll on Aug 21, '05 07:44:21AM

I agree whole-heartedly..

And having to type in the exact text of a menu item to create a shortcut is a pain in the neck, and is also bad implementation. It looks like they decided to implement it because the framework architecture made it easy to do so, but without actually willing to support this option (hence, no GUI...).

[ Reply to This | # ]
never available when i need them
Authored by: chris_on_hints on Aug 18, '05 12:10:19PM

I know this is due to carbon vs cocoa apps, but I find that the services options are never available when i need them...

mainly grab screen / selection - they arent available even when using the finder. crazy. makes them next-to-useless, but I do try to use them on a monthly basis, and occasionally use the 'open selection as new textedit document' (when i can!).

[ Reply to This | # ]
Grab vs. shortcuts
Authored by: sjk on Aug 18, '05 05:08:50PM

Have you tried using the various screencapture shortcuts instead of Grab services?

Did you expect so many complaints in response to this poll, Rob? :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
never available when i need them
Authored by: gxw on Aug 18, '05 09:02:40PM

[i]I know this is due to carbon vs cocoa apps, but I find that the services options are never available when i need them... [/i]

Everytime I look at the services menu all the items are gray. I have not even been able to use this menu for taking a simple fsckin screen capture. I have no idea all the services items are always grayed out. This makes the services menus useless to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]
screen captures
Authored by: sjk on Aug 19, '05 01:08:27AM

Don't bother trying to use Services for making screen captures, just use the keyboard shortcuts that'll work anywhere.

[ Reply to This | # ]
screen captures
Authored by: Ripcord on Sep 05, '05 03:46:21AM

That's not the point. I agree with the GP and GGP - I've never once seen a Services option NOT greyed out. I understand there might be a slightly better way to do it, but why bother having a "Grab" menu if it's never enabled? The whole "Services" thing is non-intuitive and extremely frustrating for users.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Should be called disservice instead of service
Authored by: on Aug 21, '05 11:41:45AM

It is not clear how to use services most of the time. The menu items are gray out for most of them. This is a waste of time and more of a disservice than a service. The best services appear to be those with no sub menus. If they have have sub menus, they are harder to use.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Why those service items are disabled
Authored by: MJCube on Sep 01, '05 12:17:30PM

Most of them operate on a string of selected text. Select any amount of text in a Cocoa app, then look at the Services menu again and you'll see a lot more of them enabled.

So far I use only the 'Open URL' and 'Search with Google' services, and only because I customized the keyboard shortcuts for both of them to my liking. But those come in handy a few times a day.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Actually, more like once or twice a month
Authored by: Bookman on Aug 22, '05 01:11:30PM

...which wasn't an option. "Never" was closer that a couple times a week, though.

Every now and again I use the Define in OmniDictionary service, or the Summarize service, when I want to re-wrap a paragraph. However, many of the apps I use are not services-compliant, like Firefox, which I am using right now.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Actually never, takes too long to use them.
Authored by: pepi on Aug 22, '05 07:43:59PM

For me very little of those services are of actual use to me. Sadly they take WAY to much time to make use of them. Shortcuts cannot be used for most of them, they have a terrifying tendency to conflict with other items/apps so I end up having to use my trackpad. (I'm always on the go with my powerbook and a rodent just unnecessarily adds to my backpack weight.) I'll stick with anything I can access with some shortcuts but having to reach for the trackpad or mouse is a no-go for me.

I implement my strange macros and shortcuts as Automator Workflows, shellscripts or whatever else can be called by a few keystrokes with the all-time-great LaunchBar.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Forgotten But Not Gone
Authored by: coholmes on Aug 23, '05 04:57:33PM

I'd use the Services menu more if I remembered it was there.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Best. Service. Ever.
Authored by: lagroue on Aug 24, '05 11:57:52AM
CalcService. I named it. Get rid of calculators and lousy widgets !

[ Reply to This | # ]
Better than best.
Authored by: zpjet on Aug 24, '05 01:09:44PM
well i think WordService is the best. doing all that caps conversions, or clean up text with hard line ends, or inserting time and date. available in several languages including czech.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: sjk on Aug 24, '05 08:50:44PM

DEVONtechnologies has the knack for producing a higher-than-average number of products that I've continued to use almost every day. No doubt they're one of my favorite Mac developers, for both professional and personal reasons.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: theodour on Sep 08, '05 03:15:24PM

Yeah, I use CalcService many times a day, and the items from WordService a lot too.
The thing I use most, though is probably the "open selection with ..." feature of various apps.
Like sending a web page to TextEdit, or code to BBEdit/jEdit.

[ Reply to This | # ]
My problem with the services menu
Authored by: porkchop_d_clown on Aug 24, '05 02:43:18PM

My problems with the services menu are:

1. I can't easily manage it. (mine seemingly has dozens of entries now.)
2. The few times I tried to use it, the one I wanted to use was greyed out.

Because of #2 I've just never gotten in the habit of using it.

Everyone loves a clown, but no one will lend him money!

[ Reply to This | # ]
My problem with the services menu
Authored by: rootpoot on Aug 25, '05 04:59:15PM

The fact that it can't be managed is the deal-breaker for me. "Open in Real Player"? "Connect to Quake Server"? Seriously, how often am I going to need to select text and connect to a Quake server with it?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Needed few times a month option
Authored by: Krazy on Aug 26, '05 12:15:51AM

Ok, so I voted in the "Never" category, but I actually use it a few times a month. However I'd second other sentiments here, there are too many items in it, and I can't easily change that.

The menu should be configurable via System Preferences. Apple, are you listening (not holding my breath...) ?

[ Reply to This | # ]
control pane *does* exist :-)
Authored by: Herve5 on Sep 08, '05 10:51:15AM
I do love it, and it looks quite reasonable in what it does...

[ Reply to This | # ]
Cool when you need it
Authored by: Makosuke on Aug 29, '05 04:35:24PM

There's really only one service I use on any sort of a regular basis, but that one service so perfectly fills a need that I have to say I really like the services.

Specifically, there's a relatively obscure app that can generate the HTML Unicode entities for any character. It would be hard to use, but it provides a service for (among a lot of other conversions) converting the selected text from Unicode to HTML entities. When coding chunks of Japanese text into an English web page, this is so much of a timesaver it's not even funny.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: sjk on Aug 30, '05 01:16:29AM
That "relatively obscure app" is UnicodeChecker. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
Unicode info via Character Palette, built in
Authored by: MJCube on Sep 01, '05 12:24:36PM

You can also select and drag any single character into the 'well' of the Character Palette, which will show it among others in a relevant set. Hold the mouse pointer over a highlighted character in the list to see its codes.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Have yet to find a use for it
Authored by: escoles on Sep 01, '05 09:13:21PM

Really, all that thing does is take up space. As I pull it down right now, there's not a single thing on it that's actually accessible -- all actual entries are grayed. Even stuff that might conceivably be useful, like Grab: Grayed.

Useless. A waste of cycles, both on the system and in my brain.

[ Reply to This | # ]
I have, but infrequently...
Authored by: Ledsled7 on Sep 02, '05 03:43:54PM

For many of the Services to become available, you must first select something within the application you're using. For example, select some text and you'll be able to make a new sticky from it; create a TextEdit document with it; look it up in the dictionary; send it via e-mail; have the text spoken to you; summarize it; search for the string with Spotlight. Some of the services seem trivial perhaps, but they do function according to the context of your selection.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Tools for services
Authored by: hombre on Sep 02, '05 11:00:11PM

I am baffled by the responses to this poll. I find services to be one of the most useful features of OS X. While I agree that, by itself, Apple's implementation feels unfinished, frustrating, and disappointing (they are prone to this, are they not?), developers have provided all the tools necessary to realize their potential. These include Service Manager to prune the menu and assign shortcuts, (and perhaps KeyCue to refresh your memory from time to time), Quicksilver, which has a Service Menu Module, ICeCoffEE to make the Services menu a contextual menu item (I use an older version that does not rely on APE), and Hot Service to put a second Services menu in the top level of the menu bar. Finally, you can create your own services with Text Wielder.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Tools for services
Authored by: chancer on Sep 04, '05 01:26:22AM

I'm interested in the Services Manager you mention. I can't find it. Can you provide a URL?

My favorite service: Word Service. And I use IceCoffee (or however you capitalize it) too.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Tools for services
Authored by: hombre on Sep 04, '05 03:15:42AM

The url is:

I should mention that this app has been at "beta 1" since 2003. In particular, it has not been updated for 10.4 and it works much better in Panther. Maybe the developer can be coaxed into updating it if we show some interest.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Services Manager
Authored by: sjk on Sep 05, '05 04:05:34PM

And/or submit feedback to Apple to bundle a services manager with OS X. But lately they seem more interested in wasting time on "frivolous" features like Dashboard. ;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
Tools for services
Authored by: displaced on Sep 08, '05 07:17:48AM

I use Services quite frequently too -- especially when browsing!

Try this:

Whenever a hint features a Finder path to navigate to, save yourself a load of mouseclicks and folder-finding by:

Highlight the path's text, go into the Services menu, and try out the options under Finder. You can open or reveal the highlighted path.

Try it out on this:


I also use the Speech entry regularly. I get Victoria to read aloud a few paragraphs from Groklaw whilst I'm working on something else.

I agree the Services menu needs some additional thought from Apple. But the underlying notion is incredibly powerful.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Tools for services
Authored by: sjk on Sep 10, '05 07:06:03AM

Thanks for reminding me to add some shortcuts for those Finder services. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
Finder service shorcuts
Authored by: sjk on Sep 11, '05 08:38:45PM

Foo, that won't work because the service names are too generic -- Open, Reveal, Show Info.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: Shiver758 on Sep 07, '05 10:26:15AM

NEVER.. Mine's so crowded with useless crap from various apps I've installed (I've done upgrade installs on my iBook since jaguar) that it's impossible to navigate and daunting to try and appreciate.

[ Reply to This | # ]
I use them daily
Authored by: Hodag on Sep 09, '05 09:38:22AM

I used Service Manager to condense/contain the dreaded gray-out phenomena, and leave only the services I actually use and need (Calc Service, Word Service, Dictionary, Text Wrangler's New Window From Selection, and a few others)

Adam C.

[ Reply to This | # ]
need another poll option
Authored by: tf23 on Sep 09, '05 09:56:07PM

how about "hardly ever - I rarely ever think to use it"

[ Reply to This | # ]
Useful for E-Mail
Authored by: swisswuff on Sep 11, '05 02:28:42PM

I never refer to the "Application Name > Services > " menu a lot other than sending E-Mails.

But for sending E-Mails, and for the occasional inclusion of selected text in a new text editor window, the Service menu appears to be quite useful. Mostly though, I use it to mail URLs from Safari, or to mail documents.

[ Reply to This | # ]
How to use Grab Service
Authored by: JKT on Sep 13, '05 11:03:24AM

As many people still have trouble with this one, here is a how-to use the Grab service:

1. Open e.g. TextEdit.

2. Click somewhere within the window to activate the insertion point.

3. Choose the Grab service you want.

4. Grabbed image is inserted into the TextEdit document at the insertion point.

Simple. Quicker to use key combos to take a screenshot of course, but...

I use a number of Services infrequently, but find them invaluable when I do:

Make New Sticky
TextEdit>New Window Containing Selection
Define in OmniDictionary
Nisus Thesaurus

PB G4, 1.5 GHz, 2x512MB RAM, 128MB VRAM, 80 GB 5400rpm HD, SuperDrive, MacOS X 10.4.2

Visit for nature-inspired British Art

[ Reply to This | # ]
How to use Grab Service
Authored by: JKT on Sep 13, '05 11:11:11AM

Oops, forgot to emphasise that it is the *second* point that is the most important - you have to be using an app that can accept images, and you have to have an insertion point for the grabbed image.

PB G4, 1.5 GHz, 2x512MB RAM, 128MB VRAM, 80 GB 5400rpm HD, SuperDrive, MacOS X 10.4.2

Visit for nature-inspired British Art

[ Reply to This | # ]
How to use Grab Service
Authored by: ruthh on Sep 17, '05 04:45:43PM

Sorry to be dense, but nothing on the grab submenu is _ever_ available. How can I insert something if I haven't grabbed anything?

[ Reply to This | # ]
How to use Grab Service
Authored by: sjk on Sep 17, '05 07:43:08PM

They're active in TextEdit, like JKT's example describes.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: tiantaoyan on Sep 13, '05 09:06:59PM

Google中排名的竞争非常激烈,如果您的网站没有排在前面,您将错失很多客户,更糟糕的是,您的竞争对手正赢得他们。 设想一下,如果一个潜在客户在GOOGLE里搜索他想要的产品或者服务时,您的网站第一时间出现在他的面前,对方会是什么感觉?是否会觉得您公司实力很强?对您产品信任感?同时也为您的品牌提升做了一个铺垫。
做GOOGLE排名,做搜索引擎排名,请找深圳网际科技 0755-29800870 29676985 29676250
[url=]baby bibs[/url]

[ Reply to This | # ]