Services are free and easy to use.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 31 years


Mac's little known 'Services' are a bonus

June 1, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

If you're a Mac user, Apple has a pleasant surprise. It's called Services. There are a lot of them. They can do things you never suspected your Mac could do.

Apple puts some Services on your Mac at the factory, and you sometimes get other ones when you add a program or two. You don't have to do anything to get Services.

You have two ways to get to the Services menu:

-- Go to the top of the menu bar, click on the name of the program you're using, and slide down to "Services."

-- Right-click your mouse or your trackpad and choose "Services" from the bottom of the pop-up menu.

(No right click? Check the mouse or trackpad settings in System Preferences to make sure the "alternate" click is active. Then click away with your right finger, even if you don't see a right button.)

Services usually affect only such items as selected words in a document or selected files. A typical Service might look up the phrase on Google or create a document with the selected text as the content. Usually, you'll only see menu choices that are specific to the items you selected. You won't see "Look up in Wikipedia," or example, if you've selected a folder.

But fancier actions are just a click away, too. The screen shot accompanying this article shows a cool Services action that will make your friends ask where they can buy a Mac. It reads (in a voice of your choosing) any selected text in an email.

Other helpful text services include removing multiple spaces to clean up text, taking out all quotation marks and a quick glance at statistics such as the number of words in a text.

One service I use appears, at least on my main Mac, when I select an image file. It lets me convert the image to another format, such as JPEG to TIFF. I can also rotate an image using another service.