Sunday March 5, 2006

Services with a Smile

Controlling the Mac OS X Services Menu

Mac OS X provides users with a terrific cross-application toolbox — the text services available from the Services menu. These provide users with the ability to perform a wide range of text lookup and manipulation activities, e.g. inserting the current date, changing character case, adding or removing quotes, speaking text, or checking a word in the system dictionary.

Unfortunately, while Apple made it trivially simple for applications to register their services and add them to the menu, it did not provide a simple method for users to control the results! Thus, practically every application I install adds some new service (whether I intend to use that service or not). The system software also adds a bunch (e.g. Chinese translation) that I simply don't need.

As a result, the Services menu grows larger and longer. Finding the services I actually want to use becomes frustratingly and difficult.

The Good News: there's a solution.

The Macintosh user/developer community has never been content to let Apple dictate the look and feel of their working environment. In response to Apple's failure to provide an easy way for users to control the Services menu, "third-party" Mac developers have stepped in, providing tools to make that control possible (and easy).

Service Manager

The first such offering was Service Manager by Blacktree. Service Manager is a preference pane (what we used to call a control panel in Classic MacOS terms). Service Manager allows you to enable and disable applications' services. It also lets you change key commands and menu item organization.

Service Manager was mentioned in a Dec. 2005 MacWorld article, "Trimming the Services menu" . I used this for some time and it works pretty well. Unfortunately, it's (still) labeled "Beta 1". Also, I noticed that some services tended to mysteriously reappear in the menu at odd times. YMMV.

Service Scrubber

A more recent (and more complete) solution is provided by Service Scrubber by Peter Maurer. Service Scrubber is an application providing control of all registered Mac OS X services (including those that don't appear in the menu because they are duplicates!). Service Scrubber was reviewed in a Jan. 2006 MacWorld article, "Services gets a scrubbing".

I recently installed Service Scrubber and I really like it. I especially like the ability to locate (and remove!) some old services I didn't know were still rattling around in my disk. Service Scrubber is donation ware, so if you install it and like it, please send Peter something for his effort.

My Services menu is shorter, neater, and contains items I actually use. I recommend you try Service Scrubber — you might find the Services menu to be more useful, once you control it.

Services with a Smile ( in category Computerware ) - posted at Sun, 05 Mar, 00:49 Pacific | «e»