Five Useful OS X System Services

One super-powerful area of OS X that users often forget about is the Services menu. Not only does this hidden corner of the OS house some great built-in features to help integrate applications together, it can be customized to include other extensions that greatly enhance the usability of your Mac. Here are five really cool and useful system services for OS X:

1. HumaneText. Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber took simple web coding to a new extreme with his cool markup language, Markdown, which has a great balance between human readability and power. HumaneText is a system service that can convert Markdown-formatted text to proper XHTML code and vice-versa. For bloggers like myself who use Markdown on a regular basis, this service should be indispensable.

2. Summarize. Included with OS X, and recently much talked-about in the Mac community, the Summarize service does just what you would think: it summarizes things. Specifically, it will take a block of text, large or small, and pare it down to the fundamental ideas. This service is by no means perfect, but it typically does a decent job.

3. WordService. This neat little system service includes a host of features. Among them, you get a slew of editing and formatting features, automatic insertion of date/and or time, and an extensive statistics analysis including word and character count.

4. CalcService. The first three system services I mentioned here increase your ability to work with words in OS X, but CalcService instead works with numbers. Using this service, you can quickly calculate anything from simple math problems to very complex equations by highligting them and pressing ⌘=. You can also choose other options for the calculation from the Services menu.

5. ThisService.
Okay, so I cheated a little bit on this one. ThisService is not itself a system service, but it does let you automatically convert any AppleScript or terminal shell script into its own system service, essentially adding unlimited customizability to the Services menu.

Using these system services (and ThisService to create your own powerful services), you can empower yourself to manipulate all kinds of data between applications from anywhere in the OS X system. Other applications also often add their own items in the Services menu, so keep an eye on this menu from time to time and see how its power has expanded.


10 Responses to “Five Useful OS X System Services”

  1. alej744 on March 22nd, 2007 5:15 pm

    Summarize is great for school and lazy readers

  2. Michael on March 22nd, 2007 7:07 pm

    I learned about summarize on mac break and really like it to break down long articles I have to read in preparation of my podcast.

  3. Sherb on March 22nd, 2007 7:25 pm

    I agree alej744.. summarize is awesome

  4. GooBall on March 26th, 2007 7:07 pm

    Is it just me or should Grab be the most used feature but it sucks?! It’s always grayed out!

  5. ThisService: Use Scripts to Create Services | MacApper on July 8th, 2008 6:00 am

    [...] have been featured here on MacApper, though the one I want to focus on today, ThisService, was only mentioned in passing. ThisService is an application that lets you take scripts (whether it be written in AppleScript, [...]

  6. Squarenine [Sq]9 » Five Useful OS X System Services | MacApper on January 28th, 2009 2:53 am

    [...] Five Useful OS X System Services | MacApper. [...]

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