Cult of Mac Favorite: Snow Leopard’s New Services



Snow Leopard’s revitalised Services menu is probably my favorite improvement among the many included in the upgrade.

At long last, the user has been given total control over Services. We can choose whether or not they are used, we can assign keyboard shortcuts that suit us, and we can create entirely new Services using Automator.

The crucial difference between Services in Leopard and Services in Snow Leopard is context.

The old Services was simply a mess. The utility of the Service functions was hidden behind the overcrowded and uncontrollable Services menu. New Services were added whether you wanted them to be there or not; and if two Services had conflicting pre-assigned keyboard shortcuts, there wasn’t much you could do about it. (Except delve inside them with a third party app like Service Scrubber.)

The new Services system behaves the way it should have done from the outset, because it’s contextually smart.

Whenever you reach for the Services menu, you’ll only see Services that apply to the object currently selected. If you’ve picked out an image in the Finder, you won’t see dozens of Services for text actions. Snow Leopard knows they’re no use in that context, and simply keeps them out of sight.

What’s more, the Keyboard preferences allow you total control over every Service you have installed. You can switch them on and off, re-assign keyboard shortcuts, and add new ones of your own design or downloaded from elsewhere.

And that – downloading from elsewhere – is is where I think we’re going to see some exciting new ideas in the coming months.

Just as Dashboard ignited a frenzy of widget development, I think Snow Leopard’s Services will spark much more interest in the creation of clever Services, replacing and refining many ideas that used to be delivered as widgets, Menu Bar apps, droplets, and scripts.

Here’s an example that I saw this week:

The S3 Upload Service by August Lilleaas grabs files you’ve selected and uploads them to your Amazon S3 bucket (if you have one, of course), then sends a URL to your clipboard ready for you to paste elsewhere.

It’s neat and simple and, thanks to the contextual smarts, it will always be available when you need it – and out of sight when you don’t.

That’s just one example. If you’ve seen (or made) a cool new Service since the Snow Leopard launch, please share it in the comments.


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