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Background: Mac OS X Services

15. Juni 2005 — Eric Böhnisch-Volkmann

Mac OS X features an extremely intelligent mechanism for providing system-wide functions such as opening selected URLs in the standard web browser, looking words up in a dictionary or creating a new sticky note. Applications or special plug-ins can insert new functions into the so-called “Services” menu which is located in every application’s main menu (labeled with the application’s name).

Examples for applications that insert their own functions are Safari, Mail and — of course — all our own applications. DEVONthink provides commands for creating new plain or rich text documents, looking up or summarizing selected text, DEVONagent opens a selected URL with its integrated web browser or opens a new search window with a selected search term.

Generally, services act on selected text or other selected elements, but they can also silently extend the ability of compliant applications such as TextEdit or DEVONthink to open unknown file types. These services are called “filter services”, have no user interface and are not visible in the services menu.

Because services are such a clean and open method for providing new functions in all Cocoa and modern (!) Carbon applications without hacking around in the system, we have developed a few services plug-ins for you that may come in very handy when working with text documents, calculations, Word files or PDFs.

We offer a couple of useful Services menu plugins that extend the Services menu.