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Mac OS X Services in Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Services let one application supply its powers to another; for example, a Grab service helps TextEdit paste a screenshot into a document. Most users either don't know that Services exist, because they're in an obscure hierarchical menu (ApplicationName > Services), or they mostly don't use them because there are so many of them.

Snow Leopard makes it easier for the uninitiated to utilize this feature; only services appropriate to the current context appear. And in addition to the hierarchical menu, services are discoverable as custom contextual menu items - Control-click in a TextEdit document to access the Grab service, for instance.

In addition, the revamped Keyboard preference pane lets you manage services for the first time ever. You can enable and disable them, and even change their keyboard shortcuts.

Submitted by
Doug McLean

 
 

Amazon Releases Cloud Drive Desktop App

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Playing catch-up, but still lagging behind, Amazon has released the Amazon Cloud Drive desktop app for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and 10.6 Snow Leopard (as well as Windows Vista and 7). The software provides Finder-based uploads to the company’s Cloud Drive service, but doesn’t provide synchronization or true Desktop integration as a folder or drive. Nor can you use the app to download files.

Amazon’s Cloud Drive service is an amalgam of a music-storage locker and file storage, but it has lacked a desktop component until now. Or rather, it still does — the desktop app is a half measure that doesn’t compare to even the worst of the file synchronization and storage services from competitors like Dropbox, Google, and Microsoft (see “Google Drive and SkyDrive Take Aim at Dropbox,” 24 April 2012). Apple is the only company with which there’s no comparison, because after iDisk goes to its watery grave on 30 June 2012, Apple will no longer have any desktop file synchronization at all.

After installing the Cloud Drive desktop app, a generic cloud icon (good choice, guys) appears in the system menu bar. To upload files, you drag an item to the cloud icon until a green plus sign in a circle appears. You can also Control-click any file or folder in the Finder and choose Upload to Cloud Drive from the contextual menu. (You may need to restart your computer to see this menu. It didn’t show up on my Mac initially, and even relaunching the Finder wasn’t sufficient.)

The Cloud Drive app’s page promotes downloads: “Easy download of one or more files and folders from Cloud Drive.” But this isn’t the case. The program’s tour, which you can view after installation or from its Help menu, says you must use the Web to download files. In my book, that’s not “easy.”

Amazon offers 5 GB of storage for free accounts, although storage of Amazon-purchased music doesn’t reduce that amount. Paid storage starts at $20 per year for 20 GB of storage, and paid accounts don’t count any Amazon-purchased or uploaded music files towards storage limits. (For more details about Amazon’s very decent Web-based media access, see “Amazon Beats Apple at Ease of Media Access,” 17 November 2011.)

I was asked a few days ago where Amazon had positioned itself after Google launched Google Drive and Microsoft overhauled SkyDrive. The answer? Well behind the curve.

 

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Comments about Amazon Releases Cloud Drive Desktop App

CJ Pitt  2012-05-07 16:34
It also seems to require Java. Google Drive does not.
Glenn Fleishman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-05-07 16:36
Oh, dear heavens.