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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

 

 

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LaunchBar 4.1 Adds Scripts and Dictionary Lookups

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LaunchBar 4.1 Adds Scripts and Dictionary Lookups -- Objective Development has released LaunchBar 4.1, the latest version of their highly useful (and for some of us, utterly essential) keyboard-based launching utility. LaunchBar's basic approach remains unchanged: press a keyboard shortcut like Control-Spacebar; type an abbreviation that does not have to be pre-defined; and press Return (to open the item), right arrow (to access more data or related documents), or Spacebar (to start a search with the next bit of text you type). But LaunchBar 4.1 adds some helpful features, including the capability to look up words in Mac OS X's Dictionary application, a new indexing rule that scans a folder for AppleScript and shell scripts (including a bunch of new built-in scripts), new smart groups for personal and corporate contacts in Address Book, and new Address Book scanner options. Also improved are LaunchBar's general speed, recognition of URL fragments, iTunes support, Spotlight search, and Address Book browsing. LaunchBar 4.1 is a free upgrade for owners of LaunchBar 4.0; it's an 865K download, requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later, and is a universal binary. New copies cost $20 for individuals, $30 for a five-user family license, and $40 for businesses.

<http://www.obdev.at/products/launchbar/>
<http://db.tidbits.com/article/07990>

Perhaps what I like most about updates to LaunchBar, however, is the way they cause me to reexamine what LaunchBar can do for me. For instance, I use Now Contact for contacts, and although LaunchBar can't index my Now Contact file, realizing that made me remember that I could synchronize my contacts from Now Contact to Address Book, which LaunchBar can index. Plus, poking around in LaunchBar's search templates reminded me of several Web sites that I can search directly from within LaunchBar. I've tried similar utilities, but for speed and accurate guesses at my abbreviations, none have surpassed LaunchBar. [ACE]

 

New for iOS 8: TextExpander 3 with custom keyboard.
Set up short abbreviations which expand to larger bits of text,
such as "Tx" for "TextExpander". With the new custom keyboard,
you can expand abbreviations in any app, including Safari and
Mail. <http://smle.us/tetouch3-tb>