A Services Menu for iPhone

June 3rd, 2010  |  Published in mac and iphone  |  2 Comments

Whenever I think about switching away from the Mac (I give it some thought about once a year), I take stock of the things that I’d lose and might not be able to replace on another platform. One of those things is the Services Menu. I don’t know how many people actually use it, but it makes life so much better in so many ways that I have a hard time imagining using a computer without it. It’s the kind of thing GNOME and KDE should be providing, because it’s so Unix-y it tickles, and it’s what makes cheesy “Looks like OS X” desktop themes seem even more cheesy.

What’s it do? Chris Clark explains:

If you’re not familiar, the Mac’s Services menu is something it inherited from NeXTSTEP, and it’s not unlike the Unix command line’s pipe. A Service takes the current selection and sends it to another application to be worked on, which may or may not pass the result back to the original caller. Services are under-utilized on the Mac because we’re so accustomed to copy and paste, drag and drop, and the routine of saving a file to the desktop with one application so you can open it with another. But iPhone OS, lacking two out of three of these options, could foster a Services explosion.

He proposes Services for iPhoneOS:

Every app with a text field should be able to email, tweet, blog, print, transmute, translate, and read aloud the current selection. Every app with an image view should be able to rotate, crop, set as wallpaper, save to Dropbox, post to Flickr, and upload to an SFTP server. Of course no single developer should add all these features to their application—we have a word for software like that—so a more elegant solution is called for.

A Services menu. That’d be awesome.

The only problem with the Services menu is managing it. Lots of apps can insert things there, and you don’t want to wade through them. Here’s the Services menu for a text selection on my desktop Mac:

Services Menu

And here’s one for a file selection:

File Services

They’re not too bad in Snow Leopard because they’re more sensitive to the context than they used to be, and because there are better tools for editing the Services menu to exclude services you don’t use than there used to be. But it’s still one of those things that prolific app downloaders would want to be able to manage.

(via Gruber)


  1. McClandish says:

    June 3rd, 2010 at 2:45 pm (#)

    I’m not to OS X and was wondering about this, I’ll give a whirl now. Thanks!

  2. McClandish says:

    June 3rd, 2010 at 2:46 pm (#)

    I’m new not not. New to a keyboard as well, apparently .

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