How to customize the OS X Services menu

This tutorial will guide you through editing the Services menu in OS X. Unfortunately, if you’re using Leopard, only some of the items in the services menu can be modified (as explained here). If you’re still running Tiger, you’ll be able to completely customize the Services menu.

services menu in os x

Background info on Services

The Services menu is a part of OS X that’s available in every application. Select the application name from the Apple menu, and Services will be listed. In a nutshell, Services allows OS X programs share functionality between each other.

  • One of the ways I use Services is to quickly convert a group of audio files. By highlighting all of the files I want to convert, I can select Services -> Max (the conversion software I use) -> Convert Selected Files.

    services menu with the max sub-menu
    click to enlarge

  • This will launch Max, add all of the files I selected to the conversion queue, and I just have to click Convert to begin the process.
  • max with files in queue

    How to edit the Services menu

    1. Download Service Scrubber. Install it and then launch from the Applications list.
    2. service scrubber in the applications list
      click to enlarge

    3. You’ll be prompted with a donation-ware request window. You may want to give it a try before you donate, so for now, click OK.
    4. service scrubber donation window

    5. When Service Scrubber first launches, it can take a moment or two before the window populates. Give it some time…
    6. service scrubber loading services
      click to enlarge

    7. … and all of your Services will be listed. As you’ll notice in the screenshot below, most are “grayed” out. As I noted at the start of this tutorial, Leopard users are pretty limited in terms of what can be edited. To remove an item from the Services menu, uncheck the box next to that item.
    8. service scrubber with services loaded
      click to enlarge

    9. In the screenshot below, you can see that I’ve removed the Play, Quicksilver and Open URL in Camino items.
    10. service scrubber with several services removed
      click to enlarge

    11. To apply any changes, you’ll need to enter your password.
    12. service scrubber

    13. Now the 3 items I removed (Play, Quicksilver and Open URL in Camino) are gone from my Services list.
    14. service scrubber edited listing
      click to enlarge

    15. Repeat steps #5 and 6 until you have a Services menu that best suits your needs.
    { 4 comments… add one }
    • 5hx1cwvl8z@nomails.com July 30, 2008, 6:49 am

      Changing Services can have impact on applications which are digitally signed.
      e.g. changing mail’s services can result in not using keychain anymore.

    • 5hx1cwvl8z@nomails.com July 30, 2008, 7:40 am

      Changing Services can have impact on applications which are digitally signed.
      e.g. changing mail’s services can result in not beeing able to use keychain anymore because the digitally signed application is broken.


      sorry for double posting

    • Jonathan March 7, 2011, 2:35 am

      Thanks for this. Looks like service scrubber may be exactly what I was looking for. Many services have names that are too non-discript to know which app the service is from. Hopefully this tool will let me change the names to something obvious.

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