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Five customized Automator services to help save you time

One gem in Mac OS X that sometimes gets glanced over is the Services menu. Lots of readers may not know yet that Snow Leopard brought with it the ability to create your own customized service in Automator -- in other words, you can get additional selections on a contextual menu when right-clicking within a certain context, say a file within a Finder window. To create a customized service, all you have to do is launch Automator and select "Services" from the "Choose a template for your workflow" window, and then insert your own service from there.

Here are five customized services for you to install on your own Mac.



Attach to Mail

In the Windows world, right-clicking on a file(s) brings up the option to "send to," and "mail recipient" is one of its options. The result is your attachment(s) showing up automatically attached in a new email message window. This service does the same thing in Mac OS X with Mail.app.

  • On the right hand pane, select service receives selected files or folders in Finder.
  • Now, drag "New Mail Message" (from the Mail.app actions in the library) over to workflow pane (on the right side).
  • Save your workflow with a name that make sense -- like "attach to message" -- because this is what will appear on the contextual menu when you right-click a file.

Print Selected Files
Similar to the mail service, this service provides a print option in a contextual menu so that you can right-click on selected files and print to your heart's content.

  • Service receives selected files or folders in Finder.
  • Now, drag the "Get Selected Finder Items" from the Finder actions in the library over to the workflow pane.
  • Likewise, drag the "Print Finder Items" from the "Utilities" actions to the workflow pane.
  • Save.

Create Thumbnail
This service will thumbnail re-size your selected images.

  • Service receives selected image files in Finder.
  • Now, drag the "Get Selected Finder Items" from the Finder actions in the library over to the workflow pane.
  • From the "Images" actions, drag the "Create Thumbnail Images" action to your workflow pane. Within this action, you can specify the suffix that will be appended to the file name, as well as thumbnail size.
  • Save.

Start Keynote Slideshow
This service will open the selected Keynote presentation in slideshow mode.

  • Service receives selected files or folders in Finder
  • From the Finder actions, drag the "Open Finder Items" to the workflow pane.
  • From the Keynote actions, drag the Start Keynote Slideshow action to the workflow pane.
  • Save.

Bit.ly shorten a URL
Courtesy of Alexandre Hamez, this service allows you to right-click and shorten a URL using the bit.ly service.

  • You can download the service here.
  • After downloading, move the file (named "bit.ly.workflow") to the "Services" folder, which is also where you'll find all of your services. The path to this folder is ~Username/Library/Services.

These are just a few examples of customized services that you could create in Automator, but by no means are they the only ones. If you've got a favorite service of your own, be sure to share it in our comments below!

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