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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 22, 2005

Undocumented Features

For most ordinary Mac OS X users (and I include myself), some of the clever little extras of the OS, like the Services menu, can pass you by. Now, I was aware that I could highlight text and summarise it (in any application written in Cocoa*) using the services menu, and I've been aware for some time of the global spell check that works in any application (written in Cocoa), like this Blogger compose window, for example, so I can use a single global spell check dictionary on anything I write.

Providing the application is written in Cocoa, of course. Which (I suppose) explains why the spell check didn't work in Firefox 1.5.

What I've not really been aware of, until today, is that the Services menu can be populated with just about anything that application programmers choose, and that you, as the user, don't have much of an option to switch it off, bar deleting the application. This Macworld News article goes into detail.

One of the things I miss about the Classic Mac OS 9 is the ability I had to switch off all the unnecessary bits that used processor cycles and RAM. OS X doesn't give you anything like that control, unless you are comfortable in the Terminal window and know UNIX commands, which I do not.

Anyway, the Rob Griffith's call to action prompted Peter Maurer to write Service Scrubber, which allows you to go through much of the menu and switch off Services you don't use and have no intention of using.

Very useful, and it leaves you with a Services menu that might actually be useful. I wasn't able to get rid of absolutely everything, but I did kill a lot, and I went and found the Asia Text Extras and deleted the Chinese text Converter, because (a) it couldn't possibly work properly and (b) if I come across an Asian web page, I have no idea whether it's Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc; and (c), I can always use Google or Babelfish for that kind of thing.


*Cocoa, in case you don't know, is the silly name for the programming language used to write "native" Mac OS X applications. I think 100% Cocoa applications are supposed to work better: quicker, more stable etc., but there are some major applications that don't use it, for whatever reason. Microsoft Office is one, I'm pretty sure.


  • Thanks for mentioning Service Scrubber!

    BTW, there's not such thing as a 100% cocoa application. Many features in cocoa applications (such as menus, for instance) are actually implemented in carbon, and then covered by a thin cocoa layer, so-to-speak.

    --Peter Maurer, creator of Service Scrubber.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:06 am  

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