Trimming the Services menu

Reader M.H. is among the minority of Mac users who peer into the Apple menu’s Services menu. He writes:

Is there a way to trim the entries in the Services menu? I often select some text in a web page, and then use the TextEdit service to create a new document containing the text, but the Services menu is long, and filled with entries I know I don’t want to use, such as: Disk Utility/Create Checksum, and Hex Editor/Open File, and Send File to Bluetooth… (I don’t even have Bluetooth!). I know it’s great that applications can register the services they can provide, but can we remove them from the generated menu, and control the ones we really want to use?

Yes you can. Before we get to it, a little background.

Applications that offer services do so by including an NSService entry in the application’s Info.plist or Info-macos.plist file. You find these files within the package contents of an application. (Control-click on an application, choose View Package Contents from the contextual menu that appears, and open the Contents folder.) If you remove the NSService entry with a property list- or text editor and log out, the service vanishes. This hint from Mac OS X Hints provides the details.

Although you can trim the Services menu by hand, as described in the hint I just mentioned, you’re just as welcome to try Blacktree Inc’s free Service Manager. This is a preference pane that lists all applications that include a services entry. Using it you can disable those services that you don’t wish to appear in the Services menu (barring services provided by the Finder—Service Manager won’t touch these and you shouldn’t either).

Warning: This is beta software that appears to not have been updated in a couple of years. I’ve used it successfully but if you’d rather be safe than sorry, make a back up of any applications you intend to muck with. You’ll get nothing more than a marginally sympathetic “I told you so” from me if things go wrong.

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