The best services or mini-apps to add to your Mac

One of the most underappreciated Mac features is the Services menu, which you can find by right-clicking on anything, such as highlighted text or any image. Hover over the Services section and you'll see a series of quick actions. You can find the same collection in the menu bar: just click on the name of the currently open application and hover your mouse over Services .

There are various useful options here. For example, you can look up a word in a dictionary or add some text to your to-do list. You can open URLs using IINA, an excellent video player for Mac. You get it: you can automate anything you choose. You can control what is and is not shown by opening System Settings and going to Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Services . From here you can check or uncheck items. You can also set custom keyboard shortcuts for these services.

Where it gets really interesting, however, is when you look at the customizations you can download. Here are some of the best apps I could find that add cool functionality to the services menu on your Mac.

The dictator reads the text aloud to you

Macs come with a built-in text reading service, but I'm not a big fan of it. In my experience, dictators work much better. Using this app you can highlight any text in any app and read it aloud. There's a popup window with buttons for play and jumping forward and backward, and an optional window you can open to view on-screen text as you read. If you'd like, you can change the voice used in System Settings > Accessibility > Voice Content - I prefer to use a high-quality Siri voice.

CalcService does mathematical calculations

CalcService is a free download and allows you to perform mathematical calculations on any text field. After installing the app, you can highlight any mathematical formula in any app - for example (62*7)/4 and get the answer in place, like this: (62*7)/4 = 108.5 . It's magic, and it gets even better once you create a keyboard shortcut for the feature.

text service

WordService can be downloaded for free from Devon Technologies, the same company that developed CalcService. It offers a variety of tools for working with text, the most obviously useful of which allows you to get the word and character count of any text you highlight. This is useful for everything from writing social media posts to long-form writing. But there's a lot more to discover here. There are operations that convert text in all uppercase to lowercase and vice versa. There are operations to insert the current time or current date. There are also actions to add or remove smart quotes from blocks of text. If you publish content online regularly, this is a great collection of tools.

SearchLink Quickly find a link and add it

SearchLink is a bit hard to explain, but I like it. Basically, you can highlight any text, trigger the service, and the tool will automatically search the web for the term and add a link in Markdown format. For example, here is a text document containing my name:

If I run SearchLink on the highlighted text (i.e. my name), the document will look like this:

The link is added without me having to open a browser. Assuming you use Markdown for writing, this can save you a lot of writing time. You can also drill down to more advanced features, including the ability to populate all links in a document. This is a great tool.

Shortcuts also work like this

Don't find the app you're looking for? You can try building one yourself. Any shortcut you build in Apple Shortcuts can run as a service. Just make sure "Use as a quick action" and "Service Menu" are highlighted in the Shortcut Details pane. If you need some ideas on how to use it, check out our list of the most useful shortcuts on macOS.