Pruning The Services Menu

Apple has included something called the Services Menu in the last several iterations of macOS. I know some people don’t bother with the Services Menu at all. Other people are heavy users of the Services Menu. I think I fall somewhere in between, I use the Services Menu moderately. It can come in handy. I have done some other articles describing how the Services Menu works. However, I would like to cover how to thin out the Services Menu.

Services Pruning

As you install Apps over time the Services Menu in the macOS starts getting crowded. It seems that every App these days has some type of function to add to the Services Menu. After a while the Services Menu starts looking like this:

Services Menu

This is the file Services Menu which is activated on my Mac when I right-click on a file and select Services. I don’t know about you, but that is pretty overwhelming! It would take me ten minutes just to find what I wanted in that menu.

Here is the Services Menu I get in the Apple Mail App:

Mail Services

That is pretty overwhelming as well. Supposedly, the Services Menu is App specific. It is supposed to only show a service that could potentially be used by the type of App that is open. Having said that, there still seems to be a lot of extraneous stuff in there. 

So, what can be done about Services Menu overload? The thing to do is to deselect many of these services from showing in the Services Menu. Just go into System Preferences and click on the Keyboard Pref Pane. Once in there, select the Shortcuts tab and click on Services in the left sidebar:

Services Pref Pane

When you do that, a list of active services is displayed in the right-side window area. Now, here is the good part. You can go down this list and select or, more importantly, deselect services that will be displayed in the Services Menu. The list is grouped by categories like Pictures, Text, Messages, etc. 

I am certain you will find items that you would never use. You may find a few things you would like to activate. However, I think the cumulative effect will be a much more manageable and useful Services Menu. By the way, if you look to the right of each item you will see a column where you can add a keyboard shortcut if you wish. If you use that service a bunch, just add a shortcut. If, in the end, the Services Menu is just too much of a mess, you can click the Restore Defaults button and start from scratch. That may be the easiest way for some people.

There is one thing Apple could do to make the Services Menu totally more useful. The Services Menu is not in alphabetical order. It is kind of in category order. If it was either in alphabetical order or if the services were listed by category with visible category headings like in the Preferences Pane, it would make it so much easier to use.


The Services Menu can be a very powerful tool. The trick is remembering what all is in there to be used. I guess my advice is to clean up the Services Menu and then don’t hesitate to right-click on stuff and see what services are available for that particular item.