Services menu

Services menu is an application that helps the user perform actions on text in other programs. The user simply selects some text and launches Services — for example, by keyboard shortcut or clicking the fourth mouse button. A menu pops up letting the user edit the text and select desired operation, such as open a browser window searching for the text in Google.

An example: A friend mentions a new movie in Internet chat. I want to see what has been said about it in Finland. I

A browser window opens to show the search results. How would you achieve this quicker?

Services menu is Free Software licensed under the GNU GPL, and written in Python for the GTK graphics toolkit.

The program is currently a simple scripts and useful to me. It may well not work for you as it is, and configuration or customization means editing the source code. I'm willing to develop the program further. As it is, it should work on Debian and Ubuntu-based Linux distributions, provided that the package python-gtk2 is installed.

A kind Frugalware Linux user helped test the script on his computer running KDE. The required slack package was pygtk. His system didn't have x-www-browser, so he needed to change that in the script to firefox instead.

Other implementations

The Sawfish window manager modules services.jl and services-menu.jl implement a services menu, but it wasn't possible to add a text box for editing. NeXT, MacOS and MacOS X provide the original Services menu, and the operations may even replace the selection after processing. The Klipper in KDE can perform operations on the URLs selected, but not on any text, which limits applicability. There is a new application, KlipOQuery that fixes this limitation in KDE.

Similar features

Parameters to keyworded bookmarks in Mozilla and Firefox web browsers or smart bookmarks in Galeon and Epiphany can be used to access lookup services in the Web, which is one use of Services menu as well. Bookmarks, however, are only available in the browser, meanwhile the Services menu is accessible in any program and takes the text directly without manual cutting and pasting. Some browsers provide Web Search function in the context menu of selected text, but that's only web search and only from the browser.

Konqueror servicemenus and Nautilus scripts allow extending respective file managers with custom operations on selected files. While the interaction concept and even operation implementation are similar to Services menu, the distinction is that text seldom denotes a file.

Research presentation

The following screenshot is from a presentation (in Finnish) I gave about my research on the integration features of application platforms (in Finnish). Services menu itself is supposed to be an application that adds some integration by taking advantage of the feature of system clipboard.
2004 Tuukka Hastrup (