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Review of AWS and ACP Web Services - a useful addition to your Mac

This is poorly documented, but extremely useful. The reason for the horrible documentation and installation instructions is that it's all really very simple, and the people who wrote it are uber-geeks who assume that you will immediately understand. Fact is, people don't necessarily have the light bulb go on instantly, so if that includes you, read on.

Very simply, these add web services to your Services menu. There are many services, like Google search or on-line dictionaries, that can simply be passed an argument. The Services menu provides that argument from text you have selected, and calls the web page (or mailto: link or file: ) with your default browser. It's that simple.

The first thing to do is download the whole kit and kaboodle. You do that with ftp://rixstep.com/pub/aws/aws.bz2. Double-click on the file to expand it, and then drill into the AWS 2 folder. Once there, open the "service" folder and you'll see a AWS.service file, which needs to be dragged into your ~/Library/Services folder. If you don't already have a ~/Library/Services folder, don't worry - you've just never added any third party services before now. Create it, and drag or copy AWS.service there.

Drag AWSManager.app and AWSBrowser.app from the "manager" and "browser" folders into your Applications folder. Open the "catalogues" folder and drag the ".aws" files anywhere at all - your home folder is fine.

Now reboot your computer. I'll wait.

When everything is back up and running again, you'll see new items in your Services menu for apps that support that. Not all apps do, so choose something that does, like Safari. At this writing, Firefox doesn't support Services: everything will be greyed out. So, using Safai or even Terminal or TextEdit, select some text from any page you are looking at (like this one), and go to Services in the menu. Remember, you almost always need selected text: the text gets passed to the service you choose.

There are more services. Open the AWSBrowser.app you put into Applications, and have it open one of the ".aws" files you copied from "catalogues". Double click on any of the listed services to see a description of what it is and a box to type in to test it. Hit Apple / to show what the link actually is. If you like it, choose "Export" and it gets put into your Services menu and is available for immediate use (except from Finder - you'd need to restart that or reboot).

The "AWSManager" lets you edit and delete your Services menu. Supposedly you can easily add your own web services, but I couldn't make it work even when I copied working examples, updated, logged out and restarted. I don't think I'm missing anything, but I could be. It certainly looks simple - but I couldn't get it to work. My services appeared in the Services Menu, but they would fire up the browser to do the search. However, if I modified an existing entry, using the same query string, it would work, so I don't think it's me.

Adding this service (didn't work)

adding a service

Modifying existing service (works)

modifying a service

AWS and ACP Web Services is a worthwhile download nonetheless.

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