Speed your life up with LaunchBar and services!

The latest beta of LaunchBar adds support for sending text to items in the services menu, via specially formatted search templates. This can be a very cool way to quickly enter data into a variety of applications without ever having to write a line of AppleScript or anything.

While LaunchBar’s included “look up in Dictionary” example is pretty slick, if you have programs with more expansive Services offerings, you can do some truly wonderful things. Here’s a few of my favorites…

Let’s start with a basic one as a sort of tutorial, and create a LaunchBar entry that lets us create a new sticky note in the “Stickies” program. Just open LaunchBar’s configuration, and enter the following search string in a new search template called, I don’t know, “New Sticky” or something:

> x-launchbar:perform-service?name=Make+New+Sticky+Note&string=*

Then select “New Sticky” in LaunchBar, hit space to get into the text entry mode, and type in the text for your new sticky note and hit enter. Bam! Stickies opens (if it wasn’t already open) and creates a new sticky note. Pretty cool, eh?

Now, where this really takes off is if you have some very cool services installed, specifically the Calendar Creator and Contact Creator services from QI Software. These services let you enter iCal and address book information using plain English. So you can select text labeled “Meet John tomorrow at 3 PM” and Calendar Creator service will turn that into a meeting for tomorrow at 3 PM. Nice and easy.

To use those services, just download and install them, and then add the following search templates to LaunchBar. Once you log out and in again (necessary to reload the Services menu), you’ll be able to smoothly and easily add contacts, to dos and events to iCal and Address Book.

  • x-launchbar:perform-service?name=CalendarCreator/Add+Calendar+Event&string=*
  • x-launchbar:perform-service?name=CalendarCreator/Add+To+Do&string=*
  • x-launchbar:perform-service?name=ContactCreator/Add+List+of+Contacts&string=*

And if you’re using Entourage, and you have synchronization with iCal and address book turned on, these utilities will work just as well for you, provided you set up your defaults so that calendar entries go to the Entourage calendar instead of to the CalendarCreator calender. Just type the following terminal command, and you’ll be all set:

> defaults write com.qisoftware.calendarcreator “DefaultCalendarName” “Entourage”

So there you go! Go make your own services plug-ins for whatever you like. It’s quick, easy, and will almost certainly speed up your computing time!

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Written on December 5, 2006