Supercharge Your Shortcut Menu With These Mac Apps

Man Working With Three Computers

Control-click opens up a new level of interaction with the macOS interface. The options in the shortcut menu adapt to what you’re clicking. For example, when you control-click on a Finder window, you can switch between different views, change sort options, and configure view options. And when you click on a file/folder, you can compress, rename, add a tag, etc.

Fortunately, macOS lets you configure the shortcut menu easily and extend it with third-party utilities, a few of which are covered below.

Tip: familiarize yourself with the context menu in Windows, too.

Quick Symlink is a handy utility to create symbolic and hard links for the selected files/folders via the shortcut menu.

Note: go to the “Releases” section on the linked GitHub page to download the app.

Create Symlink In The Current Directory

Pros

  • No need for complex Terminal commands.
  • Can link files/folders in a Home directory (Documents, Downloads) to those on an external drive.

Cons

  • No logs or mechanisms to check the validity of the symlinks you’ve created.
  • Symbolic links are more fragile than other shortcut types ,like aliases and hard links.
Paste Symlink To Another Destination

The app lets you create symbolic links in two ways:

  • Select your files/folders and paste your symbolic link into the current directory or a different one.
  • Replace the files/folders in the current directory with a symbolic link and move the original files to the destination directory.

This level of flexibility to create symbolic links is not possible with Terminal for novice Mac users.

2. Power Menu for Finder

Power Menu ($9) is a Finder extension that adds more functionality to the right-click menu. With this app, you can create new documents (with file types like TXT, RTF, DOC, XLS, and PPT), move or copy files, launch Terminal in the current folder, and convert images.

Create New File With Powermenu 1

Pros

  • Easy to set up with configurable actions.
  • Works with external drives.
  • Notifies you when you move or copy files and folders; can disable the action notifications.
  • Allows you to add custom shell scripts via bash. For example, you can create a script to copy the path of a list of files to the clipboard.

Cons

  • Knowledge of bash is required.
  • Does not support Javascript or integrate with Shortcuts.
  • No free trial available.
  • Cannot disable menu icons or sort the options.
Manage Actions In Powermenu

For every configurable action, there’s a toggle button and individual options. The “Create new file” action creates a new document with the flexibility to enable/disable a file type. “Move to a folder” moves your files with a single click.

Many non-configurable actions emulate the Windows 10 context menu, thus expanding the functionality for Mac users.

3. MediaInfo

If you want to get information about a file, your default choice as a Mac user is to right-click and choose “Get Info.” However, some data may be missing or may not be presentable. Fix this with MediaInfo, a Finder extension that displays the metadata of Office, PDF, and media files via the context menu. We especially recommend this app for photographers and content creators.

Mediainfo Zip File Metadata

Pros

  • The metadata you want to see is configurable, irrespective of the file type. For example, you can drag and drop selective metadata in the dialog box.
  • Can show data selectively, e.g., from the folders you wish to monitor rather than the entire Home directory.
  • Shows you the contents of the archives without requiring you to open them.

Cons

  • Does not support older Office formats: Markdown, LaTeX, and HTML.
  • Inseparable menu items due to the limitations of Apple API.
  • The generation of metadata only happens when Finder completes file processing.
Mediainfo Preferences

The utility displays the metadata in a single submenu (with or without icons) without cluttering the Finder context menu. It even reveals the spotlight metadata, so if you’re getting inconsistent search results, then incomplete metadata could be the cause.

4. GM Right Mouse Pro

GM Right Mouse Pro ($4) allows you to move or copy files, convert images, extract icons, change folder color, create new files, and more.

Gm Right Mouse Preferences 1

Pros

  • A must-have utility for mouse users since commonly used features are built in.
  • Can save the current configuration as a backup.
  • Can hide main/submenu icons if they’re distracting.
  • Allows you to choose a preferred “Open with” app for a particular file type.

Cons

  • Has a long list of options that won’t fit into the main menu, making the context menu quite long.
  • Does not allow you to set a custom shell script.
  • Does not integrate with Shortcuts and other Mac apps.
Set Folder Color And Create New File With Right Mouse

The Main Menu comes bundled with several useful tools as discussed above. The “New File” tab has a built-in dialog to create file templates not seen in other apps. You can set up favorite folders to move or copy your files and tweak the app’s icon for easy identification.

SearchLink, a third-party utility for the Services menu, searches multiple sources and automatically generates plain or Markdown links for text.

Enable Searchlink In System Preferences Shortcuts

Pros

  • Allows you to skip searching and manually pasting links.
  • Can parse an entire document and highlight any errors.
  • Works with all text editor and Markdown apps.
  • Can search apps, Mac App Store, Wikipedia, Apple Music, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (usernames), and more.

Cons

  • Does not work with Office apps, as they do not integrate with the Services menu.
  • The syntax, i.e., arguments, and use of modifier symbols, takes time to learn.
  • Linking to an article in your browsing history works with Safari but may not work with Firefox or Chrome.
Demonstration Of Searchlink Utility

The app has two components: modifier symbol and argument. For example, if you want to link an album in Apple Music in your text snippet, type in “!amalb [album name],” then run SearchLink. Here, “!” is a modifier symbol and “amalb” is an argument.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I edit the context menu on Mac without a third-party-app?

No. macOS doesn’t let you edit the context menu, as the Finder app is a part of the read-only system volume, which is separate from the writable data volume. Moreover, the system volume is sealed with a cryptographic signature from Apple.

However, you can expand the menu through Finder Extension APIs that these apps take advantage of to increase the functionality of the right-click menu.

How does a Finder extension work?

According to the App Extension Programming Guide, a Finder extension allows apps and their components to be registered for the system to monitor.

The extension API, in turn, sets badges, labels, and contextual menus for any items in the resource folders, resulting in the visual feedback you see in Finder.

Can I use Automator or AppleScript to create new files?

You can use the Automator app with AppleScript to, say, create a new blank text file in any folder. However, the steps are complex, and Apple has already stopped the development of the Automator app starting with macOS Monterey; it is now more focused on the Shortcuts app.

Image Credit: Pexels. All images and screenshots by Rahul Saigal.

Rahul Saigal

Rahul is a Writer at MakeTechEasier. He’s a tech-enthusiast and enjoys keeping up with the latest technological advances. He holds a Master's degree in Optometry and worked as a lecturer in the college. The passion of teaching and love of technology is reflected in his writing.

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