Add a Windows 'Send To' file-handling option to OS X

Some users working in OS X may wish to use an option similar to the Windows Send To contextual service. Here is how to set up and implement a similar feature on a Mac.

Topher Kessler MacFixIt Editor
Topher, an avid Mac user for the past 15 years, has been a contributing author to MacFixIt since the spring of 2008. One of his passions is troubleshooting Mac problems and making the best use of Macs and Apple hardware at home and in the workplace.
Topher Kessler
3 min read

While the OS X Finder handles files and folders similarly to how they're handled in Windows, there are some nuances to which Windows users may be accustomed that are different or missing on Mac systems. For instance, the ability to cut and paste files is missing in OS X 10.6 and earlier, but while Apple added this function in Lion, its implementation is still a bit different and requires different keystrokes than the Windows Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V combination.

Another Windows feature you won't find in OS X is the Windows Explorer "Send To" option for a selection of files, where if you right-click a selection you can send them to your documents folder, to an e-mail recipient, or to other locations. Some people who switch to OS X may be looking for a similar feature.

MacFixIt reader Jeremy writes:

Is there an alternative way to move or copy files like Microsoft's "Sent To," instead of dragging everything? It seems harder and sometimes impossible this way.

Windows Explorer Send To option
Windows users who switch to Mac may miss the Send To option. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

OS X does have a very versatile option called "Services" which is a more global version of the Windows Send To option and is available in the Services submenu of the application menu (immediately to the right of the Apple menu), or in the contextual menu.

By default OS X only has a few common functions available such as creating a new e-mail with the selected items as attachments, but you can modify these defaults by going to the Keyboard Shortcuts section of the Keyboard system preferences, and then modifying the various services that are enabled. The listed services will depend on the various applications you have installed, so for instance if you have certain antivirus utilities on your Mac then you'll see an option to scan selected documents for malware.

In addition to the services like this that are offered by programs installed on your computer, you can further customize the system services by creating your own custom services using Apple's Automator utility. To do this, follow these steps (in this example we will be creating a service that will move any selected items in the Finder to the user's Documents folder).

Services workflow
In Automator, create a service and then drag this option to the work flow and ensure the work flow will receive files and folders in the Finder. Screenshot by Topher Kessler
  1. Open Automator in the Applications folder.

  2. Select "Service" as the type of work flow to make.

  3. In the new work flow change the "Service receives selected" option to "Files and Folders" and then select Finder in the application menu.

  4. Go to the Actions section of the library (the lists on the left) and find the action called "Move Finder Items." This will be listed under the Files & Folders section.

  5. Drag this action to the work flow area, and it will appear with some options.

  6. Change the options according to your preferences (in other words, change the default "Desktop" to the folder of your choice).

When you are done customizing the work flow, save it and then supply a name. I suggest you name it "Finder--Move to Documents" or something similar to make it distinguishable in the Services menu, as Apple does not support icons for its services like Windows has in its Send To menu.

Once the service has been created and saved, it should be listed in the contextual menu, and allow you to move selected files or folders to the desired area. You can make additional services for other locations.

Service in Finder
With the new service created, you can select it in the Finder's Services contextual menu to perform the actions defined in the work flow. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

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