How to get your Mac to summarize text for you

By , Jan 11, 2014

How to Summarize 2Summarize is a feature that has existed in the Mac operating system for years. It has always been somewhat hidden. However, within the past few OS updates, it has been completely removed as a default keyboard shortcut and now must be turned on before it can be used.

Today, we have a quick how-to guide for activating and using the Summarize feature on your Mac OS X so you can read the short version of any document on any native OS X program…

In this New Year, it is important to remember that, while you may already know about Summarize, not everyone else does. We offer plenty of complex how-to guides for our tech savvy readers. Sometimes, we like to take things down to a more basic level for our readers who are new to Apple’s quirks. If you’ve known about Summarize for years, feel free to skip this article. We won’t mind. This one is for our readers who didn’t even know Summarize existed. 

How to turn on Summarize

How to Summarize 1

Years ago, Summarize was embedded in the menu bar of native OS X programs under the “Services” section. Now, you have to actually turn it on in order to see it.

Step 1: Go to Apple > Systems Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts

Step 2: Select “Services” from the list of shortcut options.

Step 3: Click on the dropdown arrow next to “Text” if it is not already open.

Step 4: Scroll down to “Summarize” and check to see if the box is selected. If not, click on the box to turn it on.

How to use Summarize

How to Summarize 4

Now that Summarize is on, you can easily access it whenever you highlight text from any native program on OS X. If you are using the Safari web browser, checking mail, reading a PDF document in Preview, or a paper in Pages, you can summarize the text by following these steps.

Step 1: Select the text.

Step 2: Go to the program’s menu at the top left corner of your screen.

Step 3: Select “Services” from the dropdown menu.

Step 4: Select “Summarize” from the list of services.

A window will appear that shows you a summarized version of the text you just highlighted. The amount of summarizing can be adjusted to offer more or less information. You can also change the summarizing options from sentence-to-sentence to paragraph-to-paragraph.  Although, paragraph summary doesn’t seem to be as useful since it cuts out larger sections of a document.

You can also save the summarized text as a TextEdit document and save it for reading later.

I’ve tested Summarize with a number of different programs and it also appears to work with Word, third-party mail clients, and pretty much anything I could select text in.

How to Summarize 3You can also access Summarize by right clicking after selecting the text and then scrolling down to “Services” and “Summarize.” However, the feature doesn’t always show up when you go that route. For example, you won’t see Summarize as a feature when you right click the text in Word, even though you can use it by following the instructions above.

Have fun summarizing all of those news articles you want to read every morning, but just don’t seem to have time to do.

What do you think of Summarize? Is it a feature you think you will use?

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  • 生生 贾

    Interesting indeed

  • Leonard Wong

    Thanks!

  • Alex

    Cool! I turned this crap on long ago, but never used it. Nice!
    There is also a take screenshot using timer function in there (I use that all the time!).

  • Xee

    Going to have to try this!

  • Vivek Raja

    How will it know whats important and whats not?

  • Jon Fedraw

    Can you summarize this article it’s to long to read.

  • Sokrates

    There’s nothing better than his own brain.

    • Falk M.

      Alright, this feature can be of great help if you want to read a long text and want to warm up first so you get the idea and can concentrate better on the details whilst reading the whole thing.
      Might save you reading the whole thing twice, which – depending on your schedule and the length of the text, might be a really important timesaver.

  • rockdude094

    Never knew that this existed. Thanks Idb :)

  • JulianZH

    Does windows has this feature? Because I don’t have the money to buy a Mac yet.

    • Falk M.

      Yes and No.
      Word has this. Windows itself doesn’t as far as I know.

      So unlike with OS X it’s not a system-wide feature.

      Google will help you finding out how to get to it in your version, as I haven’t touched a Windows version of Office (on that level) in a long time :P

  • hhumbert

    Great. Didn’t even know this existed. I agree with the admonishment about how if someone already knows how this works, to just move on. Hopefully, in several months, that admonishment won’t be needed and people won’t need to post smarmy comments on a post that is obviously introductory.

    Yeah, I’ve used OS X for only about 4 years, and I’m a noob, but please understand mr. smarmy pants, that I was writing UNIX device drivers before you were born.

    Thanks for the article.

  • kokeropie

    Thank you for the tip. Very useful indeed :)

  • maverickmax

    cool!ty for sharing :)

  • Tom García

    Nice! Did not know about this. It also works in spanish!