How to Summarize Lengthy Documents & Pages in Mac OS
If you’ve ever encountered a lengthy document or webpage that you want the gist of, but don’t have the time to read or scan through, you can use the excellent Summarize Service in Mac OS X to summarize the text for you.
Summarize is adjustable as well, meaning you can choose how dense or light you want the summary to be. You can pick paragraphs or sentences, and adjust the length of the summary, which can vary from a simple outline condensed from the document, to a nearly cliff-notes like version of the text in question, or anything in between.
Summarize must be enabled on most Macs before it will be usable, and then its just a matter of learning how to use the summarize feature to provide a condensed overview of the document, web page, or any selected text. We’ll show you how to enable this helpful feature and how to use it.
Enabling Summarize in Mac OS
Before anything else, you must enable the Summarize service. This exists in nearly all even vaguely modern versions of macOS and Mac OS X:
- Open the “System Preferences” from Apple menu and go to “Keyboard”
- Choose the “Shortcuts” tab and visit “Services”
- Scroll down until you find “Summarize” and enable the checkbox next to it
- Close System Preferencse
Using Summarize on the Mac to Review Text
Now that Summarize is enabled, you can use it with any selected text, whether it’s a web page, a long word, text, or pages document, or just about anything else:
- Choose the text you wish to summarize, if you want to summarize an entire document or webpage, select all the text (Command + A for Select All works well for this purpose)
- Right-click on the selected text and go to the “Services” menu
- Choose “Summarize” to bring up the Summarize Service feature
- Adjust the ‘Summary Size’ dial as desired, as well as choosing Sentences or Paragraphs
As you’ll see, the summary instantly changes as you adjust the settings. Once you are satisfied with the summary, you can copy it, or save it, or discard it.
This is helpful for so many uses, whether you just want to get a quick outline of a document, get the general substance of something without reading it all, and so much more. For example, I had a colleague some years ago who would use Summarize with a word counter to shorten essays and long emails after they were written and they swore by the combination, not a bad idea!
Like any other item in the contextual Services menu, it can be disabled or removed just by going back to the Services system preference area and unchecking the box.
Thanks to LifeHacker for pointing out this useful but long forgotten feature in Mac OS X.