Mac OS X Service to create the man page URL for a command

Mac OS X has a type of URL specifically for opening UNIX man pages. For me, using one of these URLs opens a new Terminal window to display the man page. Just put the name of the man page after the “x-man-page://” URL scheme to create one of these URLs.

For example, a link to the rsync man page would look like “x-man-page://rsync” when written out.

This is a handy way to refer to UNIX man pages with other Mac OS X users in e-mail correspondence, on mailing lists, or on the Web. Because of that, I wanted a quicker way to create these man page URLs. I wrote the Mac OS X Service named “Man Page URL for Command” to satisfy that desire. The “Man Page URL for Command” Service is provided “as-is” with no warranty.

The Service was wrapped up with ThisService by Peter Hosey, as with my earlier Mac OS X Service to shorten a URL with Bit.ly.

To install the Service:

  1. Unzip the downloaded file.
  2. Drag the unzipped Service to /Library/Services (for all users) or ~/Library/Services (for just the current user).

To use it:

  1. Select a single word from some text you can highlight in an application. The word should ideally correspond to the name of a general UNIX command (“ls”), a Mac OS X-specific command (“dsmemberutil”), or another term the matches a man page (“sshd_config”). The Service is specifically coded to work only when you select a single word; if you select a text string with any white space in it, the Service will just return your original text. The Service also checks to ensure that the selected word corresponds to either a command in the $PATH or an existing man page, so it will not generate a “x-man-page://” for just any word.
  2. Choose “Man Page URL for Command” from the Services submenu of the application menu. As long as you have selected only a single word that matches a command or existing man page, the selection will be replaced with the “x-man-page://” URL.

Thanks to Nigel for the+inspiration.

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ManPageUrlForCommand.zip34.45 KB