Are you verbose and protracted? Do you have a friend who’s just a bit too long-winded and rambling in their writings? Summarizing long documents on macOS is a concise way to get to the point with a minimum of time and effort.

Not only does summarizing help you get the gist of an article without reading the whole thing, it will make it easier to find files as well. Or, if you have written something, you can use your summary to help prepare an abstract if you want to submit it for publishing.

Summarizing is cool because you can use it with anything that has text, including webpages, so if you find an article to share, you can select a few opening paragraphs and summarize it in a few sentences or short paragraphs.

Let’s check it out and show you how it’s done. The summary function is a service that you will most likely need to enable before you can use it.

Open the app menu and select Services > Services Preferences. Note, you can do this from any app menu, even Finder.

Don’t be confused if nothing shows–you won’t see any enabled services if you don’t have any text selected.

This will take you to the Keyboard preferences’ Shortcuts tab. Make sure the Services shortcuts from the left pane is selected, then scroll down in the right pane to the Text services.

Check the box next to Summarize and if you like, click on the area to the right to add a keyboard shortcut.

With Summarize enabled, you will be able to get to it by selecting text in your document and then once again accessing the Services menu. In the menu, click Summarize. That’s all you need to do in the future; it’s just one click (or keyboard shortcut) away.

When you execute the Summarize service, it will open up in a separate window. Now you can summarize by sentences or paragraphs. Use the slider to the right to control the size of your summary.

From here, you can either select the text and copy it, or you can save it as a separate text file.

Once you’ve saved your summary (or simply copied it), you can do whatever you want with it. For example, you could place it in your file comments. You might have to amend your summary a bit if it’s more than 749 characters, otherwise it won’t fit in the comments section on macOS.

Once you have created your summary, then you can open it as a separate document and tweak it to your heart’s content. That way you can succinctly highlight key points and draw attention to the meat of your topic. (After all, macOS is smart, but its summary probably doesn’t have the flow of a user-edited paragraph.)

Profile Photo for Matt Klein Matt Klein
Matt Klein has nearly two decades of technical writing experience. He's covered Windows, Android, macOS, Microsoft Office, and everything in between. He's even written a book, The How-To Geek Guide to Windows 8.
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