Summarize Text Using Mac OS X Summarize Or Microsoft Word AutoSummarize

Summarize Text Using Mac OS X Summarize Or Microsoft Word AutoSummarize

Whether you are wanting to create an executive summary for a document or you just want to get the gist before diving in, wouldn’t it be helpful if your computer could do the skimming for you?

The Mac OS X operating system and Microsoft Word on Windows have little-known summarizing tools that can do a pretty decent job of giving you the key points of a document or block of text.

In the examples below, I will use a PDF copy of my free 4 Ways To Tame Your Documents Guide. You can use whichever PDF you’d like, or you can get my Guide by filling out your details here:

Mac OS X Summarize Service

Sometimes there are hidden features in the nooks and crannies of the Mac operating system, and Summarize Text is one of them. However, before I show you how to use it, we have to check if it is set up first.

Do You Have Summarize Enabled?

Open up a searchable PDF in Preview, a text file in a text editor, or a website in Safari.

Highlight some text and go to the Services menu. In this example in Preview I will go to Preview and then Services. Do you see Summarize in the list like this screenshot? If not, you’re going to have to enable it.

Is Summarize There?
Is Summarize There?

Enabling Summarize

From that same Preview > Services menu, click Services Preferences.

In the right pane, scroll way down to the bottom of the Text section and you should see Summarize there. Check it to enable.

Enable Summarize Service
Enable Summarize Service

Summarize It!

Back in whatever application you were just using, highlight the text you want to summarize or Select All if you want to do the whole document.

Right click on the text, and you should see Summarize (it may be buried in a Services submenu). Click it and it will open up the Summary application.

Summarize Service
Summarize Service

Your text will now be summarized, but it doesn’t stop there. By default it shrinks it by about 80%.

Default Summary
Default Summary

You can move the slider to make it bigger or smaller, so you can go way down to 1–5% and get a super short summary.

Small Summarize
Small Summarize

But you will probably get the best results at around the 25–30% mark.

Once you have things how you like them, you can either read the text there in the Summary application, copy & paste the text out, or save it as an RTF file.

AutoSummarize In Microsoft Word for Windows

While Windows users don’t have this functionality built into the operating system (as far as I know), a similar function does come included in Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007.

Here are Microsoft instructions for AutoSummarize.

Unfortunately, AutoSummarize was removed from Word in Word 2010, and hasn’t been seen since. Hopefully it will make a return someday.

Do You Summarize?

I can see myself using text summarization when I have a long document to read and I want to get the key points before digging in. How about you? Leave a note in the comments if you think this feature would (or wouldn’t be) useful and how you’d use it.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 18 comments

NiN - September 13, 2016 Reply


Having written extensively – I now have to scroll back and fro… numerous times…

Thank you

    Pat Choate - April 17, 2018 Reply

    The Word summary feature was really useful. Hopefully it will be restored. I keep an old computer with an older version of Word so that I can still use that feature.

Kadija - April 28, 2016 Reply

I’m a writer and researcher – I loved the autosummarize feature in word. I’m so disa ppointed that they took it out – no idea why. One of the best features on the package

Kathy - October 25, 2015 Reply

I would very much like to see the summarize feature back into word. I really need to use it to help my students who are learning disabled and need accommodations or modifications.

Regina - October 7, 2015 Reply

THANK YOU! This steps are very helpful !

Ritesh - September 30, 2015 Reply

In the new mac update with os x el capitan, does it remove the summarize feature?

    jfor - June 24, 2021 Reply

    Actually, as of macOS 10.15, it’s still there.

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Linda - November 28, 2012 Reply

this is a really useful tool for creating abstracts of your papers. excellent tutorial, thanks!

Viktoria - August 10, 2012 Reply

Thank you, you have saved me so much time.

Bids - March 1, 2012 Reply

Need to know how to summarize with Microsoft word 10

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[…] Summarize Text Using Mac OSX Summarize Or Microsoft Word AutoSummarize […]

Francisca - October 8, 2010 Reply

Thanks a million! I didn't know my mac can do the summarize.

RORER - August 27, 2010 Reply

Terrific for teaching! How to double check a lesson plan or lecture notes. Write it up, then run a summary– see if you hit all your points and didn't get lost in the forest.

    Brooks Duncan - August 28, 2010 Reply

    That's a really good point about teaching.. I didn't think of that. Thanks for the idea!

      malika - April 1, 2012 Reply

      for me i have a very long chapter and i dont know how to summerize it with Microsoft Windows9 could you please help to do that

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