A method for deducing user intent and providing computer implemented services characterized by the steps of: a) noticing a significant new event occurring within the computer system; b) deducing an intent from the significant new event and from the context in which the new event occurred; and c) providing a service based upon the new event and its context. Significant events are those which the computer might be able to assist a user, and can be determined by matching the event into a database of recognizable events to make a significant observation. The deduction step takes a delimited set of significant observations and attempts to match the set against a number of intent templates. If there are multiple matches to the intent templates, the matches are ranked and a best guess is made to determine a deduced intent. Service is provided fulfilling all preconditions of a plan associated with the deduced intent, and by sequentially executing the steps of the plan. The apparatus of the present invention implements the method on a pen-based computer system.