Supertip: Be a Quick Look Power User – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 180Supertip: Be a Quick Look Power User

Quick Look lets you preview any file by selecting it and hitting Space. The contents will instantly appear in a pop-out window, avoiding the need to open the file in an application. See Exploring OS X: Quick Look for more info.

While Quick Look is ultra-simple to use, the following are some tips to let you get the very most from it (although you might also look up the ones listed here, which describe Quick Look hacks and advanced tricks):

Quickly Open Files You’re Quick Looking At

If you’re viewing a file via Quick Look, double-clicking the window will open the file in the default viewer or editor. For example, double-clicking the Quick Look preview window while viewing a movie file will open the file in QuickTime Player.

Open Files from Quick Look in All Compatible Apps

When “Quick Looking” a file, you’ll see an Open With button at the top right. Clicking this will open the file with the default viewer or editor for that file (for example, an Open with Preview button will appear when using Quick Look to view images). However, right-clicking this button (or left-clicking and holding) will open a pop-up list showing other apps on your system that you can use to open that app. Just select one to instantly open the file.

Use Quick Look Inside Open/Save Dialog Boxes

If you’re opening or saving something and want to see what another file is, just select it within the Open/Save As dialog box and then hit Space to activate Quick Look, which works within dialog boxes in the same way it does in Finder windows or on the desktop.

Quick Look Items in a Stack

Quick Look can be used to view items in a Dock stack. Just hover the mouse over the item and hit Space to cause a Quick Look window to pop out, rather like what appears next to entries in the Spotlight list of results. You can also highlight the item using the Up/Down cursor keys once the stack has expanded before you hit Space to activate Quick Look.

To learn how to make it slightly easier to know which item the mouse is hovering over before you use Quick Look, see Tip 148, Add Cool Visual Effects to Stacks.

Quick Look Attachments and Websites in Mail

Like most elements of OS X, Mail integrates Quick Look. You can use it to preview attachments in emails or to preview websites that are linked to within emails—see Figure 32, You can Quick Look just about anywhere, including within Mail. Simply right-click any attachment, and select Quick Look Attachment or Quick Look URL from the menu that appears.

Figure 32. You can Quick Look just about anywhere, including within Mail.

Alternatively, you can click the attachment once and then hit Space, just like like when using Quick Look to view a file in Finder or on the desktop. With web links within a mail message, you can also hover the mouse cursor over the link until a small down arrow appears. Clicking this will open a Quick Look window that shows the website.

Quick Look a File via a Gesture

If you have a MacBook with a multitouch trackpad or a Magic Trackpad, you can instantly use Quick Look to view any file by simply hovering the mouse cursor over it and then tapping the trackpad with three fingers. You need only tap, not click—even if you have the tap-to-click function turned off in System Preferences.

Tapping again with three fingers will quit the Quick Look window, or you can simply hit Esc or Space.

Delete Files While Quick Looking

If you hold down the Command key while using Quick Look to view a file and then hit Delete (the key above the Return key, sometimes called Backspace on PC keyboards), you’ll instantly send the file you’re currently looking at to the trash. The next file in Finder’s file list will then appear in Quick Look, and you can then delete this in the same way or hit the Down cursor key to jump to the next file without deleting it. In this way, you can very quickly prune a list of files while looking at what they contain.

This same trick works when you’re viewing multiple files within Preview (that is, when several files are thumbnailed in the sidebar drawer).

Zoom In While Quick Looking PDFs

If you’re using Quick Look to view a PDF, you can zoom in on a page if using a trackpad by making the pinch-to-expand gesture (that is, placing your finger and thumb together on the trackpad and moving them apart; contracting them again will zoom out). If you’re using a mouse, you can hold down Option and scroll the mouse wheel up and down to zoom in and out (for what it’s worth, this also works with a trackpad—just hold Option and use two fingers to scroll up and down in the usual way).

However, for reasons best known to Apple engineers, this works only with PDFs and not with any other kind of file, such as images. If you use the pinch-to-expand gesture with such files, you’ll switch to full-screen mode instead.

Quick Look Files at the Command Prompt

You can use Quick Look at the command line to preview any file. What you’ll see is the same as what you would see if you select a file in Finder and hit Space or right-click it and select Quick Look.

Just use the qlmanage -p command, followed by the filename. For example, to Quick Look the file disneyland.jpg from the command line, I’d type the following:

qlmanage -p disneyland.jpg

You can Quick Look any type of file: images, documents, PDFs, and so on.