Quick Look power tips

Sharon Zardetto, Macworld
22 December, 2012
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You’ve worked on a project that has generated multiple versions of many files burdened with next-to-useless names, and now you need to send the best ones to your colleagues.

But how can you efficiently rummage through the candidates, when even the apps that created them can’t give you a good overview of multiple files? All you need is the often-overlooked features of OS X’s Quick Look.


Once you’ve selected multiple files, opening the Quick Look window displays the first item. The right-arrow or left-arrow key displays the next or previous file, respectively, cycling around to the beginning again. You can also use a two-finger swipe on your trackpad to move around.


Index sheet. The index sheet in Quick Look provides an easy way to compare multiple, non-contiguous files.

The index sheet is the crux of Quick Look’s handling of multiple files, providing thumbnails of all the selected items. View it by clicking the Index Sheet button to the right of the Next and Previous buttons in the top-left corner of the Quick Look window. Click a thumbnail to move back to the single- item view.

Press c-<Return> to toggle between the two views. In the index sheet, you can select an item by using the arrow keys (the item is surrounded by a blue halo); to display it alone, press <Return>.

Enlarge or shrink the thumbnails by changing the size of the window.


Sometimes the Quick Look view isn’t quite enough. For instance, you might want larger versions of the thumbnails or individual files. If you’re reviewing images, you might prefer a black background instead of Quick Look’s white. How about an automated slideshow? That’s all available in full- screen Quick Look.

To switch to full-screen mode, click the arrows located in the upper right corner of the Quick Look window. They show only when an individual file is displayed; but once you’re in full-screen mode, the index sheet is accessible.

You can use the same keyboard commands as in the Quick Look window: c-<Return> toggles between the index sheet and a single item; left- and right-arrow keys or two-finger swipes control the parade of individual items; arrow keys select an item in the index sheet; and <Return> shows the selected item by itself.


To display items full-screen, your system enlarges images (maintaining the original proportions) to fill the screen; this also happens in a large Quick Look window in the Finder. To avoid the distortion that results in either case, press <Option> to make the image shrink to its true size.

On-screen controls. When a single item is showing in Quick Look’s full-screen mode, moving the cursor makes the toolbar appear.



You’ll see a floating toolbar when you view an individual file in Quick Look’s full-screen mode; it appears as soon as you move the arrow cursor, and it fades out of the way after a few seconds.

Press Play to start a slideshow so that you can peruse the large-scale version of each item. Click the Index Sheet button to go to that view, or click the Add To iPhoto button to add compatible files to your library. Use the Exit Full Screen button (or the <Esc> key) to leave full-screen mode.

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