Select and copy text in Quick Look previews

Lex Friedman
11 January, 2012
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Quick Look is a delightfully simple way to browse the contents of the files on your Mac without launching their parent apps. (Select a file, press the space bar, that’s it.) But if you’re looking at, say, a PDF or Word document, Quick Look can frustrate, because it doesn’t provide any way to select and copy text; if you find a snippet of text you’d like to copy and paste, you still need to launch the parent app. Unless, that is, you know a secret shared by Keir Thomas (author of the excellent Mac Kung Fu).

To make text selectable in Quick Look previews, you just need to enable a hidden Finder setting. Select and copy the code below, open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities), paste that code at the prompt, then press Return:

defaults write com.apple.finder QLEnableTextSelection -bool TRUE; killall Finder

After a second or two, the Finder will restart. Once it does, you’ll be able to select text in Quick Look previews and copy it to the Clipboard for use elsewhere.

If you decide you don’t deserve to select text in Quick Look, you can turn this feature off with another Terminal command:

defaults delete com.apple.finder QLEnableTextSelection; killall Finder

One Comment

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  1. nom says:

    Excellent! :)
    Works brilliantly.

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