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10 ways to get the most out of Quick Look


When Steve first demonstrated Quick Look, I though it looked gimmicky. Interesting, for sure, but nothing I'd use regularly. Much like Star Wars Episode I: Fun when viewed for the first time, but I'll never watch it again.

Three months later, Quick Look is my favorite feature of Leopard. It's convenient, useful and very fast. With a tap of the space bar, I can identify files in the Finder without having to open a separate application.

Of course, it goes beyond that. With a little effort (and in some cases, plug-ins), you can get even more out of Quick Look. Here's how.

  1. Identify files on remote machines. I've been using Remote Desktop at my day job for a couple of years now. With a few clicks, I can observe or control a remote Mac. Leopard brings this convenience to home users with Screen Sharing. It's useful, but files appear quite tiny when viewed on this screen-within-a-screen (and titles even smaller). Fortunately, Quick Look makes things much more legible.
  2. Preview the contents of Zip files (plug-in required). BetterZip and the Zip Quick Look Plug-in both let you view the contents of a zipped file with Quick Look. In fact, Zip Quick Look's display is dependent on a HTML file which you may alter to your liking. Here's how to install Quick Look plug-ins.
  3. Preview the contents of a folder (plug-in required). Much like BetterZip and Zip Quick Look, the Folder List plug-in lets you preview the contents of a folder. You can also customize its HTML-powered display and show or hide hidden files or time stamps.
  4. Examine snippets of code with syntax highlighting intact. Here's another tip that requires a plug-in. Qlcolorcode lets you preview your code with all the helpful highlighting you expect.
  5. Examine files in the trash. Until Leopard, the Finder's trash would keep its contents to itself. Anything you wanted to examine had to be moved back to the desktop. Fortunately, Quick Look lets you preview trashed items. Now you know precisely which item to yank out of there.
  6. Prep your iWork documents for use with Quick Look. When you create a document with Numbers, Pages or Keynote, you can ensure that its preview will display the proper formatting by selecting the Include Preview in Document check box whey you save (or turn this feature on by default in the general preference pane).
  7. Enhance TextMate. TextMate is the editor that geeks everywhere love (including the geeks at TUAW). Ciarán Walsh has written two Quick Look plug-ins for TextMate that let you preview items in a project or render Quick Look previews (for certain file types) using the TextMate syntax highlighter, respectively.
  8. Preview fonts. Open a Finder window, select Cover Flow view and navigate to the font you're interested in. Click the space bar and presto! Instant preview.
  9. Quick Look and Cover Flow. I love the combination of Cover Flow and Quick Look. Open a bulging folder in the Finder and select Cover Flow view. Tap the space bar to preview the 1st file and then use the arrow keys to move the next one and so on. You'll stay in Quick Look mode! Very cool.
  10. Send images to iPhoto. When viewing an image with Quick Look - either from the Finder or attached to a Mail message - you'll see a tiny iPhoto icon at the bottom of the window. Click it to send that image to iPhoto.
I hope you found these tips useful. And I still dislike Episode I.

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