Bolster your Mac’s Quick Look function with better file support. If there’s a format you wish you could preview, there’s probably a plugin for the job.
It’s one of those Mac features you come to depend on, once you notice it. In Finder you can highlight any file, and then press space to preview it. It’s a great way to get an overview of an image, document or even a media file.
It’s called Quick Look, and it’s wonderful – if it supports the file you’re looking at. If you’re finding yourself looking at icons instead of file contents, here are some plugins that can help.
Installing Quicklook Plugins
Installing Quick Look plugins isn’t hard. They come as “.qlgenerator” files, and all you need to do is drag them to the right place: the “QuickLook” folder in your Mac’s library.
Not sure where this is? In Finder, hit Go and then Go to Folder.
Type “~/Library/QuickLook”, then hit enter. Create a “QuickLook” folder, if there isn’t one – drag your plugins here. You can instead go to “/Library/”, if you want to install for all users.
That’s it! It may take a while for your plugins to take effect, but you can speed things up by typing the following command in the terminal:
With that out of the way, let’s go over some plugins!
Preview EPUB books In Quick Look
QuickLook supports PDF files out of the box, but what if you prefer collecting reflow-able EPUB books? Out of the box, QuickLook doesn’t offer much:
What if instead you could see the book’s cover, and some information about it?
Download and install EPUB-Quicklook.
Preview Markdown Files In Quick Look
If you write for the web, you should really learn to use Markdown. It’s easier to write in than HTML, but doesn’t unnecessarily mess up your formatting the way word processors do. I recommend Mac users check out Mou, which is a great Mac Markdown editor for writers.
There’s only one problem: QuickLook.
Previewing Markdown files on your Mac shows only the above file icon, and not the contents of your files. This is far from ideal, but you can fix it:
Just download and install QLMarkdown and you’ll be set. This QuickLook plugin displays your Markdown files with formatting. It’s a must-have for writers who depend on both QuickLook and Markdown.
Any Plain Text File
QuickLook can, of course, give an overview of plain text files – if they’re labelled properly. This, annoyingly, does not include files without files extensions – including the README files that come with many downloads.
You can fix this with QLStephen, which allows you to preview any plaintext file, regardless of file extension.
Code, With Highlighting
You can use QuickLook to preview code, but it ain’t pretty. Software like TextWrangler, which might be the best Mac text editor, offers colour highlighting – this makes browsing code a lot easier. If you want this in Quick Look, there’s plugin for that:
Just download and install QLColorCode and you’ll be much better equipped to read code from QuickLook.
Of course, this is just the beginning: you can find a wide variety of QuickLook plugins around the web. I’d highly recommend checking out sindresorhus’s list of QuickLook Plugins for Developers and QuickLookPlugins.com to get started, but here are a few additional highlights:
- BetterZip Quick Look Generator lets you preview the contents ZIP, RAR and most archiving file formats. I couldn’t get this one working on Mavrricks, but the developer’s blog says a fix is on the way.
- QuickLookCSV lets you preview CSV files.
- Brushviewer lets you preview Photoshop brushes.
Do you have any favourite Quick Look plugins? Please point to them in the comments below.
Wondering what else you don’t know about Quick Look? Here are some Quick Look features you probably don’t use.