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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.

connect-to-folder

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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:

qlmanage -r

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:

quicklook-epub-without

What if instead you could see the book’s cover, and some information about it?

quicklook-epub

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 Learn Markdown Using Mac Text Editor Mou Learn Markdown Using Mac Text Editor Mou What is Markdown? Why is it useful and how do you learn it? If you're looking for a way to get to grips with Markdown on your Mac, Mou is the answer. Read More .

There’s only one problem: QuickLook.

quicklook-md-without

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:

quicklook-markdown

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 TextWrangler Just Might Be The Best Free Text Editor [Mac] TextWrangler Just Might Be The Best Free Text Editor [Mac] Use an advanced text editor on your Mac, free of charge. TextWrangler comes complete with code highlighting for most major languages and a whole lot more – and it's free. If you even occasionally edit... Read More , offers colour highlighting – this makes browsing code a lot easier. If you want this in Quick Look, there’s plugin for that:

quicklook-code-highlight

Just download and install QLColorCode and you’ll be much better equipped to read code from QuickLook.

Even More

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:

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 6 Great 'Quick Look' Features You Probably Don't Use (Mac) 6 Great 'Quick Look' Features You Probably Don't Use (Mac) Read More .

  1. Cal
    March 24, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Any update on the Yosemite fix? I am able to see it in icon view but not on the quicklook. I hope someone has fixed this :)

  2. Cal
    February 26, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Hi Justin, thanks for helping out and providing the link. I installed it and you are right, I am unable to see it too. I hope there will be a fix soon.

  3. Cal
    February 26, 2015 at 3:07 am

    Hi, after the latest Yosemite update, the preview only can show the titles and description but loses the cover image. Are you experiencing the same issue? If so, is there a fix? Thanks

  4. palu
    May 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    a couple of months ago i installed a few plugins. have the ZIP one, but also the IPA one (to preview iOS apps, at least their covers). Also, the "animated GIF" one is a must

    http://code.google.com/p/quicklook-ipa/
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/animgifqlgen/

    • Justin P
      May 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Doesn't quick look support animated GIFs out of the box? I don't have that installed and I see full previews. I'm using Mavericks, so it might be new...

      The iOS thing is cool.

  5. Shaila
    April 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    These will be really helpful. Thanks!

    • Justin P
      April 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Glad to have helped! Let me know if you find any other good plugins, okay?

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