Mac OS X – quickly inspecting the contents of a file

By Grant Jacobs 19/08/2011

You’re scrolling down a list of files, trying to remember their contents. You did give most files a name that reflects the contents of the file, but a few leave you stumped.

Rather than open the file to find out what’s in it you can just select the file, then press the space bar.

OS X will present a quick preview of the first page of the file.


To close the preview, type command-W. You can browse the contents of most files by scrolling through them.

If you leave the quick view up and ‘touch’ (single click) another file, it’s contents will be presented in the quick view window that is open.

Tap the bottom bar and it’ll zoom for full-screen viewing. Click on Esc to return to the Finder view.

(Updated to add blog post tags & final line of text.)

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0 Responses to “Mac OS X – quickly inspecting the contents of a file”

  • Thanks! A v useful tip that I’ve just shared with several colleagues.

  • Lion adds a handy button at top right of the Quick Look window to open the file in the default application – e.g. Preview for a PDF. It’s a very quick and easy way to open the file once you’ve found it.

    Also: press Spacebar with Quick Look open and it closes again. You can just press Space to look and Space to close that way.

    I like the way you can listen to sounds and even watch movies right in the Quick Look window.

  • Thanks Miraz.

    I should have added that you can open the document in Quick Look by double-clicking on Q.L.’s presentation of the document – at least in OS X 10.6.8.

    Has Apple shifted to offering a button in Lion so that users can interact with the document? (Just wondering why they’d need a button if double-clicking achieves the same effect.)

    As you can probably tell, I’m holding off moving to Lion for bit.

  • Well, well, well – I never knew about double-clicking on the QL window. Many thanks. It still works in Lion…

    Which, I guess proves your point re the button. 🙂

  • Miraz,

    Maybe they just put it there so that users might have a nice little button to aim at? 🙂 Sometimes you never quite know what the story is with Apple… thanks for letting us know.