Basics of Quick Look in OS X Mavericks - dummies

Basics of Quick Look in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

The Quick Look command in OSX Mavericks displays the contents of the selected file in a floating window. The key point is that you can see what’s in a file without double-clicking (to open) it and without launching any application. This is quite handy when you want to peek at the contents of a file without having to open it.

To take a Quick Look yourself, select an icon and do any of the following: Choose File→Quick Look; right-click or Control-click the icon and choose Quick Look from its contextual menu; choose Quick Look from the Action button/menu in the toolbar; or use one of its two keyboard shortcuts — Command+Y or the easiest shortcut ever, spacebar.

You can use Quick Look is with a folder full of images.


The cool part is that while the Quick Look window is open, you can select different icons in the Finder window and very quickly peek at their contents in the Quick Look window.

The bad news is that while Quick Look works with many types of files — Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, plain-text, PDF, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, and most types of audio and video — it doesn’t work with all files. You’ll know it didn’t work if Quick Look shows you a big document, folder, or application icon instead of the contents of that file.

If you select multiple items before you invoke Quick Look three buttons appear at the top of the Quick Look window near the left side — the Next, Previous, and Index Sheet buttons. With these controls you can view all of the selected items at the same time as an index sheet or view them one at a time by clicking the Next or Previous buttons.


The blue outline around the image at the bottom on the right indicates that the cursor is hovering over that image; if you were to click, that image would fill the window, and the icons shown at the top of the Quick Look window in would reappear.

How to share and share alike with the Share menu in OS X Mavericks

If you use an Apple iDevice, you’re surely familiar with the rectangular button with an arrow escaping from it, as shown in the margin. It’s called the Share menu and it has as many as seven options (depending upon the type of file you’ve selected):


  • E-mail: Launches the Mail app and attaches the selected file to a blank message, ready for you to address and send.

  • Message: Launches the Messages (formerly iChat) app and puts the selected file in an outgoing message, ready for you to address and send.

  • AirDrop: Sends the selected file to other Mac users on the same network with a single click. Note that only Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks support AirDrop; earlier versions of OS X didn’t include it. And only recent-vintage Macs (say 2010 or newer) can use it. Also note that iOS 7 will bring AirDrop support to your iDevices as well.

    Note that the next three options appear only when you’ve selected an image file. If you don’t see them when you click your Share menu, you’ve probably selected a PDF or other type of file that can’t be uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr.

  • Twitter: Tweets the selected file to your Twitter account.

  • Facebook: Posts the selected file to your Facebook account.

  • Flickr: Posts the selected file to Flickr, a popular photo-sharing site.

How to slide into Slideshow (full-screen) mode in OS X Mavericks

Quick Look really shines in its Slideshow (full-screen) mode, which you can start with any of these techniques:

  • Hold down Option and choose File→Slideshow.

  • Press Command+Option+Y.

  • If your file is already open in the Quick Look window, click the double-diagonal-arrow button in the upper-right corner of the window.

When you’re in Slideshow mode, a completely different set of controls appears onscreen automatically.


The Slideshow controls disappear after a few seconds of inactivity; if you don’t see them when you need them, just move the cursor, and they’ll magically reappear.

To exit Slideshow (full-screen) mode, press Esc or click the Exit full-screen button to return to the Quick Look window or the Exit Quick Look button to both exit Slideshow mode and quit Quick Look.

When you’re finished with Quick Look window, click the X button in the top-left corner; if you’re in full-screen mode, click the X button in the control bar; or press Command+Y, which works in either mode.

One last thing: the Add to iPhoto button will appear only if your Mac has iPhoto in its Applications folder.