How to Make ‘Quick Look’ in Mac More Powerful with Plugins

Quick Look is one of the most convenient features of macOS as it is immediately accessible from any Finder window. Just tap the Spacebar, and you’ll immediately see a large preview of whatever files are currently selected. Quick Look can show you full-resolution images, video previews, text files, and more. But even with all that built-in power, there’s still more that it can do. You can expand Quick Look’s functionality by downloading and installing plugins from around the Web.

quick-look-plugins-list

To expand Quick Look’s capabilities, you’ll first need to find some plugins you want to download. The QuickLook Plugins List is a great place to start, and it’s probably the single largest collection of Quick Look plugins online. You might notice that some of them are a little dated, but most still work with even the newest version of macOS Sierra.

You can also check out GitHub user sindresorhus’s list of developer-specific Quick Look plugins.

Some Quick Look plugins use an installer to install themselves, but most don’t. If you want to install a Quick Look plugin that doesn’t have its own installer, follow these steps.

For this example we’ll be using the qlBitRate plugin which displays the bitrate of MP3 files in the Quick Look title bar.

1. Download the latest version of qlBitRate from the project’s GitHub release page.

quick-look-plugins-download

2. Unzip the downloaded file by double-clicking on it. You’ll get a .qlgenerator file with a plugin-style icon.

quick-look-plugins-unzip

3. Copy the unzipped plugin file into the “/Library/QuickLook” directory. (If you want this plugin to be accessible to only the current user, you can instead copy the plugin file to “~/Library/QuickLook.”)

quick-look-plugins-copy

4. Now, open Terminal which is found at “/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app,” and enter the following command:

killall Finder

This will immediately quit and restart the Finder app, so make sure you’re not moving or copying any files when you try this.

quick-look-plugins-terminal

5. If you use Quick Look on an MP3 file, you’ll notice the bitrate is now visible in the window’s title bar.

quick-look-plugins-mp3-preview

There’s a surprisingly complete library of free plugins for Quick Look available online. Most of these plugins either add new file format compatibility to Quick Look or improve upon existing previews. For example, the QuickLookJSON plugin changes macOS’s hard-to-read JSON preview into color-coded and properly-formatted text. Some go-to options to expand Quick Look include the following.

qlImageSize

qlImageSize displays the file size and dimensions of an image in pixels in the Quick Look title bar.

quick-look-plugins-qlimagesize

Quicklook-csv

By default, Quick Look displays CSV files as unreadable plain text files. Quicklook-csv fixes that by tweaking previews for CSV files to show columns and rows.

quick-look-plugins-quicklook-csv-2

QLVideo

QLVideo greatly expands the types of video files that Quick Look can handle. The .webm preview doesn’t seem to work on Sierra, but .avi, .mkv, and .flv support is great.

quick-look-plugins-qlvideo

QLStephen

QLStephen adds preview ability for text files without extensions, like README and INSTALL.

quick-look-plugins-qlstephen

QLMarkdown

QLMarkdown adds preview capability for Markdown files, which are displayed as styled text.

quick-look-plugins-qlmarkdown

MacOS’s Quick Look tool is useful even in its default state, but it doesn’t work with every file type. You can install any of the above plugins, or one of the many other available plugins, to handle more file types and improve preview capability for a variety of file formats.

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