One of the most powerful tools in macOS is also one of the easiest to use. Introduced by Apple in 2007, Quick Look allows you to view the contents of files in full or near full size in the Finder, without having to open the file. Is that how it works.

Using Quick Look on Mac

Released with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the Quick View tool hasn’t really changed since it was first released. This is not a complaint. Rather, it shows how durable the feature has been. To date, Quick Look can preview most types of files, including PDFs, plain text, Microsoft Office files, RAW camera images, HTML, and many more. The size of the preview depends on the size of the document in relation to the resolution of the screen.

To use Quick Look:

  1. Look for the file you want to preview.
  2. Right-click on the file.
  3. Please select Quick Look in the drop-down menu.

This is an example of a PDF in Quick Look; look at the preview of each page of the file:

This is an image that is being previewed in Quick Look:

Finally, here is an example of using the tool with a Microsoft Word document:

What can be done with Quick Look on Mac?

Although Quick Look is primarily used to preview a file without opening it, the tool has other options.

To turn

You can click the Rotate icon at the top right of the Quick Look window to move the position of the file. However, any rotation you do only serves to view the file from a different perspective. You will have to open the file to permanently rotate it.

To open with…

Quick Look also provides an easier way to open a file. Instead of going to the correct application and then opening the file, click the Open with… button in the upper right of the box.


There is also a Share button in the upper right of the box. Click on it to find the multiple ways to share the document with others. Again, the Mac tool makes this possible without having to open the file first.

Marking / Markup

Quick Look also offers great markup tools. To get started:

  1. Right-click on the file.
  2. Choose Quick Look.
  3. Click on the markup icon in the upper right.

From here, you can write or sign, draw, crop, and rotate supported files. The functions displayed in Markup vary depending on the type of file. These tools include:

  • Sketch / Sketch: Mark a shape with a single stroke.
  • Draw / Draw: Similar to Sketch, this tool only appears on Macs with a Force Touch trackpad.
  • Forms / Shapes: Use this tool to click on a shape, line, or arrow, then drag it where you want. You can also change its size.
  • Text / Text: Write your text and then drag the text box where you want.
  • Highlight Section / Highlight Section: Used to highlight the selected text.
  • Signature / Sign: Add your John Hancock using the TouchPad, the built-in camera, for iPhone / iPad.
  • Shape Style / Shape Style: Change the thickness and type of lines used in a shape, and add a shadow.
  • Border Color / Border Color: Changes the color of the lines used in a shape.
  • Fill Color / Fill Color: Changes the color used within a shape.
  • Font Style / Font Style: Change the font or font style and color.
  • Rotate / Rotate: Move the object to the right or left.
  • Crop / Crop: Hide part of an element.
  • Annotate / Annotate: Annotate the item by drawing on it with the nearby iPhone or iPad.

As you can see, Quick Look’s list of features goes beyond just showing a preview of a file not open in macOS. It also offers a quick way to open, edit and rotate the file or share it with other users.

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