How to Use Quick Look, A Simple Mac Tool That Will Save You Time

Macbook Screen Featured

The Quick Look feature in macOS is simple and powerful tool that makes it easier to view existing files on your Mac. Here’s more about it.

One of the most powerful tools on macOS is also one of the easiest to use. Introduced by Apple way back in 2007, Quick Look offers allows you to see the contents of files at full or near-full size in the Finder — without actually opening the file. Here’s how it works.

Using Quick Look

Launched with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the quick viewing tool really hasn’t changed since it was first released. That’s not a complaint. Rather, it proves just how durable the feature has remained. 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 relative to the screen resolution.

To use Quick Look:

  1. Find the file to preview.
  2. Right-click on the file.
  3. Select Quick Look on the pull-down menu.

Here’s an example of a PDF in Quick Look; notice the preview of every page in the file:

Quick Look

Here’s an image being previewed in Quick Look:

image example

Finally, here’s an example of the tool being used with a Microsoft Word document:

Quick Look document

What Can You Do With Quick Look?

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


You can click on the Rotate icon at the top right of the Quick Look window to move the file’s position. However, any rotation you make is only used to view the file from a different perspective. You’ll need to open the file to rotate it permanently.

rotate example

Open With …

Quick Look also provides an easier way to open a file. Instead of going into the correct app, then opening the file, click the Open With…  button at the top right of the box.


There’s also a Share button at the top right of the box. Click on it to find the many ways you can share the document with others. Again, the Mac tool makes this possible without having to first open the file.

Quick Look share


Quick Look also provides excellent markup tools.  To get started:

  1. Right-click on the file.
  2. Choose Quick Look.
  3. Click on the Markup icon at the top right.

Mac Markup

From here, you can write or sign, draw on, crop, and rotate supported files. The features shown in Markup will vary, depending on the type of file. Among these tools are:

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

As you can see, Quick Look’s list of features goes beyond showing a preview of an unopened file in macOS. It also provides a quick way to open, edit, and rotate the file or share it with other users.

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