A Beginner’s Guide to Previewing Files On Your Mac

You can easily preview the contents of a file before opening it. Take a look at four methods of previewing files such as images, PDFs or text documents. You can enlarge Finder icons to use as previews, look at the preview pane in column view, use cover flow view, or use the handy Quick Look function on your Mac.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide to Previewing Files On Your Mac.

If you're new to Mac you may not know how easy it is to preview files without actually opening them. There's several different ways. So, for instance, here I am in a Finder window and I have a whole bunch of images in a folder. Now you can already see one of the ways to preview them is by looking at the icons. For things like images you're going to see little thumbnails as the icons for each of those. Now these may be pretty small but you can increase the size of those using this little slider bar here at the bottom. If you don't see that slider bar then make sure that you have the Status bar shown. So here's View, Show Status Bar. Now you can increase the size and you get a pretty good preview of the images that are there. That's one way to do it.

Another way to do it is to switch to Column View. So here are the four views. Icon View, List View, Column View, and Coverflow View. If you switch to Column View then you have everything in columns and you can select an image and you're going to see a preview pane on the right which for images and other types of things like documents that have text in them you're going to see a preview here on the right. If you don't see the preview, note that it's called the Preview Pane, and you can turn it on or off here under View, Hide Preview/Show Preview. So make sure it's turned on. Now you can look at each one of these and get a good view of what they are. If you switch to something else where there are say other types of docs, like here it's a PDF, you'll see a preview of that PDF as well. The same thing with a text file. So that's a second way to do it.

The third way to do it is to use Coverflow View which is the fourth view here. Then you get a List View at the bottom but you get this little coverflow view of everything in here. Not only can you click on an image and see it but you can also see the items before and after it and you can use two fingers on your trackpad or your mouse to flip back and forth between these very easily. So you can flip through a whole folder full of images or documents and quickly find the one you want.

Now another way that works in all of these view modes is called Quick Look. You get to Quick Look by selecting a file and then hitting the spacebar. This brings up a very large preview of what you see. To dismiss it hit the spacebar again. So if you see something and say, hmmm I want to get a closer look at that before I open the file just hit the spacebar and it opens up. This will work with other types of documents as well. So, for instance, here is a PDF. I can hit the spacebar there and it opens that up for preview. Here's a text file. The spacebar will show me that as well.

So going to Quick Look is a great way to do it and you have some options in here. For instance you can expand here with this button to be full screen. Then you can hit x to close it from that. Now you can also use the arrow keys to continue to get around. So if I select this first image here, let's say I'm in List View so I don't really have a good preview of anything. I select the first item there, hit the spacebar for the Quick Look, and then I can arrow down through the files in the List and it will simply change to reflect whatever it is I have shown.

If I select multiple files using Shift then I get little arrows here at the top and I can flip through the items that I have selected. So, for instance, if I wanted to select multiple items here. Shift click and I want to figure out which one of those is the one I want. I can now hit the spacebar for Quick Look and then I can use these arrows here or the arrow keys on my keyboard to flip through all the items. There's also a view here that puts them all as smaller items all on the same sheet. So you have a lot of options there using the Quick Look function on your Mac.

Comments: 4 Responses to “A Beginner’s Guide to Previewing Files On Your Mac”

    Ronald Boudreau
    1 year ago

    Saw one of the example files you opened in preview was what appeared to be a shortcuts PDF. Is this something you have available on your site? Had a quick look and didn’t see it. :)

    1 year ago

    Comment translated automatically.
    Although I do not know English, I find your videos very interesting. I always learn something.
    Thank you

    1 year ago

    List View also has Preview. Go to the View Menu and select “Show Preview.” It came in with either Sierra or High Sierra.

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