As the preceding several thousand pages make clear, there are lots of ways to view and manage the seething mass of files and folders on a typical hard drive. Some of them actually let you see what's in a document without having to open it—the Preview column in column view, the giant icons in Cover Flow, and so on.
Quick Look, new in Leopard (and very welcome), takes this idea to another level. It lets you open and browse a document nearly at full size—without switching window views or opening any new programs. You highlight an icon (or several), and then do one of these things:
Press the Space bar. This is by far the best technique to learn. After all, unless you're editing a file's name, what's the Space bar ever done for you in the Finder? Nothing. But in Mac OS X Leopard, you can highlight any icon and then tap the Space bar for an instant preview.
Press ⌘-Y. Another keystroke for the same function. The Space bar is still better, though.
Click the eyeball icon at the top of the window. If you don't see the big eyeball icon, you probably upgraded your Mac from an earlier version of Mac OS X. But you can add the eyeball to the toolbar easily enough, as described on Apple's toolbar-icon collection.
In any case, the Quick Look window now opens, showing a nearly full-size preview of the document (Figure 1-25). Rather nice, eh?
Figure 1-25. Once the Quick Look window is open, you can play the file (movies and sounds), study it in more detail (most kinds of graphics files), or even read it (PDF, Word, and Excel documents). You can also click another icon, and another, and another, without ever closing the preview; the contents of the window simply change to reflect whatever you've just clicked. Supertip: Quick Look even works on icons in the Trash, too, so you can figure out what something is before you nuke it forever.
The idea here is that you can check out a document without having to wait for it to open in the traditional way. For example, you can find out what's in a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document without actually having to open Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, which saves you about 45 minutes.
Exactly. And that's why Quick Look doesn't recognize all documents. If you try to preview, for example, a Final Cut Pro video project, a sheet-music file, a .zip archive, or a database file, all you'll see is a six-inch-tall version of its generic icon. You won't see what's inside.
Over time, Apple expects that the makers of those nonrecognized programs will develop plug-ins that teach Quick Look how to peek inside those documents. In the meantime, here's what Quick Look recognizes right out of the box:
Graphics files and photos.This is where Quick Look can really shine, because it's often useful to get a quick look at a photo without having to haul iPhoto or Photoshop out of bed. Quick Look recognizes all common graphics formats, including TIFF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, RAW, and Photoshop documents.
Audio and movie files.They begin to play instantly when you open them into the Quick Look window. Most popular formats are recognized (MP3, AIFF, AAC, MPEG4, H.264, and so on). A scroll bar appears so that you can jump around in the movie or song.
Microsoft Word,Excel,and PowerPoint documents.Because these formats are so common, Mac OS X comes with a Quick Look plug-in to recognize them. Move through the pages using the vertical scroll bar; switch to a different Excel spreadsheet page using the Sheet tabs at the bottom.
vCards. A vCard is an address-book entry that people can send by email to each other to save time in updating their Rolodexes. When you drag a name out of Apple's or Microsoft's address books and onto the desktop, for example, it turns into a vCard document. In Quick Look, the vCard opens up as a handsomely formatted index card that displays all of the person's contact information.
HTML (Web pages). If you've saved some Web pages to your hard drive, here's a great way to inspect them without firing up your Web browser.
Zoom in or out. Option-click the preview to magnify it; drag inside the zoomedin image to scroll; Shift-Option-click to zoom back out. Or press Option as you turn your mouse's scroll wheel. (PDF documents have their own zoom in/zoom out keystrokes: ⌘-plus and ⌘-minus.)
Full screen. When you click the Full Screen arrows(identified in Figure 1-25),your screen goes black, and the Quick Look window expands to fill it. Keep this trick in mind when you're trying to read Word, Excel, or PDF documents, since the text is usually too small to read otherwise. (When you're finished with the closeup, click the Full Screen button again to restore the original Quick Look window, or the button to exit Quick Look altogether.)
How's this for an undocumented shortcut?
Keep it going. Once you've opened Quick Look for one icon, you don't have to close it before inspecting another icon.Just keep clicking differenticons; the Quick Look window changes instantly with each click to reflect the new document.
It works like this: Highlight a bunch of icons, and then open Quick Look. The screen goes black, and the documents begin their slideshow.Each image appears on the screen for about three seconds before the next one appears. (Press the Esc key or ⌘-period to end the show.) It's like the Finder slideshow feature that debuted in Mac OS X 10.4, except that it plays all documents that it recognizes, not just graphics.
It's a useful enough feature when you've just downloaded or imported a bunch of photos or Office documents and want a quick look through them. Use the control bar shown in Figure 1-26 to manage the playback.
Figure 1-26. Once the slideshow is underway, you can use this control bar. It lets you pause the slideshow, move forward or backward manually, enlarge the current "slide" to fill the screen, or end the show. The Index view is especially handy. It displays an array of labeled miniatures, all at once—a sort of Exposé for Quick Look. Click a thumbnail to jump directly to the Quick Look document you want to inspect.