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How-to: Expand Quick Look with Plug-ins

One of the biggest improvements to the Finder in Mac OS X Leopard was Quick Look. With Quick Look you can preview the contents of entire files just by tapping the spacebar. By default, Quick Look supports many popular image, audio and word processing formats, but the formats that come pre-installed are just the beginning of Quick Look’s functionality. By extending Quick Look with plug-ins you can add to the list of file formats that it will preview.

Suspicious Package

Suspicious Package lets you preview the contents of installer packages. When an installation requires more than just dragging an application to your Applications folder, software developers will commonly use an installer package, which you can identify by the file extension .pkg or .dpkg. Installer packages can put files anywhere on your computer and run just about any kind of command on your system, all without telling you what they’re doing. When you have Suspicious Package installed, you can see all the information about the installation through Quick Look.

Suspicious Package

Suspicious Package


Want to see what’s in a file archive without extracting it? The BetterZip Quick Look Generator lets you do just that. It supports 17 different archive formats, including the popular ZIP, TAR and SIT formats.




A torrent file contains the information you need to start a download via BitTorrent, a popular way to download large files. Often it is hard to tell what files you will get from a torrent file without starting the download in a BitTorrent client. The BitTorrent Quick Look Generator lets you see all the useful information in a torrent file, including a list of files and their sizes.


You can identify a Quick Look plug-in by its extension: .qlgenerator. Follow these steps if you find yourself with a Quick Look plug-in and want to install it:

An installed plug-in

  1. Open either the Library folder that sits at the root of your hard drive, (to install the plug-in for all users) or the one inside your home folder (to install it for just your account).
  2. If the Library folder contains a folder called Quick Look, drag your plug-in onto it. If you can’t find a Quick Look folder, make one and then move your plug-in into it.

Newly installed plug-ins will take effect the next time you log in (Those comfortable with the Terminal application can run the command “qlmanage -r” to make them take effect immediately .)

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