Apple claims that a lot of its software is magic. Quick Look really is.

You can, while browsing files on your Mac, hit the spacebar to see a preview. This works for images, documents, and media files, and there are even some basic editing capabilities.

It’s great, but there are all kinds of files the format doesn’t support. Fortunately, you can change that. There are plenty of free applications that add new powers to Quick Look—here are a few of the best ones.

Please note that changes made to macOS a few years ago broke a lot of the Quick Look plugins available online. Everything listed here works as of macOS 12 Monterey.

See What’s Inside Archive Files

screenshot of files

Screenshot: BetterZip via WIRED

On a Mac, opening a ZIP or RAR file, or any archive file, means extracting everything. I prefer this most of the time, but occasionally I want to quickly see what’s inside an archive before opening it. BetterZip. is perfect for this.

This is a paid app that allows you to open archive files, similar to opening archives in Windows. You need to pay for most features, but the Quick Look plugin is free, giving you an easy way to see what’s in any archive without having to open it. Twenty-two file formats are supported, including most of the ones you’ve heard of (and several you haven’t).

Learn About Applications Before You Run Them

Quick Look doesn’t have a lot to say about applications—just the file size and some copyright information.

screenshot of calibre

Screenshot:  Apparency via WIRED

The free application Apparency adds more information, allowing you to quickly see whether an application is secure and whether it will run on your system.

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