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Preview Items in the Files App: Quick Look in Apple

Quick Look in Apple
Written by Hassan Abbas

Quick Look in Apple: iOS 13 and iPadOS make it easy to look at the contents of a file with Quick Look, a quick preview feature that launches on the Mac as part of the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard software update. iOS’s version of Quick Look functionality isn’t without hazard though. For instance, the native Quick Look button is unavailable in column view or via share sheets. Worse, clicking a file looks to be a hit-and-miss affair. Just because certainly, Files launches a quick preview of the selection and sometimes opens it.

A more accessible Quick Look button

Using Quick Look in the Apple Files app to preview any item instantly without opening the app.

Just click and hold something to uncover the contextual menu, then select the native Quick Look option. Alternatively, you can press the Space bar on the keyboard connected to your iPad to invoke Quick Look on your selection.

Unfortunately, this super handy file-preview choice doesn’t seem in other views available in the Files app.

Do you want iOS 13’s new column view in the Files app to icon or list views? Unfortunately, the Quick Look button is not available through the preview pane either. Also, it can be confusing as hell when clicking a file launches an app instead of a quick preview.

Thankfully, I’ve learned that it’s completely possible to add a homemade Quick Look button to Files’ Share menu. As well as to the preview pane that’s available in the new column view.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to create your own Quick Look button for iOS’ share sheets that will make file previews more accessible and discoverable through the Files app.

How to create a better Quick Look button

Before we use a Quick Look preview in the Files app, we first create a workflow in the Shortcuts app that has one simple step. After this make that action accept any kind of file and make it so that it shows up in the share sheet.

Step 1:

Firstly, Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone or iPad with iOS 13 or later.

Step 2:

Click the My Shortcuts tab at the bottom.

Step 3:

Click Create Shortcut or press the Plus button.

Step 4:

Also, type “Quick Look” in the search field inside the lefthand column.

Step 5:

Now drag the Quick Look action from search results and drop it on the right.

Step 6:

Click the little button to access shortcut options.

Step 7:

Make sure to allow Show in Share Sheet and set the entry Share Sheet Types to Anything. Also, you can change other shortcut options via this panel.

  • Name: Give your shortcut a useful name.
  • Icon: Select a glyph and color for your shortcut.
  • Add to Home Screen: Create a Home screen icon for the shortcut.
Step 8:

Click Done to end customizing the shortcut. Use this shortcut to preview anything in the Files app without opening its creator app. But besides the native Quick Look button in the Files app’s contextual menus, our customized shortcut can also be accessed from the handy new column-view preview pane.

Step 9:

Then open the Files app.

Step 10:

Click the Browse tab, then choose one or more items.

Now, you can click and hold a single item to bring the contextual menu that includes the native Quick Look button. Or, you can choose a file and hit the Space bar if you have a keyboard attached to your iPad.

Step 11:

To preview the selection via the share menu, click the Share option and select our Quick Look shortcut from the list. To access it switch to column view by swiping down to show the toolbar. Then click the Column View icon. Now click the button and select the custom Quick Look shortcut to quickly preview the selection.

Step 12:

Now select the custom Quick Look shortcut from the list to preview the items.

For your ease I recommend moving the shortcut to the top of the list: scroll down in the contextual menu, then click Edit to rearrange the services and apps that you want to see listed when clicking the share menu.

How’s this useful?

You may also wonder what’s the purpose of a custom Quick Look button that looks exactly the same thing as its native counterpart. The native button is available through the contextual menus but not anywhere in the Files app.

Here’s what you can do with our custom Quick Look action that you cannot with native one:

  • Run quick previews via the Share menu: As we’ve made the button appear in share sheets, you can choose items in any Files view, then click the Share button and select the Quick Look shortcut to preview the selection.
  • Quickly previews files in column view: The new column view in the Files app is a productivity boost. Now you can preview any file faster via the three-dotted menu versus clicking and holding to invoke the contextual menu.

There’s another advantage, and that is the actual quick preview window that seems on top of your current view.


Here is all about Quick Look in  Apple. For further queries and questions let us know in the comment section below!

Also Read: User Guide to Save Open Safari Tabs as Bookmarks on Mac

About the author

Hassan Abbas

Tech enthusiast with too many items on his wish-list and not nearly enough money! Specializing in all things tech, with a slight Apple bent he has been writing for various blogs for the best part of (too many) years

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