Mac OS X: View an Entire Folder’s Contents

I have several folders on my Mac filled with potential desktop backgrounds and other various images I’ve collected. I don’t want those files in iPhoto, but it really is a pain to go through them one at a time when I’m looking for an exciting new backdrop to use on my Mac. If you’ve got the same issue (or if you have folders full of images for, you know, actual work), Mac OS X has a built-in way to view all of the files in a folder at once using Quick Look. This’ll be helpful both for you designer-types out there who have tons of pictures and for those of us who don’t really do anything productive, ever.

To check out this very cool feature, go to any folder full of pictures on your Mac. This tip will work on any file type, really, but I don’t know how exciting it would be to see a screen full of text files. Anyway, hit Command-A or choose the menu item Edit > Select All once you get there, and then hit Option-Command-Y. This is the keyboard shortcut for File > Slideshow [number of] Items.

You have to hold down the Option key to make this menu option appear.

What that’ll do (unsurprisingly) is take you into a slideshow of all the images you’ve selected, which is great but not what we want. Once the slideshow starts, click on the Index Sheet icon on the player controls that appear. It looks like a grouping of four squares:

Success! Your entire screen will fill with thumbnails from that folder, making it easy as pie to choose what you’re looking for. 

To enlarge a particular image, just click it. Then use the Index Sheet icon to return to the view of all the files. When you’re ready to get out of this mode, just tap the Escape key twice.

If you’d like a different way to do the same thing, you can also use the contextual menu. Select your images from Finder and then right- or Control-click on the grouping. When the menu pops up, hold down Option and choose Slideshow [number of] Items.

Finally, another easy way to view all of the items in a folder is to select as many as you want (or all of them) and tap the Spacebar. From the single-image Quick Look window that appears, you can click on the now-familiar Index Sheet icon to view all of the images in a window instead of in full-screen mode.

Why, gee-golly-gosh, you can even drag the edges of that window to resize it and see your images larger or smaller. My life is now complete. Sad, isn’t it?