Frequently I have several photos on the Desktop or in Downloads, and I double-click to see the first one, but no, it is not the one I want, so I have to inspect the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.

I don't want to highlight this and that, and then choose “Slideshow” from somewhere I can't be sure of, or change the view to the “flip through” view, because I might not necessarily want to change the view style for the folder at the moment. All I want is to browse through a few photos.

On the Mac, is there a quick and easy way similar to Windows function?

8 Answers 8


In Leopard and later versions (up to El Capitan), select the files you want in the Finder and press the spacebar to invoke QuickLook. You can then use the arrow keys to cycle through them. If you click the full-screen icon, Finder and QuickLook displays the slideshow. You get extra animation in some os versions if Finder is showing files in cover-flow layout.

In OS X Yosemite 10.10 and later, the maximise (full-screen) button is in the upper left-hand corner. Then press "play" to start the slideshow.

For OS X 10.9 to 10.7 the full screen icon is top right.

In Tiger, there is a "Slideshow" option in the context menu in the Finder.

In Panther and earlier, it is indeed several steps before you can get a slideshow.


Select a picture or group of images from the desktop, then use the following:

  • Option+Spacebar to launch image(s) into the full-screen slideshow mode
  • Spacebar to pause/play the image slideshow
  • Left Arrow to go back, Right Arrow to go forward
  • Gesture with two-fingers left to go forward, two-finger gesture right to go back
  • Option to view smaller images at actual size
  • Click “Index Sheet” to view thumbnails of all images in the slideshow
  • Click “Add to iPhoto” to import the image into iPhoto
  • Hold Control key and use a two-fingered back or forward swipe in to zoom into the photo
  • Escape to exit

If you use OS X "Quick Look" you can use right/left arrow on the keyboard and view all of the photo on the same path; but you have some problem yet, "Quick Look" let you view all the file exist in the same path not just photo.

  1. Select all files in Finder in the order you want them viewed.
  2. Open them with Preview (Cmd+O)
  3. Begin a slideshow (Cmd+Shift+F)
  • Honestly it's still not perfect but it does seem to do the trick
    – keeehlan
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 3:50

In macOS Monterey, there is a very easy way to quickly slideshow items (including photos/pictures) in Finder:

  1. Select the item(s) that you want to slideshow;
  2. Press ⌥ option-space bar OR ⌥ option-⌘ command-Y (They are totally equivalent).

Just that simple and elegant.


Update for Big Sur and possibly earlier versions of macOS:

  1. In the search box, type in image, and choose "Type Image"
  2. Now click on the first file, press Space Bar
  3. Use the down arrow to view them all

On Windows, it was double click on one image, and you can already use the arrow keys to view the image before and after. I wonder why the Mac doesn't do it this way. It should be very easy to implement, but on the Mac we have to go through step 1, 2, 3 above.

I am using Snow Leopard:

  1. Click on the first file you want to see
  2. Press Space Bar to start quick look
  3. Press up or down arrow key to cycle through all photos / videos / any docs (up or down arrow depending on how you have the items sorted in the list)

that's it! (still, I don't understand why the default Preview won't let you cycle through anything?)

Update: unfortunately, this is only possible if you are in the Cover Flow view (the flip through view).

  • If you read my answer or @Daniel answer you find that it's a same solution.
    – Am1rr3zA
    Commented Oct 2, 2011 at 11:49
  • oh yes, i found this out from your answers... your answers seem to need to select which files to look at first... my answer doesn't need to Commented Oct 2, 2011 at 11:51

I wrote a simple script, that does this: 1) opens the selected folder 2) selects all files in that folder 3) starts slideshow. Can be saved as an App and then put in the toolbar of Finder. Works on Big Sur/M1, however you have to allow Script editor and this App 'Accessibility' and 'Automation' in System Preferences/Security&Privacy:

tell application "Finder"   
    tell application "System Events"        
        tell process "Finder"           
            key code 31 using {command down}            
        end tell        
    end tell
    tell application "System Events"        
        tell process "Finder"           
            key code 0 using {command down}         
        end tell        
    end tell
    tell application "System Events"        
        tell process "Finder"           
            key code 49 using {option down}         
        end tell        
    end tell    
end tell


Rather than being an answer providing a radically different solution, this is an update to the original answers (which were for much older versions of macOS), including both slideshow and index sheet, and including access by contextual menus as well as key combination. It is illustrated in the way that a Mac user would expect.


Use Quick Look, which can be evoked as follows:

  1. Select the image files, and then either:

  2. (a) Tap the spacebar: space bar


  1. (b) Select from the contextual menu (evoked by right-click or control-click).

Contextual menu for Quick Look

Quick Look is described for macOS Mojave 10.14 to Ventura 13 in the macOS User Guide, but the points I consider most relevant are described below.

Order of selection, order of display?

One might expect that the order in which one selects the image files will be the order of display, and that was indeed the case up to and including macOS Big Sur 11.0. As the user guide states:

“If you selected multiple items, the first item is shown.”

However from macOS Monterey 12 this has changed:

“If you selected multiple items, the last item you selected is shown first.”

This applies to the slideshow and layout of the contact sheet, so I advise you to determine the selection appropriate to your version of macOS at the outset.

Initial Presentation

The initial Quick Look presentation is of the ‘first’ image. There are controls at the top left of the window (top right in early versions) as shown below.

Initial Quick Look window controls

  1. To proceed through the images manually, one by one, use the arrows (only present if more than one image was selected).

  2. To see an index sheet hit the ‘3x2’ icon (‘2x2’ on earlier versions and only present if more than one image was selected). You can resize the window, if necessary.

Quick Look index sheet

  1. To obtain a slideshow, you must first hit the ‘Full Screen’ icon.


When you have moved to full-screen (3, above) you have available a floating menu in the lower centre of the screen:

Quick Look slideshow controls

This provides the option of an automatic slideshow, as well as the manual control available without full-screen. (As one would expect, it fades out if not used, but can be retrieved by clicking.)

I do not know if there is any way of altering the time between frames in the slide show. A previous question on this point received no answers.

Earlier versions of macOS

Quick Look has been available since Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. The positioning and detailed appearance of the icons (especially on the initial screen) has changed a little, but is essentially the same as described above for macOS Mojave 10.14.

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