This is one thing I don't quite get it for the Mac: why is it so hard to start a slideshow?

The most often way is, I have several photos on the Desktop or in Downloads, and I double click to see the first one -- and no, it is not the one I want, so I want to see the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. At least on Win 7, that's super easy just by pressing the right arrow on the keyboard and that's it.

On the Mac, is there a super easy way? I don't want to highlight this and that, and then choose "Slideshow" from some where 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 -- I just want to browse through a few photos -- is there a super quick way?


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.

  • sadly this convenient feature has been removed in El Capitan. I guess they're trying to force Apple Photos upon us. – Sridhar Sarnobat Feb 11 '17 at 22:26
  • 3
    @Sridhar-Sarnobat, it don't see it removed. You still select multiple files in Finder, press spacebar, maximise (but the button to maximise is in the upper left corner, next to the "close" cross), then press "play". Answer updated accordingly. – texnic Jul 21 '18 at 9:14
  • Indeed I do see it in 10.12.6 (High Sierra). I'm not sure how I missed it all these years. Thank you for reemphasizing this to me. It's so much nicer than having to use Preview.app. – Sridhar Sarnobat Jul 21 '18 at 17:20
  • In OS X High Sierra, in addition to spacebar (the easiest way), there is also Finder: File > Quick Look (shortcut: cmd-y). – Timur Shtatland Sep 13 '19 at 14:46
  • I'm running Mojave. I can open multiple images with quicklook, and zoom to full screen, but if I start a slide show, they go back to unzoomed. – Edward Falk Mar 10 '20 at 0:00

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.


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 Oct 2 '11 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 – nonopolarity Oct 2 '11 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

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