When looking at an image in a directory with the Preview application, I'm used to the Windows behaviour of using the / keys to move through all the other viewable images in that directory.

Preview.app doesn't do this - I first have to select all the images and then open Preview.app. This is a little annoying.

Is there something I can turn on or install to get this behaviour?

Also, how do I open an image in a new instance of Preview.app, say for comparison purposes?


12 Answers 12


If you are just skimming the pictures do this:

Instead of opening a picture in Preview.app by double-clicking it, press space to preview the picture in Quick Look when selected in Finder.

Quick Look offers a fast, full-size preview of nearly any kind of file without opening the file. You can rotate photos, trim audio and video clips, and use Markup — directly in the Quick Look window.


This way you can still use the arrow keys to navigate between the pictures.

  • and in list view
  • ,, and in icon view

You can still open the picture in Preview.app when needed (top right corner).

enter image description here

  • 4
    Using preview shows both images and non-image content, making it impractical for presentations.
    – SimplGy
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 14:38
  • 15
    Someone give this man a medal - works great! Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 13:33
  • 20
    it works.. but who developed this is really mad. Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 15:48
  • 3
    This does not work if you maximize the display window. Up and down arrow just give the "not available" beep sound. I cannot believe that after all this time Mac OS still does not include a simple viewer that can scroll through a folder of images. Commented Oct 5, 2021 at 23:44
  • 2
    is there a way to go to the next image when you reach the end of the finder row?
    – Salomanuel
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 13:40

Select all of the photos by pressing " Command + A" and then right click "open with preview" it will open all of your selected photos and you can scroll through them!example screenshot

  • 82
    Too many steps for an operating system thart claims to be superior to the rest. Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 18:52
  • 5
    Or simple press Command + A (select all) and then Command + Arrow down (open). Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 19:30
  • 2
    @ClintEastwood what's wrong with simply pressing space, and then using the up and down keys?
    – Blake
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 3:49
  • 2
    @Blake In Irfan its just one image and enter and you can start previewing files do some basic editing as well. Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 11:32
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    @Blake It's the total disregard for standard behavior. Even the spacebar+up/down arrow (everybody else would use left/right)... but oh, by the way, if you went to full-screen on the preview the arrows no longer work. Really? This is no longer "the computer for the rest of us". Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 0:07

Preview can be used for much more than just a quick glance at an image file when you get out of the habit using it like on a Windows machine.

To open up the power of Preview, I keep it on the dock so it is handy all the time (doesn't have to be open and running). Select the group of files you want to see, or just drag the whole folder to the dock, and drop on Preview.

Check in Previews presences under the General tab and check the "Open groups of files in same window" is checked. Preview will open with all the images in a side bar and some buttons will appear on the bottom right in OSX before Lion. On Lion there wil be buttons at the top by the Search box. Before Lion one of these buttons is "Contact Sheet"; when you click on it a Slider will appear and you can adjust the size of the thumbnails. In Lion one is called thumbnails and you can drag the divider bar to change the size.

By dropping multiple files on Preview you can now do batch operations too, like adjust the size, or flip and rotate. You can easily crop images and do color adjusts in Preview as well. Preview does more than these things too if you will spend a little time learning about it.

To open an image in a new window after you have done the above, just right click on the image in the side bar and choose "Open in a new window".


You could also try Sequential. The last update was in 2010, but it's still less buggy than Preview.


I recommend using Xee instead of Preview, and that will allow you to jump from photo to photo in a directory after only opening one. If you wish to change Xee to the default photo viewer, just right click on the file with the type that you want to change the default for, choose "Get Info", and select "Xee" under open with. Then, press "Change All..."

To answer your second question, you can open a new instance of Preview by opening one image, then double-clicking and opening the second image. Preview automatically realizes that you want a new instance (that is, of course, if Preview is your default application for that file type).

  • 2
    Note updated link is theunarchiver.com/xee and they now charge $3.99 for it.
    – studgeek
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 17:23
  • 1
    while I believe it's the best viewer, it's not supported anymore and hasn't been updated in 3-4 years.
    – Thomas
    Commented Oct 12, 2021 at 18:26

start Preview, File > Open... > name_of_folder > Open

Preview will open a window, displaying all the images in the folder, with a sidebar of thumbnails. Use the up and down arrow keys to navigate.

I'm using Preview on High Sierra.


Select all of the pictures in the directory at once and double click them.

That will open them all up in Preview at the same time, and you can use the down/up arrow keys to view them sequentially, just like you mentioned in windows.


Does not answer the question for Preview.app but I started using qView and am quite happy with it.

It's lightweight, can move between pictures with arrow keys and zoom in/out.

  • Works a charm, thanks for the suggestion. I replaced Preview with this app as my default app for images.
    – Geesh_SO
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 16:39
  • thats really nice a good replacement Irfanview on Windows. This answer shoulder be higher on the top and the solution is open source
    – Emil
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 16:16

Since I prefer using keyboard shortcut, I generally use like:

  1. Open the directory & select all pictures using - "⌘ + A"
  2. Use - "⌘ + ↓" to open the selected images using default app (Preview.app)

Drop your folder onto Preview.app and then you can do as you desire with the keyboard moving between images.

My favourite alternate to this is using QuickLook:

  1. Cmd+A to select all images in a folder
  2. Space to QuickLook
  3. Keyboard to change image
  4. Markup to edit/crop image if required

You can use Hot Simple Image Viewer

It has keyboard shortcuts you are looking for.

  • True, but it doesn't solve the question at hand. They asked specifically about Preview.app.
    – JMY1000
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 22:50

Inside the Finder, press Cmd+4 to enter the gallery view, then press left or right arrows to switch between the images.

Other useful shortcuts:

  • Command-1: View the items in the Finder window as icons.
  • Command-2: View the items in a Finder window as a list.
  • Command-3: View the items in a Finder window in columns.

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