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?

  • 1
    Welcome to AskDifferent! When you have several questions you should split them up. – gentmatt Jan 22 '12 at 14:35
  • I couldn't agree more about wanting a way to flip through images. I use this all the time. I ended up using Sequential. Previewing the picture doesn't navigate as cleanly for presentations. – SimplGy Dec 12 '12 at 14:38
  • Not an answer to the original question, but you can get a simple quick mini-preview using Finder with the preview panel enabled. You can toggle it in Finder via View > Show Preview or with Cmd+Shift+P. Then you can quickly move with Up/Down arrows (works best with List mode). This works since Yosemite. – ccpizza Jul 4 '15 at 21:42
  • Not having enough reputations to comment, I'd like to make a comment in the answer area. I think the desired function by 79k searchers so far is what is comparable in Windows: So easy to view image by just clicking one of them and use arrows/mouse to navigate the whole folder, and only photos. No need to preview a folder or other text files right? I urge Apple to at least give an option to this function, as Preview.app is really annoying on this minor issue. – MeadowMuffins Apr 16 '18 at 6:47

10 Answers 10


If you are just skimming the pictures do this:

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

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

  • 2
    Using preview shows both images and non-image content, making it impractical for presentations. – SimplGy Dec 12 '12 at 14:38
  • @SimpleAsCouldBe Which I actually a nice feature, don't you think? Without having to open all the appropriate applications you can view documents, spreadsheets, videos and images. If you require a more complex selection you can still search in Finder for pictures only using search rules: example. – gentmatt Dec 13 '12 at 12:58
  • 4
    Someone give this man a medal - works great! – Stephan Tual Aug 9 '15 at 13:33
  • 1
    Hi, this just helped me in 2018. I just wonder why preview can`t do this. Was it completely surpassed by the Quick Look feature in finder? – franksands Dec 29 '18 at 12:49
  • 5
    it works.. but who developed this is really mad. – Krishnadas PC Jul 15 '19 at 15:48

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

  • 46
    Too many steps for an operating system thart claims to be superior to the rest. – Clint Eastwood Jun 23 '15 at 18:52
  • 2
    Or simple press Command + A (select all) and then Command + Arrow down (open). – Albus Dumbledore Mar 16 '18 at 19:30
  • 2
    @ClintEastwood what's wrong with simply pressing space, and then using the up and down keys? – Blake Oct 14 '18 at 3:49
  • @Blake In Irfan its just one image and enter and you can start previewing files do some basic editing as well. – Srihari Karanth Jul 27 '20 at 11:32

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 have used Sequential for a year as a way to present folders of wireframes/screenshots. Works great. – SimplGy Dec 12 '12 at 14:39

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).


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.


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 May 30 '16 at 22:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .