Apple has this amazing feature called 'Large Type', chiefly implemented into Address Book. When you look up a contact, you can right-click the phone number and click 'Large Type', and it will display it very largely across your screen.

Apple's Phone Number displayed via Large Type

This function is relatively popular for many uses. Users who watched Leo Laporte on TWiT.tv on weekends will see Large Type being used to display wrap reminders to him during his radio show when his iMac is on camera.

As far as I'm aware, the only ways to invoke this are (1) the Address Book function as demonstrated above, or (2) directly via Quicksilver's Large Type plugin, or (3) Applescript invoking a function of Quicksilver or some other application that supports Large Type.

Since I've stopped using Quicksilver, and don't use LaunchBar, I'm left high and dry for putting arbitrary text into a Large Type banner.

Since it's obviously a core feature of OS X, how do we invoke it with arbitrary text under Lion?

  • Related to, but not a duplicate of apple.stackexchange.com/questions/25210/… Jan 23, 2012 at 6:52
  • When I wanted to figure out how to do this, I searched for something like 'apple large type' and got directed to the above question. After reading it and being disappointed that it doesn't have an answer for me, I chuckled when I saw my own comment on the question. So now here's my variation that I'd love to figure out how to do. Jan 23, 2012 at 7:01
  • Would you find it acceptable to have LaunchBar installed, but not ever to use it? Or are you only looking for the core service that enables it?
    – Tuesday
    Jan 25, 2012 at 0:59
  • I could install Quicksilver or LaunchBar and leverage them, but had I done that I wouldn't have asked this question :). Ideally I don't have to depend on any particular application having been installed. Jan 25, 2012 at 6:11

5 Answers 5


If relying on a browser is okay you could do it with large-type.com:

$ open http://large-type.com/#YourText

A slight variation on @iolsmit answer.

Do the same first action. But when you select 'where' to save in the Banner action. Choose other. The Choose folder dialogue will pop up.

Now press down the keys: command + Shift +G

This will slide down will show up.

enter image description here

In its text field; Type or copy & paste:


Then click GO. This will take you to the Users temporary folder.

Choose it as your selected folder. It will show as 'TemporaryItems'

Now add the action: 'Run Shell Script' in place of 'Open Images in Preview'

The the 'Run Shell Script'; Use its drop down menu for Pass input: as Argument

clear out in text that is already in the large text field. (i.e cat)

And type or paste this in.

/usr/bin/qlmanage -p "$@"

Save you new service. And test

What happens is a new file is saved in your temp folder and the quick looked to display it on the screen. Hit space to dismiss it as normal. enter image description here

  • 1
    I like your version (using quicklook) better. But don't you think one should (re-)use a single file rather than creating a new file for each large-type call ? And I noticed that this versions does not work for text with illegal file names: e.g. try to select /usr/bin/ and call large-type -> «The action “Create Banner Image from Text” encountered an error.» Thus, I would suggest (re-)using a single filename.
    – iolsmit
    Jan 26, 2012 at 19:14
  • Good point, I did not run into that or actually think about it :-). Will update.
    – markhunte
    Jan 26, 2012 at 20:20

I understand you don't want to depend on a third-party app, but I haven't been able to find any other way to do it. Here is an AppleScript solution which requires LaunchBar to be running, but you can set the keyboard shortcut to activate LaunchBar to something you'd never accidentally do, and you can hide LaunchBar's icon from the dock.

 tell application "LaunchBar"
      display in large type input
 end tell

Either use this as a script, or create a Service workflow in Automator which receives text as input from any application.

  • I hope you have better luck than I did in finding a solution that doesn't involve LaunchBar! :)
    – Tuesday
    Jan 25, 2012 at 23:53

Ok, this is not the real thing but kind of working for me:

In Automator create a "Service":

  • Service receives selected text in any application
  • Create Banner Image from Text
    • Save As: largetype
    • Where: /private/var/tmp/ [√] Replacing existing file
    • Text Style: any you like
  • Open Images in Preview

Save your new Service and assign a keyboard shortcut if you like.

DIY largetype

kbd shortcut




There's a nice utility called 'LargeType2' that add a 'Service' menu item to display such large texts:

Homepage and download link: http://blyt.net/algrtepy2e/

official screenshot

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