9 Tricks for the Full Screen Slideshow Feature in OS X

Sep 6, 2012 - 12 Comments

OS X Full Screen Slideshow in Finder

Did you know the Finder in Mac OS X has a built-in instant image slide-show feature? It’s part of Quick Look, and though it’s been around a while, it’s a little known feature that is really great when you want to quickly show off a group of pictures, or even if you just want to take a single picture into full-screen mode without having to launch an app like Preview.

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

Full screen slide show with contact sheet in Mac OS X

The zoom features are somewhat independent of the slideshow and must be enabled in order to work, this is very easy in OS X Mountain Lion & Mavericks since it can be activated with a keyboard shortcut.

Previous versions of OS X could enter a more limited slideshow through Quick Look by hitting Command+Option+Y, so if you’re still on Snow Leopard try that instead. It doesn’t have all the features that were added to Lion and Mountain Lion, but it’s still pretty good.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. steve says:

    Brilliant, thanks for sharing this gem.

  2. Ricardo says:


    i have OS X 10.8.1 installed and when i hit option+space on a folder with photos the slideshow opens but only options available are “Add to iPhoto” “Exit fullscreen” and “Close”.

    does it only work if images are on desktop?

    • MizuInOz says:

      Mate, just highlight the first photo in your folder and then use the arrow keys to move about. All the other keys work, too.

      To close it out, you can hit escape and it leaves you with your folder with a black background or hit spacebar and you are back to your regular desktop.


    • David John Bird says:


      I was having the same problem as you until I read the instructions in the article a few times.
      IMO the implication is that the process will work it’s way through all the images in a folder if you select just the first one.
      Not so.
      You have to select all the images you want for the slide show.
      So in a folder full of images do Cmd+A to select them all.
      And now you can use the keys/gestures as mentioned in the article.
      Hope this helps.
      In the end it was just a case of interpretation of the instructions given and you and I did that the same way.

  3. Solo says:

    I know it and I love it. I just miss two features: changing the slideshow speed and randomizing the order. For the rest.. great.

  4. MacPaul says:

    OMG, these are real “tricks”, wow! :->

  5. grandma mac says:

    This feature is incredibly cumbersome to use. Terrible.

    Try explaining this feature to your 83 year old Grandmother.

    Try having her write down these steps and do all of the details.. The feature is poorly implemented.

    The first time she tried it, she selected all the icons on her desktop and then invoked all apps simultaneously when she pressed the space bar.

    That crashed her macbook.

    • DeusExMachona says:

      Nonsense. First, the idea that features should be hobbled to the lowest common denominator is absurd. If that were the test, we’d still be using typewriters.
      Second, you might want to consider that the problem was the ineptness of your explanation rather than the implementation of the feature.
      Lastly, by what possible interpretation would hitting the spacebar be considered “cumbersome”?!?
      All in all, I find your anecdote dubious at best.

  6. spencer says:

    That’s a great tip! Thanks – it’s great for doing a quick preview of the most recent shots.

  7. Scully says:

    Thank you so much for this! I have been trying to figure out how to do this for eons but was to lazy to look up. You have made it so much easier, and enjoyable, for me to view pictures.

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