December 11, 2007

Preview Illustrator, ID docs on Leopard

Mac OS X Leopard introduced a rather handy feature called Quick Look, offering the ability to preview a number of file formats right in the Finder, without opening additional apps.  (Select a file, then tap the spacebar–slick.)  Unfortunately Illustrator (.AI) and InDesign (.INDD) files aren’t supported right out of the box.  That’s where the $15 SneakPeekPro comes in, adding EPS, AI, and INDD file support to Quick Look.  I’ve taken it for a quick spin, and it seems to work just as advertised.  [Via]

As someone helping steer Adobe Bridge, I was initially concerned that Quick Look might erode Bridge’s reason for being.  After all, if you’ve got quick previews in an app you’ve already launched (the Finder), why launch another?

Now that I’ve lived with Leopard for a month, however, I feel confident that each tool has its place & its unique value.  Bridge offers rich metadata display and editing; file rating & filtering; richer PSD previews (no composite required); Camera Raw integration; hand-off to Photoshop, InDesign, and other Suite apps (for automated vectorization, contact sheets, Web galleries, etc.); integrated slide show; floating Compact Mode; and quite a bit more not present in the Finder/Quick Look.  That’s not a knock on the latter, of course; as I say, different strokes for different folks.

We now need to keep working on Bridge’s launch time (making it feel as much like a no-brainer to launch as a Quick Look window) while revising the interface to help people discover the good stuff that’s already present.  And, wouldn’t you know it, that’s what we’re doing. :-)

[Update: John Gruber points out this free QL plug-in for displaying the contents of ZIP files. Works great for me.]

Posted by John Nack at 10:29 AM on December 11, 2007


  • German Bauer — 11:23 AM on December 11, 2007

    I use the new “cover flow” folder view in finder for that. On large enough monitor that works good enough for detailed and fluid previews of AI files.
    [Are you using this extension? If not, how is Cover Flow seeing the previews? AFAIK (and based on previous experience with my system), without the extension you simply get generic preview icons. –J.]

  • Jan — 11:40 AM on December 11, 2007

    I still use Bridge on Leopard for the reason that I get to see a lot of metadata, measurements, color profiles, … when I select a file. I’ve also started using Quick Look, mostly for viewing video’s. It’s definitely a great new feature.
    It would be great though if Adobe would add support for Quicklook as an update to CS3. So my question to you John: Will you guys be adding the support? And when will you do it?
    [Jan, would you elaborate on what you’d like to see? What would it mean for Adobe to support Quick Look? –J.]

  • Kevin Stohlmeyer — 11:42 AM on December 11, 2007

    Hi John,
    There is actually a free plug-in for quicklook including Illustrator and many other items at
    Unfortunately it seems the InDesign plug-in will have to be bought.
    [Thanks for the heads-up, Kevin. –J.]

  • jimhere — 5:50 PM on December 11, 2007

    Why doesn’t bridge see the assets known as “fonts”? They’re often project-specific and need to be kept with project files for the future. Seems odd since Type was one of Adobe’s original products.
    Does Bridge support audio and video? (I still use iView, which sees all — if only Adobe would have grabbed them three years ago…).

  • emgee — 6:29 PM on December 11, 2007

    I’d like to put in my $0.02 for an Indesign Quicklook plugin. I haven’t had a chance to look at the paid-for plugin, but it looks great on paper.
    Being able to flip through pages in the .idd, like you can with PDFs, is a plus.
    I was glad to read that performance is being worked on in Bridge too. As with most software, higher speed is always good.
    I agree with some tasks being suited for Quicklook and some for Bridge. I use Bridge a lot, but when I want to check what one .idd file looks like, and then get back into finder, Quicklook seems like the way to go.

  • Mordy Golding — 9:40 PM on December 11, 2007

    There’s no question that Bridge offers more. However, there are many times where Bridge is simply overkill.
    The most important aspect to remember about Quick Look is that it allows previews IN CONTEXT. That means you can use Quick Look nearly anywhere. For example, to view files in an email attachment.
    As far as metadata, the SneakPeek plugin actually does parse the XMP data in InDesign and Illustrator files to display font, swatch, and linked image information.

  • Brandon — 10:49 PM on December 11, 2007

    No love for Windows?
    [I’m less familiar with the Vista codec system, but I believe it could be used to support these formats. –J.]

  • Ramón G Castañeda — 10:56 PM on December 11, 2007

    The concept of The Bridge is brilliant. Unfortunately, its implementation, at least on the Mac, is extremely poor to the point of making Bridge virtually unusable. Cache management in Bridge is the Achilles heel of the program, as well as the apparent cause of the spurious previews when High-quality Previews are checked in Bridge preferences.
    Anyone interested in improving Bridge should take a long and close look at the Bridge Macintosh forum.

  • Claudio Calligaris — 6:15 AM on December 12, 2007

    Will Adobe be taking advantage of Quicklook and create official plugins for all of its many file types? Are Layered PSD previews possible within the QL plugin?
    [We haven’t announced any plans to provide QL plug-ins. I do think it would be cool to find a way for QL to cooperate with Bridge, so that Adobe customers could leverage Bridge’s capabilities (e.g. previewing layered PSDs without composites; previewing raw files with settings applied; caching the results of previewing large files). –J.]
    …I agree with Mr.Nack Bridge and QL are complementary technologies that make the whole experience of managing files much more flexible. As far as I can tell Quicklook is the sleeper “killer” feature in Leopard. It makes my recent switch to the Apple platform all the more pleasant!

  • Richard Look — 9:58 AM on December 12, 2007

    My $0.01: Now that I am using Bridge all the time, and have learned the shortcuts, I love it. Wouldn’t work without it.
    The searching/filtering, raw integration and workflow is great.
    Faster would be nice. Suggestions?

  • James Conway — 11:49 AM on December 12, 2007

    Quicklook and Spotlight take care of my fast finds (have you tried “keyword:term” in Spotlight? way cool) I would like Bridge to at least have the option to create catalogs for real asset management.
    I would like to see Bridge replace iView Media Pro and Portfolio etc. Lightroom should be kept just for photographers and their images but Bridge should manage all media-related assets on a computer. I think that should be the branding difference between Lightroom and Bridge. (really, if Apple can render a thumbnail of an HTML doc, the Bridge should be able to also)
    There are still 2 things I use iView Media Pro for instead of Bridge:
    1 – it holds thumbnails of offline material in a stand-alone catalog so I can search all my photos and fonts and other media files with previews.
    2 – when I need to export smaller files for clients from my 36meg DNG files it is about 50x faster than the Bridge/Photoshop image processor. (yes it’s grabbing just the preview off the DNG but it’s FAST and all I need – I would at least like that as an option)

  • Jan — 2:40 AM on December 13, 2007

    John, It would be great to see a preview of Illustrator files, the size of the document and the color space in quick look. Same goes for InDesign.
    It would also be great to flip through the pages of an InDesign Document right from Quick Look. It might even be easy to do this if you use the same technology as in the new InDesign CS3 page previews on the new pages panel.
    [Yeah–that latter idea sounds simple, but it’s actually quite tricky (not to say impossible–just tricky). InDesign documents are essentially databases, and rendering them properly takes a lot of code (the bulk of InDesign itself). Therefore fulfilling this request would require one of two things:
    — Storing bitmap renderings of each page inside the INDD file
    — Turning ID into a headless library
    ID stores a bitmap for the first page, but it doesn’t store others out of concern for the impact on file saving performance. (It *does* store bitmaps for each page of an INDT template–the theory being that one saves templates much less frequently than regular files.)
    As for the latter (building a rendering library), I’ll suggest it to the ID team, but as you’d imagine it’s no small task. (We’ve never elected to pursue it for Bridge, which relies on the embedded bitmaps. –J.]

  • Josh Gorodn — 6:36 AM on December 13, 2007

    I really wish there was something like this for Windows. I would love to be able to preview PSDs, AIs, and INDDs from within Explorer.
    PSDs and AIs USED TO preview just fine but apparently caused issues with file handles locking and so forth so Adobe removed the DLL files to show thumbnails.
    [Yeah, I know. That DLL was a consistent source of bug reports, leading to its demise. Vista offers a new codec system, so it would be great if we could take advantage of that to provide previews. –J.]
    I wish a third party would bring this functionality back for Windows.

  • Vincent — 11:18 AM on December 13, 2007

    With coverflow I can preview Illustrator files (not InDesign) without any plugins or extensions. But in QL i still get a generic AI file icon.
    I use less and less Bridge since it’s so slow to launch and eat so much of my computer ressources (a MBP 2.33).

  • imajes — 8:15 AM on December 14, 2007

    Josh – I use Directory Opus in Windows instead of Explorer.
    It is to Explorer what Photoshop is to Picassa. An amazingly powerful programme. And makes Finder look really, really pathetic by comparison. Mind you, Finder is the worst thing about OSX.
    I also use Opus in place of Bridge a lot of the time as Bridge has been so flaky of late. Though the last Bridge update has made some amends.
    Some screenshots of various ways in which you can use Opus. With PSD thumbies and large previews too.
    Adobe should really take note of Opus and how well it allows the user to use the programme to suit their own specific needs.
    The only real ‘problem’ [as such] with Opus is that it is so powerful and so configurable, you won’t realise all that is there for a while.
    It may seem expensive for a mere File Manager, but I rate it up there with PS and the amount of time it has saved me, compared to using Windows Explorer [and sad to say Bridge] is amazing.
    More info on what Opus can do
    It’s so annoying that there isn’t a Mac version. Probably too scary for most Mac users though, as it gives you options! ;-)

  • Josh Gordon — 8:55 PM on December 14, 2007

    Directory Opus is interesting but only previews PSD files. I need to be able to preview InDesign, EPS, AI, and PDF files too. Wish Directory Opus had plugins for viewing these.
    Guess I’ll have to wait for Adobe to make some Explorer hooks for Vista so we can see these thumbs.

  • Ash Scott Toney — 9:22 AM on September 23, 2009

    I think I just found a totally free, super easy way. Just save your Illustrator files without the file extension (.ai) and make sure the “PDF compatibility” box is checked. Previews now show up for me in 10.5.8.

  • shane Robinson — 8:49 AM on November 30, 2009

    It seems this post and those of bridge state that the reason Adobe doesn’t support QL plugins is because it is trying to force Bridge on the user…
    [I don’t know where you see that stated. To put your mind at ease, let me as as the Bridge PM that I’d love to make it possible to leverage Adobe libraries to display content via Quick Look. It’s just a matter of limited time & other priorities (e.g. having to rewrite Photoshop to use Cocoa). –J.]
    however the interface is clunky and file navigation is not as fluid as finder in tier mode rather than “double-click-open-folder) or the extremely annoying drop down navigation. If it was as quick and efficient as the finder it wouldn’t be an issue but I work at a company with multiple servers and literally thousands of folders and files for client projects. This makes the file navigation of bridge almost useless since the navigation palette is 1/3 the screen at the most base level.
    Seems adobe should be suppling a QL plugin for every file format they produce since a large portion of their users are mac based and mac/pc are sold separate rather than the days of PS 5.0 where it was a dual install on discs.
    If SneekPeak can make one with that functionality then Adobe must be able to harness more. The question is if they will or if they will continue to push bridge on the user for things that don’t require it.

  • fondofond — 3:02 AM on April 16, 2011

    isent it poor form adobe that you guys not even thought about a simple preview for other applications like in explorer? i mean, ok you want to hype bridge but is has not even a proper search app. i mean, either your are not smart enought to develope something which not only work for users with bridge or you are just a company like apple which blogs the freeness of the internet (wasnt this something you once claimed in an ad?). check in our agency – not everybody has the adobe collection installed and the project managers often just have explorer. adobe… if the chinese will bring out a clone of your software i am out of adobe product and i think those guys will think about a simple preview… poor-greed-adobe

    [We are greedy, stupid, lazy assholes; there is no other answer–at all, ever–for you not getting everything you want, for free, yesterday. Thank you, pseudonymous hero, for bravely revealing the TRUTH!! –J.]

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