Mac OS X has a great QuickLook feature, which allows viewing fast previews of files before opening them. Most application vendors implement plugin for this, since it is really helps users to rapidly see contents of their files, even before opening them.

For some reason, Adobe has not implemented such plugin for Lightroom. Given that Lightroom isn’t the fastest ever application to open files, I feel this area could need some improvement. Here’s what’s shown when you press space on a .lrcat file on normal Mac OS X system:

Luckily, Lightroom catalogs are stored as SQLite databases and the pre-rendered photo previews are stored into separate .lrdata file package. The actual previews in proprietary format, but it is not that hard to decode.

So, in a few rainy days, I’ve created a QuickLook plugin, that allows you to view parts of your catalog previews and it opens in a second when you press space on a .lrcat file!

Note that QuickLook also provides a fullscreen mode, which makes it ever more awesome.

This plugin should work on Mac OS X 10.6 and later and with all Lightroom catalogs. Only 64-bit processors are supported (I know it sucks, I have one Mac Mini Core Duo myself).


Download from Mac App Store: LrCat Preview for Lightroom

Version 1.4.1

  • Bugfixes for Photos library


  1. I have LR3,LR4 and will probably move to LR5. Will the LR Quickview plugin work w/all versions?
    I also use OS X 10.6.8 and 10.8.4 will the plugin work with both?
    Couldn’t find this info anywhere.

    1. Maybe you don’t have any rendering previews available (stored in Catalog Name Previews.lrdata)?

      For next update, there is a plan to implement showing RAW file previews.

    1. No, this is a visual thing for peeking inside the catalog.

      I’ve been thinking about making a search plugin as well, but as far as I know, Lightroom cannot be directly started with a given photo in focus. I have some ideas how to implement that, but haven’t tried it yet.

    1. Nope, QuickLook is OS X only feature.

      There might be similar technologies in Windows, but I have not really investigated it.

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