Customize QuickLook for fonts

Posted on Jul 23, 2010 in apple, tutorial, type | 5 Comments

QuickLook, the ability to see a quick preview of files and folders simply by selecting and then pressing the Space bar has been available for some time now.

This is a great time saver and gives access to information that in many cases you would otherwise have to install specific software to get. QuickLook can view was number of formats but it is possible to extent its use by adding plug-ins to it. Most of them are free. Some software developers offer plug-ins for QuickLook for their software if QuickLook does not preview files made by their software.

One of QuickLook greatest features in my opinion is that it can preview fonts. Not only to see if it’s the font I am looking for, but also to see if the six glyphs specific for the Icelandic language, are in the font (which is a common problem) or, if they are, to see if they are drawn in a proper way and usable.

quicklookfontscustom

The problem however is that QuickLook does not have a character table for Icelandic, but the English one is used, leaving out those glyphs I am after. I have not thoroughly investigated this problem for other non-English languages, but it seems that some other languages are dealing with a similar problem. So how can we get around this?

I asked around and finally got a great help on the macosxhints.com forum from Hal Itosis, who by the way is not into fonts at all as he says. The discussion between me and Hal can be read in the link. But here is a shorter version – and less nerdy, on how to customize QuickLook for fonts based on what Hal told me.

First of all you have to have admin rights to your computer. I assume that everyone who is willing to try this out has full rights.

The various character sets that QuickLook presents are based on the language which is the primary language you are using. The character sets are are kept in a file called SampleSupport.plist which is found at:
/System
/Library
/Frameworks
/ApplicationServices.framework
/Versions
/A
/Frameworks
/CoreText.framework
/Versions
/A
/Resources
/SampleSupport.plist

/System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/CoreText.framework/Versions/A/Resources
Copy this path and in Finder go: Command + Shift + G and paste the path into the field and you will instantly brought to the right place.

Drag a copy of this file to a different place in your computer. I recommend that you make a folder for it called QuiclLookFonts_IS (IS, CZ..etc. being your language) The reason is that it’s good to keep a copy of this file for later because it will be overwritten in major system upgrades.

Open this file in TextEdit or another favorite text editor (not Word or any word processor).

Now you have to find your language. If you are into this anyway you probably know already what fits. Many of the European languages like Italian are using the en table because Italians don’t need to see any funny diacritics, but countries like Hungary (hu) and Poland (pl) are using the cs table. However the cs table does not fully cover each and every language in East Europe.

Characters shown in the cs table: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ ąbčdėfghijklmnopqřstůvwxyž

In the case of Icelandic the en table is used and this the one I want to change. I simply type in the characters I want to add. I preferred not to have it in its alphabetical order simply because their existence in the font is what I want quickly to get information on. In the case where the cs table is used a Czech mac user would look into that table for changes.

I marked my changes in yellow. I could go further and add all of the diacritics but as they are present in other languages they are more likely to be included. I might though do it in next run.

Save the file as text file. Drag a copy over the original file to replace it. You will be asked for authentication. Restart is recommended but not vital.

diacriticstableql

5 Comments

  1. Tweets that mention font.is » Customize QuickLook for fonts -- Topsy.com
    23.07.2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sigurdur Armannsson, Mota Italic. Mota Italic said: Useful how-to: Change the default font previews in OSX's QuickLook: http://bit.ly/9LFjRQ via: @sigurarm […]

  2. igregurec
    30.07.2010

    this is confusing… i can’t find SampleSupport.plist. not even with hidden files showed. otherwise this would be very useful post for me 🙂

  3. admin
    31.07.2010

    @igergurec

    I am very sorry, the theme cut off the path. I changed it so it should be easier to track this file down.

  4. Imprint-The Online Community for Graphic Designers | Today’s Obsession: QuickLook for Fonts
    23.08.2010

    […] handy! Apparently, MacOS people can edit their QuickLook preview settings files to allow for greater versatility when previewing fonts in non-English character sets. All you need […]

  5. Paulo W
    20.09.2010

    Hi, Ármannsson, good night. Stephen Coles suggest me to contact you asking for advice concerning my new calligraphic font, specificaly about the “Thorn” design – the topic at Typophile is here – http://www.typophile.com/node/74385 – I appreciate your consideration and knowledgement in this field, if possible, off course. Best regards, and nice to meet you.

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