Using Quick Look in Entourage

One of the features introduced in Mac OS X 10.5, or Leopard, is Quick Look, which allows you to view the contents of a file without actually opening it. Apple has made sure that Quick Look works with a variety of file formats, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. For more information, check Apple’s website.

Quick Look is prominently featured in the Finder, but as a feature at the level of the operating system, it is also available to other applications. For example, Apple has built the feature into its own e-mail software, called Mail; as a result, you can use Quick Look to preview your attachments instantaneously, without having to open any supplementary application.
The question that must be on your mind right now is: can I use Quick Look in Entourage as well?

The answer to that question is: no, but yes. First of all, it needs to be mentioned that the current version of Entourage, Entourage 2008, was primarily developed for Mac OS X 10.4; older versions of the operating system are supported as well, but Leopard had not yet been released by the time the development process started. As a result, the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft was not able to implement Leopard-specific features into the Office 2008 suite. This explains why Entourage is unaware of a number of features in Leopard, among them, of course, Quick Look.

However, Quick Look can be accessed via AppleScript, and you, as an avid user of Entourage, might know that Entourage has always had great support for AppleScript. So while the current version of Entourage might not be able to support Quick Look natively, it can definitely do so using AppleScript.

QuickLook Attachments Script

Download QuickLook Attachments script. Once you have downloaded and unzipped the script, put it in the following folder: ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Entourage Menu Items (where “~” , the tilde key stands for your user name). This script is a collaboration of Andy Ruff, lead developer for MacBU and Allen Watson, MVP.

The script is now available in Entourage; open any message which contains attachments, either in the preview pane or in a window of its own, then click on the script icon in the menu bar and select the script. You should now get a Quick Look preview of the selected file. You can also use a keyboard shortcut; select the attachment, then hit Ctrl-L. (To find out more about accessing scripts via keyboard shortcuts, see this page or follow the AppleScript tutorials on this blog.)
Please note that there are some limitations:

  • Quick Look is only available in Mac OS X 10.5. The script will therefore not work in any pre-Leopard version of Mac OS. On the bright side, the script should work in Entourage 2004 as well, provided that you have Leopard installed.
  • Some features available to applications that use Quick Look natively are sadly not accessible via AppleScript. The ability to display the preview in full screen mode, for instance, is one of them.

Recommended Links:
QuickLook Plugins List
10 ways to get the most out of Quick Look

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7 comments to Using Quick Look in Entourage

  • Chuck

    I just downloaded this script — VERY handy!! thanks for posting this.
    One small step for we former Outlook users….someday….. I dream of not needing my XP VM 🙂

  • BillV

    Great script! Thank you very much.

  • AndyK

    Great! But can the ctrl-L shortcut also be used to close the quicklook preview? At the moment i have to click the close icon.

  • Michel Bintener

    As far as I know, closing the preview window with the cursor is the only way.

  • Zoltan Blum

    In my hands, the script doesn’t show up in the appropriate Entourage menu; using version 12.2.0/12.2.1 and 10.5.8. However, after opening the script in the Script Editor and saving it as an “Application”, it does show up, working fine.

  • gerry

    I have installed Snow Leopard and when I downloaded the Quick Look Attachment Script nothing has happened…I do not see Quicklook Attachment or a script menu nor does the ctrl-L work….any thoughts?

  • Tom Altman

    I must be missing something — this script does nothing for me. Am using System 10.5.8 and Entourage 2008, so seems it should work. The script appears in Entourage’s script menu and when I press Control-L, the script menu icon turns blue, so thought I had it installed properly. But whether I have selected a message or an attachment in a message before invoking the script, nothing happens except for that icon flashing — I don’t see the content of any attachments, as happens with QuickLook in the Finder. Have tried with .gif, .jpg, .pdf, and .doc files so far, with no results.
    The only installation question I had was specifically which files to place in the Entourage Script Menu Items folder. The download above comes down as a folder, which contains a script and another folder, with that folder also containing a script. I put the whole thing into the Entourage Script Menu Items folder, just as it came. Should I perhaps have put just one or both of the two scripts in the Entourage Script Menu folder??
    Thank you…