I use Mathematica for daliy small program and visualization, so I have many samll notebook files. I use long file name to tag and distinguish these files, but sometimes I use short file name (maybe without any meaning) for convenient. Then I will forget what are stored inside.

Is there any method to preview notebook file without opening it. If I set a txt reader as default reader for the notebook file, the preview wil show all things in the format of strings, but not in the cell style shown by Mathematica.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm afraid you need a FrontEnd to preview a notebook. So you could create a palette and NotebookOpen file with smaller Magnification etc. $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Apr 25, 2016 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ you can follow this method with registry, but I don't get clear mathematica code on my preview pane, lots of useless code is written also, such us RowBox etc superuser.com/questions/91804/… $\endgroup$
    – Fierce82
    Apr 25, 2016 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ at one time I had a script set up to auto create pdf versions of every notebook. The main point for me was so that windows search would work on the pdf's. The clutter of all the extra files gets cumbersome though. $\endgroup$
    – george2079
    Apr 25, 2016 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ Apparently it's possible to do something like OS X Quick Look in Windows, too: Preview Handlers. Don't know why this hasn't been implemented for Mathematica (I don't have Windows, but it looks like that's a very similar feature that should be made available). $\endgroup$
    – Jens
    Jul 12, 2016 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ What is the difficulty in opening the Notebook in Mathematica? Is it too slow? Do you not have Mathematica installed on that machine? Without knowing the specific issues you wish to work-around it is hard to answer. Also, how much of the Notebook would you need to see to "preview" it? Would a simple image (e.g. GIF, JPEG) of the first page be OK? $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Jul 13, 2016 at 5:37

1 Answer 1


This is operating system dependent. On OS X (my OS), Mathematica comes with a Quick Look plug-in. When installed it provides exactly the service you are asking for. All I have to do is select the notebook's icon in a Finder window an hit Space


  • $\begingroup$ The only shortcoming is that it doesn't show graphics or dynamic content - only the textual parts. But that's good enough for me - because the display is very fast. BTW, it also shows the contents on the icons in Cover Flow, which can be quite nice. The preview for HTML pages also doesn't show images and interactive content... $\endgroup$
    – Jens
    Jul 12, 2016 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Jens. The shortcoming you mention is almost certainly a feature needed to insure reasonable performance. $\endgroup$
    – m_goldberg
    Jul 12, 2016 at 16:51

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