Hidden feature of Quicklook

/ 19 March 2008

I use Apple’s iWork suite in my work and am glad to be long rid of MS Office. However, as a librarian and someone who has worked in digital archiving for years, I’ve been concerned about the fact that Apple’s Pages and Numbers and Keynote are using formats unlikely to stand the test of time. I tend to save a lot of PDF versions of these documents, because at least PDF has been fairly robust over the past 10 years.

Today I noticed that if I instruct iWork apps to include a preview for QuickLook when saving, they put a PDF and JPEG version of the document in question right into the “package” that is the native file format. In other words, in the future I’ll be able to open the directory that is a Pages file, inside that find a QuickLook directory, and inside that find a Preview.pdf that is readable by anything that reads PDF documents. Fantastic! Now my iWork apps can automatically save a robustly readable version of themselves right into their native file format.

Caveat: The Preview.pdf seems to be saved at 50% size. I’m not sure why this is, since a PDF is resolution independent and can easily be viewed at full resolution. This makes using the auto saved PDF’s a bit awkward (but I think still fine for my personal archival purposes).

Bottom line: I would recommend turning on the “include preview by default” choice in the preferences of all iWork apps. This does increase the size of the documents, but it makes it much more likely you will be able to view them again in ten or twenty years.

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