How to preview Ogg files as if in Quicklook

One of the really neat aspects of Apple’s Leopard and Snow Leopard operating systems is Quicklook, a feature that allows the previewing of virtually any file type right from within the Finder. And even for file types that the Mac doesn’t natively support, Microsoft’s WMA and WMV come to mind, plugins exist to add this functionality. Google though I might, however, I could not find a plugin to add Ogg support to Quicklook. I should note here that a solution does exist to play Ogg files within Quicktime-based applications such as iTunes (check out http://www.xiph.org/quicktime/ for more details). I don’t know why a plugin hasn’t been developed to add this functionality to Quicklook. There is, however, a wonderful solution.

BravoBug Software make a fantastic application for previewing Ogg files directly from the Finder. Although it’s not technically a Quicklook plugin, their OggQuicklook solution behaves exactly like Quicklook.

So, here’s how to get it and more importantly, how to use it: First, go to http://bravobug.com/oggquicklook where you can download the application. Unzip the app, move it to your applications folder and run it — pretty easy so far, right? When running the app for the first time, it’ll ask if it can run as a login item. Answering yes here will allow the app to run in the background, essentially making it so you won’t need to launch it each time you want to preview an Ogg file. I should note that the app takes incredibly little resources, like 0% CPU; it’s just waiting for the command to launch and do its thing. After installation, things may seem a tiny bit confusing, but understanding what’s actually going on should help clear it all up. Think of the application as two separate applications, one, the OggQuicklook Agent, that runs in the background just waiting to allow you to preview those Ogg files and another more visible one, the OggQuicklook Launcher, which is used to control the background application. By control, there are really three options, start the background application (not needed if you allowed it to run as a login item on installation) stop the background application and change the hotkey used to preview an Ogg file. In other words, you probably won’t need to perform any of these tasks after you’ve defined the default hotkey which by the way, defaults to opt-shft-e. If you’re fine with that default, simply cmd-q to quit the application, (the background portion should continue to run) find an Ogg file and press opt-shft-e. A Quicklook-like window should open and you should hear your file. To stop playback, simply press the same hotkey. Unlike Quicklook, you can even change to another window, or app and your Ogg will continue to play. But what if you want to assign a different hotkey? Not a problem, but if you’re using VoiceOver, it’s not exactly intuitive. First, launch the OggQuicklook application. Second, notice there are two ‘quit’ buttons, one which simply says ‘quit’ and the other ‘quit OggQuicklook’. The first button simply quits the foreground “Launcher” application, same as pressing cmd-q. The second option, however, stops the background “Agent” and this is what has to happen before the hotkey can be changed. Fortunately, this second button is also the default. Next, place the VoiceOver cursor on one of the other buttons, either ‘quit’ or ‘help’. Press tab until you don’t hear anything, one or two presses depending on which button you focused the VoiceOver cursor on in the previous step. Silence means you are now on the hotkey field. Simply press the desired hotkey, I’d check first to make sure it’s not in use by Finder or some other application. Once pressed, use your VoiceOver cursor to move to ‘launch OggQuicklook’ which also happens to be the default button. After the background application, “Agent” is running, simply cmd-q to quit the “Launcher” and give it a try by selecting an Ogg file and pressing your newly-assigned hotkey. As described above, a new Quicklook-like window should open and your file should play. During playback, you can switch to another application which is really nice as this would normally force QuickLook to pause any currently playing content. To stop playback, simply press your default hotkey, playback stops, the preview window closes and you’re right back where you were.

OggQuicklook is a free application, but its developer, BravoBug make a number of shareware applications worth checking out. I’m super pleased with OggQuicklook and want to thank BravoBug for giving us Ogg enthusiasts a fantastic solution.

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