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QuickLook plugin for source code with syntax highlighting.


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Original project:

This is a Quick Look plug-in that renders source code with syntax highlighting, using the Highlight library.

To install the plug-in, just drag it to ~/Library/QuickLook. You may need to create that folder if it doesn't already exist.

Alternatively, if you use Homebrew Cask, install with brew install --cask qlcolorcode. Also available on MacPorts: port install QLColorCode.

To build the project, you must have Boost headers on your system in /opt/local/include or /usr/local/include.


If you want to configure QLColorCode, there are several defaults commands that could be useful:

Setting the text encoding (default is UTF-8). Two settings are required. The first sets Highlight's encoding, the second sets Webkit's:

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode textEncoding UTF-16
defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode webkitTextEncoding UTF-16

Setting the font (default is Menlo):

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode font Monaco

Setting the font size (default is 10):

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode fontSizePoints 9

Setting the color style for light and dark mode (see all available themes):

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode lightTheme solarized-light
defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode darkTheme solarized-dark

Setting the thumbnail color style (deactivated by default):

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode hlThumbTheme ide-xcode

Setting the maximum size (in bytes, deactivated by default) for previewed files:

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode maxFileSize 1000000

zSetting any extra command-line flags for Highlight (see below):

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode extraHLFlags '-l -W'

Here are some useful 'highlight' command-line flags (from the man page):

   -F, --reformat=<style>
          reformat output in given style.   <style>=[ansi,  gnu,  kr,
          java, linux]

   -J, --line-length=<num>
          line length before wrapping (see -W, -V)

   -j, --line-number-length=<num>
          line number length incl. left padding

   -l, --line-numbers
          print line numbers in output file

   -t  --replace-tabs=<num>
          replace tabs by num spaces

   -V, --wrap-simple
          wrap long lines without indenting function  parameters  and

   -W, --wrap
          wrap long lines

   -z, --zeroes
          fill leading space of line numbers with zeroes

          control case of case insensitive keywords

It is also possible to have the HTML preview converted to RTF. Using RTF allows the contents of the file to be displayed instead of an icon -- similar to QLStephen.

defaults write org.n8gray.QLColorCode rtfRender true

Additional information

Additional features


QLColorCode decompiles some formats:

  • Compiled AppleScript. It requires osadecompile installed at /usr/bin/osadecompile.
  • Binary PLIST. It requires plutil installed at /usr/bin/plutil.



QLColorCode enables some Highlight plug-ins :

  • In all languages: outhtml_codefold and reduce_filesize.
  • Java (sources and classes): java_library.
  • C/C++: cpp_syslog, cpp_ref_cplusplus_com and cpp_ref_local_includes.
  • Perl: perl_ref_perl_org.
  • Python: python_ref_python_org.
  • Shell: bash_functions.
  • Scala: scala_ref_scala_lang_org.

Handled languages

Highlight can handle lots and lots of languages, but this plug-in will only be invoked for file types that the OS knows are type "source-code". Since the OS only knows about a limited number of languages, I've added Universal Type Identifier (UTI) declarations for several "interesting" languages. If I've missed your favorite language, take a look at the Info.plist file inside the plug-in bundle and look for the UTImportedTypeDeclarations section. I haven't added all the languages that Highlight can handle because it's rumored that having two conflicting UTI declarations for the same file extension can cause problems. Note that if you do edit the Info.plist file you need to nudge the system to tell it something has changed. Moving the plug-in to the desktop then back to its installed location should do the trick.

As an aside, by changing you can use this plug-in to render any file type that you can convert to HTML. Have fun, and let me know if you do anything cool!

Adding Language Types

If QLColorCode doesn't display PHP and JavaScript code properly, their types may need to be added to Info.plist. Finding the right type string to use is the tricky part. Getting the type strings and getting Info.plist edits to take effect is easy by following the steps below, which explain how to add support for PHP:

  1. In (or any shell prompt), enter the command:
mdls -name kMDItemContentType /full/path/to/file.php

Use the path to any PHP file. The response will be:

kMDItemContentType = "public.php-script"

The string public.php-script is the type string needed in a later step.

  1. Again at a shell prompt, enter the command:
open ~/Library/QuickLook/QLColorCode.qlgenerator/Contents/Info.plist

This will open Info.plist in

  1. In's edit window for Info.plist, go to:

Document types > Item 0 > Document Content Type UTIs

(If the editor is showing raw keys, that's: CFBundleDocumentTypes > Item 0 > LSItemContentTypes)

  1. Add an item for public.php-script, the type string found in the first step.
  2. Save the updated Info.plist file.
  3. Try it in Finder. (It's usually unnecessary to move/return the QLColorCode extension, restart QuickLook, or restart the Finder, but it wouldn't be surprising that some users might need to do so.)


QuickLook plugin for source code with syntax highlighting.









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  • CSS 20.7%
  • C 18.6%
  • Shell 7.3%
  • Other 1.0%