qlmanage - macOS


qlmanage is a versatile command-line tool in macOS for managing and manipulating various types of files and data. It’s particularly useful for previewing files, converting formats, and extracting metadata.


qlmanage [options] [action] [file path ...]


  • convert – Converts the specified file to the specified format.
  • create – Creates a PDF or PostScript file from the specified file.
  • metadata – Extracts metadata from the specified file.
  • preview – Opens a Quick Look preview of the specified file.
  • thumb – Generates a thumbnail image of the specified file.


  • -c / –cache-only – Only use the cached version of the document.
  • -g / –generate-metadata – Generate metadata if it’s not already present.
  • -o / –output – Specifies the output file for convert and create.
  • -p / –preview-file – Specifies the file to preview in preview.
  • -q / –quiet – Suppresses all output except for errors.
  • –subtype – Specifies the subtype of the output format in convert.


Preview a file:

qlmanage -p file.pdf

Convert a file to PDF:

qlmanage -c -o file.pdf file.doc

Extract metadata from a file:

qlmanage -m file.jpg

Common Issues

  • Missing format: Ensure that the specified output format is supported by qlmanage.
  • Insufficient permissions: Verify that you have sufficient permissions to read and write to the specified files.
  • File corruption: If you encounter errors when opening or converting a file, it may be corrupted. Try using a different file or checking the file integrity.


  • Automator: Incorporate qlmanage into Automator workflows to automate file conversions, metadata extraction, and previewing.
  • Scripts: Create scripts that utilize qlmanage for advanced file manipulation tasks, such as batch conversions or automated metadata extraction.
  • file – Displays file type information.
  • mdls – Extracts metadata from files.
  • pdftk – Manipulates PDF documents.
  • Quick Look – macOS feature that provides quick previews of files.