In the latest 10.10.3 update for Yosemite, Apple has introduced a small enhancement that may be helpful to some people, where instead of opening a Web link directly, you can now preview it in a small popup window. This can be a quick way to see what might be linked to in an e-mail, or text document, or any other location in OS X where a link may be shown, without needing to launch Safari or any other Web browser.
This feature uses the same service that has been present in OS X for looking up words you might encounter. When you see a word and want to know more about it, you can right-click it and choose Look Up to display a small popup that shows the word’s definition and links to resources like Wikipedia.
For words, this will invoke the same dictionary service, but if you have updated your Mac to OS X 10.10.3, then for links this will display a small preview window that will open the link and show you a quick look at the page you are about to see. This preview window is a bit limited in that some Web services will not work; however, it is intended as a quick preview of the page, and not to be a full Web browser.
While you can scroll around in the preview, if you click any links in it then it will open in your default browser. You will also have buttons along the top of the preview window for adding the current page to your reading list as well as open it in Safari. Opening the current view in your default browser can also be done by double-clicking anywhere in the preview area.
Keep in mind that while this will work in many programs, and especially those that comes with OS X, such as TextEdit, Mail, and even Safari itself, Apple’s “Look Up” service does not work in all programs. In addition, if you have a multi-touch trackpad but are not seeing this work, then you might need to turn on the lookup gesture. To do this, go to the Trackpad system preferences, and then check the “Look Up” option in the Point & Click tab.
As a final note, this service only appears to work if you use the three-finger tap gesture. If you right-click the link and choose Look Up from the contextual menu, then you will get a “No Results Found” preview window. This is likely an oversight on Apple’s part, so we may see an update or two make it accessible via this method as well.
Is there a way to remap this function so I can use it with less fingers, or to use less fingers with a modifier key? I have problems doing a 3 finger tap. I have a bad hand.
There may be third-party utilities that will do this, but Apple does not provide an easy way to do it. You might look into the tool “BetterTouchTool” that allows for many customizations to Apple’s default gestures: http://www.bettertouchtool.net
In Mail hovering over the link reveals a down-arrow to the right that allows this to work