Using the Mac OS X Color Picker as a Stand-Alone AppFriday, 26 March 2010
I've been looking for a good, simple, system-wide color picker. The built-in Mac OS X one is great, but it needs to be launched from within an existing application. Wouldn't it be great to be able to use it as a standalone app? That's exactly what Spot Color does:
Spot Color is a simple application that allows you to use the standard Mac OS X color picker as a stand-alone app. This allows you to quickly grab colors without having to be in an image editing app like Photoshop. Since it uses the built-in color picker, you can utilize the system wide color picker plugins and swatches.
It's just a simple application wrapper that launches the system-wide color picker. The same exact thing can be done with Apple Script but it was way to sluggish to launch and I found I just wouldn't use it. Besides, Spot Color has a cute icon. And it's fast and light-weight. (I tried a similar app by Matt Patenaude called simply "Colors". But it felt a little chintzy.)
The reason this is so useful is that the built-in color picker on Mac OS X is extensible and there are some really great plugins available. These are the ones I use:
- Developer Color Picker: Provides color definitions in a variety of developer-friendly formats including NSColor, UIColor, CGColor, Hex and RGB. Written by Wade Cosgrove of Panic, inc.
- Hex Color Picker: Displays the hex code for any color in a slightly different way than the above plugin. Very useful for web development. If you just need hex values, you can probably get away with just this plugin.
- Mondrianum 2: Loads themes from the Adobe Kuler community.
The source code for Spot Color is on github too, which is always nice.
I also sometimes combine this with Digital Color Meter (found in the Applications/Utilities/ folder on your Mac) since its zoom view makes it a little easier to pick colors from the screen.