Using the Mac OS X Color Picker as a Stand-Alone App

Friday, 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:

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.