Using the Mac Color Picker

The Color Picker is a standard tool window that you will find in a variety of apps like TextEdit, Preview, Pages, and many third-party apps as well. You can select any color using a variety of methods in the Color Picker. You can also save your favorite colors for reuse, even across apps.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Using the Mac Color Picker.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let's take a look at the Color Picker.

The Color Picker is a little window that allows you to select a color. You'll find that many apps use the standard Mac color picker rather than implementing their own or sometimes they do a combination.

For instance here I am in Text Edit and I've selected some text and I want to change the color. In the Tool Bar there's a little color chip there. I can click it and Text Edit has its own little color selection thing where I can select a limited amount of colors or I can click Show Colors which brings up the Color Picker. This is what it looks like.

So it's just a big black circle here because we have black text and if we want to change that to a color we've got this bar here that goes from black to white. If we Shift Down we can see the colors appear in the wheel. This is call the Color Wheel here. If I go to something like all the way over to the white here you can see I've got very bright colors available and I can click anywhere in here, or click and drag to move around, to select a color.

So I can choose almost any color I want. If I need darker shades I simply move the slider over here and I can select darker shades. I also have the eye dropper tool. If I click that I get this special tool and I can select anywhere on the screen, anything I like, as the color. So I can look at the background here and select this as the color and you can see how it jumps to select that color there in the color wheel.

The Color Picker also has other modes. What modes are available depends on what app you're using and what it allows. For instance, here in Text Edit we've got these sliders here. We can go with a gray scale slider to choose any gray. Red, green, and blue sliders. Here we can actually set the values from 0 to 255 or choose a hex color which if you do any web development you are familiar with those. If I wanted to make this a little more green, a little more red, I can slide these around.

CMYK if you're used to print publishing you'll be more familiar with that than RGB. Hue saturation and brightness is very useful say if you were to select a color and say hey, that's great but it's too do I make it darker. You can go over to here and kind of change the brightness to something dark or desaturate it to make it a little less red. So these can be useful as well.

Other modes are simpler. You can use color palettes here and you could simply select a color by name. You can choose different palettes. Like, for instance, Web Safe Colors. You can choose Crayons, very easy. You also have these available here in this one where you can actually choose from a pencil and choose that color. You have this Spectrum view here where it's this big rectangle filled with colors. You can click and drag in there to select the color that you want.

So no matter which one of these you choose you can save colors. So let's say you pick a perfect color for some text and you're going to be reusing this color in a project you're working on a lot. You can click and drag from this rectangle here into one of these slots and it saves it. Let's do another one here, light green, and you can save that. Now instead of having to find that color again, which you're probably never be able to find that exact same color again, you can simply click these little color chips here to select one.

Now I said that you're going to see the Color Picker in lots of different situations on your Mac. So here I am in Text Edit and I've used it. But let's switch over to Preview and let's say I'm going to create an annotation and draw a circle and you can see its got a color there. I want to change that color. Here's the button to do that. I have a quick color picker here just like in Text Edit but I can go to Show Colors. You can see the Color Picker appears. I can adjust it just like before.

The color chips that I set in Text Edit are available now even though I am in a completely different app.

I can also go to a non Apple app. Here's a third party image editor, Acorn, and I can draw here. If I wanted to change to color of the brush it brings up the Color Picker as well and I've got the same abilities here. It even gives me an extra little thing here where I can set a hexadecimal color code. So you can see how these can change depending upon what app you're in.

Usually you get the color wheel, and the sliders, and the pencils, and a few other things. So I can select that and now when I draw you can see it uses that color and it makes it very easy to do.

Comments: 7 Responses to “Using the Mac Color Picker”

    Bob Riley
    3 years ago

    Excellent! I wasn’t aware of some of the options that you pointed out (saving a chosen color, for example). I’m so used to using only a couple of colors, I never investigated choosing others.

    Love your video lessons. BTW, do you have any on using Time Machine? When I enter my backup, I can’t locate my gmail mail boxes.

    3 years ago

    Bob: Search for Time Machine or Backups at the top and a few things should come up. Nothing specific to Gmail. But with Gmail, since it is cloud-based, you shouldn’t need to use Time Machine to look up old emails. Just log into the Gmail website and search. Unless you have been intentionally deleting email instead of the default archiving, then everything should be there. That’s the best feature of Gmail.

    Ian Leckie
    3 years ago

    Hi Gary! I´ve been using Colour Picker for ages but, like Bob, wasn´t aware you could save a chosen colour, nor did I know you can click-and.drag around! These two tips will be incredibly useful to me. But one question: having saved a colour how can I then later delete it from the little panel? Not very important, but I´d like to know if this is possible! Thanks so much for your Newsletters and extremely well done videos! I never stop learning!! Best, Ian

    3 years ago

    Ian: There’s no way to delete a color. A work-around people use is to set that color to white. You eventually end up with a bunch of white squares, which are not “empty” but white. A half-way solution, but easier to look at.

    Ian Leckie
    3 years ago

    Thanks Gary! Have done what you suggest…works fine for me!

    3 years ago

    I’ve been trying to work out how to save colors for a while now. This was really useful. Also the ability to save colors and re-use them across apps is fantastic. This knowledge is going to save me a lot of time! Thanks for the information and so clearly described too.

    3 years ago

    That was really useful, thank you. I’ve been using the colour picker for years as a quick and dirty blunt instrumented had no idea of the subtlety you have shown us. Wonderful.

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