Colors is a Free Color Picker Tool to Replace DigitalColor Meter in Mac OS X Lion

Sep 12, 2011 - 14 Comments

Color Picker tool for Mac OS X Lion

Apple’s Digital Color Meter utility took a turn for the worse in Mac OS X Lion, inexplicably removing the ability to view color values in commonly used formats like hex. This is a pain for graphic and web designers, and nobody but Apple knows why they removed that feature, but thankfully there’s a handful of free apps out there to pick up the slack.

Colors is the app of choice I’ll go with because it’s tiny, simple, and free, which is basically the opposite of most App Store choices. Much like the classic DigitalColor Meter, you just launch the app, click the magnifying glass, select your color, and select the output you want copied to your clipboard.

Download Colors Now (direct download link) or visit the developers website

The apps UI is slightly outdated but does the job in Mac OS X 10.7, and for free we can’t complain much. If you’re fed up with Lions new and unimproved Digital Color Meter, get it.


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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Sharma says:

    It’s not working for me in OSX Yosemite 10.10.1. App launches but I can’t use the magnifying glass to pick colors.

  2. Soozikay says:

    I concur. It’s not working in the non-beta OS X Yosemite.
    I’m running V 10.10.1 :-(

  3. Stopped working in Os X Yosemite 10.10 Beta 1. Used it for a while, nice tool. One my also like Skala Color from bjango

    I hope matt patenaude updates this nice tool soon.

  4. […] few months ago I wrote about an alternative to DigitalColor Meter for OS X Lion, with my main complaint being that the color picker tool removed the ability to get […]

  5. Eric says:

    // Apple’s Digital Color Meter utility took a turn for the worse in Mac OS X Lion, inexplicably removing the ability to view color values in commonly used formats like hex. //

    Well, that isn’t entiiiierly true. :) In fact, it’s quite easy to use it and to grab the hexcode ”on-the-fly”.

    – – –

    In the menu: View->Display >> (as Decimal… as Hexadecimal… as Percentage)

    Just chose ”as Hexadecimal” – then you can just grab the code with: ⇧⌘C

    When you paste it in your CSS-file or style-tag, it comes out as: #012345

    To make it even easier – go to Systemprefs->Keyboard->Keyboard Shortcuts. In the left column pick ”Application shortcuts”. Add 3 new ones like:
    as Decimal ⌘1
    as Hexadecimal ⌘2
    as Percentage ⌘3

    (text of the label must exactly match the menu item)

    Now it’s easy to switch between the modes, and sometimes it’s good to get the rgb value as well. Now you know you’re not stucked.

    • barbara_0 says:

      I tried setting to hexadecimalin Lion through menu and got
      this sort of reading, in this case for white:

      R: 0xFF
      G: 0xFF
      B: 0xFF

      So, it’s okay in a crippled way. You have to manually truncate and input — no cut and paste possible

  6. Robert says:

    Thanks a lot! Does the job as quickly as it used to be!

  7. Jojo says:

    You, sir, are a golden god.

  8. Adam Chew says:

    It’s the ecosystem, stupid.

  9. Jac says:

    Cool app, but where is CMYK?


    • James says:

      CMYK colour picker for a screen? That doesn’t really make sense :)

      Any application that uses CMYK will allow you to input RGBA values.

  10. setnan says:

    Maybe one of my old app will interest peeps (essentially developers) who wants to get color values formatted as text. It’s downloadable directly from website and FREE ! :) i really pay attention to any suggestion/request.. so if any just ask ;) No problem reported under Lion (im still under Snow)

  11. Alberto says:

    Apple removed that because Apple has stopped to care about people that *work* with computer…

  12. This is not a replacement, Classic Color Meter is. However it’s a $.99 investment. I wrote about the whole Color Picker thing

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