Mac owners who work in graphic design or programmers know the value of good color tools, whether color pickers, color wheels, or any color utility that grabs a color from the screen and stores it on a palette. My history with Mac color tools dates back to the last century, back when Photoshop was an idea, PageMaker was the future, and MacDraw attached to a LaserWriter was the cool way to do ads.
Photoshop lives, PageMaker spawned an industry, and MacDraw is a mere memory, but Mac color tools abound and it’s likely that any Mac user with multiple graphic design apps has more than one color picker or color wheel utility. That includes me (and as graphic design talent goes, I’m a good singer, and even I need a bucket to carry a tune).
Two of my favorite graphic tools for the Mac include xScope and Sip; both at opposite ends of the app spectrum. Let me focus on Sip because it gets used more frequently.
Sip is a color picket that lives in the Mac’s Menubar. It comes in two flavors. Free and Pro. As is the case with most color pickers on the Mac, Sip uses the time honored magnifying loupe to grab the color of any pixel on the Mac’s screen and save in the color format of your choice so it can be dropped into a graphic element or used as a color in a document or piece of code.
Preferences are more extensive than the tool itself.
Set the Color History to capture and hold multiple colors. Sip can also automatically import colors captured by the Mac’s clipboard. Unlike many color picker magnifying loupes, Sip gives you slider controls over both magnifier size and magnifier zoom.
Color format elements are as extensive as I’ve seen in a free color picker and range from everything CSS to Java to Android to NScolor and new Swift NSColor and UIColor for developers.
Keyboard shortcuts about for all the basic requirements; from General use to Magnifier, from Zoom and Size, and even Color and Formats.
All that comes in the free version of Sip.
Sip Pro has a few additional features to justify the nominal price tag, including a huge favorite- palettes. These are not just a few odds and ends palettes, but more of a color palette management system that is more than most color pickers but less than color wheel apps.
The coolest feature of any decent application is usability and this is where Sip Pro earns the dough. There’s a built-in Color Dock.
Think of this as an easy way to get to palettes with little more than a flick of the wrist to move the screen pointer to the Color Dock which pops out the palette you’re using or want.
Sip works well for casual Mac users who need a quick and easy color picker but the Pro version has features that both professional graphic designers and programmers will appreciate- color formats that can be dropped into a graphic element, or into a piece of code.
Also included is a way to take a color snapshots according to a schedule; automatically or whenever you choose.
Everything Sip does can be synchronized between Macs, but there’s also an iPhone version so color palettes can go totally mobile and still be available later on the Mac. Palettes can be shared but I miss the shared history feature from past versions. Sync works but you have to sign up for the Sip sync service instead of just using iCloud or Dropbox.