9 Great Mac Apps for Color Lovers

As a color lover, and even a color nerd, I am always finding apps out there that excite my interest. I love color both as a designer and photographer and there are a number of Mac apps out there that are made with these interests in mind.

These apps run the gamut from developer’s color tools to color scheme generators to apps that make the color in photographs more exciting. There is even a bonus game included in the round-up. Read on to find out more about these fun apps for color lovers.

Color Explorer

Color Explorer

Color Explorer is a simple and elegant color picking app. It is a menu bar app that comes out whenever you need it. The app freezes the screen and creates a zoom window that shows wherever the mouse is hovering.

Clicking on a pixel gives the color of that pixel in a number of formats. Graphics folks will find that the color formats come in hexadecimal, decimal, percentages and more. Programmers will appreciate the creation of colored objects for a variety of programming languages. The app is simple, cheap and convenient. It launches quickly and does its job well.

Price: $0.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.7
Developer: Mobility Dreams AB



Hues does a simple task that, up until now, often required an intense program like Photoshop. Hues allows you to grab a color from an image, make the color a bit darker, and then get the brand new hex value. Opening Photoshop takes a while. Hues allows you to get it done without waiting around.

This picker is lightweight and utilizes the Mac OS X color picker that comes with your computer. It is handy, showing the hex, RGB(a) and HSL(a) values for all colors. If you work with colors in a way that might benefit from this tool, definitely consider investing a few bucks in this convenient little app.

Price: $2.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Giant Comet

Kuler Desktop

Kuler Desktop

These next couple of applications are great for anyone who has ever had to make a color scheme. These apps are for graphic designers, interior decorators, developers, costume designers and even just those who are redecorating their home.

Kuler Desktop is the first and definitely most light-weight of these applications. The desktop version of Kuler allows you to download and view any pre-existing color schemes. This is great for inspiration, not so great if you can’t find something that works for you. There is an online component that allows you to create themes, but the desktop version is best for inspiration only.

Price: Free
Requires: Adobe Air, Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Adobe

Color Brain

Color Brain

Color Brain is a bare-bones but still more fully featured application. Color Brain is geared more towards those who use computer-based colors, whether you are a designer, developer or programmer. This application allows you to manage various sets of ten colors.

Once the sets have been created, the color values are available in a number of different formats, to work with any program or situation. There are a number of great features for developers and designers, even if it’s not the most exciting program out there. Stay away if you’re looking for something to help with the smart creation of themes, but definitely check it out if you work with digital color schemes a lot.

Price: $3.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: BrainScan Software

ColorSchemer Studio

ColorSchemer Studio

This application is definitely the most full-featured and user friendly of the color theme applications. It markets itself towards a more general population. While developers and graphic designers will still appreciate ColorSchemer, it’s also great for those who are just painting their living room.

ColorSchemer allows you to create color palettes from photos, from a single color, or completely on your own. You can explore pre-made palettes, use a color wheel and mix colors. Then, preview your color scheme on a variety of pre-made blog, website, print and even pattern layouts.

Price: $19.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: CHROMAom, Inc.

iDeveloper - Color Code Converter

iDeveloper – Color Code Converter

Simplicity shines bright in this tool, which is made specifically for iOS developers and designers. This application allows the simple conversion of Hexcolor codes to RGB based NSColor and UIColor codes. That is all it aims to do, and it does it well. If this niche application is up your alley, it’s well-worth the dollar to buy it.

Price: $0.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Untamed Interactive

Color Wash

Color Wash

The next two apps are dedicated to making the color in photographs exciting. ColorWash is a simple and straight-forward app that allows the selective coloring of photography. While selective coloring can often be overdone, it is sometimes a great tool to use to make colors pop. ColorWash provides a simple interface and set of tools allowing anyone to selectively color parts of a photograph.

Price: $0.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Arkadiusz Mlynarczyk

NIR Color

NIR Color

This app is another one geared towards editing the colors in photographs. NIR Color does something unique, however, playing with infrared light technology. NIR Color allows you to transform any photograph into a fantastically eerie image.

NIR Color utilizes near infrared light technology and infrared color filters to create these images. There are presets for beginners and great customization options for advanced users. If surrealist color is up your alley, check out NIR Color.

Price: $5.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: JixiPix Software

Color Sudoku

Color Sudoku

Last but not least, we have a little bonus. Color lovers will often find that they enjoy thinking in color as well. Color Sudoku provides a great way for color lovers to exercise their brain in a fun and colorful way. Color Sudoku works just like regular sudoku, but with colors instead of numbers. It’s a fun twist on a popular puzzle, and worth checking out if you really love color.

Price: $4.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: baKno Games


These are just a few of the many, many tools out there that exist to help color decisions and problems. Color lovers will always find apps dedicated to them, whether the apps create themes for designs, convert color values or even challenge the brain with some sudoku.

So then, calling all color lovers. What are your favorite apps? Do you use any of these or do you have something completely different?


Add Yours
  • I use Color Picker Pro.

    It’s free and perfectly does it’s job in Photoshop and InDesign.


  • The best color app I’ve used is one called Tangerine: http://www.tangerine.net.au/

    It was a great way to keep color palettes and move them across different apps.

    Unfortunately it seems the developer has abandoned this project, it still works with Snow Leopard with some bugs though.

  • I personally use a combo of color picker and screen ruler called ScreenTap ($1.99 http://bit.ly/screentapapp ). Cool thing about it are simple global shortcuts and fast way to copy color in different formats (like RGB or UIColor).

  • How come Matt Patenaude’s Colors is not here? :)


    • I’d actually not seen that one before … thanks for sharing though!

  • Nice Roundup. I personally use the minimalistic “ColorSnapper” for working with color codes in the different formats.


  • If only Colorshemer had a more goodlooking GUI. The colorwheel is just ugly imo.
    And yes – that does matter to me for that price.

  • I use system color picker as a standalone app with several plugins that covers most of the described apps functions (excluding photo editing and gaming).

    Still, ColorSchemer Studio is a nice app.

  • I use ColorSchemer Studio very often, I like the Kuler web app too, but the desktop version doesn’t have the same feature set. I don’t care much about color pickers, since the OS X native utility works well, but I usually rely on ColorSchemer to create swatches based on color theory, like analogs, triads, etc. and the quick preview is very web design friendly, I love it, the integration with ColourLovers is also great for inspiration.

  • I use Pochade all the time and I’m quite happy with it.


  • Here is a specialized site for generating colour stripes. Useful and fun.


  • Glad to be one of several visitants on this awing internet website : D.

  • I think xScope is really missing. Besides it has lots more of tools.

  • As a fulltime web designer/developer, I have narrowed it down to two apps for my daily use. Both have the full range of options for the output (rgb, hsl, hex, cmyk, etc. etc.), and are well-maintained, ★★★★★ apps. Ironically (never knew this until writing this comment) they are both by the same development team. :p

    Gradient ($4.99) – Zoom color picker allowing you to pick foreground and background; it also compiles the a cross-browser compatable webkit css code for the two colors if you are creating a gradient for use in web development. Amazing tool, use it nearly every day. http://www.gradientapp.com/

    Frank Deloupe (99¢) – A keyboard shortcut instantly activates the 8x zoom selector (each individual pixel is easily clickable – best zoom feature implemented I’ve seen yet) and select a foreground or background color (using ⌘ when clicking). It instantly copies the output to your clipboard, and will also automatically set that color as the foreground or background color in Photoshop if you have it running using the Photoshop remote connection option. http://jumpzero.com/frank/