Sip: Making It Easy to Grab Colors, Anywhere

I love finding color inspiration from all over, but short of taking screen shots of every website I visit or opening all of my favorite photos in the same image editor, it’s been impossible to get those colors where I can use them. Sure the green of the grass in a photo may be exactly what I want for my website header, but it’s not an easy job converting that to something that makes sense to Tumblr or WordPress.

Sip is here to help, though, allowing you to copy colors from all over and then keep a history of what you’ve seen. We’ll look at how useful it really is and if it saves all that much effort!

Take a Sip

Once you’ve launched Sip, it will sit in your menu bar, waiting for you. When you find a color you want to use, click the Sip icon. The color you’re capturing can be anywhere, in a picture on a website, the Finder scrollbar, or an application logo, You’ll want to choose Pick Color, but you can also get to this with the default shortcut Control+Option+P. This will bring up the color picker, a giant loupe that will let you focus on any pixel on the screen and select the color.

The Sip menu is where you can select the color picker or choose any of the colors in Sip's history.

The Sip menu is where you can select the color picker or choose any of the colors in Sip’s history.

Sip places the numeric code for the color you grabbed into it’s history, found in the Sip drop-down menu. You can get Sip to automatically copy the color’s code to your clipboard, too, if you like, and I think that makes Sip a lot more useful. You don’t just have to choose a single color, though. If you’re creating a website layout or graphic based on the color scheme within an image, you can select as many as six colors at a time, and they’ll be stored in Sip’s history.

I do a lot of work on websites, so I usually need everything in hexadecimal notation, but sometimes I’m taking the colors I grab back to Photoshop, and I want RGB or HSL. Sip will let you choose the default for how you get your colors, but if the default just isn’t working today, it’s a cinch to choose any of the other options from right in the menu.

The preferences let you decide how Sip behaves.

The preferences let you decide how Sip behaves.

So what id the color you want isn’t in a picture or on a website? You can’t really grab it from anywhere, and you just want to sort of experiment and see what you can come up with on your own. Sip has a color panel, the same that you’d seen in Preview and most other Mac apps, that will let you do just that. Why doyou need Sip to get to the color panel, though? Because if you’re throwing color ideas at the wall to see what sticks, Sip’s history is a great way to keep track of the last few colors you’ve tried.

This green is a great shade, and cuts out a few steps if I need the code for a project.

This green is a great shade, and cuts out a few steps if I need the code for a project.

Sip vs. the Competition

This is such a great tool, I can’t get over how useful it is. So often I’ve wanted to take my color picker loupe outside of my image editing app but was stopped at the window’s edge. That’s a bummer and has prevented me from getting great colors into whatever I was working on at the time. Sip opens up my entire display, so I can use any colors I can see on my display, even the blacks and grays of the OS X interface.

I can even get colors from OS X's folders, windows, and toolbars. Nifty if I'm creating a graphic to match.

I can even get colors from OS X’s folders, windows, and toolbars. Nifty if I’m creating a graphic to match.

It’s hard not to compare Sip to Frank DeLoupe, which has a similar function. Unlike Frank, though, Sip won’t connect to Photoshop. Whether this is a problem depends on how you work. If you don’t really rely on the Adobe giant or have a different image editor altogether, then Frank DeLoupe doesn’t have anything on Sip. On the other hand, if you’re a pro who spends most of your day inside Photoshop, you might miss having all of your copied colors immediately become your active color in the app.

Sip does have the upper hand when it comes to actual color picking, though. The Frank loupe, while the same size as that in Sip, doesn’t magnify as greatly as does Sip. That means when I’m trying to pick out a single pixel among a jumble in a photograph, it’s a lot easier to get the job done with Sip. I can imagine your mileage would vary depending on screen resolution, and Frank is perfectly usable as is, it’s just that Sip is a little easier to use.

Final Thoughts

Sip scratches an itch you might not have even know was there. Once you start using it, though, it’s hard to imagine how you got along without it. If you did know the itch was there, if you were wondering why someone couldn’t just make an app to do this one thing, an app that could grab colors from anywhere, Sip will be a godsend.

It’s simple, and there’s almost zero learning curve. Sip does exactly what a single-function app should; it fits so well into my workflow, it’s like it was always meant to be there.


Makes grabbing colors from anywhere a whole lot easier.