OS X: Use Any Color on Your Screen

| TMO Quick Tip

If you’ve spent any time at all creating and editing documents on your Mac, you’ve probably run across the Color Picker.

This neat little window pops up in a lot of applications when you try to change the color of an object or text. In this tip, my screenshots are from Pages, but you can do the same things (and invoke the Color Picker using the same shortcut) in Mail, Numbers, TextEdit, Keynote…lots of places. It’s handy.

For the purposes of this demo, I’m gonna be creating a gift tag to print out and slap on a present.

Let’s come to an understanding here. First, you’ve gotta pretend that this is something I would actually do; then you’re gonna have to imagine that my creation here looks good. Maybe you’ll pretend that you’re even a tiny bit impressed with my graphics “skills.” There’s frankly quite a lot of pretending that will have to take place.

In any case, now I’ve decided that I don’t like that pinkish-reddish color on my gift tag. Instead, I want to use the light blue of the Finder icon. Well, how on earth could a person go about that? Believe it or not, you’ve got the power to use any color on your screen on an object, and I mean any color (including the ones on icons in your Dock, your Desktop background—anything!). You can do this through the magic of the aforementioned Color Picker. Just select the object you’d like to color and summon the Color Picker (Shift-Command-C). Then click on the small magnifying glass near the upper-left corner.

When you do that, your cursor will change into a magnifying glass, and then all you’ve gotta do is find any color on your screen you want to use and click it to apply that color to the object you’ve selected. 

Whoo-hoo! If you like the color you just found, you can even save it for future use. Do that by dragging the color from the top (next to the magnifying glass) down to one of the white spaces at the bottom. 

If you need more white spaces to store your custom colors, drag the little handle at the bottom of the Picker to get more.

I think that’s just downright groovy! I probably shouldn’t be so impressed by a feature that’s been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth, but I can’t help being who I am, folks. And who I am is a person who’s easily impressed. 

Comments

cjpitt

And speaking as one of the dinosaurs, I’m impressed too!

Aftermac

Ok… Usually, these quick tips are something I know of and use regularly. However, I’ve been using OS X since the Public Beta, and I did not know about this. Thanks for sharing!

freejak

Melissa, Thank you for this great tip! Who knew all the goodness hiding in that little ubiquitous interface?

I will just caution that one has to carefully place their cursor on that ‘button’ on the drag handle. You need see and use the ‘hand’ cursor to open more spaces, otherwise (as I did until I figgered this out) you’ll just be resizing the Color Picker window.

Melissa Holt

Thanks for the comments, guys! I’m happy to have helped in some small way. grin

And freejak, I appreciate the clarification. I’m sure that’ll be helpful to folks!

—Melissa

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