If you work with colors on the Mac, you are probably painfully aware that the macOS Colors palette has not changed in several years. It offers several different types of color pickers, a pipette tool for sampling a color from the screen, and wells for storing swatches. It is functional for occasional use, but quickly becomes clumsy – try to remember which red is like after saving several similar versions. Many graphic apps offer their own color tools, but they are useless as soon as you need to work in another app. Fortunately, there is a solution: Sip.
Sip is a $ 1
The first thing you want to do with Sip is to choose some colors. You can open the color picker – which is a circle that enlarges a small portion of the screen below it – by clicking on the menu bar icon or pressing a keyboard shortcut (Command-Control-Option-P). Sip provides many shortcuts, all you can change in settings.
To select a color, place the color picker over the desired hue, anywhere on the screen it may be, and click. It adds it to Sip and copies the color to the clipboard. Press a change key while selecting a color to add more adjustments:
- Change: Adds multiple colors in a row.
- Option: Automatically creates a new palette and sets each color you select in that palette (more about palettes in no time.)
- Control: Creates a new palette of the colors you choose.
- Command: Sends the color directly to the app you are working on, if it is one of the 17 currently supported applications, including web development apps like Coda and Espresso, and Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.
For more accurate color picking, use the Sips keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease the color picker zoom, make the color picker grid larger or smaller, and move the color picker around in 1 or 10 pixel increments. This is excellent for grabbing a 1-pixel border color or the color of small text.
You can also send colors to Sip directly from Sketch or Photoshop using the Get Border Color or Get Fill Color Sip shortcuts. Clicking the color wheel in the upper right of the menu bar window opens a Photoshop-like color editor where you can select a color or enter hexadecimal or RGBA values.
When you have some colors in Sip, you probably want to create palettes to keep them organized. You may want a palette for brand colors, another for a project you are working on, and some more for colors that inspire you.
To create your first palette, click the hamburger menu in the menu bar window, and then select New Palette. All the colors you have selected so far will already be in your color history. Drag colors from your color history to the new palette. You can also drag to rearrange the colors of any palette.
Control-clicking the palette gives you the ability to rename, duplicate, lock or favorite. Favorites are useful when you have a bunch of palettes. Clicking the heart in the bottom left of the drop-down menu in the menu bar will only display your favorite palettes.
Clicking on the name of the palette will take you to a list view of all the colors in the palette. Sip automatically generates names for your colors like Sunglow or Blue Haze, but you can click on any color in the list view to rename it. I like to name my colors when using a case, such as background, highlighting, headline text and body text. Controlling any color in the list also includes options to delete, replace, or edit the color with a Photoshop-like color editor.
Once you've organized your colors into palettes, you can start using them in other apps. If you choose any color from your history or palette in the menu bar window, the color is copied to the clipboard. Sip can also display a passable dock on the edge of the screen; You can define which of the palettes should be displayed in this dock. Selecting a color in the color dock works the same way as in the menu bar window.
The color palettes, color history, and settings are synchronized between Macs, and Sip automatically backs them up by taking snapshots stored locally in case you accidentally delete something.
If you find yourself using different color formats in different apps, like hexadecimal in Photoshop and CSS RGBA in Sublime Text, Sip has you covered. You can turn on smart formats, define which format is used with each app, or simply use the presets. When you use Smart Styles on, when you paste colors from Sip into an app, it will automatically use the correct color format.
I've never had to create a custom format, but if the list of built-in formats lacks anything you need, you can create your own based on one of the existing formats or from scratch. You can find the custom format editor in the hamburger menu in the menu bar window. It lets you define separately how to save the color to your clipboard, set it in the menu, and set the selector.
The Sip's Check Contrast feature helps you make the contrast of the colors you use available to people with low vision. To check contrast, select Check Contrast from the hamburger menu. Then select a background color and text color. Sip will give a numeric score as well as a total grade of AAA (great!), AA (acceptable contrast for type less than 18 points), A Large (acceptable for type greater than 18 points), or Fail.
While I was using this feature to take screenshots of this article. Sip showed me that a white-on-seafoam color combination I used on my site was not available. I was able to do a simple color change on my site and now it is more useful for people with low vision.
Take a sip
You can try Sip for free for 15 days. After the trial ends, you will need to purchase the app.
Sip uses a pricing model popularized by the Sketch design app. It costs $ 10 for one year of app updates on a computer. If you want to license more than one computer, you will receive a discounted price: $ 8 each for 2-5 computers, $ 7 each for 6-9 computers, $ 6 each for 10-19 computers, or $ 5 each for 20 or multiple computers. Once the first year is up, you can buy a new year with updates for half the cost of the first year, or you can continue to use the version of the app you are currently using at no extra cost.
If you have struggled with color management between apps, Sip is well worth the price and it is easy to test the trial to see if it will improve your workflow. I know it has improved me.