Digital Color Meter Alternative

The Hex Color Picker provides essentially the same functionality as Digital Color Meter

The Hex Color Picker provides essentially the same functionality as Digital Color Meter

I went looking for an alternative to Digital Color Meter (R.I.P.), which Apple destroyed in the Lion update.

There doesn't seem to be a stand-alone program that you can download and use, but there is a pretty easy way to get the same functionality back, by adding a hex tab to Apple's built-in color picker. I didn't panic, because I was pretty I'd find a solution.

First, you need to download the Hex Color Picker. Don't worry that the "Requirements" don't mention Lion — Leopard & Snow Leopard are the minimum requirements, and I can verify that this works just fine under Lion.

Unzip the downloaded file, and then move the HexColorPicker.colorPicker file from the unzipped package to the ColorPickers folder inside your home Library folder. If the ColorPickers folder doesn't exist, just create it. If you can't find your Library folder (Apple made it hidden under Lion), click the Go menu in Finder, choose "Go to Folder..." and enter ~/Library.

This adds a hex color tab to the built-in system color picker. Now you need a quick and easy way to launch the built-in system color picker. Here it is:

Fire up AppleScript (Applications -> Utilities -> AppleScript Editor) and enter this text:

choose color

Then save this script as an application (File -> Save As.... and choose "Application" from the File Format select menu). You can save it to your Applications directory, or wherever you want it. I named mine "GetHex" and I saved it to my Applications directory, which causes it to show up in Launchpad.

Now, launch your new GetHex program. You can launch it by double-clicking on it, or plop it in your Dock, or, if you put it in your Apps directory like I did, you can launch it from Launchpad.

<img class="size-thumbnail wp-image-317" title="Click the hash mark in the blue circle at the far right in the row of icons" src="" alt="Click the hash mark in the blue circle at the far right in the row of icons" width="250" height="307" srcset=" 250w, https://www.sustainedpanic view it 203w, 97w, 65w, 113w, 61w, 328w" sizes="(max-width: 250px) 100vw, 250px" />

Click the hash mark in the blue circle at the far right in the row of icons

In the row of icons at the top of the color picker window, you should see an icon at the far right that's a bluish-purplish circle with a white hash mark (pound sign). You might need to make your color picker window slightly wider to see it.

Click that. Then click the magnifying glass, and go click on whatever color on your screen that you want the hex value for. The hex value appears in the big text box below the row of icons.

The hex value (including the hash mark) will be automatically highlighted -- all you have to do is enter command-C to copy it, then command-V to paste it into your css file or wherever you need it.

If you click the little "Options" button in the color picker, you can de-select the "Use uppercase hexadecimal digits" — I prefer mine in all lower-case, as that's pretty much the industry standard.

This is pretty near the same as Digital Color Meter. A great big thank-you to the good people at Waffle Software for the Hex Color Picker tool! Also, a thank you to Mac OS X Hints for the thread that led me to this solution. The original thread there is somewhat difficult to follow, with broken links, steps not in order, and a general vagueness that assumes you know what they're talking about. So I decided to lay out the instructions here in a clear, concise set of steps.


  1. UPDATE! A genius by the name of Ricci Adams has released “Classic Color Meter” — the perfect drop-in replacement for the DigitalColor Meter that Apple destroyed.

    Find it here:

    I dropped the 99 cents to buy it, and it works as advertised. It’s just like having my old Digital Color Meter back.

    I could have lived with the Hex Color Picker solution, but Ricci’s CCM has the aperture size option, which makes it tons easier to sample the exact pixel you want.

  2. It’s actually still there. Just go up to “View > Display Value > AS Hexadecimal.” and I copy the hex value with cmd+shit+c

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