Artboard 2 collection Material color swatches

12 Custom Color Palettes for MacOS

When considering a new color scheme for your next design project, custom color palettes are a great place to start. Using Apple’s Color Picker, you can manually create new color swatch lists, or download and install pre-made custom color palettes from several sources on the web. Here’s how…

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Apple’s Color Picker (we are accessing it via Artboard)
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Topics Covered: Custom Color Palettes / Downloadable Swatches
  • Estimated Completion Time: Medium

Open the Apple Color Picker

Click the Color Picker icon in the Artboard toolbar. While we use Artboard® to add new custom palettes, this tutorial works with any app that uses the Apple Color Picker to pick colors for graphics and fonts.

In the Color Picker, click on the third tab ‘Color Palettes’. Color lists are presented from a drop-down palette menu. There are a few default color palette lists, including “Apple” and “Web Safe Colors.”

To Install

Step 1 – Download a Color Palette from your favorite source (as shown below) and Unzip the .clr files.

Step 2 –  In Finder, hold the Option-key and choose Go > Library from the main menu. Place unzipped files in the following folder: ~/Library/Colors/ (where ~ is the user’s Home folder)

Step 3 – Re-launch Artboard. Open the Colors Panel, click on the third tab ‘color palettes’, and your newly added Color Palette will be available from the drop-down list.

Download Custom Color Swatches

While creating your own color swatches is useful, you can also add Color Palettes shared by others. For example, there are user-created color libraries on the web. Here are 12 awesome Color Palettes you can download and enjoy.

1. Google Material Design Color Palette

“Material” is a color palette designed by Google that makes color easy. A downloadable Color Swatches file is available below from Mapdiva. Material is comprised of primary and accent colors that can be used for illustration or to develop your brand colors. Material is a complete and usable palette for Android, Web, and iOS graphics. Google suggests using the colors as the primary colors in your app and the other colors as accents colors (watch the video).

Download Material OS X Color Swatches from Mapdiva

Did you know? Styles using the Material palette are included in Artboard’s built-in Styles & Clip Art palette.

2. ColorBrewer OS X Color Palettes

Styles using the ColorBrewer palette are included in the Ortelius Styles & Symbols palette. In addition, this set of downloadable Color Palettes is available from Mapdiva. Sequential, diverging and qualitative color schemes are suitable for maps and infographics that show distribution of data, including color blind-, photocopy-, LCD- and print-friendly schemes (developed by Cynthia Brewer).

Download Color Brewer OS X Color Swatches from Mapdiva

Did you know? Styles using the ColorBrewer palette are included in Mapdiva’s Ortelius built-in Styles & Symbols palette.

3. Land Based Classification Standards (LBCS) OS X  Color Palettes

Downloadable Color Palettes from Mapdiva. The standard convention for coloring land-use categories for maps and related graphics (developed by the American Planning Association).

Download LBCS OS X Color Swatches from Mapdiva

4. Flat UI Colors OS X Color Palette

Downloadable Color Palette from Mapdiva. Based on

Download Flat UI OS X Color Swatches from Mapdiva

Did you know? Styles using the FlatUI palette are included in Artboard’s built-in Styles & Clip Art palette.

5 – 12. Midwinter’s OS X Color Palettes

Super collection of downloadable Color Palettes from Midwinter Duncan Grant. He’s done a lot of heavy lifting to create swatches for the OS X Color Picker.


Jump To Midwinter to Download Swatches


  • Pantone Coated Swatches
  • Pantone Pastels Swatches
  • Pantone Metallics Swatches
  • Pantone CMYK Swatches
  • CSS Named Colors
  • TOYO Swatches
  • Focoltone Swatches
  • Trumatch Swatches

Or Manually Create a Custom Color Palette

The strength of the Color Palettes is that you can make your own swatch sets. This is an excellent way to put a consistent set of colors at your fingertips. Additionally, color palettes created here can be shared with others and are available in all other applications that use the Colors Picker (Bonus!).

To create your own color list, do the following:

Step 1 – Click on the third tab ‘Color Palettes’ and then clicking on the Action Menu icon (looks like a gear) and choose ‘New’. When you do this a new palette is saved in ~/Library/Colors/ with .clr for its file extension. A new unnamed list will be opened, containing only the color currently in the color well at the bottom of the window. Rename the list using the action menu.

Step 2 – Use any color selection method to choose your colors, then drag-and-drop colors from the color well, or from a mini-well in the Swatch drawer, into the list window. Alternatively, select a color and click “+” below the list window to add it to the list. Repeat selecting colors using any method, adding colors to the list.

Step 3 – Double-click on list items to give each of the colors a meaningful name. You can easily find colors by typing part of the name into the Search field below the List window.

Do you know of other color palette resources we should include here? Let us know!