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This chapter is from the book

Colors for the Mac

The standard System color picker for the Mac looks somewhat different. It offers several different tools for selecting colors: CMYK Picker, Crayon Picker, HLS Picker, HSV Picker, HTML Picker, and RGB Picker. You can use any of these tools by clicking on it in the list box at the left of the dialog box.

You open the Mac Color dialog box the same way you do the Windows one: On the color picker, click on the Color Wheel button (Figure 3.57).

Figure 3.57Figure 3.57 Click on the Color Wheel button on the color picker to open the Color dialog box.

Using the Crayon Picker

The easiest color picker to use is the Crayon Picker (Figure 3.58). You can choose from preselected colors, all Websafe.

Figure 3.58Figure 3.58 The Crayon picker, in the Color dialog box for the Mac. Click on a crayon to choose a color.

To use the Crayon Picker:

  • Click on a crayon in the box. The color that you choose will appear in the New color swatch, and its cutesy name will appear in the Name area.


The crayons are all Websafe colors. If you select a non-Websafe color with another picker, a name such as "Carnation-ish" will appear (Figure 3.59), indicating an inexact match to the closest Websafe color.

Figure 3.59Figure 3.59 If you choose a non-Websafe color when using the Crayon Picker, the name will end in -ish.

The HTML Picker

You can select a color in any picker and make it a Websafe color with the HTML Picker.

To use the HTML Picker:

  1. When you click on the HTML Picker button, the HTML Picker will appear (Figure 3.60) and convert any prior color selection into a Websafe color.

    Figure 3.60Figure 3.60 The HTML Picker, in the Color dialog box for the Mac. These colors are Web safe unless you turn off the Snap to Web color check box.

  2. To change colors within the Websafe continuum, click on the Hex pairs (00, 33, and so on) on the R, G, or B color sliders. (RGB stands for red, green, and blue.) The hex code will appear in the HTML text box.


To select a non-Websafe color, deselect the Snap to Web color check box, and use the sliders to select whatever color you like.

Browser-Safe Colors

You may have heard something about browser-safe color schemes. There are 216 colors that both Netscape and Microsoft browsers on both Windows and Macintosh platforms use, and these colors are called browser safe. It's true that nowadays True-Color and High-Color monitors can better match a color palette, and it's also true that today's better video cards can store more than 256 colors in memory. However, Macintosh and Windows still veer apart in their treatment of color palettes. (For a technical discussion of how color palettes work, and the difference between 8-bit, High and True color treatment, see the links page on the Web site for this book.)

At any rate, browser-safe or Websafe colors are colors that most closely match, instead of producing a near match or dithering, when presented on different computer screens. The colors in the browser-safe area all contain pairs of the following numbers in their hex code: 00, 33, 66, 99, CC, or FF. Windows colors are generally slightly darker, whereas Macintosh colors are more accurate and are described as lighter and brighter. If you have access to both Windows and Macintosh computers near each other (try putting a laptop next to a monitor from the other platform), open the same Web page on both machines, and you might be surprised by the differences in many colors.

The color picker that you'll see when you click on any color selection button (Figure 3.57), in a dialog box or in the Property inspector, is comprised of these browser-safe colors, some of which repeat in the palette's 252 squares. If you're planning your page around browser-safe colors, the color picker is a good place to start.

Additionally, you'll notice that the pointer for the color picker is an eyedropper rather than a regular pointer. You can use the eyedropper to select any color that you can see on your desk-top, including colors in images.

From the options menu on the color picker, you can toggle on and off the Snap to Web Safe option. If you choose a non-Websafe color such as one within a photograph or within one of the non-Websafe panels, Dreamweaver will convert it to a Websafe color if this option is on. That means if you need an exact match, you should turn this snapping off.

About HSV, RGB, and CYMK

The standard color picker that's similar to the Windows Color dialog box is the HSV Picker (Figure 3.61). HSV stands for hue, saturation, and value. For those of you unversed in color theory, a hue is a specific named color, such as blue or red; the saturation is the difference between a given tone and the nearest gray; and the value is the relative lightness (tint) or darkness (shade) of the color.

Figure 3.61Figure 3.61 The HSV (Hue Saturation Value) Picker, in the Color dialog box for the Mac.

To use the HSV Picker:

  1. Click on a color in the color wheel. Your selection will be displayed in the New color box. That sets the hue and saturation.

  2. Adjust the slider bar to make the color lighter (towards 100) or darker (towards 0). That's the value.

  3. You can fine-tune any of the values by typing a number in its text box.

The HSL Picker (Figure 3.62) works the same way; the letters stand for hue, saturation, and lightness. The HSL Picker is not available in OS X.

Figure 3.62Figure 3.62 The HSL Picker (Hue, Saturation Lightness), in the Color dialog box for the Mac, is quite similar to the HSV picker.

RGB and CMYK are two ways of measuring color by its components. RGB is used commonly for digital images, whereas CMYK is used for four-color printing. RGB is red-green-blue; those are the primary components of white in visible light, like on a computer screen (as opposed to paint, where we think of the primaries as red, blue, and yellow). The CMYK scale is cyan, magenta, yellow, and black; these are the primary colors for ink, and most color graphics are printed using layers of these colors.

In both RGB (Figure 3.63) and CMYK (Figure 3.64), all colors can be represented by how much of each primary color they contain. You'll mostly want to use these pickers if you have the color values already—from Photoshop or Fireworks, for example. On the Macintosh, these values will be in percentage values rather than numerals.

Figure 3.63Figure 3.63 The RGB Picker (again in the Mac Color dialog box) uses the Red-Green-Blue values of visible light.

Figure 3.64Figure 3.64 The CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) Picker resembles the RGB picker; both are Mac color tools. Printers' inks use these four colors.

In any case, you can type values in a color's text box or use the sliders to increase or decrease the amount of each primary color.


That's all the basics. We've made and saved a Web page, and we've learned everything you need to know about Web color. Now we'll go through each set of features and tools in Dreamweaver one at a time.

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