Mac PowerPoint: Accurate Colors – Best Practices

With the advent of Yosemite, the Mac color picker has acquired color management. While this may be a godsend to users in a color-management workstream, everyone else is put in a tough spot. You can’t create accurate color values for apps that are not color-managed, which is the majority. This isn’t such a big deal in, say, BBEdit, where the color only has to be close. But for corporate presentation software like PowerPoint, it’s a disaster. It’s simply impossible to set accurate corporate RGB colors in a presentation.

You can see this in action if you have PowerPoint on a Mac. Open it up, select any text or shape and set the color. RGB Sliders is the place to do this. Enter R50 G100 B200, then click on OK. Now, reopen the color panel: the values have changed! Continuing the test, enter R50 G100 B200 again. Click on the gear icon beside the RGB Slider dropdown and select a different color profile. The color values change before your very eyes! Yikes!

Color Picker

When I first ran across this issue, the only 2 workarounds I could think of were to run PowerPoint on an older OS or on Windows. I have a couple of machines on Snow Leopard and there is no problem settings colors accurately. I also use Bootcamp and Parallels and PowerPoint under Windows sets colors correctly. But both of those a clunky options, so I kept researching.

I’ve found several alternative color pickers that solve the problem. Today I’m writing about Developer Color Picker. While this is aimed at web developers, it works well for graphic designers as well. There instructions that come with the download, but basically you just copy the downloaded file into your user Library>Color Pickers folder, then restart your applications. (If your Library folder is hidden, hold down the Alt key and click on Go in the Finder. Library will be in the list.)

Developer Color Picker

When you restart PowerPoint, you’ll discover an additional panel in the picker. The colors you enter on this panel are accurate and stable, unaffected by color management. Use this to set your PowerPoint theme colors and you’ll have happy clients once again!


This article is a few years old, and the color picker I mentioned has been mostly retired. However, there are lots of alternatives. Just do an internet search on macOS web developer color picker.


Since publishing the above, a client mentioned a similar problem area: exporting client logos from Adobe Illustrator. It’s not enough to set RGB colors in Illustrator. You also have to use File>Document Color Mode to change the default CMYK mode to RGB. Otherwise, Illustrator’s color management will alter your RGB values and the resulting logo will not match brand standards.

11:07 pm

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