Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I need to export a Photoshop swatch file to a human-readable document with RGB, HSB, HEX values and the name of the swatch. Is there any tool which can export swatches to this kind of a document?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I have made a limited (no support for LAB, HSB or spot color at the moment) python aco -> text dumper. The script itself is a one off quickly done one so you need to change the file name to read or name your out file test.aco:

# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
# quick script no warranties whatsoever
import struct

class ColorSwatch():
    def __init__(self, fp):
        self.rawdata  = struct.unpack(">5H",fp.read(10))
        namelen, = struct.unpack(">I",fp.read(4))
        cp = fp.read(2*namelen)
        self.name = cp[0:-2].decode('utf-16-be')
        self.typename = self.colorTypeName()

    def colorTypeName(self):
            return {0:"RGB", 1:"HSB",
        except IndexError:
            print self.rawdata[0]

    def __strCMYK(self):
        rgb8bit = map(lambda a: (65535 - a)/655.35, self.rawdata[1:])
        return "{name} ({typename}): {0}% {1}% {2}% {3}%".format(*rgb8bit,**self.__dict__)

    def __strRGB(self):
        rgb8bit = map(lambda a: a/256,self.rawdata[1:4])
        return "{name} ({typename}): #{0:x}{1:x}{2:x}".format(*rgb8bit,**self.__dict__)

    def __strGrayscale(self):
        gray = self.rawdata[1]/100.
        return "{name} ({typename}): {0}%".format(gray,**self.__dict__)

    def __str__(self):
        return {0: self.__strRGB, 1:"HSB",

with open("test.aco", "rb") as acoFile:
    #skip ver 1 file
    head = acoFile.read(2)
    ver, = struct.unpack(">H",head)
    if (ver != 1):
        raise TypeError("Probably not a adobe aco file")
    count = acoFile.read(2)
    cnt, = struct.unpack(">H",count)

    #read ver2 file
    head = acoFile.read(2)
    ver, = struct.unpack(">H",head)
    if (ver != 2):
        raise TypeError("Probably not a adobe aco file")
    count = acoFile.read(2)
    count, = struct.unpack(">H",count)
    for _ in range(count):
        swatch = ColorSwatch(acoFile)
        print str(swatch)

It seems also http://ps-scripts.sourceforge.net/xtools.html has something similar available. I don't know if this exceeds your worldview with a mile or if its suitable so I'm just posting it as is.

share|improve this answer
Whoa. This script works flawlessly. Thanks @joojaa But I'll try XToolkit too sometime. This works for me right now –  Anuj Rajput Feb 13 '14 at 18:02
@AnujRajput The description of the aco file can be found here: adobe.com/devnet-apps/photoshop/fileformatashtml –  joojaa Feb 13 '14 at 18:48


1 Launch Photoshop, select the "Window" menu and choose "Swatches." The Swatches panel will open.

2 Click on the small flyout menu in the upper-right corner of the Swatches panel. The flyout menu appears as a downward-facing arrow and a series of horizontal lines. This will open a list of possible actions.

3 Click "Load Swatches" from the list. This will direct you to the folder where Photoshop saves its swatch files.

4 Select the "No_Swatches.aco" file and click "Load." This will clear the existing swatches in the panel so that you can start from scratch.

5 Add as many colors to the Swatches panel as you wish by selecting a color and clicking in the blank space within the Swatches panel. Name the swatch and click "OK." Repeat until all of your chosen colors are represented as swatches.

6 Click on the flyout menu again. It will open the list of possible actions.

7 Click "Save Swatches for Exchange" from the list.

8 Navigate to the location where you want to save your new Swatches file. Name the file and click "Save." This will create an .ASE, or Adobe Swatch Exchange, file which can now be loaded in to many other Adobe programs, including Illustrator and InDesign.

Tips & Warnings While using Swatches is the easiest way to export colors from Photoshop, you can also use values listed in the HSB, RGB, CMYK, LAB, or Hex Color selections to match the correct color in other programs.


Check if this work Give more summary of what exactly you're looking for

share|improve this answer
I added the steps form the linked website. Just in case the link goes dead. –  KMSTR Feb 13 '14 at 7:52
I need to prepare a design document. ASE is not human-readable. –  Anuj Rajput Feb 13 '14 at 7:57

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.