A Complete Guide to .ase Palette Files (Adobe Swatch Exchange)

Everything you need to know about how to create, open, use, and convert, and export .ase palette files.

6 min read/Dec 10, 2023
Adobe Swatch Exchange

What are .ase Palette Files?

.ase files, short for "Adobe Swatch Exchange", are Adobe's standard way of sharing color palettes (sometimes called swatches) across their software such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. These files end with the extension .ase, and can even store multiple color palettes in a single file. In essence, .ase files store a collection of colors paired with corresponding names. They are just a simple way to store a color palette, the Adobe way.

How do I open .ase files?

.ase files can be opened in various Adobe applications, and some third-party apps as well. Below, we'll show you how to open .ase files in popular design software. Weirdly enough, each Adobe app opens .ase files in a different way, so we'll cover each one individually.

Open .ase files in Adobe Illustrator

To open .ase palettes in Adobe Illustrator, go to the swatches panel, and click on the hamburger menu in the top right corner. From there, select "Open Swatch Library", then "Other Library..." from the sub-menu and choose your .ase file. If the swatches panel isn't visible, you can open it by going to Window > Swatches.

Open .ase files in Adobe Photoshop

To open .ase palettes in Adobe Photoshop, go to the swatches panel, and click on the hamburger menu in the top right corner. From there, select "Import Swatches" and choose your .ase file. If the swatches panel isn't visible, you can open it by going to Window > Swatches.

This also works for .aco files!

Open .ase files in Adobe InDesign

To open .ase palettes in Adobe InDesign, go to the swatches panel, and click on the hamburger menu in the top right corner. From there, select "Load Swatches" and choose your .ase file. If the swatches panel isn't visible, you can open it by going to Window > Color > Swatches.

Open .ase files in Affinity Designer or Photo

To import .ase files into Affinity Designer or Photo, go to the swatches panel and click on the hamburger menu in the top right corner. From there, select "Import Palette...", then "As Application Palette" and choose your .ase file. If the swatches panel isn't visible, you can open it by going to Window > Swatches.

Open .ase files in Procreate

Procreate lets you drag and drop .ase files directly into the palettes tab to import them.

Open .ase files in Figma

There currently isn't a native way to open .ase files in Figma, however, there are third-party Figma plugins that can do this such as Palette Importer.

How Do You Create and Edit .ase Files?

.ase files can be created in various ways, and we'll cover the most common ones below:

Create and export .ase files in Photoshop

To create an .ase palette in Adobe Photoshop, select a color by double-clicking on the fill color. From there, you can click the plus button in the swatches panel to add the color to your palette.

To export your swatch to .ase, click on the hamburger menu in the top right corner of the swatches panel, and select "Save Swatches for Exchange...".

Create and export .ase files in Illustrator

To create an .ase palette in Adobe Illustrator, open the swatches panel and double-click on the fill color square to open the color picker. From there, can select a color. Click ok, then click the plus button in the swatches panel to add the color to your palette. Repeat this process until you have the perfect palette!

Now you can export the palette to .ase by clicking on the hamburger menu in the top right corner of the swatches panel, and selecting "Save Swatch Library as ASE..."

Create .ase files with ColorSlurp

For those seeking a better way, a third-party color picker can make creating .ase palettes a breeze, plus you can usually export your palettes to other formats as well. Below, we'll show you how to create a color palette and export it to .ase with ColorSlurp.

  1. Create a palette Open ColorSlurp and head over to the palettes page. Click on the new palette button, then add colors to it by clicking on the "New Color" button. Add and edit colors until you have the perfect palette! One neat feature of ColorSlurp is its ability to pick colors from your screen and add them to your palette with just one click!
Create and edit a color palette with ColorSlurp
  1. Create the .ase palette Once you're happy with your palette, press the export button, and from the dropdown menu that appears select the .ase format. Just like that, your .ase palette can be used anywhere. ColorSlurp's in-depth tools make it easy to create beautiful palettes, and use them in Adobe software and more.

How do I convert .ase files to other formats?

If you need to convert .ase files to another format, such as plain text, .clr, or others, you can use a color picker tool.

For example, you can import your .ase file into ColorSlurp, and then export the imported palette to the format of your choice. ColorSlurp supports many formats, including .ase, .crl, plain text, css, json, pdf, and more.

Convert .aco to .ase

To convert a .aco file to .ase, you can use a third-party tool like ColorSlurp as explained above.

FAQ

What file format are .ase files?

.ase files are a proprietary file format created by Adobe. The file itself contains a binary representation of color palettes, and is not directly human-readable.

Can I use .ase files with non-Adobe software?

Although Adobe Swatch Exchange files are primarily associated with Adobe software, it is possible to use them with non-Adobe apps too. Several design and graphics apps have built-in support for .ase files, and various online tools are available (such as ColorSlurp) that can convert .ase into other formats, making them compatible with a wider range of software.

Can .ase files be synced across my devices?

Yes, .ase files can be synced across multiple devices! Adobe Creative Cloud allows users to save their .ase files to the cloud, making them accessible from any device with the Creative Cloud app installed. This is super convenient for people who use the Adobe Ecosystem, however, it's hard to use those palettes outside of Adobe software. Other tools like ColorSlurp can sync your palettes across all of your devices in real-time, and you quickly copy colors to formats that are compatible with other software.

Are .aco files the same as .ase files?

While both .aco and .ase files are used to store color palettes in Adobe software, they are not the same. A .aco file is used by Photoshop which contains a single color palette. Adobe Swatch Exchange files can contain multiple color palettes and are used by several Adobe applications.

Are .aseprite files the same as .ase files?

Aseprite is a popular pixel art tool which uses its own file format to save your work, which are known as .aseprite files. Aseprite also can save to the .ase file extension, however these are not the same as .ase files from Adobe. If you have .ase files from Adobe Photoshop, for example, you may run into issues trying to open these in Aseprite.