Patcher-level Formatting with the Format Palette

Patcher-level Formatting with the Format Palette

In addition to working with individual Max objects, the format palette lets you apply changes to attributes at the patcher level The use of style colors as a part of Max's design lets you apply consistent user interface object coloring over a wide variety of different Max objects from a single source. Applying changes to attribues of Max objects at the patcher level can be very useful when creating Max patcher templates.

Displaying/Hiding patcher-level attributes

  • Click in any blank space in an unlocked patcher window and click on the Format button in the top patcher window toolbar to display the Format palette. Since no Max object has been selected, the format palette toolbar is nearly empty.

  • Click on the diamond on the left side of the toolbar to show the patch-level format toolbar.

Like the Format palette toolbar for Max objects, the patcher-level toolbar contains a drop-down menu for styles (on the left) and the same set of tools for font selection and formatting.

The patcher-level format palette toolbar contains seven color buttons and two text buttons. Like the normal buttons used to set color attributes, they display the normal color icon menu. But these buttons set colors for objects at the patcher level because they set style colors which are shared by all Max user interface objects. These styles and text attributes apply to the entire contents of the patcher window rather than to an individual Max object.

  • Object Accent Color (accentcolor) is algorithmically a brighter color than the elementcolor and is used to indicate the "off" state in certain objects (e.g. the "off" state for the toggle object).

  • Object Background Color (bgcolor) the dark background color. In most cases, this refers directly to the object's background attribute name.

  • Object Background Gradient (bgfillcolor) is the variant of bgcolor that uses a gradient, as seen in panel object and the and message box.

  • Object Color (color) is an indication of “value” In the dial object, the color fills in the part of the circle that is associated with the value of the object. In the toggle it is the “on” state.

  • Object Element Color (elementcolor) defines the shape or backdrop over which the value is displayed. In the dial object, it is the entire circle on which the value is shown. In general, the elementcolor is algorithmically slightly brighter than the bgcolor.

  • Patchline color defines color used to define all patch cords.

  • Selection Color (selectioncolor) indicates selection (for a good example, see the itable and waveform~ objects.

  • Comment Text Color sets the text color to be used by the comment object.

  • Object Text Color sets the text color to be used in object boxes.

  • The Unlocked Background Color and Unlocked Background Color set the look of the patcher window background. They are the same attributes as those set using the patcher Inspector.


The use of patcher-level colors in the Format palette allows you to quickly and easily modify the look of many Max user interface objects in a consistent way. If you save these changes to a default patcher template, they will become the look of your Max patching environment. You can also save different sets of changes made at the patcher level to create different patching environments for different circumstances of use (e.g. a "night" and "day" patching sets).

See Also

Name Description
Styles Styles
The Format Palette The Format Palette