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In this tutorial we will show you how to save Adobe Swatch Exchange or .ase files with the following Adobe CS5.5 programs:

  • Fireworks CS5.5
  • Photoshop CS5.5
  • Illustrator CS5.5
  • Indesign CS5.5

These files may also be downloaded directly from Adobe Kuler as well. Once we have done that we will also show you how to import them into Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign so that you can easily move your color palettes from one CS5 program to the next streamlining your design process.

PLEASE NOTE: This tutorial has been checked updated and moved for CS6. This updated tutorial can be found at Adobe CS6 How to save and import adobe swatch exchange .ase files.

Adobe CS5.5: How to Save and Import Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ASE) Files

Working with Adobe Swatch Exchange files in Fireworks, Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign is actually very easy and very similar between each of these products. So we will run you through them all together and just point any variations between these products as we go.

Step one: In the swatches panel of either Illustrator, Photoshop, Fireworks or Indesign select the colors you wish to include in your custom swatch file.

Step two: Open up the Swatches palette or Swatches panel menu and select:

  • Photoshop CS5:  Save Swatches for Exchange …
  • Fireworks CS5:   Save Swatches…
  • Illustrator CS5:  Save Swatch Library as ASE…
  • InDesign CS5:     Save Swatches …

The palette or panel menu should look like this up in the right hand corner of that panel:

Step Three: When the save window appears navigate to where you wish to save the swatch file and save under a name you are likely to remember. Make sure the file type is set to .ase .

Like I said these files are simple to work with. We can also save color swatches in Kuler and import them into our design software.

In Kuler save your color palette ( to do this you will have to be signed in) and simply hit the download button and save it where you wish to store it.

Now it is time to open up the program we wish to transfer your swatch to and import it to that program.

Step one: In your chosen Adobe product open your swatches panel/palette and open the Panel/palette menu (see image from the above section on saving to help find it). Simply select:

  • Photoshop CS5:  Load Swatches … OR Replace Swatches…
  • Fireworks CS5:   Replace Swatches… OR Add Swatches…
  • Illustrator CS5:  Open Swatch Library … >> Other Library
  • InDesign CS5:     Load Swatches …

Step two: Locate the file ASE file you are looking for and click Open.

Except for Illustrator you will have to make sure you change the file type you are looking for to .ase or you will not be able to locate the file you need.

Told you they are easy to work with. Hope you found this helpful regardless of which platform or adobe product you are using and see you again soon.

4 Responses to Adobe CS5.5: How to Save and Import Adobe Swatch Exchange (.ASE) Files


  • wondered if you might be able to help.? I have done the above steps to load my photoshop swatched to indesign but when I open indesign and select the save file the program closes and has an error.
    I have not had the availability of swatches in indesign for a couple of months now, or the choice of line / stroke style? these are the only two not working. Any suggestion -? Maybe the software is corrupt?

  • Nice walk through, cheers

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