[Sharing] a bit about themes in Max 6, and a theme to try


    Jan 31 2014 | 2:22 am
    Let's have thematic fun!
    Many Max users know that Max objects can be assigned different colors using the Object Inspector. What’s less well-known is that Max 6 comes with several pre-designed themes. Each theme has different default colors for objects, the patcher background, and patch cords.
    Themes can be selected in the context menu on the lower left of the Object Defaults window (open the Object Defaults pane by navigating to Options>Object Defaults). Many other aspects of the Max interface, such as default fonts, curved or straight patch cords, etc., can be customized in the Preferences Pane, which is accessed using command + comma in OSx or control + comma in Windows.
    The Max user can also customize and save their own themes. To do this open the Object Defaults pane, choose some great new colors (hint; click the All tab to see everything), and click the second-from-left icon on the bottom of the Object Defaults pane. This will prompt for a file mane and save a file with that name and the extension .maxdefaults in the Cycling ’74>default-settings folder. It’s also easy to override default object colors using the Object Inspector (to open the Object Inspector select the object and hit command+I in OSX or control+I in Windows).
    Beware: 1. Default colors will not show when a patcher is opened on another Max installation unless the “Save Default-Valued Object Attributes” option is checked in the Patcher Inspector. The Patcher Inspector is accessed using the shortcut command+shift+I in OSX and control+shift+I in Windows. 2. Sometimes changing default colors or fonts can make Help patchers or UI objects look weird. The objects won’t be broken, but their interfaces can become illegible or incorrectly sized. Trial and error might be involved when building a theme.
    I found myself using Max in environments where sun was making screen use challenging, so I made a theme based on Ethan Schoonover’s Solarized color palette (http://ethanschoonover.com/solarized). To try the theme add the solartized.maxdefaults file to the Cycling ‘74>default-settings folder, start (or restart) Max, go to Options>Object Defaults, click the icon on the bottom left of the Object Defaults pane, and select Solarized. Adding the Solarized color palette makes it easy to patch using the theme colors. In OSX add the Solarized.clr file to the Users/*username*/Library/Colors folder (this folder is sometimes hidden, but can be accessed via the shift+command+G shortcut when Finder is active and entering ~Users/*username*/Library/Colors. In Windows put the solarizerd.maxswatches file someplace memorable, open Max and a Max patcher, select an object and edit its color (click control+I to open the Object Inspector). A color picking interface will open. Click the “load” button and use File Explorer to select the solarizerd.maxswatches file. The 16 Solarized colors will be on the bottom two rows of the palette. I use this theme with a coding font like Menlo or Source Code Pro. Default Fonts can be selected in the Preferences Pane. I even change the System Font, which is also in the Preferences Pane.