A color picker allows you to identify the color codes of any color present on your screen. This information can be helpful when editing an image, programming, writing HTML language or setting up a web page, etc.
There are many free color pickers to choose from. This review picks out a select few, based on the following features:
Color code support:
- RGB (Red, Green and Blue)
- Hex (hexadecimal in HTML mode, etc)
- HSL, HSV, HSI or HSB (Hue, Saturation, Lightness/Value/Intensity/Brightness)
- CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black)
- Takes up little screen space (in its "on-top" setting)
- Provides useful features including a grabber (or eyedropper) to easily pick and copy a color, a magnifier to see precisely which color you want to pick, a color mixer to adjust colors, and a color palette to re-use picked colors.
Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
Color Cop impressed me with its combination of simplicity and effectiveness. It comes with a compact and powerful user interface which takes up very little screen space. A color grabber is provided to drag and drop at any pixel of the screen, and RGB and Hex codes are presented instantly.
The front interface provides a built-in magnifier and an active color palette. If you want to adjust a picked color, you can click the ‘custom’ button and call up Windows’ default color mixer. When you right click on the interface a menu pops up with extra features. In this way, the interface is cleverly made small but powerful.
The extra features include web-safe color, display color reverses, random colors, conversion to gray-scale, additional hex codes, application options and settings, etc. The only drawback is that CMYK color space has yet to be incorporated.
Color Archiver is another good choice but it has a slightly bigger interface than that of Color Cop. It provides RGB, CMY, CMYK, HSL and HSV color spaces. A color grabber, active color palette and RGB sliders are included.
You can name the color you pick and save it in a collapsible color table alongside a default web color table.
Similar to Color Cop, Color Archiver supports a Windows' default color mixer and a magnifier (up to 16 times).
If you need a color picker with a converter built-in, then Color Selector is a good try. You can enter a color value in a chosen format and press the Convert button to get all values in other formats easily.
Color Selection has a click-and-drag color picker, 9x magnifier, color preview, configurable color sliders, a Darker slider and a default color mixer. It supports color values in RGB, HSL, HSB/HSV, CMY, Hexadecimal and Decimal.
The palette tool is shown on a separate window while the program's main interface takes up some desktop space as well.
CPick has a collapsible user interface and comes with a color grabber by Click and Drag. It allows you to pick a screen color behind a magnifier zooming from 10 to 100.
You can copy a color to the clipboard as Hex, Decimal, RGB or HSV value and modify the color with the RGB or HSV slide bars.
The program provides standard and websafe color lists. It also allows you to create your own color lists for your projects. In addition, it features saving the image captured by the magnifier as an icon or bitmap file.
Just Color Picker also features a small interface. It supports RGB, HTML Hex and HSB/HSV/HSL color codes. The 3x/9x/15x zoom helps you pinpoint a color specifically.
RGB and HSV sliders are included in a collapsible lower section. Picked colors are presented in a color palette with codes indicated, and can be saved in a normal text file. However, Just Color Picker uses a hot key to pick a color, rather than a grabber which is more handy.
Just Color Picker is a portable application and can be run directly from a USB stick. No installation required.
Similar to Color Archiver, ColorMania also supports CMYK in addition to RGB and Hex codes in various modes.
ColorMania has a color grabber, magnifier, mixer and sliders for RGB and HSV. It provides a color palette for picked colors and allows saving. Predefined HTML colors are ready for use.
Compared with other programs, it takes up slightly more screen space as none of its modules are collapsible.
Alternatively Pixeur can be used to support CMYK color space, in addition to RGB, HSB and Hex color values. This program is automatically set on top of other windows. It has a color grabber, magnifier, color mixer, color scheme and a slider.
Pixeur keeps a history of all the colors you have selected, and allows saving for future reference.
With a collapsible section for color scheme, it takes up about the same screen space as ColorMania.
gcolor2 is a simple color selector to provide a quick and easy way to pick a color on the screen. It supports HSV, RGB and HTML codes with an opacity slider. A color grabber is supported. Users are allowed to name a picked color and save it in the list.
On the downside, no magnifier is supported.
These are a number of other free color pickers which were brought up in comments here or noted from other sources. As they are not rated in this review, I am listing them here with brief descriptions and links to their sites for ease of reference.
- Visual Color Picker supports RGB, HSL and CMYK color codes with complete sliders and 2D color mixers. Features include grabber, zoom and color preview with codes. It takes up a relatively large desktop area.
- ColorPic supports RGB, HSV and CMYK codes with features including sliders, palettes and advanced mixers. It takes up a relatively large desktop area and uses hot keys to pick colors.
- ColorPix supports RGB, HEX, HSB and CMYK codes and has a very small user interface, but it lacks quite a lot of features such as a color grabber, color mixer, slider, color palette, etc.
- Pixie is a small and simple program. A portable version weighs in at only 11KB. Pixie shows you Hex, RGB, HTML, CMYK and HSV color values when you point to a pixel on the screen. It allows you to use hotkeys to copy HTML codes, call up Windows' default color mixer and show a floating magnifier. If you don't remember the hotkeys, the program will show them up when you move the mouse cursor over the interface.
- ColSel (homepage not in English) supports HEX and RGB color values, but CMYK and HSV values are not supported. The program features color mixers, websafe color, etc., but its color grabber together with a magnifier is located at the secondary user interface and requires more steps to just pick a color from the screen.
- Pickard lets you drag an eyedropper on the screen, then pick a color from a magnified area in the applicaton. Supports RGB, HSL, CMY and YUV color spaces. A relatively large user interface area and no color palette is available.
- Color Puller is portable freeware, completes with various useful features such as a grabber, a color palette, and a magnifier up to 50 times. The program supports RGB, CMY, CMYK, HSV, HSL, HSI and Hex values. Its user interface is relatively larger but can be minimized when you choose a color code to display with the On-top option.
- Pipette runs straight from the executable and provides Hex, RGB, CMY, CMYK, HSV and other values. Large user interface, no color sliders nor a magnifier are supported.
You might want to check out these articles too:
- Best Free All-In-One Design Tools
- Best Free Screen Capture Utility
- Best Free Screen Session Recorder
- Screen Captures: 40+ Tools and Tips
Just Color Picker
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