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How do I enable color picker?

Welcome reader! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk through everything you need to know about enabling the color picker in various programs and operating systems. Whether you’re using Photoshop, Illustrator, Windows, Mac, or something else, we’ve got you covered.

The color picker is an indispensable tool for any graphic designer, photographer, or anyone else who works with color. It allows you to sample colors from anywhere on your screen and match them precisely. This ensures color accuracy and consistency across your projects.

Enabling the color picker is usually quite straightforward. The method varies slightly depending on which program or operating system you’re using, but the general process is the same. We’ll outline the steps for Photoshop, Illustrator, Windows, and Mac below.

Enabling Color Picker in Photoshop

Here’s how to enable the color picker in Photoshop:

  1. Open Photoshop.
  2. Click on the Eyedropper Tool in the Tools Panel (it looks like an eyedropper icon).
  3. The eyedropper cursor will appear.
  4. Click anywhere on your open Photoshop document or anywhere else on your screen to sample a color.
  5. The sampled color will appear as the foreground color in the Tools panel.
  6. You can now use this color for painting, filling, etc.

The Eyedropper Tool is enabled by default in Photoshop. As long as you have the tool selected, you can start picking colors right away.

A few tips for using the Eyedropper tool effectively:

  • Zoom in close for accurate sampling on detailed areas.
  • Sample from flattened copies if working with layered documents.
  • Use the Info panel to view hexadecimal color values.

Enabling Color Picker in Illustrator

Here are the steps to enable the color picker in Illustrator:

  1. Open Illustrator.
  2. Select the Eyedropper Tool from the Tools Panel (it looks like an eyedropper icon).
  3. Click anywhere on your open Illustrator document or anywhere else on your screen to sample a color.
  4. The sampled color will appear in the Color Panel and become the new fill/stroke color.
  5. You can now apply the sampled color to objects in your document.

The Eyedropper Tool works the same way in Illustrator as it does in Photoshop. It’s enabled by default, so you can start sampling colors as soon as you select the tool.

Handy tips for effective color picking in Illustrator:

  • Target specific objects to sample colors from overlapping shapes.
  • Use the editable Color Panel to adjust sampled colors.
  • Re-sample to quickly update swatches.

Enabling Color Picker in Windows

Here is how to enable the color picker utility in Windows:

  1. Open the Start menu and search for “color picker”.
  2. Select the Color Picker app from the search results.
  3. The color picker cursor will appear—move it around the screen to sample any color.
  4. The color values will display in the app window.
  5. Click the “Copy” button to copy the hex or RGB values.
  6. Paste the value into any program to use that exact color.

The Color Picker app comes pre-installed on Windows 10. For earlier versions of Windows, you may need to download a third-party color picker app.

Tips for effective use of the Windows Color Picker:

  • Use the zoomed-in view for accurate sampling.
  • Take samples from multiple areas to average colors.
  • Test samples on overlay mode to isolate colors.

Enabling Color Picker on Mac

Here are the steps to enable the color picker on a Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility.
  2. Select “Display” under “Seeing.”
  3. Check the box for “Use Color Picker.”
  4. Close System Preferences.
  5. Now press Control + Option + Command + C on your keyboard anytime to sample a color.
  6. The color values will appear onscreen momentarily.

The Mac color picker is built into the operating system and can be accessed with a handy keyboard shortcut. It samples colors on demand from anywhere on the screen.

Tips for effective use of the Mac color picker:

  • Sample colors from zoomed-in or full-screen views for accuracy.
  • Use DigitalColor Meter for more advanced sampling.
  • Try various sample sizes to average small color areas.

Advanced Color Picker Options

Beyond the basic color picker tools, there are some more advanced options for specialized situations:

  • Adobe Color Themes – Relates sampled colors to existing color harmonies for guidance.
  • Colorscope – Samples from specific app windows to avoid OS interface colors.
  • DigitalColor Meter – Offers averaging, reading zoom, and region sampling.
  • Chromatic Vision Simulator – Simulates different types of color blindness when sampling.

The advanced color pickers provide additional sampling modes, comparison views, color blindness simulation, and other handy features for those who require maximum color precision.

Sampling Colors from Physical Objects

To sample colors from physical objects rather than digital sources:

  • Use a colorimeter device for precise measurements and matching to digital libraries.
  • Try a color scanner app that uses your phone’s camera to sample real world colors.
  • Refer to color finding charts matches like Pantone to identify standardized colors.
  • Use paint or fabric color matching apps that allow you to sample from objects around you.

Physical color sampling requires specialized tools but can be very helpful for matching real-world objects like company logos, fabrics, paint chips, and more to their digital equivalents.

Why Accurate Color Sampling is Important

There are a few key reasons why accurate color sampling and matching is so important for design work:

  • Maintains consistent branding with exact color matches to logos and brand guidelines.
  • Provides precision for critical color-sensitive projects like product photography.
  • Saves time compared to manually picking and adjusting colors.
  • Allows color accessibility testing to meet guidelines.

Careful use of the color picker results in increased professionalism, compliance, and accuracy across all visual projects.

Common Color Picker Issues and Solutions

While color pickers are generally reliable, here are some potential issues and ways to resolve them:

Issue Solution
Eyedropper skips around when sampling Zoom in, sample from flattened copies, reduce screen effects
Sampled colors don’t match source Check color profiles, lighting conditions, sample averages
Can’t sample colors from some apps Use dedicated color picker like DigitalColor Meter
Physical samples don’t match digital Use proper lighting, calibrate monitor, convert between color spaces

With a bit of troubleshooting, you can overcome most color sampling challenges. The key is using the right tool for each job and sampling carefully from consistent conditions.


In summary, enabling the color picker is a quick process – just select the eyedropper tool in Photoshop/Illustrator or use OS-based utilities. But using color pickers effectively takes some practice. Sample methodically, use multiple sampling points, choose advanced pickers when needed, and troubleshoot issues as they arise.

Accurate color sampling ensures professional, consistent, accessible visuals. Take the time to learn color picker best practices and it will become an indispensable asset for your creative projects.

We’ve now covered the full gamut – from activating color pickers to sampling physical objects and everything in between. Feel free to refer back to this guide anytime you need a refresher on properly enabling and using these vital color sampling tools.