Need to find a color quickly? Using Microsoft’s free PowerToys utility for Windows 10, you can instantly bring up a color picker with a keyboard shortcut and use your mouse cursor to identify any color on the screen in hex, RGB, or HSL format. Here’s how to do it.
Install PowerToys and activate the color picker
To use Microsoft’s convenient system-wide color picker, you must download PowerToys on Microsoft’s website first. You will find the latest version listed at the top of the download page linked above. reDownload an EXE file such as “PowerToysSetup-0.27.1-x64.exe” (the name varies depending on the latest version.) And run it.
Once the installation process is complete, launch PowerToys Settings from your desktop or from the Start menu and click on “Color Picker” in the sidebar. Then make sure the “Enable Color Picker” switch is in the “On” position.
By default, you will use Windows + Shift + C to activate the color picker. You can change this keyboard shortcut to the one you prefer from this screen, if you wish.
Then close PowerToys and get ready to grab some colors. The PowerToys Settings app does not need to be running for Color Picker to work.
Activate the color picker with a keyboard shortcut
Once the color picker is enabled, you can use it anytime by pressing Windows + Shift + C (or whatever keyboard shortcut you choose) on your keyboard. After pressing the shortcut, you will see a small pop-up next to your mouse cursor that shows a square preview of the color you are pointing at and hexadecimal code (often called “hex” for short) for that color.
You can point your cursor at any screen color you want, including icons, apps, images, desktop backgrounds, taskbar, and more. If you want more information about the color, click the left mouse button while hovering over it, and a window will appear.
This window displays the hexadecimal color code, RGB value (red, green, blue) and HSL value (hue, saturation, lightness) of the color you just selected. If you want to copy one of these values (as a text string) to the clipboard, hover over it and click the “copy” icon that appears.
Additionally, you can adjust the color value you just selected from the color picker by clicking in the center of the large color bar near the top of the window.
After clicking on the color bar, you will see another screen with sliders that allow you to adjust the color with your mouse or by entering values with your keyboard.
When you’re done, click “OK,” then the color will be added to your saved color palette, which is the vertical column of boxes along the left side of the window. If you need to remove a color from the palette on the side of the window, right-click on the color square and select “Remove”.
If you want to exit this window and choose a different color, click on the eyedropper icon in the upper left corner of the window.
The detail window will close and you can repeat the process, selecting the color you want.
To quit Color Picker at any time, press Esc on your keyboard or click somewhere to invoke the detail window again and click the “X” button in the upper right corner to close the window. Anytime you need Color Picker again, just press Windows + Shift + C from anywhere and you’ll be back to selecting colors in no time.
It’s a colorful world, so have fun!