Sometimes I want to quickly use a color that I see on a picture, website or program.

I usually take a screenshot then open it in Gimp and use the "Color Picker" tool.

Is there another way to do this in Gimp, without the screenshot step?

Or is it a bad idea to begin with?

I am on Linux, but I would appreciate a method that works on all platforms where GIMP is available.

  • I can't recommend any of these from personal experience, but perhaps one of these programs might be what you're looking for
    – JohnB
    Feb 5, 2013 at 16:07
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    I'll just throw out something to test as I don't have GIMP, but in PS you can take the picker, click within the document, then hold and drag to elsewhere in the program or OS. So you can capture anything within the viewable screen. Not sure if GIMP can do that, but it might be worth trying. I use that technique all the time.
    – jbwharris
    Feb 5, 2013 at 16:29
  • @jamEs: I just tried, that trick does not work with Gimp unfortunately. Apr 17, 2015 at 4:11

6 Answers 6


You can use the color picker button in GIMP's color selection dialog or dockable (the one that opens e.g. when you change the foreground or background color).

FB/GB color dockable

It works like this:

  1. you click the color picker button button
  2. you click anywhere on your screen
  3. the color is set

You will encounter one issue, however:

On 32 bit Windows platforms, the only color you'll be able to pick this way is black - this is a problem in the Cairo library on those platforms, see bug reports https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=676708 for GIMP and https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=69617 for Cairo.


Something like GPick might work. I'm making the assumption that you're using Linux of some flavour.


  • Seconded! Although you can also pick from within GIMP, Gpick is a great tool in its own. It starts really fast (in case you want to check some colour without starting GIMP) and has neat colour scheme creation tools and much more: libregraphicsworld.org/blog/entry/…
    – unhammer
    May 10, 2016 at 6:54

I think this is exactly what you are looking for: http://instant-eyedropper.com/

It runs in tray and it is very minimalistic.

  • I am on Linux, and I would appreciate a method that works on all platforms where GIMP is available. Jun 1, 2017 at 2:40

I would comment rather than answer but I'm not able to.

This is not really an issue with GIMP but how to extract colour codes from an image you see in your browser. In order for GIMP to work with a picture you have to feed the program with an actual image. I don't know of any extension that enables you to use the GIMP tools outside of the program (please correct me if I'm wrong). However there are several tools on the web to extract the colour codes of a pixel of content you see on the web. The most convenient may be a browser plugin, such as Rainbow Color Tools for Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/rainbow-color-tools/ This however is only a solution for web content.

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    Gimp's "Create Screenshot" feature is able to read every pixel of the screen, so Gimp definitely has the means to do it itself. Feb 5, 2013 at 11:15
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    You have misinterpreted the answer: GIMP must be running in order to do this. The answer presumes that GIMP is not running. The answer suggests add-ons to your browser which add color-picker functionality to the browser and bypass the need for a screenshot entirely.
    – horatio
    Feb 5, 2013 at 17:25
  • OK, so it would copy the HTML color code to the clipboard, and I would paste it into Gimp, that's it? Feb 6, 2013 at 7:23

When I want to do it to a picture or website I use ColorZilla, a plugin for Google Chrome.

It's basically a colour picker tool that sits in your browser's toolbar just like the one in GIMP and it tells you the #rrggbb value of the colour (and copies it to your clipboard so you can paste it in any app, including back into GIMP).

Given the name ColorZilla, it probably exists (or once existed) for Firefox, too.

Unfortunately it won't help you if you want to pick a colour outside of your web browser, say in another application.


Instead of using Gimp for this, you can do much the same thing in the Windows Paint program. You still have to take the screen shot. When you have the screen shot, open Paint and paste the shot in and pick the color you want. You can do that in the time it takes for Gimp to open. Just click the Color Picker tool and in XP click Colors > Edit Colors > Define Custom Colors - or in Win10 just click Edit Colors - and it'll come up with a color mixer tool, similar to Gimp's, that'll tell you the color values of the color you picked (and let you edit it).

* * * O R * * * 

Download & install PicPick. This is a screen capture utility that includes an image editor, color picker, color palette, pixel-ruler, protractor and more. It is very well behaved and uses minimal system resources. With it you can easily pick the color values you want in HTML or RGB.

  • I am on Linux, and I would appreciate a method that works on all platforms where GIMP is available. Jun 1, 2017 at 2:40

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