19.09.2019 (Thursday)

Free Color Picker - Help

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Last modified: 16.08.2019



Free Color Picker is a program that lets you capture the color of any pixel displayed on the screen. To capture a color, just move the cursor to the desired position and press the F4 key. The color below the cursor will be added to the color palette located in the right part of the main window.

To facilitate color capturing, there is a screen magnifier in the center of the main window that displays an enlarged image around the current cursor position.

Any captured color can be changed freely using the built-in color editor. In addition, the program allows easy modification of the entire color palette, sorting according to various criteria, generating random colors for given ranges of RGB component colors, searching for triad colors on a color wheel and many more.

This program is completely free (for personal and commercial use) and you can download it here.
Source files of the program are available at

Installation and uninstallation

The program is available as a ZIP archive and does not require any installation. Just create an empty directory and extract all files from the ZIP archive to it. To run the program, double-click the executable file named FreeColorPicker.exe. If you want to create a shortcut to a program on the Desktop, you can do it in the standard way: right-click the executable file and select Send to -> Desktop (create shortcut).

Important information
The program saves the configuration data in the INI file, in the directory with the executable file. So you must have permission to modify the contents of this directory (it cannot be, for example, a directory protected by Windows).

If you want to remove the program, simply delete all the files previously extracted from the ZIP archive. The program doesn't use the system registry at all, so you don't have to worry about any unnecessary keys / values remaining in the registry.

Main window

The main window of the Free Color Picker
The main window of the Free Color Picker

After starting the application, a main window will appear similar to the one in the picture above.

This window consists of several elements:

  • Toolbar visible at the top.
  • The screen magnifier in the central part, occupying most of the program interface surface.
  • The color palette on the right.
  • Panel with color codes, below the screen magnifier.
  • The bottom panel displays some additional information and allows you to change the algorithm used to enlarge the image by the screen magnifier.

Capturing colors

Colors can be captured in several ways.

The simplest and most commonly used method is to place the mouse cursor on the desired pixel and press the F4 key. Then the color under the cursor will be added to the color palette on the right. If the Ask for a color name option is checked in the program settings, then before adding the color to the palette a dialog box will appear asking for the name of the new color.

If you know the screen coordinates of the pixel whose color you want to capture, you can use the built-in Pixel color tool (Ctrl+P shortcut).

Another tool - Automatic color capture - allows you to automatically capture the color under the cursor performed at a specified time interval.

Each captured color can be freely modified. To do this, select the desired color in the color palette and select Edit selected color... from the context menu. A dialog box will appear that allows you to edit the selected color:

Color dialog
Color dialog

Copying colors

To copy one or more colors from the color palette to the clipboard, select the desired colors, right-click on the color palette and select the appropriate command from the context menu.

To copy the color code under the cursor to the clipboard, press F3. The format of the copied color can be set in the program options.

The program supports 9 color formats:

HTML#4682B4hex. RGB with # prefix
RGB %27,51,71
HSL CSS207,44%,49%Hue max = 360°, Sat max = 100%, Lum max = 100%
HSL WIN138,106,118Windows system color dialog
Hue max = 239, Sat max = 240, Lum max = 240
Pascal HEX$00B48246hex. BGR with $00 prefix
Pascal INT11829830
C++ HEX0x00B48246hex. BGR with 0x00 prefix

Screen magnifier

The screen magnifier displays the enlarged screen content around the current cursor position. The following zoom levels are available: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26 and 30 times. To change the zoom level, click the magnifying glass button on the toolbar and select the desired value from the list.

To temporarily turn off the screen magnifier, press the F12 key. The currently displayed image will not be changed when you move the mouse. It can be very useful when you want to get the color of a very small portion of the screen. Simply set the desired zoom level and place the cursor on the screen near the place from which you want to get the color, than stop the magnifier. The enlarged image will remain visible and you can now precisely pick the color you need. To turn the screen magnifier back on, press the F12 key again.

When the image is enlarged, empty pixels are created, which are then filled with colors. The fill color depends on the chosen algorithm. The program supports the following algorithms: Box, Linear, Cubic, Mitchell, Spline and Lanczos. The current algorithm can be set in the list on the bottom panel (if it is visible) and in the program options.
The default algorithm - Box - uses the colors of neighboring pixels in the original image to fill empty pixels, without changing the color. The resulting image may be highly distorted, which is why this algorithm is not suitable for enlarging photos, but it works well in color picker programs, because the colors will remain unchanged.
Other algorithms use color interpolation. In a nutshell - they put in place of empty pixels intermediate colors between the colors of the neighboring pixels in the original image. Each algorithm does it a little differently, but the resulting enlarged image will probably have a lot of colors not found in the source image.

If you don't know which algorithm to choose, just choose Box.

Collapsing and expanding the main window

The program window occupies a relatively large part of the screen and may be too large in some situations. You can then collapse the main window by pressing the F11 key.

Main window collapsed
Main window collapsed

When the window is collapsed, most of the interface elements are completely hidden, only the toolbar, small magnifier and indicator of the last captured color remain. The window width is constant, while the height can be changed to a small extent using two buttons with up and down arrows or using the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Shift+Up and Ctrl+Shift+Down.

To return to the normal view, press the F11 key again.

Color palette editor

The color palette displayed in the main window is limited in size and does not allow you to organize or sort colors. To perform more complex operations on the color palette, you can use the built-in Color palette editor (Ctrl+Shift+E shortcut).

Color palette editor
Color palette editor

If you want to change the value or name of a color, select it in the list and make appropriate modifications using the controls on the panel below the color list. When you finish editing the color, press the Save button.

To change the order of colors in the palette, you can move them using the Drag and Drop method or by clicking the appropriate buttons on the toolbar.

To sort the colors, press the button with two arrows on the toolbar or press Ctrl+Shift+T. A new window will appear in which you can set sorting parameters.

Sorting the color palette
Sorting the color palette

From the Color palette editor you can run an additional tool that will allow you to make advanced modifications to the color palette. Press Ctrl+D.
Here you can make numerous modifications to all the colors in the palette: change brightness, contrast, saturation, color conversion to grayscale, invert colors, and more.

Modify palette colors - Basic
Modify palette colors - Basic
Modify palette colors - RGB
Modify palette colors - RGB


Pixel color

Pixel color
Pixel color

Automatic color capture

Automatic color capture
Automatic color capture

Random colors

Random colors
Random colors

Gradient colors

Gradient colors
Gradient colors

Color mixer

Color mixer
Color mixer

Color wheel

Color wheel
Color wheel

Similar colors

Similar colors
Similar colors

Data files

The program saves color palettes in a proprietary format, in files with the .colors extension. These files are actually JSON files with a very simple structure and can be edited in any text editor.

The program also allows you to open and save files with the .gpl extension - the GIMP color palettes.

Free Color Picker also allows you to export the current color palette to an HTML file with a color table. See an example file: example.html.

Loading & saving settings

When you close the program, the current color palette is saved to the file _last.colors in the palettes directory. The next time you start, the color palette is loaded from this file.

The rest of the application settings (main window size and location, color palette configuration, visibility and position of columns in the Color palette editor, and others) are stored in the file FreeColorPicker.ini in the program main directory. Of course, these settings are also loaded at the next startup.


The program does not use system registry and all settings are stored in the above-mentioned files. If you want, you can copy all files (including whole directory structure) to the USB drive, and run the program from that drive on other computers.


The main window shortcuts

Shortcut Info
F1 Help
F2 Edit selected color name
F3 Copy color under cursor to the clipboard
F4 Capture color
F6 Switch to "Preview/Magnifier" mode
F7 Switch to "Image" mode
F8 Options
F9 Start capturing
F10 Stop capturing
F11 Collapse / Expand the main window
F12 Create preview image
Ctrl + O Open image
Ctrl + S Save preview image as PNG
Ctrl + T Stay on top
Ctrl + Shift + M Minimize to tray
Ctrl + E Edit selected color
Ctrl + Shift + E Edit color palette
Ctrl + L Load color palette
Ctrl + Shift + S Save color palette
Ctrl + 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 Zoom x1, x2, x4, x6, x8
Del Delete selected colors
Ctrl + Shift + A Tool: Auto color capture
Ctrl + P Tool: Pixel color
Ctrl + R Tool: Random colors
Ctrl + G Tool: Gradient colors
Ctrl + M Tool: Color mixer
Ctrl + W Tool: Color wheel
Ctrl + Shift + W Color wheel for selected color
Ctrl + Shift + F1 About
Ctrl + Shift + U Check for updates

Color Palette Editor shortcuts

Shortcut Info
Ctrl + O Open color palette
Ctrl + Shift + O Add colors from files
Ctrl + Shift + S Save color palette
Ctrl + D Modify colors
Ctrl + Shift + Ins Add new color at the top
Ctrl + Ins Add new color at the end
Ctrl + A Select all colors
Ctrl + I Invert selection
Del Delete selected colors
Ctrl + S Save selected color
Ctrl + E Color editor
Ctrl + Shift + T Advanced sorting
Ctrl + Shift + Up Move to top
Ctrl + Up Move up
Ctrl + Down Move down
Ctrl + Shift + Down Move to end
Ctrl + Shift + W Color wheel for selected color