Shutterstock/Radu Bercan

What is that color on the edge of that application? Is that red? Or Maroon, Burgundy or Bordeaux? Having a GUI (Desktop) based color picker is always handy! Find out how to install one that works and works well.

What Is a Color Picker?

A color picker, or color selection tool, allows you to easily discover what color a given pixel on your screen is. Perhaps you are working on a webpage and would like to match the background with that of another site but you do not know what the hex (hexadecimal) color number is. Or perhaps you’re editing an illustration and would like to match the background to the overall color used in the profit graph you just inserted. A color picker can come in very handy here.

A color picker is not always necessary; often graphic editing software include a color picker (often represented using an icon featuring a pipette) which can be used for in-app color picking. But what if you want to pick colors and transfer them between applications, or want to avoid having to take a screenshot and pasting it into your favorite graphic editor only to find out the color of something? This is where an external color picker app can shine.

There is a great color picker which is easy to install and use on both Ubuntu and Mint: Gpick.

Installing Gpick

To install Gpick on your Debian/Apt based Linux distribution (Like Ubuntu and Mint), execute the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt install gpick

You can also install Gpick on your RedHat/Yum based Linux distribution (Like RHEL, Centos and Fedora), by executing the following command in your terminal:

sudo yum install gpick

Welcome to Gpick

The Gpick main application interface window

When you open Gpick for the first time, the screen looks a bit complex. There is lots of options, things to click and things to explore. Gpick covers many different needs and it may not immediately be obvious how to simply grab a hex color code, or how to convert the same to RGB.

To pick a color, you can locate the colorful pipette icon near the bottom right of the application:

The Gpick color picker icon at the bottom right of the main application interface

If you click this (number 1 in the image below), you will see that your mouse cursor changes to a cross hair and you will also get a small extra dialog window which shows a zoomed in version (number 3 in the image) of the pixels underneath the cursor (the cross hair, number 2 in the image) while you are moving around, as well as the hexadecimal (hex) color code (number 4 in the image) for the pixel directly under the cross hair cursor. First mission accomplished!

Hexadecimal color codes being displayed in Gpick

One small tip to keep in mind is that sometimes hex color codes need to be reversed, 2-by-2 characters at the time, to be compatible with other applications. For example, if the readout is 112233 as hex color code, then another application may either take 112233 as input matching that color, or it may require the reverse namely 332211.

Now that we have the ability to easily obtain hex color codes, a deemed shortcoming quickly becomes apparent: “do I have to use a peace of paper to write down the hex codes while I am working on this and browsing around?”.

The answer is no. However, an additional setting needs to be made for this; when clicking the mouse on your current pixel, the value will not be stored and thus lost. Let’s setup Gpick to remember color codes.

To do so, one can go to the Edit > Preferences menu, and select the second tab titled ‘Picker’. In this tab, we click ‘Add to palette’ and ‘Copy to clipboard’ (if you would like to do so) under ‘Floating picker click behavior’:

Setting options in Gpick to enable adding hex color codes to the palette and the clipboard

Now, after clicking ‘OK’, let us try the color picker again a few times, and we will notice that colors are now being stored in the right.

A palette of colors picked in Gpick

Great! Now that we have this list of colors, we can readily convert these color to other color formats. For example, if we want to transform our hex value to RGB (Red-Green-Blue) values, all we have to do is double click our color and open the RGB tree branch to the left of it, by clicking the right-pointing triangle in front of RGB.

Importantly, note that is necessary to double click a hex color value to convert it. If you click it only once, the value will be selected, but not converted! This easily leads to mistakes as it seems another color value is selected whereas the values being shown in the translated color values (i.e. RGB in our case) are still from the last double-clicked hex color value!

The RGB values for a hex based color value (transformed) in Gpick

Wrapping up

Having a great color picking utility handy, ready for use when it is necessary, allows one to more readily and easily transfer color values from one application to another, keep a record of previously seen colors, and research and transform colors in various ways. It also allows one to convert color values easily between different formats and much more.

Gpick shines when it comes to color picking and management, and we have looked at how to install and use this great utility. Enjoy!

Now that you are all set to pick the best colors, it’s perhaps time to consider a more serious aspect of digital life: never loosing 2FA/MFA access. If that is of interest, you may like to read The Trick to (Almost) Never Losing 2FA / MFA Access next!

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