The Eyedropper tool in Photoshop samples color to designate a new foreground or background color. You can sample from the active image which you have open in Photoshop or from any other part of the interface. But did you know that you can sample a colour outside the Photoshop application interface? Well my friends, you can!

If you want to grab a colour you’ve seen on a website or a book you’re reading on your computer, or in fact anything that’s displaying on your computer screen, you can do that with the eyedropper. This tip will save you time taking screengrabs and bringing them into Photoshop to find out colour values.

So here’s how to do it:

1. You’ll need to have a document open in Photoshop.
2. Arrange your windows so that Photoshop is not filling your whole screen. Have Photoshop on one side and the browser window or acrobat or whatever you want to sample from, open on the other side of your screen. Something like this:

Eyedropper Photoshop

2. Select the eyedropper tool (shortcut I).
Eyedropper Tool Photoshop

3. Click and hold down eyedropper on the Photoshop document then drag it outside of Photoshop to where you want to sample the colour. The eyedropper icon will appear the entire time you have the mouse button or pen held down.

4. As you drag the eyedropper around, the foreground colour in the Photoshop toolbar will change.

*NOTE: In Photoshop CC on the mac, I have noticed that it is the background colour which is changing! But it is still sampling the colour from outside of the application.

And that’s it! Easy and a big timesaver.

If you found this tip useful, I would be super grateful if you would share it. Thank you! 🙂

Jennifer Farley

Jennifer Farley is an illustrator, designer, author and design teacher based in Ireland. She has been teaching design for over 14 years and helps people learn Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom,Illustrator and graphic design skills to improve their job prospects and their business.

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