Have you ever been browsing the internet and come across a colour that you wanted to immediately splash all over your website, blog or documents? Maybe it was the iconic light blue of Facebook, the neon green of a smartphone advert or a red postbox in an old holiday photo?
Well, we’re here to show you how to purloin and use an RGB (red, green and blue) value for any hue that takes your fancy. And it can be absolutely any digital colour, no matter how obscure: you can replicate anything from the murky brown of the river Thames or Aston Villa’s claret, to the orange of a puffin’s beak or the piercing blue of Chris Hemsworth’s eyes.
Stealing the colours
Using a Mac to identify online colours is a phenomenally easy task, thanks to the built-in Digital Color Meter. To open the tool, click on the Launchpad icon in the toolbar (a little rocket, if you’re not familiar) and then the Other tile. Select the Digital Color Meter icon and a little window containing an “aperture” will pop up.
If, for example, you wanted to use Big Tech Question’s relaxing shade of blue – don’t worry, you have our permission – simply hover over the toolbar or logo and the RGB value will appear in the Digital Color Meter window. After that, all that’s left to do is make a note of the figures and use the colour in Microsoft Word and emails, as well as your website (see below).
Unfortunately, there isn’t an equivalent tool bundled in Windows 10, but there are plenty of free alternatives. If you’re going to do most of your colour robbery in-browser, for instance, we’d recommend using the subtly named ColorZilla extension for Chrome and Firefox.
This works in exactly the same way as Digital Color Meter, providing an RGB value when you hover over a particular colour – such as the red of the (ahem) mighty Leyton Orient FC. Usefully, ColorZilla also keeps a record of the colours you’ve identified, which is ideal when you’re picking up lots at once.
Using the colours
So, now that you’ve got an RGB for your perfect tint, what can you actually do with it? There are many, many possibilities, but here are a couple of the most popular options.
Everyone loves a coloured font and Microsoft Word makes it easy to add your own – although, as beautiful as “Big Tech Question blue” is, we’d suggest sticking to plain ole black for CVs, covering letters and other important paperwork.
In Word for Windows (pictured below), highlight the text, click on the Font Color icon in the Home tab and select More Colors. In the window that appears, select the Custom tab and than enter the red, green and blue values in the box provided, and click OK.
The process is slightly different for the Mac version of Word (pictured below):
To begin, highlight the text you want to change, navigate to Format | Font… and select More colors from the Font color dropdown menu in the window that pops up. Then, in the window that appears, click on RGB slider in the dropdown menu. Now enter your RGB values into the three boxes and press Enter. You should now be left with…
As a side note, when you copy text from Microsoft Word into Gmail, the original colour will be maintained. That means you can jazz up your correspondence and not be bound by the email service’s limited palette of colours.
Using custom colours on your WordPress-powered website is even easier, as this paragraph proves. While you’re writing a post, click on the font colour icon in the toolbar and then select Custom at the bottom of the dropdown box. This will take you to a spectrum with three boxes for the RGB value. Simply type them in and your hue will be saved for future use.