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Excel for Mac: Mac Only – Pick Any Colour in Excel

5 April 2024

This week in our series about Microsoft Excel for Mac, we show you a handy feature that is only available in Excel if you’re using a Mac.  There’s a great colour picker that lets you easily choose any color that you can see on your screen.


Choosing colours for things like the cell fill or the font in Excel is a common task, and sometimes you just want to pick a color that you see on screen.  If you use Excel for Mac, you can do just that, and we’ll show you how to use this feature that doesn’t exist in Excel for Windows (as of December 2023).

How to Pick Any Colour

Wherever you need to choose a colour in Excel, such as the fill or font colour, cell borders, shapes, conditional formats, you can grab any colour from your screen.  Just follow the simple steps below.

As our example, we’ll use the task of setting the fill colour for a cell, but these steps apply to any task where you need to pick a colour.

  • Select a cell and expand the ‘Fill Color’ menu on the Home tab of the Ribbon
  • Choose “More Colors…”.  A new dialog will appear where you have numerous options for picking colours
  • Select the icon that has an eyedropper
  • A magnifying circle will appear.You can then move the circle anywhere on the screen to get a closer view of the color on that part of the screen.When you find a colour you like, click
  • The colour will appear in the large square in the Colors dialog box, indicating the colour that will be applied to the cell
  • Press OK.

You’re done.  You can pick a colour this way anywhere in Excel.  In fact, you can pick a colour this way in most apps on Mac, because the Colors dialog and the eyedropper tool are part of the Mac operating system.

 Furthermore, if you want to know the RBG (red, blue, green) values as you’re picking a colour, just press Space on your keyboard.  You’ll see the RBG values appear in the magnifying circle, as shown in the screen shot below:

How to Pick a Colour on Windows

At the time of writing, there is no similar colour picking tool in Excel for Windows, but you can do it in PowerPoint for Windows.  It works very much the same, but it’s limited to picking a colour from the PowerPoint presentation.  You can’t pick a colour from any part of the screen outside of the presentation, but it still makes it easy to find the colour you want.  If you’ve picked a colour in PowerPoint, you can copy it to Excel by copying the HEX code which you can find in the colour picker’s RGB panel.

If the colour you want is outside the PowerPoint window, you can press SHIFT + Windows Key + S to take a screen clipping of it.  Just paste that onto your slide and then use the eyedropper to pick the colour.

We hope you find this topic helpful.  Check back for more details about Excel for Mac and how it’s different to Excel for Windows.