Choose colors in the Color and Swatches panels

Learn how to use the Color and Swatches panels, and edit foreground and background colors.

Color panel overview

The Color panel (Window > Color) displays the color values for the current foreground and background colors. Using the sliders in the Color panel, you can edit the foreground and background colors using different color models. You can also choose a foreground or background color from the spectrum of colors displayed in the color ramp at the bottom of the panel.

The Color panel may display the following alerts when you select a color:

  • An exclamation mark inside a triangle  appears above the left corner of the color ramp when you choose a color that cannot be printed using CMYK inks.

  • A square  appears above the left corner of the color ramp when you choose a color that is not web-safe.

Photoshop Color panel
Color panel

A. Foreground color B. Background color C. Slider D. Color ramp 

Change the color model of the Color panel sliders

To change the color model of the color panel sliders, choose the Sliders option from the Color panel menu.

Change the spectrum displayed in the Color panel

Choose an option from the Color panel menu — RGB Spectrum, CMYK Spectrum, or Grayscale Ramp, to display the spectrum of the specified color model. To change the spectrum displayed in the Color panel, you can select:

  • Current Colors: To display the spectrum of colors between the current foreground color and the current background color.
  • Make Ramp Web Safe: To display only web‑safe colors.

To change the spectrum of the color ramp quickly, shift-click the color ramp until you see the spectrum you want.

Select a color in the Color panel

  1. In the Color panel, click the foreground or background color box to make it active (outlined in black). When the background color box is active in the Color panel, the Eyedropper tool changes the background color by default.

  2. Do one of the following:
    • Drag the color sliders. By default, the slider colors change as you drag. To turn off this feature, navigate to Preferences > General and deselect Dynamic Color Sliders.

    • Enter values next to the color sliders.

    • Click the color selection box, choose a color using the Color Picker, and click OK.

    • Position the pointer over the color ramp (the pointer becomes the eyedropper), and click to sample a color. Alt-click to apply the sample to the non-active color selection box.

Select a color in the Swatches panel

Updated in Photoshop 21.0 (November 2019 release)

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The Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) stores colors that you use often and display a default set of swatches that you can work with. You can add or delete colors from the panel or display different libraries of colors for different projects.

Apply swatches to layers

To apply a color swatch to text layers or shape layers, do any of the following:

  • Select one or more layers in the Layers panel and then click any of the swatches in the Swatches panel to apply it.
  • Drag a swatch from the Swatches panel onto the layer's content on the canvas area.
  • Drag a swatch from the Swatches panel onto a layer in the Layers panel.  

To apply a color swatch to pixel layers, drag a swatch from the Swatches panel on a pixel layer in the Layers panel. Photoshop automatically creates a fill layer on top of the pixel layer.

Apply swatches to layers

Organize swatches into groups

To organize swatches under a new group:
  1. In the Swatches panel, click the Create New Group icon. 
  2. Specify a group name and click OK. 
  3. Drag a swatch or use the Shift key to select multiple swatches to drag them inside the Group.

To create nested groups:

  1. Select a group in the Swatches panel.
  2. Drag the selected group and place it under another group.  
Create a new group in the Swatches panel

Show legacy swatches

To show legacy swatches, open the Swatches panel menu and select Legacy Swatches.

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