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I have a PDF and I want to verify the colours being used (check that they match our corporate colour scheme for instance). Specifically, I want to check that the correct CMYK colours are being used.

How could I go about doing that?

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  • What do you mean with verify?
    – Bernhard
    Oct 17, 2012 at 10:45
  • @Bernhard I want to check a PDF is using the corporate colours. Oct 17, 2012 at 10:53
  • 1
    Maybe use gcolor and click on the texts?
    – daisy
    Oct 17, 2012 at 23:44

5 Answers 5

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You can import the PDF file into a software like Inkscape and there you can do what you want, including a color check.

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  • Unfortunately, Inkscape doesn't support CMYK colours, though Scribus does. This is great for smaller documents, but not for bigger ones. My PC hasn't got loads of memory, so it would be better using a CLI. Oct 17, 2012 at 13:05
  • 1
    A cli utility is definitely needed. A 'pdfcolors' program which would just list the colours used in whatever form they are expressed (rgb, cmyk) and perhaps with -verbose, list them per page. Mar 27, 2017 at 20:28
  • Gives colors but too much of them and without any clue as of where this color is present. I mean, if you're looking for a specific green line in the middle of the document, you can look for it for a long time.
    – kissu
    Jun 22, 2021 at 8:33
5

Maybe identify from imagemagick suite will fit your needs?

Use it with -verbose switch to get information about colors:

identify -verbose file.pdf
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  • Note: you will need to install ghostscript in order for this command to work; otherwise, it will fail silently Dec 24, 2015 at 16:27
  • Although it fails silently, that fact is documented at imagemagick.org/script/formats.php Dec 24, 2015 at 16:28
  • The identify command lists the gamut (the range of colour values) but does not identify the individual rgb or cmyk values used. Mar 27, 2017 at 20:26
5

The GIMP can easily tell you the RGB or CMYK values of any color in a pdf. When you open the pdf, it will offer to treat each page as a layer. That's fine, you just need to select each layer as you look at it and make each layer above it invisible.

Then use the color picker tool (eyedropper icon) to click on any color in the pdf. It will automatically select it for the foreground, but you can check the option to "[] use info window" to see RGB, CMYK, HSV, etc on whatever you select.

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You could use an Online Tool which works with the new EyeDropper API to pick the colors from the PDF for example:

pickcoloronline preview

  1. Open any of the links.
  2. Open your PDF.
  3. Move your windows that you can see the PDF and the website.
  4. Use "Pick Color" / "Get Color" and select the color from your PDF!

Note: It will only give you the HEX-Color of the document!

Currently you can only use this in Edge, Chrome and Opera. Other browser support will come probably in the future: https://caniuse.com/mdn-api_eyedropper

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You can use Coolors.co, and SmallPDF. First, you can create an account for both Coolors.co and SmallPDF. Then, you can head to SmallPDF.com, and use the PDF to JPG converter, by clicking the Tools dropdown. Then you can go to Coolors.co and click the More dropdown and select the Pick palette from Photo, which you can also do by clicking this link. Then you can click on the Browse on Image button, then you can drag the image, which we downloaded from SmallPDF, into the Browse or Drop image. You can also browse locally by clicking the same Browse or Drop Image, and VOILA!! The Deed is Done.


If you are working with an project or presentation, Coolors is a great tool to use. It generates palettes of colors, which can be used as colors for your project and presentation.

I'm in no way associated to Coolors or SmallPDF, or am a salesman. I just use both of them a lot.

I know that the above steps may be time-consuming, but hey,

It's worth the clicks

Imma end my argument right there.

And I'm aware that this is a Linux Unix place. But, it is great to find a solution man.

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