A command line tool to identify a pixel color of an X Window System screen
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A command line tool to identify a pixel color on an X Window.

When this program is run, the mouse pointer is grabbed and changed to a cross hair and when the mouse is clicked, the color of the clicked pixel is written to stdout in hex prefixed with #

This program can be useful when you see a color and want to use the color in xterm or your window manager's border but no clue what the name of the color is. It's silly to use a image processing software to find it out. (That's how I described it 20 years ago, so keeping it this way for historical reasons - Apr-11-2018).


grabc v1.0.2
A program to identify a pixel color of an X Window
by muquit@muquit.com https://www.muquit.com/

Usage: grabc [options]
Where the options are:
 -v         - show version info
 -h         - show this usage
 -hex       - print pixel value as Hex on stdout
 -rgb       - print pixel value as RGB on stderr
 -W         - print the Window id at mouse click
 -w id      - window id in hex, use with -l +x+y
 -l +x+y    - pixel co-ordinate. requires window id
 -d         - show debug messages
 -a         - Print all 16 bits of color. Default is high order 8 bits
* Print pixel color in hex on stdout:
   $ grabc
* Show usage:
   $ grabc -h
* Print Window Id (Note the upper case W):
   $ grabc -W
* Print pixel color of Window with id 0x13234 at location 10,20
   $ grabc -w 0x13234 -l +10+20

How to compile

Older version of this program is available on Ubuntu. However, if you need to get the latest version, you have to compile it yourself.

  • You will need libx11-dev package if you are on Ubuntu.
    sudo apt-get -y install libx11-dev
  • To compile, at the shell prompt, type:
  • To install, at the shell prompt, type:
    sudo make install

The binary grabc will be install in /usr/local/bin/ and the man page grabc.1 will be installed in /usr/local/share/man/man1/

If you want to install it in some other directory:

    make DESTDIR=/tmp/grabc install
  • If you want to create a debian package, install fpm first, then type:
    make deb
  • Install the debian package:
    sudo dpkg -i ./grabc_1.0.2-1_amd64.deb
  • To uninstall the debian package:
    sudo dpkg -r grabc

Know Issues

  • If color grabbed from root window, it might always show #000000 (Depending on the Window Manager in use)



  • Was not working properly on Ubuntu Terminal. It was using default Colormap. Do not use default colormap, rather get it from window attributes.

  • If could not get XImage from target window, it is probably root window, so try to grab it from there.

  • Added some options

  • Color can be grabbed from a specific location

  • Change Copyright to MIT from GNU GPL



  • first cut