InDesign Eyedropper Tool Tips

Sometimes it’s the little tools that we overlook when working in a particular software all day, every day. For me, I find I often forget about the Eyedropper tool in InDesign. I’d like to blame it on the fact it was buried beneath the Color Theme tool in a recent update, but I was neglecting it long before that. It makes easy work of the task of picking up attributes from one item and applying it to another. In a majority of situations, I recommend using text and object styles for consistency, but sometimes the immediacy and speed of the Eyedropper tool is just what your workflow requires.

First off, set the Eyedropper tool’s options by double-clicking it in the Tools panel. As previously mentioned, it’s under the Color Theme tool, so Option/Alt-click that tool to access the Eyedropper.

  • Check all the boxes to enable sampling of all characteristics.
  • Click the disclosure triangle next to Stroke, Fill, Character, Paragraph, or Object to select/deselect individual attributes in that category.
  • Attributes sampled in one document can be applied to items in another document.

Working with text:

  • Select text that you want to apply formatting to, then use the Eyedropper tool to sample text with the desired attributes.
  • Clicking inside a paragraph applies paragraph attributes, while selecting text applies character-level attributes.
  • Alternatively, sample some text that has the desired formatting to “load” the Eyedropper tool, then select multiple characters or paragraphs to apply those characteristics to. Continue clicking on text to apply the attributes from the loaded Eyedropper tool.

Changing the attributes of objects works in the same manner. Remember that you can change the tool’s options as you work. For instance, you may want to sample and apply an object’s fill and stroke, but not its transparency.

Sample color from images:

  • Load up the Eyedropper tool with color from a placed image by clicking on the image with the tool.
  • Apply that color by clicking an object or dragging across text. The color will be applied to either the fill or stroke, whichever is active.
  • To keep the color for future use, open the Color panel and choose Add to Swatches.
  • To grab another color sample from that image—or another—hold the Option/Alt key while clicking on the image.
  • Colors are sampled in the same color mode as the placed image.


Posted on: August 3, 2016

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet has been involved in the graphics industry for over 25 years. She is a speaker, writer, and trainer, focusing on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author, and other print- and production-related topics. She is a regular contributor to InDesign Magazine, tech edited How To Do Everything with Adobe InDesign CS4, and served as leader of the Denver InDesign User Group. After living as a nomad for almost a year, she recently put down roots in El Paso, Texas, where she hikes and bikes every chance she gets. Check out to see all of Erica's upcoming events, tips and tricks, and workbooks.

1 Comment on InDesign Eyedropper Tool Tips

  1. Terrific article about InDesign’s Eyedropper Tool! I’ve always loved the Eyedropper Tool and several years ago we developed a plugin that allows you to access it temporarily with a key combination (rather than having to select it and then switch back to the current tool.) Now that it’s easier to access, I use the Eyedropper Tool more than ever. If you’re interested, you can download a free demo or purchase the plugin here:

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