Colour blindness is not a serious condition for most people who have it, but it can still be annoying. My own colour blindness - called protanopia, also known as "red-green" colour blindness - makes it difficult for me to distinguish between green, yellow, and red colours. When I pick colour schemes for designs, I avoid embarrassing mistakes by using Adobe Kuler or ColorSchemer Studio. But even with these tools, communicating about colours was still a challenge - until I found the free Colorblind Assistant.

Colorblind Assistant is a very basic colour picker, with one important twist: It gives each colour a human-readable name. So I can place my mouse cursor over a recent magazine cover displayed on my screen, and be able to say in confidence that it is a deep sky blue, and not light pink (as it appears to me). If I'm talking to someone on the phone or writing an email message about colour picks for a design, I can now say that a design element is orange without fear that it is actually green. See all software downloads.

Colorblind Assistant can be useful even if you aren't colour blind: Applications such as F.lux change the screen's colour temperature to suit the time of day, so Colorblind Assistant can come in handy if you just want to make sure that the red you're seeing is really red, without disabling F.lux.

The human-readable names that Colorblind Assistant picks aren't always names I would use in conversation, but they steer me in the right direction. I may not tell someone that I want a logo in "Fire Brick Red," but I may use something like "deep red" (and not "dark brown"). Apart from those names, Colorblind Assistant also shows RGB values, brightness, saturation, and Hex colour codes.

Colorblind Assistant is strictly a one-trick pony. If you're looking for a powerful colour picker and you aren't colour blind, you'll be much better off with the excellent ColorPic, which also lets you save color swatches for later reference. But for colour-blind users, being able to put names to colours is an invaluable feature - I can only wish for a smartphone app that did the same thing.

Colorblind Assistant is free, but the author accepts donations. See also: Group test: what's the best colour calibrator?

Colorblind Assistant: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP
  • Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP


A useful tool for anyone who wants to know what colour a shade is, we like Colorblind Assistant.