Pitney Bowes
MapInfo Pro™ Monthly Journal
Easy Tip! Choose a custom colour by a specific RGB value

ez This tip will be handy if you wish to have aspects of your maps (or layouts) use colours in some way that is consistent with predetermined colour scheme (such as an organisation's branding) or if you need to match the overall theme inherent in a publication. You may also find it handy if you feel that the colour choices within MapInfo Professional are limiting.

It is possible to choose colours based on their Red, Green or Blue (RGB) values or alternatively, based on the Hue, Saturation and Value (HSV) system.

This is a pretty easy thing to do, once you know the trick!

In any place where you have the option to choose a colour, give the scroll bar (on the right) just one click to reach the bottom row of colours.

region style

This brings the entire bottom row into view. On the bottom right, the box contains three dots. This is your cue to click that box.

region style

The Pick Color dialog box appears. You can now fill in your desired RGB (or HSV) values.

pick color

If you need to select the same colour again, the custom colour will be available from the bottom row of the colour picker dialog. It will remain there until MapInfo Professional is closed.


Want to match a colour but don't know the RGB value?

Let's say you need to match a colour but you don't know the RGB value. The colour you require might be in a slide presentation or in some other file. We'll need to go outside of MapInfo Professional to determine an RGB value but this technique should be available to most of you.

For this example, I am going to choose a blue colour from a Powerpoint presentation. Perhaps I want to match the borders around a map to this colour.

1) Take a screen shot that contains your desired colour. If you don't have a screen shot programme you should have a default method within Microsoft Windows® to do this. This is usually the Prnt Scrn (Print Screen) key.

2) Run the Microsoft Paint application and paste your screen shot into the application.

In the screen shot above Microsoft Paint is being used to determine the RGB value of one of the blue colours in this image. The image was captured from a presentation program.

3) In Microsoft Paint, click on the desired colour with the Color Picker tool. This is pointed out in the above screen shot.

4) Click the Edit Colors button. The Microsoft Paint Edit Colors dialog box appears (see below). This will indicate the RGB value.

edit colors

You may be able to obtain an RGB value in other ways, this is just one example that should be available to most, if not all of you.

Temporary vs permanent colour changes - add your own custom colours to MapInfo Professional's colour picker dialog box.

Once again, the technique above is temporary and will last only as long as the current MapInfo session. (Rest assured that workspaces will retain all colours you have chosen.)

If you find that you require the use of one or more custom colours on a regular basis, it is possible to modify the default choices available from MapInfo Professional. You need to be careful in doing this!

The colours are stored in a file called MAPINFOW.CLR. You will find this file within the user install files for MapInfo Professional.

For example, on a Windows 7 computer the location is

C:\Users\user name\AppData\Roaming\MapInfo\MapInfo\Professional\1200

1) Recommended: Find and make a backup copy of the MAPINFOW.CLR file. (Just in case!).

2) In MapInfo Professional, in the Options menu, choose Custom Colors...

The Define Custom Colours dialog box appears.

define colors

3) To change a color, simply click on it and then click the Define... button. You can also double click any colour.

4) To make the changes permanent, click the Save Colors checkbox and the click OK.

You will now have your modified colour or colours available whenever you run MapInfo Professional.

Do you have questions?
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Feel free to post questions and I'm always happy to get suggestions for topics to appear in this journal.


Article by Tom Probert, Editor of "The MapInfo Professional" journal

When not writing articles for "The MapInfo Professional", Tom enjoys talking to MapInfo Professional users at conferences and events. When not working he likes to see movies with car chases, explosions and kung-fu fighting.