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What is Hexadecimal Color? Characteristics and Uses

El sistema de color hexadecimal es utilizado especialmente en el diseño web.

Hexadecimal color, colloquially called“hex“, is a representation of colors in numerical format, which is widely used in web design and other digital media. In this system, colors are represented by a combination of six digits (numbers and letters), which correspond to the values of red , green and blue in the RGB color model.

The hexadecimal system uses a base of 16, which means that, in addition to the numbers 0 through 9, it uses the letters “A” through “F” to represent the numbers 10 through 15.

For example:

  • The color white is represented as: #FFFFFFFF (255 in red, 255 in green, 255 in blue).
  • The color black is represented as: #000000 (0 in red, 0 in green, 0 in blue).
  • The pure red color would be: #FF0000.
  • The pure green color would be: #00FF00.
  • The pure blue color would be: #0000FF.

Being a base-16 system means that each position in a hexadecimal number represents powers of 16. For example, the hexadecimal number 2A3 breaks down as: (2 × 16^2) (10 × 16^1) (3 × 16^0). As with other number systems, arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) can be performed on hexadecimal numbers, although these operations are often performed in another base and then converted to hexadecimal format.

Direct relation to the Binary System

One of the most significant advantages is the 1:4 relationship between the hexadecimal system and the binary system. A single hexadecimal digit corresponds to exactly four bits in binary. This ratio facilitates the conversion between binary and hexadecimal without the need for complicated calculations. Since there is a direct correspondence, there is less margin for error when translating between these two systems.

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Data Compacting

Representing data in hexadecimal is more compact than in binary. For example, one byte (8 bits) can represent 256 different values in binary, but only needs two digits in hexadecimal. So we need fewer characters to represent the same amount of information.


Hexadecimal numbers are more readable and manageable than long strings of ones and zeros in binary, especially for debugging and analysis in programming and system design. It is easier to identify an error in a hexadecimal code than in a long binary string.

Standard in Programming and Design

Memory addresses, registers, error codes and other data in computing and electronics are often represented in hexadecimal because it provides a clearer and more concise representation. It facilitates bit-level operations, such as bit-by-bit masks, which are common in low-level programming. By being able to directly relate hexadecimal to binary, programmers can:

  • Visualize changes: It is easier to anticipate how an operation will affect the final value.
  • Optimize operations: Manipulations are more transparent and straightforward in hexadecimal.

Accuracy in Color Representation

The RGB color model represents colors by combining intensities of red, green and blue. Each of these three colors can have a value between 0 and 255 in the decimal system. In the hexadecimal system, these decimal values are translated into two hexadecimal digits for each color. Thus, the decimal value 255 becomes “FF” in hexadecimal. Using this system, the pure red color RGB(255,0,0,0)RGB(255,0,0,0) translates to “#FF0000”.

This results in a number of advantages when representing color:

  • Simplicity and efficiency: instead of defining a color by three numbers (one for each RGB component), a single hex code consisting of six characters is used. This representation is faster to write and read.
  • Uniformity: Hexadecimal color codes have become a standard in web design and other disciplines, ensuring uniform interpretation across different platforms and browsers.
  • Accuracy: By defining colors using hex codes, any ambiguity is eliminated. A hex code specifies exactly one color, ensuring that the color will be interpreted and displayed in the same way regardless of device or platform.
  • Easy editing and modification: Changing the hue or intensity of a color is as simple as adjusting one or two characters in the hex code. This is especially useful in web design and development, where color adjustments are common.
  • Optimization for design tools: Many graphic design and web development programs have built-in tools to select and convert colors to hexadecimal format automatically. This optimization facilitates the design process and allows designers to work more efficiently.
  • Compaction in CSS Styles: When defining styles in cascading style sheets (CSS) for websites, the conciseness of hexadecimal codes allows color definitions to take up less space, which can result in faster page load times and more readable style sheets.


Systems that already use base powers of 2 (such as binary and octal) are easily adapted to the hexadecimal system. This is useful in applications where interoperability or conversions between different representations are needed.


Just as a universal language would facilitate communication across cultures, the uniformity of the hexadecimal system ensures that engineers, programmers and designers around the world interpret and use hexadecimal codes in the same way. This eliminates ambiguities and potential misunderstandings that could arise from non-standardized number systems. In the digital realm, where different systems and devices are constantly interacting, uniformity in data representation is key. For example, a color represented by a specific hexadecimal code will be displayed in the same way in different browsers and operating systems, thanks to this uniform standard.

Accuracy is critical when working with colors, especially in design and branding projects where color consistency is crucial. Imagine a brand logo: colors must be consistent across all media and platforms, from paper to digital devices. A small change in hue or saturation could make a brand less recognizable or look inconsistent. Therefore, knowing the exact hex code is essential.

But how can we know the exact hexadecimal code for a color? Here are a number of different tools that will allow you to find the color code you are looking for:

Graphic design tools allow us to easily find out the hexadecimal code quickly and easily:

  • Adobe Photoshop: One of the most popular tools in graphic design. To find out the hexadecimal code, just open the image in Photoshop, select the “Eyedropper” tool and click on the desired color. Then, when you open the color picker, the hexadecimal code will be displayed.
  • GIMP: This is a free alternative to Photoshop. It works in a similar way: use the eyedropper tool, select the color and you will get its hexadecimal code.

There are some specific applications designed to identify the hexadecimal code of a particular color:

  • ColorZilla: It is an extension for browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. It allows to identify any color in web pages and provides the hexadecimal code.
  • Instant Eyedropper: It is a tool for Windows that lives in the taskbar. When you activate it and select a color on the screen, it automatically copies the hexadecimal code to the clipboard.

We also have online tools that allow us to know what the hexadecimal code is, either from an image or using a color picker.

  • Image Color Picker: Allows you to upload an image and select a specific color to know its code.
  • HTML Color Picker: Available in many websites, these selectors allow you to choose a color and provide the corresponding hexadecimal code.

Mobile applications make our day-to-day life easier and, not surprisingly, there are different apps to identify hexadecimal colors. Some of the most useful ones are:

  • Adobe Capture: Available for iOS and Android devices, this app allows you to capture colors from the environment and convert them into color palettes, providing the hexadecimal codes.
  • Color Grab: An Android app that identifies colors in real time using the device’s camera and provides the hexadecimal code.

Our operating system’s own tools can be of great help for this task:

  • Windows Snipping Tool: Although it does not provide the hex code directly, it can be combined with online tools. Take a screenshot of the desired color and then upload it to an online Image Color Picker to get the code.
  • Digital Color Meter on macOS: This native macOS tool allows you to identify colors anywhere on the screen and display their value in different formats, including hexadecimal.

If we want to find out the hexadecimal code inside a web page we can use tools like:

  • Inspect Element: Modern browsers have built-in developer tools. By right clicking on a web page and selecting “Inspect” or “Inspect Element”, you can explore the source code. Colors used in web design, whether in the background, text or other elements, will often be defined in hexadecimal in CSS style sheets. By browsing the code, you can find and copy these values.
  • CSS Preprocessors: Tools like SASS or LESS often have functions that allow you to work with colors and get their hexadecimal value.

El color hexadecimal también se llama hex.

As you can deduce, hexadecimal color is used especially in those areas related to digital technology. Below we will detail the different sectors in which the hex system has a prominent role:

Hexadecimal color is fundamental when designing web pages. Whenever a designer chooses a color for a page background, text, borders or any other element, he or she is likely to use a hexadecimal code. For example, the code “#FFFFFFFF” represents white and “#000000” represents black. The control offered by hexadecimal allows designers to maintain color consistency across different platforms and browsers.

Developers also make use of hexadecimal colors when programming user interfaces, animations or graphic applications. In many programming languages, it is common to find libraries and functions that accept colors in hexadecimal format.

Although in graphic design the CMYK model is often used for printing, hexadecimal color is still relevant, especially when the design is intended for digital media. This includes banner design, digital ads, videos, games and more.

With the advancement of LED technology and digitally controlled lighting systems, colors may need to be specified in formats such as hexadecimal to create specific environments for stages, events or art installations.


With a degree in Psychology and a passion for flamenco guitar and board games, my professional journey has deeply explored the intricate link between human behavior and marketing. Over the years, I've honed my ability to analyze and interpret market trends and consumer responses. At The Color Blog, I blend my psychological insights with my love for writing, providing unique perspectives on marketing, history, and the human interactions that shape our digital age.View Author posts

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