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MrExcel Color Add-In for Excel 2007/2010

December 2010

MrExcel Color Add-In 2010

Thank you for your interest in the MrExcel Color Add-In for Excel 2007/2010.

This page contains all product information as well as product support information and purchase information for the MrExcel Color Add-In.

This Add-In solves two common problems:

Solution #1

If your company made extensive use of the 40 colors in Excel 2003, it is difficult to find those colors in Excel 2007/2010. Yes, 39 of the 40 colors are in the new 173-color More Colors dialog, but they are not in a contiguous location and are hard to find.

Solution #2

Back in Excel 2003, it was possible to tear the paint bucket color dropdown off the Formatting toolbar and to float it anywhere above your worksheet. Microsoft’s new hatred of floating toolbars makes this impossible in Excel 2007/2010.

Learn More About The MrExcel Color Add-In for Excel 2007/2010 - Deluxe Version


Requirements: Please Note that The MrExcel Color Add-In is for use in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.

MrExcel Color Add-In for Excel 2007/2010 - Basic

The $3 Color Add-In is incredibly simple to use!

After installing the .exe file and opening Excel 2007 or Excel 2010, you should see this new icon in your Quick Access Toolbar:

MrExcel Color Add-In Icon
MrExcel Color Add-In Icon

Click that icon and a floating Legacy Colors dialog will appear. You can keep this open while you work in Excel. Note: Ctrl + Shift + C will also display the dialog.

Legacy Colors Dialog
Legacy Colors Dialog

To change the fill color, select some cells and click any of the colors. To change the font color or the line color, select Font or Line from the bottom of the dialog. To close the dialog, click the red “X” at the top of the dialog.

Order Purchase The MrExcel Color Add-In for Excel 2007/2010 - Basic Version »

MrExcel Color Add-In for Excel 2007/2010 - Deluxe

Advanced Excellers might wish to take advantage of these additional features in the Deluxe Version:

  • Support for Custom Color Pallet: Back in Excel 2003, it was possible to change the 40 default colors to different color schemes. The Deluxe Add-In supports these custom pallets.
  • Support for 40 Additional Themes: If you like the colors offered in one of the Excel 2010 themes, you can display those colors in the floating dialog box.
  • Controlling which colors are used in Excel 2003: If you save a workbook as an .XLS workbook and open that workbook in Excel 2003, only 56 colors can be used. Excel tries to find colors in the Excel 2003 color pallet that are close to the colors in use in your workbook. This doesn’t always work out so well. If you start using colors from the Concourse theme, you can use the Deluxe Add-In to specify those colors as the color pallet to use in Excel 2003.

Order Purchase The MrExcel Color Add-In for Excel 2007/2010 - Deluxe Version »

Accessing the Custom Pallet Stored in the Workbook

Suppose that you've created a custom pallet in Excel 2003 and have saved the workbook that it was created in. That pallet is still stored in that workbook! You can see it by going to Excel Options, Save, Colors:

Color Dialog
Color Dialog

If you utilized a Custom Pallet, it would be better to have those colors appear in the dialog instead of the default colors.

Follow these steps:

  • Select the More… button at the bottom of the dialog.

    Legacy Colors - More
    Legacy Colors - More

  • You will see a slider that starts out all the way to the left. The leftmost setting is the Excel 2003 default colors. Click the right end of the slider one time to move to the second set of colors. Your custom pallet will appear. Note: if you didn’t customize the pallet in the current workbook, the second set of colors will appear exactly like the first!

    Custom Pallet
    Custom Pallet
  • You should notice that the title of the dialog switched from Legacy Colors to Custom Colors. Also, the pallet name below the slider will say ActiveWB instead of XL2003.
  • To return to the Excel 2003 default colors, click the left end of the slider. To hide the slider, click the ...Less button.

Using Additional Theme Colors

There are 40 additional pallets available in the dialog to match the 40 themes that are built-in to Excel 2010. To access those themes, follow these steps:

  • Click the 'More...' button.
  • Drag the slider to the right. At each of the 42 steps in the slider, the name of the theme will appear below the slider and in the title of the dialog.

    Additional Them Colors
    Additional Theme Colors

Contrasting Themes and the Color Add-In

A theme in Excel 2007/2010 is comprised of six accent colors. Excel VBA offers 201 shades of those six accent colors, although the dropdown on the Home tab only offers six shades of those accent colors. The top row of the Theme Colors dropdown offers the six accent colors. The next 3 rows show lighter shaded. The next 2 rows show darker shades. To make the colors fit in the Color Add-In, the top row of 6 accent colors appears as the third column in the Add-In, as shown here:

Contrasting Themes and the Color Add-In
Contrasting Themes and the Color Add-In

To the left are darker shades of those six colors. To the right are four lighter shades of the six colors. So, the Add-In shows 7 shades of the colors. While the main six colors are the same, the lighter and darker shades are more pleasing than the ones offer in the Theme Colors dropdown.

The 24 shades of grey from the left side of the Theme Colors dropdown appear along the bottom row of the Color Add-In (as shown below).

24 Shades of Grey
24 Shades of Grey

The Color AddIn offers only 8 shades of grey instead of 24. This seems like enough for most people. If you need more shades, go to the GreyScale theme where you will have 50 shades of grey.

Grayscale Colors
Grayscale Colors

The 10 standard colors along the bottom of the Theme Color dropdown fill the remaining 6 slots along the right side of the Color Add-In (as shown below).

Standard Colors
Standard Colors

My apologies if you need the too-dark-red, ugly-green, aqua, or insanely-dark-blue colors. Head back to the Theme Colors dropdown to get those.

The main difference between Theme Colors and the Color Add-In is the behavior when you change to a new theme. The Theme Colors dropdown might show a tooltip that you are selecting Accent Color 3, Lighter 40%. When you change to a new theme, your workbook colors will change to reflect the accent colors in the new theme. The colors selected in the Color Add-In will not change when you select a new theme! The advantage is that you can easily combine colors from 4 themes if you wanted to. If you like the behavior of the Themes in Excel 2007/2010, you should keep using the Theme Colors dropdown.

Sending Colors Back to Excel 2003

Excel 2007/2010 allows 16 million colors. Excel 2003 allows 56 colors. If you use Save As to save a file as an old .XLS file, then Excel must try to fit the colors that you used into the 56 colors that Excel 2003 allows.

This process is less than perfect! Say that you use 16 colors in Excel 2007. You would think it would be easy to save those in Excel 2003. But…Excel doesn’t automatically keep the first 56 colors that you use. They look at the Colors dialog (see page 2 of this document) and try to make every one of the colors in use get close to one of those colors in the Color dialog. This rarely works well.

If you’ve been creating colors from the XL2003 pallet, then there is nothing to worry about. However, if you’ve been using colors from one of the 40 theme pallets, then you can improve the rollback to Excel 2003 by saving the current theme colors in the Color dialog. Do this by pressing the “Use THESE in XL 2003” button:

Use These in XL 2003
Use These in XL 2003

Other Questions

  1. Can I save half of the Equity Colors and half of the Concourse colors in the Excel 2003 compatibility dialog?

    Answer: Not using the Color Add-In. If you want 30 colors from Equity and 26 from Concourse, then save Equity to the workbook. Then use Excel Options as shown on Page 2 to edit the remaining colors.

  2. I have a custom pallet in Workbook1. How can I use this custom pallet in Workbook 2?

    Answer: This is possible, but you have to use some care.

    • Open both workbooks.
    • Switch to the workbook that has the custom pallet.
    • Display the Color Add-In dialog using Ctrl+Shift+C.
    • Click More...
    • Click the right edge of the slider to go to Custom Pallet.
    • Without closing the dialog, use Ctrl+Tab to switch to the other workbook.
    • While the other workbook is active, press Use THESE in XL 2003
  3. Where can I license additional copies of the software?

    Answer: The Basic Color Add-In costs $3.00 USD for 1-3 computers and $1 per additional computer. The Deluxe Color Add-In costs $10.99 USD for 1-3 computers and $1.50 per computer thereafter. Write to to purchase additional licenses.