frequently asked questions


What does ZCC stand for?

ZCC stands for zenColorCode

What is ZCC?

ZCC is a patented method for translating over 16.7 million colors into a universal digital color system.

What is a ZCC reference number?

ZCC reference numbers represent a specific digital swatch communicated by a ZCC prefix and a unique four-digit number, i.e., ZCC-2338.  The reference number is protected by both copyright and trademark.

How many color swatches are represented in the ZCC universal digital Color Library?

The Library contains a range of 4,096 digital color swatches.

Can I use my own color names and color numbers instead of using a ZCC reference number?

The answer is yes. Regardless of the color name or identification number you create to internally reference a color swatch, the ZCC reference number is always attached to that metadata to identify and communicate the precise color to others.

How do I add a color to the ZCC universal digital Color Library?

Customers that need specialty or customized colors should contact us at:

Can I use the ZCC reference system to internally color code product?

The answer is yes. In fact, we encourage you to do so. The ZCC system provides a powerful color cross-referencing platform for all product categories to help facilitate communication between design, production, as well as retailers and consumers.

To use the ZCC system outside of designPro, you must be a registered designPro licensee and current on the yearly licensing fees. Please review the License Agreement, inside the application, for rules concerning usage.

What additional licensing fees are required to use the ZCC system as an internal color coding system?

As long as you are a designPro licensee and current on your yearly payments, you may use the ZCC system in accordance with the Terms of our License Agreement.

What is the advantage of using ZCC as an internal color-coding system for retail product platforms?

A retailer with 10,000 vendors must contend with 10,000 different color systems. Retailers can unify all 10,000 different color systems into one universal digital system by converting their internal system, along with their vendors, into the ZCC digital model.  The advantage is better communication across the entire product ecosystem, from design inception to final sale.

What other usage of the ZCC reference system is allowed?

Provided you are a designPro Licensee and current in all payments, you may use the ZCC reference numbers for hangtags, barcodes, or online color references.  All such usage must be accompanied by written acknowledgement that clearly states that “ZCC® is the property of zenColor™ Corporation and all rights are reserved”.

Is the ZCC universal Color Library available in printed formats?

No, it is not.  ZCC is a digital color system, based on an RGB model.  Like RGB, it is device driven.  The ZCC universal digital Color Library is ONLY available in designPro desktop and mobile applications.

Does ZCC translate into other color formulas?

ZCC provides color formula equivalents for HEX, RGB, HSL, CIELaB, and CMYK. These formulas are found in the Library tab at the bottom of the large swatch under the heading called Standardized Formula.

zenColor designPro

What is designPro?

It’s the first interactive color book. Your designPro comes with the complete ZCC universal digital Color Library and a suite of patented design tools that translate over 16.7 million colors into four-digit ZCC reference codes.

How do I install designPro DESKTOP on Mac or Windows?

These links will provide instructions on how to install designPro DESKTOP on either Mac or Windows.

Can I install designPro on a second computer?

If you would like to install designPro on another computer, you will need to deactivate the License Key on the first computer, enter your License Key on the second computer, and reinstall.

Can I install designPro on two or more computers at the same time?

To run designPro on two computers at the same time, you will need to purchase two unique copies of designPro with two unique License Keys.

What do I do if a security alert appears while installing or downloading the designPro application on a PC?

Although this is considered a rare incident our team put together notes on what to do should this happen to you. Read instructions here.

For more information about designPro, please read our QuickStart Guide.


How many colors make up the complete ZCC system?

The ZCC universal digital Color Library consists of an adaptable range of 4,096 colors.

Is the complete ZCC universal digital Library available in my designPro application?

Yes, it is. Only designPro licensees have access to the complete ZCC system.

How do I select a specific color swatch?

Use the Hue Slider to scroll through the Library or enter a four-digit ZCC code into the editable swatch on the right-hand side of the ZCC Library and select Apply.

Does ZCC translate into other types of color formulas?

Each ZCC color swatch provides standardized formulas for equal HEX, RGB, HSL, CIELaB, and CMYK coordinates.

What formulas does each ZCC color swatch provide?

Each ZCC color swatch provides standardized formulas for HEX, RGB, HSL, CIELaB, and CMYK.

Can I change the format from numeric to chromatic to view swatches?

Not yet, but we are working on it and will advise as soon as an upgrade is available.


How many colors are displayed in the Picker?

The Picker contains over 16.7 million colors.  The entire spectrum of RGB is automatically normalized and converted into ZCC reference codes.

How do I select a color from the Picker?

Pick a spot in the Picker and click on that color OR enter a HEX, RGB, or ZCC number into the editable fields.  Using any of these methods will help you to select a color swatch. Click the Apply button to add the color swatch to the Workspace.

Can I enter a HEX or RGB number to search for a color?

Editable fields for RGB and HEX are located at the bottom of the large swatch in the Picker tab.  Enter the HEX or RGB number and click the Apply button to view.

Where can I look up the HEX or RGB formula for a specific ZCC reference number?

Formula equivalents for HEX and RGB are located directly underneath the ZCC color reference number in both the Library and Picker tabs.

How do I compare a ZCC color to a HEX or RGB color value?

The large swatch in the Picker tab is split into two views that allow you to make a comparison. The top half of the swatch displays the ZCC color and reference number.  The bottom half of the swatch displays the HEX and RGB color and formula coordinates.

What should I do if I cannot find a match for a HEX or RGB color value to ZCC?

There are times when that will happen, just as it happens with print specification color books.  We suggest selecting the closest match to a ZCC color reference.  If you require a custom color, please feel free to contact us at


What is the advantage of a predictive color Editor?

The predictive Editor allows you to see the changes you make in increments to provide greater control and accuracy.

How does the predictive Editor work?

You can adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Lightness (HSL) in ultra-fine steps or quick leaps using the plus or minus 1, 5, & 10 increment presets. Click on an increment preset as many times until you find the color you want and save to Workspace.

What happens when I select Revert in the Editor?

If you are not happy with the edit, Revert allows you to keep your original color.

What happens when I select Apply in the Editor?

If you are happy with the edit, Apply allows you to change to the new color.

How do I save changes after I edit a swatch?

After you finish editing the color swatch, select the Apply button to save your changes to the Workspace.

Can I refer back to the original color swatch?

If you don’t wish to save your changes, click the Revert button and your color swatch will be returned to its original color state.

Why do I see a checkerboard swatch (ZCC-0000) in the Editor?

If you see the checkerboard pattern swatch (ZCC-0000) in the Editor, it means that you have a null swatch (a swatch with no ZCC color value) highlighted in your Workspace. Select any color swatch in Workspace you wish to edit by simply clicking on it.


How do I upload an image in my desktop application?

Simply click the Open Image button to load an image from your desktop.

How many ZCC colors can I extract from an image?

You can extract 6, 12, 18, or 24 colors at a time by using the pop-up menu.

How do I use the presets to extract a palette from an image?

There are different presets (Most Common, Lightness, Saturation, Random 1 and Random 2) listed in the popup menu that will extract different color palettes, depending on your preference and selection.

Most Common creates a color palette from the most used color pixels in descending order

Lightness selects the lightest value pixels from the image

Saturation creates a color palette from the brightest

Random 1 and 2 provides a “potluck” sampling of colors in the image by mixing combinations from other extraction methods

How do I magnify the size of an image?

Use the Magnifying Glass tool to increase the size of the image. It comes with four (4) presets to enlarge the image from 1x all the way to 8x.

Here’s a helpful hint!  Refine your selection accuracy by using the Magnifying Glass and Marquee tools in tandem.

How do I add a palette from the Preview Palette to the Workspace?

The Add This Palette button gives you the choice of adding or replacing your existing palette in the preview and moving it to the Workspace.

How do I add a selected swatch from the Preview Palette to the Workspace?

The Add Selected Swatch button allows you to add the highlighted swatch in the preview and move it to the Workspace.


What is a color theory?

Color theory uses concepts based on the idea of a “color wheel”. It provides examples of how a single color can be used with other colors to create harmonious and balanced color schemes.

How do I use colorTheory to make color palettes?

You can create a color palette from a single color by using any of the seven (7) presets in the popup menu. Click on each one below to see definitions.


Split Complementary






What does the Preview Palette do?

The Preview Palette allows you to instantly review the color extraction results from any preset selection.

Where is the Preview Palette located?

The Preview Palette is located directly below the RGB picker.

How do I add a color palette to the Workspace?

Click Add This Palette to add the color swatches from the Preview Palette to your Workspace.

How do I add a single swatch from the Preview Palette to the Workspace?

Highlight any swatch in the Preview Palette and then click Add Selected Swatch to add to your Workspace.

Can I combine two palettes?

Add This Palette gives you the choice of adding to or replacing an existing palette in the Workspace.

How do I replace a color swatch in my Workspace?

First you need to highlight the color you want to replace on your Workspace, then highlight the color swatch you want to add in the Palette Preview.  Once both steps are done, click on Add Selected Swatch.

How do I choose a swatch for my starting point in colorTheory?

You can use the editable fields for ZCC, HEX or RGB to select a color swatch or point and click at any part of the RGB picker area.  Once you have the color starting point you desire, select any of the presets and view the results in the Preview Palette.


What is colorHarmony?

The colorHarmony tool is unique to designPro. It combines various color theories to allow you to build harmonious palettes that are larger than two to six swatches at a time.

How do I use colorHarmony to make color palettes?

You may choose from five (5) presets to create perfectly balanced palettes.

You may choose from five (5) presets in the popup menu to create perfectly balanced palettes.


Hue & Harmony creates a full array of equally spaced hues.

Split Tonal creates a complementary color range that also tints to white.

Tonal builds a monochromatic range of color tinted to white.

Shade darkens the base color to black in equal steps.

Spectral equally steps the base color thru the color spectrum to the end of its visible range.

Helpful Hint:  You can swap between the popup presets to review color variations in the Preview Palette.


How many colors can I add to a palette from the colorHarmony tool?

You can rapidly build harmonious palettes of 6,12,18 or 24 swatches at a time.

How can I change the hue of the colorHarmony presets?

Move the Hue Slider through its spectrum to change and tune your results. Add the full color palette, combine it with other color palettes, or select a single color swatch to your Workspace.

How do I choose a swatch for my starting point in colorHarmony?

You can use the editable fields for ZCC, HEX or RGB to select a color swatch or point and click at any part of the RGB picker area.  Once you have the color starting point you desire, select any of the presets and view the results in the Preview Palette.

Reference Tags

What are Reference Tags?

Reference Tags are the metadata that is attached to a swatch or a palette created in your designPro application, which includes color names, color numbers, and unique file information.


Why should I add reference tags to my color palettes?

The unique metadata embeds into your color palette files so that it can be shared with other designPro Licensees.

Is there an easy way to tag ZCC reference numbers to my palette file?

If you wish to use the ZCC reference number tags, click on the Use Default ZCC # checkbox.

Do I have to name and number the color swatches?

The choice is up to you.  Either way, the file will attach the ZCC reference tags to identify the swatches.  You can always create internal names and numbers at a future date, provided you choose to save your palette to File Exchange.

Do I have to fill out the Palette Reference Tags?

At least one of the Reference Tags fields must be filled out to name, save, and locate the file.

Why isn’t my color palette saving?

At least one of the Reference Tags must be filled out in order to save your work to File Exchange.

How do I customize color names and numbers for my palettes?

You can customize color information by filling out the Reference Tags.  First, activate the color swatch you wish to tag by clicking on that swatch in your Workspace, then enter or modify either of the Internal Cross Reference Tags text fields for your own color names and internal color numbers.  Your changes are automatically saved as soon as you select another color swatch in the Workspace.

How long can my Palette Reference Tags be?

The maximum number of characters you are able to enter per field is eleven (11) characters.  You can split a name into two fields if it is longer than eleven (11) characters.

How do I name a color palette file?

Your color palette file name is based on what you enter into the fields for Palette Reference Tags.

File Exchange

What is the File Exchange?

The File Exchange is where you can import, load, or delete your saved color palettes or swatches.

How do I import an existing color swatch file into designPro?

The Browse button allows you to view files from the Documents folder in your computer’s Operating System. Use the Browse button to import a color swatch file directly from existing color data files (ACO or ACT) or from graphic files (JPEG or PNG) that were created and shared by another designPro Licensee.



What is a File Format?

A file format is the structure of how information is stored (encoded) in a computer file. File formats are designed to store specific types of information, such as JPEG and PNG for image or raster data, AI (Adobe Illustrator) for vector data, or PDF for document exchange.

How do I delete a color palette file?

From the “File Exchange” area, highlight the name of the color palette file you would like to delete, then press the “Delete…” button. A dialogue box will appear with the message; “Do you want to delete this file?” You may choose “Delete.” Or you may press the “Back” button, if you decide not to delete the color palette. You can also delete the file directly from the “zenColor File Exchange” folder on your desktop.

What is an ACO file?

An ACO file is a color file used by Adobe Photoshop, a raster graphics editing program.

What is a Graphic File Format?

Graphic File Formats or Image file formats are standardized means of organizing and storing digital images. Image files are composed of digital data in a variety of formats that can be rasterized for use on a computer display or printer.

What Is a Data File Format?

A Data File Format or just File Format is a standard way that information is encoded for storage in a computer file. It specifies how bits are used to encode information in a digital storage medium.

What is a JPEG or JPG format?

JPEG is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital images, particularly for those images produced by digital photography. The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable tradeoff between storage size and image quality.

The term “JPEG” or “JPG” is an initialism/acronym for the Joint Photographic Experts Group, which created the standard.

What is a PNG format?

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a raster graphics file format that supports lossless data compression, and is the most widely used lossless image compression format on the Internet.

Where do my files reside on my Operating System (OS)?

All designPro color palette files are located in Documents in a folder called zenColor File Exchange.

What is the Refresh Symbol?

The Refresh Symbol activates the process of reloading or updating the list of saved files being displayed in the Saved File area.

How do I delete a color palette file?

Highlight the name of the color palette file you would like to delete in the Saved File area, then press the Delete button. A dialogue box will appear with the message; “Do you want to delete this file?” Select Delete or press Back if you opt not to proceed with the function. You can also delete the file directly from the zenColor File Exchange folder on your desktop.

How do I load a color palette file to Workspace?

Highlight the name of the color palette file you would like to load from Saved File, then press the Load button.  You can also double click on the file name and the contents of the color palette file will appear in the Workspace.

How do I upload a color swatch file to my designPro?

Click on the Browse button and highlight a file to select. To upload the file to designPro, select the Open button option.  If you do not see the file in your Saved Files area, press the Refresh Symbol   and it will appear.

Why do I still see the color palette file in the File Exchange area even though I deleted it?

If you deleted the file directly from the zenColor File Exchange folder it should not appear. Just press the Refresh Symbol and the file name will disappear.

I have more files in my zenColor File Exchange folder than I do in File Exchange. What happened to my other files?

File Exchange sorts Graphic and Data files separately. If you press the File Format popup menu, you can view either your Graphic or Data files.


How many color swatches will the Workspace hold?

Workspace opens with twenty-four (24) swatches and expands to sixty (60) swatches when fully extended.

What is the Workspace?

Workspace is where you can create, save, share, delete, and review your color palettes.

Can I make my Workspace bigger?

Workspace can expand to sixty (60) swatches by dragging the lower edge of the extension bar.


Can I sort or rearrange color swatches in Workspace?

You may sort and rearrange color swatches with Drag & Drop.

How does Drag & Drop work?

Select a swatch you wish to move by clicking and holding it. As you do this drag the swatch to your desired location, and release the swatch. The other swatches will move to make room for the swatch you have just moved. You may also use this method to delete a single swatch by dragging it to the trash icon located in the lower right-hand corner of the program.

How do I clear a palette from my Workspace?

Selecting the Clear button removes all swatches from your Workspace.

Can I retrieve a palette after clearing my Workspace?

Once you clear a palette from the Workspace it is gone for good.  Always make sure to save your work if you wish to store it for future reference.

How do I delete a color swatch?

To delete any color swatch, select the color swatch and drag it over to the Trashcan Icon found on the bottom right of the application.

What is the Reference field for and why is it empty?

The Reference field is where your color palette file name will appear, provided the file has been saved.  If it has not been saved, the Reference field will be blank.

How do I save a color palette?

A palette in your Workspace can be saved by clicking the Save button.  In order to save a color palette file, however, you must first create a file name in the Reference Tag area.  You will be taken there automatically.

I saved my color palette file but can’t find it. Where did it go?

Once you save a color palette file, it will be stored in the File Exchange.

Sharing Palettes

How do I share a color palette with my colleagues?

Color palettes may be shared and exchanged by exporting them as graphic files (PNG or JPEG) or as data files (ACO or ACT). Files must first be saved to File Exchanged and loaded to Workspace.  Click Share and designate whether you want to send the file via text or email.

Can I export color swatches and palettes to use within product lifecycle management (PLM) systems?

Color swatches and palettes may be shared and exchanged within PLM systems, provided the PLM system is compatible with zenColor™ designPro and a License is in good standing.  PLM companies that wish to inquire about licensing the ZCC system should contact us at

If I share a file, will other users be able to “unpack” the metadata?

Only other designPro Licensees will be able to unpack and store the data in their own applications.  Think of designPro as a two-way color walkie-talkie, or a color palette party line, depending on how many other designPro owners you want to share with at one time.

Can I share a color palette file from Mac mail?

Yes, make sure to select the “Actual Size” popup preset in the email window.

How do I share a color swatch file or color palette file on Windows?

To Share a color palette file on a computer running on Windows, set “Photos app” or the old “Windows Photo viewer” as the default image viewer for “JPG or PNG.” This creates a similar workflow to a Mac. After you’ve done that, select the name of the color palette file you wish to export and press Load to open in Workspace.  Pressing the Share button will open “Photos app” or the old “Windows Photo viewer”. Users using Windows Photo Viewer to attach Palettes in an email; use the “Original Size” setting in WINDOWS 7, and use the “Photos” setting in WINDOWS 10.

What is the checkerboard swatch?

The checkerboard pattern represents what we call a null swatch or a swatch that does not represent a ZCC color.  You may see this represented by ZCC-0000.

Why does ZCC-0000 appear?

If that checkerboard swatch, also referred to as a Null Swatch or ZCC-0000, appears in any tab (Library, Picker, Editor, Reference Tabs) it means you have not selected a swatch with a color value.

How do I replace the checkerboard swatch (ZCC-0000)?

The 0000 is editable. Enter a valid ZCC reference number and the checkerboard will be replaced with the new ZCC reference number.


What is a License Key?

When you complete your purchase of designPro, you will be given a unique twenty-eight (28) digit number that is your License Key.  The License Key identifies you as an authorized designPro Licensee and is necessary to activate your designPro application.

Where do I enter my License Key?

Click on the Information icon. On the About zenColor™ designPro tab, your License Key can be manually entered or cut and pasted next to License Key.

What should I do if I lose my License Key?

To access your License Key, you must first click here and enter your email address. Upon submitting your email address, we will email you a link with access to your recent order(s). You can retrieve your License Key by going to the Orders tab.  The link will only be valid for one hour from the time the message is sent.

How do I know if my version of designPro is current?

On the Information area, next to the Program Version number you will find a blue inset box that will tell you if your version is current or if an upgrade is available.


Is a trusted Website?

Yes, we use industry-standard encryption to protect the confidentiality of your personal information. Any purchase and product fulfillment are through FastSpring, a trusted reseller for this store. To learn more, click here.

Where do I buy a License for designPro?

You can choose a version and purchase a License here. You must have a valid License in order to activate or update designPro.

How do I access my account information?

To access your account information, you must first click here and enter your email address. Upon submitting your email address, we will email you a link with access to your recent order(s), subscriptions and account details, and payment methods. The link will only be valid for one hour from the time the message is sent.

Renewal of License

Your license is valid for 12 months and will be automatically renewed unless you cancel your subscription.

General Questions

What is RGB?

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is the process by which Red, Green and Blue are combined to make colors.  Used for online applications, TV, mobile devices, games and illuminated signs.

What is CMYK?

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key a.k.a. Black) is a process by which tiny dots of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks are mixed to make colors.  Used for offset and digital printing and ideal for full-color flyers, posters, postcards and brochures.

What is HEX?

HEX (Hexadecimal) is a six-digit combination of letters and numbers that represent an RGB color.  It is mainly used in Website design.

What is Lightness?

In colorimetry and color theory, lightness, also known as value or tone, is a representation of variation in the perception of a color or color space’s brightness. It is one of the color appearance parameters of any color appearance model.

What is Hue?

Hue is one of the main properties (called color appearance parameters) of a color, defined technically (in the CIECAM02 model), as “the degree to which a stimulus can be described as similar to or different from stimuli that are described as Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow” (in certain theories of color vision called unique hues).

What is Saturation?

Saturation is the “colorfulness of an area judged in proportion to its brightness”, which in effect is the perceived freedom from the whitishness of the light coming from the area.



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