ArcMap symbol selector showing incorrect colors

Last Published: April 25, 2020


When I pull up the symbol selector for a layer in ArcMap:

(1) The Fill Color and Outline colors display incorrectly.

(2) The available symbol colors change when I click on the Fill color or Outline color buttons.

(3) The symbol indicators under the ArcMap display tab change.


Monitor display is set to 256 colors. Color depth or color palette choices are grouped into 3 main categories: (1) 256 colors (8 bit) (2) high color (15 - 16 bit) and (3) true color (24 bit). The number of bits used to represent each pixel governs how many colors or gray shades can be displayed. For example a true color setting uses 24 bits to display each pixel. This means that 8 bits are available for storing the intensity values for each component of the red, green, blue color spectrum. With 8 bits, 2 to the 8th power, or 256 different intensities are available for each color yielding a total of 16.7 million color possibilities. When the display is set to 256 colors, each color is allotted only 2 or 3 bits to store the red, blue, and green intensity values. This leaves between 4 and 8 available intensities for each color resulting in a palette of only 256 colors

Solution or Workaround

  • To use ArcMap's full range of color and symbol display capabilities, set the color display to at least high color (15 bit).
  • To maximize colors available to ArcMap set the display setting to true color (24-32 bit).
  • To access the display settings click Start > Settings > Control Panel > Display > Settings.

    For these changes to take effect exit and restart ArcMap.

Article ID:000001791

  • ArcMap 8 x

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