Hello Quin i found this thread because i had the same exact problem. Heres what i found works for me,
1. use the selection tool and select the object you want to pull color from.
2. select the eyedropper tool and left click on the color you want to make a swatch
3. without clicking anything else click the swatches panel > click the little menu button (top right corner of the swatch panel)
4. select "new color swatch"
5. the color you slected should appear
If this does not work for you then im sorry but i dont know how else to help
if its really just a bug all i can suggest is a full reinstall of indesign but that should only be used as a last measure.
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The hidden secret that's driven me crazy too when trying to use the eyedropper is this:
Double click on the eyedropper tool and an options menu should pop up. That's where you select the attribute(s) you want the eyedropper to pick up. As Glenda the Good Witch would say, 'that's all it is!'
Quin, I just had a eureka moment! I was having the exact same problem, unable to sample color from images with the eyedropper tool, and when I sampled text to apply formatting, it strangely applied a black rule around the new text. The problem was intermittent, with the tool both working and not working within the same document. I finally realized the tool was misbehaving when sampling an item on the document, but worked fine when sampling images or text on the pasteboard.
So, the document I'm working on is an ad with a 1pt rule around the border. I have the border on it's own layer at the top level, and locked, so I can select items on the ad without the border getting in the way. What I found is, even though it's locked, the eyedropper tool is sampling the border from that layer!
I tried turning off stroke settings in the eyedropper options just gave my text a fill of 'none.' Turning off both stroke and fill settings had no effect on the new text at all. I tried unlocking the layer and just locking the border on it's own, but it still picked up the formatting from the border.
The only thing that worked is to hide the layer! Turn off the layer 'eyeball' and see if that works for you.
Have you found a solution for this?
Thank you so much for discovering the cause of this major (new?) annoyance! I can't remember with what version it started intermittently acting up but simple tasks like sampling a type style and applying it to another selection of type has become a headache in InDesign CC. I never would've guessed that in this case InDesign has been sampling a framed box (or something else on a higher layer) rather than the type directly below the cursor!
For me, turing off the layer wasn't enough, ID still sampled that style rather than the type under the cursor. When I moved the target type onto the pasteboard (and away from any other layer's elements), the eyedropper tool worked as it used to.
This behaviour and InDesign's penchant for defaulting to the new Color Theme Tool when I hit "I" for the Eyedropper (why do they share the same shortcut?!) are the cause of much cursing in my studio.
Anyway, at least now I have a workaround.
The problem is you have "appearance" enabled as part of the sampling. To fix this do the following:
Double click on the Eye dropper tool, and uncheck "Appearance" in the Eye Dropper Picks up section.
It's a bug I think and it should be fixed when you are sampling color from images.
Anyone have this resolved? Using Mac Air Sierra illustrator cs5 and getting a similar problem (just happened all of a sudden?). Am using the eyedropper tool to try take shades of the pdf and no matter what colour I'm trying to sample, it just gives the same greeny/blacky colour. Here is a example below. So taking a screenshot of the the mac background to get the shade of blue, however when using eyedropper tool to make the square black, it just gives the same colour!
I think I have an answard to this. I had the exact same problem like Quin. I played with Izac R...suggestions, found that simply with eyedropper, holding shift key and click on image color (no selections needed). And voilà—Color showed up in swatch fill!
Let me know does it work for you.