How to Identify Pills with Pill Identifier?


Have you ever found a pill on the floor and weren’t sure what it was? Maybe you just got a new prescription from the pharmacist and want to double check that it’s the right medication.


Don’t worry, there are easy ways to identify pills by looking at the:

  • Imprint code
  • Color
  • Shape

By checking these pill attributes, you can make sure you don’t accidentally take the wrong drug, take it incorrectly, or throw out a prescription because you don’t know what it is.

How to Identify Pills with Pill Identifier?

How to Identify Pills with Pill Identifier



In this article, we’ll walk through the simple steps to identify pills, tablets, and capsules using handy online resources and tools. Let’s get started!

Pill Attributes to Look For The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rules that every approved pill, tablet, or capsule has to look unique.

This is done on purpose to make identifying pills much easier. Unless it’s a really good fake, you can usually figure out what a pill is straightforwardly by checking a few key attributes:

Imprint Code:

  • This is a unique code printed on each pill
  • It’s a mix of numbers, letters, or the drug name
  • You might also see a company logo
  • The letters/numbers can be tiny! Use a magnifying glass if needed


Pills come in all sorts of fun shapes like:

  • Round or oval (most common)
  • Square, rectangle, diamond
  • Triangle, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon


  • Each pill type has its standard color
  • Some well-known examples:
    • Brown Advil tablets
    • Blue Viagra pills
  • Pills can have more than one color
    • Different colors on each side
    • Two-tone capsules
    • Patterns like red specks on white


  • Pills can be tablets, capsules, caplets, etc.


  • Some pills have score lines/grooves.
  • There may be one scoreline, several, or none.
  • Score lines are on the same side as the imprint code or on the opposite side.

How to Identify Pills Online?

Tools to Identify Mystery Pills Once you’ve noted the imprint code, shape, color, and other attributes, you can plug that info into online tools to identify the medication.

Here are some great options:

MedSnap (iPhone app)

  • Take a photo of the pill to identify it.

Poison Control Pill Identifier (website)

  • Interactive search.
  • Enter imprint code, shape, color, or drug name.

FDA’s Drug Identification (email service)

  • Email a pic of the pill to the FDA.
  • They’ll identify it for you.

Medscape Pill Identifier (website)

  • Aimed at healthcare pros but is free to use.
  • Enter the pill’s attributes to identify it.

When Pills Can’t Be Identified In some cases, the tools and services above won’t be able to ID your mystery pill. Most likely, this means it’s not an FDA-approved drug.

You might be looking at:

  • An illegal drug.
  • A counterfeit pill.
  • An alternative remedy.

If you’re stumped, take the pill to your pharmacist for help. And remember – never take any medication you can’t identify with 100% certainty! It’s not worth the risk.

What to Do With Extra Pills?

If you end up with pills you can’t identify and therefore can’t take, don’t let them sit around collecting dust.

Leaving unused meds in the house is unsafe and unnecessary, whether they’re over-the-counter or prescription.

Disposing of Unused Pills You’ll need to get rid of the extra drugs, but don’t just toss them in the trash where a person or pet could find and eat them.


Also avoid flushing them down the toilet, which pollutes the water supply and can harm fish, plants, and animals.

Instead, use these recommended disposal methods:

Local drug take-back programs

  • Bring unused meds on designated collection days

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Collection Sites:

Pharmacy disposal

  • Check if your pharmacy can take back and safely dispose of unused meds

Wrapping It Up To recap, if you find yourself with a mystery pill, don’t panic. You can easily figure out what it is by looking at key attributes like:

  • Imprint code
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Form
  • Score lines

Plug those details into online pill identifier tools from places like Medscape, Poison Control, the FDA, or the MedSnap app.


In most cases, you’ll get a clear answer. If not, the pill may be counterfeit, illegal, or an alternative remedy. Ask a pharmacist if you need help.

Never take unidentified pills, and always dispose of unused meds safely through take-back programs, DEA collection sites, or pharmacy disposal when possible.

Don’t flush them or put them in the trash.

We hope this guide has helped demystify the pill identification process. Stay safe out there!



  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.
  2. U.S. Geological Survey. Pharmaceuticals in water.
  3. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Where and how to dispose of unused medicines.

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