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Ionic driving forces provide the net electromotive force for ion movement across receptors, channels, and transporters, and are a fundamental property of all cells. In the brain for example, fast synaptic inhibition is mediated by chloride permeable GABAA receptors, and single-cell intracellular recordings have been the only method for estimating driving forces across these receptors (DFGABAA). Here we present a new tool for quantifying inhibitory receptor driving force named ORCHID: all-Optical Reporting of CHloride Ion Driving force. We demonstrate ORCHID’s ability to provide accurate, high-throughput measurements of resting and dynamic DFGABAA from genetically targeted cell types over multiple timescales. ORCHID confirms theoretical predictions about the biophysical mechanisms that establish DFGABAA, reveals novel differences in DFGABAA between neurons and astrocytes, and affords the first in vivo measurements of intact DFGABAA. This work extends our understanding of inhibitory synaptic transmission and establishes a precedent for all-optical methods to assess ionic driving forces.