Making Icon Overlays Appear In Windows 7 and Windows 10

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Making Icon Overlays Appear In Windows 7 and Windows 10

Like This Blog 3 Mike Danseglio
Added by September 18, 2015

I use a ton of file synchronization applications across my desktops and laptops. Sure, I could consolidate, but it’s not really practical for me to have a single app. I keep work data synchronized with one app, home data with another, media with a third, a freelance job data with a fourth, and so on.

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Most of the file sync apps including Box, Dropbox, Cloud Sync, Sugar Sync, and OneDrive are designed to visually indicate when files are synchronized by putting a little indicator over the file. That overlay is usually helpful so I can tell at a glance which files are synchronized.

For example, here are a few MP3s on my hard disk.


See the green check overlay? That’s how I know that Cloud Sync has synchronized these files.

This is really great… until more than two sync apps are running. At that point some of the overlays stop showing up entirely. That can be really frustrating.

After some research I found that Windows 7 and 10 have a hard limit of 15 overlays. There’s a list in the registry, and no matter how many apps install overlays, only the first 15 are used. The rest are ignored.

So to solve this problem I first had to decide which overlays I want to see. Then I had to change the list to make those overlays the first 15 in the list. Here’s how you can change the list to suit your own needs.

First open the Registry Editor. You can press Windows + R, type regedit, and press Enter.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers. This is the list of installed icon overlays.


Identify the icon overlays you want to see. For each of them, right-click the key and choose Rename like I’m showing here.


Now insert a space in front of the name. That will bump it to the top of the list.

When you’re finished, close Regedit and restart the PC. You’re finished! The icons you want to see are now visible again. Just remember that no more than 15 can be shown.


Mike Danseglio – CISSP, MCSE, and CEH

Mike Danseglio teaches IT Security Training, Windows, System Center and Windows Server 2012 classes at Interface Technical Training. His classes are available in Phoenix, AZ and online with RemoteLive™.


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