Green Tick or Blue Arrows Icon Overlay Displayed for Files in Windows Explorer

If you’re wondering why Explorer shows certain files or folders with some icon sign in the corners, such as white tick mark in a green box, or chevron in a blue box or any other symbol such as white tick in round green background regardless of the file type, then you’ll find this post helpful.

These are known as icon overlays, added by programs to provide some additional information about the files or folders marked with the overlay symbol. For example, a backup program that you use may place an icon overlay for files and folders that are backed up, and a different symbol for files that aren’t included in backup. While icon overlays provide great visual clues, certain icon overlays can be distracting too. Here are some screenshots of Icon Overlays in Windows.


(Fig 1: Overlay added by Microsoft OneDrive, previously SkyDrive)

Related article: Are you using Windows 10, and seeing the blue double arrow icon for files and folders in Windows 10, see article Mysterious Blue Double Arrow Icon on Files and Folders in Windows 10?


(Fig 2: Overlay added by Norton 360)


(Fig 3: Overlay added by Mozy Backup)

How to Find and Disable the Overlay Icons

Option 1: Using ShellExView

ShellExView from Nirsoft has always been very useful in troubleshooting problems in the shell environment all these years, and has proved it time and again. This tool can be used to disable shell extensions including the Icon Overlay handers.

Sort the entries by Type column, check the Icon Overlay Handler entries, select the appropriate item. You can disable them via the right-click menu or toolbar.

If you’re not able to disable the entries, check the registry permissions for the corresponding keys.

Option 2: Using Autoruns for Windows

Download Autoruns from Windows SysInternals site. Right-click the Autoruns executable and choose Run as Administrator.

For some reason the OneDrive extensions aren’t listed by Autoruns (v13.50.00), although I have the Hide Microsoft Entries and Hide Windows Entries options unchecked in the Options menu.

You can disable or delete the entries from there.

Inspecting the Icon Overlay Handlers Manually

The Icon Overlay Handlers are registered under the ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers registry key at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers

It shows some GUIDs registered under it. OneDrive adds these five sub keys, given below along with the GUID data:

Subkey : OneDrive1 => {BBACC218-34EA-4666-9D7A-C78F2274A524}

Subkey : OneDrive2 => {5AB7172C-9C11-405C-8DD5-AF20F3606282}

Subkey : OneDrive3 => {A78ED123-AB77-406B-9962-2A5D9D2F7F30}

Subkey : OneDrive4 => {F241C880-6982-4CE5-8CF7-7085BA96DA5A}

Subkey : OneDrive5 => {A0396A93-DC06-4AEF-BEE9-95FFCCAEF20E}

Export the keys to a REG file to back them up, and then delete the unwanted icon overlay entry.

Cases where there is no mention of program name

Subkey : OverlayExcluded  => {4433A54A-1AC8-432F-90FC-85F045CF383C}

Subkey : OverlayPending    => {F17C0B1E-EF8E-4AD4-8E1B-7D7E8CB23225}

Subkey : OverlayProtected => {476D0EA3-80F9-48B5-B70B-05E677C9C148}

If the program name isn’t shown, Googling the GUIDs should tell you the corresponding program that added the Overlay. For instance, in this case the GUIDs belonged to and added by Norton 360. Norton 360 v2 adds a feature called "Backup Status Indicators" which clearly identifies which files have been backed up, which files are pending backup and which are excluded from backup. This feature is responsible for the Tick mark (green box) and double arrow (blue box) overlay icons.

Quoting PCMag:

A check in a green box means the file’s backup is current, while a chevron (») character in a blue box indicates a file that’s been changed since its last backup. Files excluded from the backup set display a slash in a gray box.

If you don’t need the backup indicators feature you can turn it off by clicking Settings in the Norton 360 main window, disabling the Backup Status Indicators check box and clicking Close.

Norton 360 Main window

Another program that adds a green checkmark to files, other than OneDrive is MozyHome Backup program. It adds a green checkmark overlay icon for files which are included in your backup list. To disable the overlay, select the following checkbox in Mozy Options:

Disable icon overlays in Windows Explorer

Enabling this option hides the icons that displays next to files and folders in Windows Explorer when a file is included in your backup list.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

40 thoughts on “Green Tick or Blue Arrows Icon Overlay Displayed for Files in Windows Explorer

  1. Awesome! I was wondering what made my icons look silly. Thanks for the tip on how to remove it. Yeah, I got Comcast and Norton came with their internet service for free, so I installed it, but always wondered what was up with the Green and Blue overlays. Thanks!

  2. Wow, thanks. Really thankful for this help. Also very helpful to hear how you solved it; it takes the mystery out of it and helps me to learn Windows. I actually looked up what a GUID is and navigated the registry. Not sure how you knew what registry to look at or that the problem was an “icon overlay”, but I imagine that comes with experience.

  3. You will have to right click and “Refresh” your desktop after you uncheck the Norton “Backup Status overlay” box to make it take effect :)

  4. quick question, once un ticking the notification do you need to reboot as I done this earlya and nothing happened?

    can anyone help ASAP please

  5. Hey all, I have the latest version of 360, they changed he wording a bit, now call “BACKUP STATUS OVERLAYS”, everything remains the same. :D Thanks so much, those check marks are SOOOO annoying.

  6. OMG I have tried everything to get rid of the green checks on images in my pictures! Almost to the point of deleting Picasa! So happy to find out it was actually my Norton. Problem solved! Thank you :)

  7. Thank you thank you thank you. These icon overlays have driven me nuts for two years, since I installed Norton 360. (I didn’t make the connection, though; I had no idea where the overlays were coming from or even what to call them.) They’ve been a constant visual irritant and I’ve repeatedly searched for a way to erase them. Nothing turned up until today, when I realized the double arrow was also a chevron, and included that in my search terms.

    Your instructions for turning off the overlays in N360 are precisely right, and as soon as I changed that setting, my overlays disappeared. A weight has been lifted. Bless you, Ramesh.

    — AG

  8. Thank you – I have been troubled with these arrows in Windows Photo folders for ages – I just wish I had found your information sooner – what a pleasure it is Now they are Gone – Brilliant information

  9. Thank you!!! When I searched google, I directly entered this site because it is not the first time that I found a solution for my problems here.

  10. very helpful. It drove me crazy wondering where the blue marks were coming from, since I installed google chrome and norton 360 around the same time. I originally thought it was chrome. I typed in keywords chevron blue box to find your article.

  11. Thanks for helping get rid of the green checkmarks. I went to “settings” on Norton & removed checkmark from “Backup status overlays”. It did the trick. I appreciate your help!

  12. Thanks. The check marks were driving me crazy and I tried everything in Windows to get rid of them. Never crossed my mind that Norton would be the cause.

  13. I have done everything you have said and i still have the little green arrows and blue on my files im so frustrated it is taking up space i have even deleted as many photos files as i can my computer is also slow
    How do i delete the backup files that norton has backed up so i have more space hopefully you can help me

  14. The irony is that I believe this is a GREAT, possibly ESSENTIAL feature for non-technical PC users. A constant easy-to-interpret indication that a file is backed up. Brilliant. If anyone knows how to make these icons appear with Windows Backup, and similar “synchronization” overlays for Windows Live Mesh (like Dropbox’s), I would greatly appreciate a link.

  15. Thanks to all who responded to my green tag problem. I spent countless hours trying to figure it out until Microsoft sent me to this site. This site is now in my Favorits

  16. thank so much. I have been looking everywhere about the green tags. they are on my photos and I could find nothing until I saw you answered another question about these tags. The picture above helped me know this was also my problem. I never would have figured it from norton. I have tried everything at microsoft and photo gallery. Finally a solution!

  17. Well, it’s been months of investigation for me. A quick query to microsoft and they sent me to this site. I was working with a new OS, new computer, new virus program I didn’t know where to start. Thanks for the great information.

  18. Another techno dummy thanks you!! I could not figure out the source of these more than annoying icons. I dunned ACDsee, Photoshop, Windows. Never thought of Norton. Why they would think an icon 50% the size of the thumbnail is needed I can’t fathom. And, as usual “help” is of absolutely no use. THANK YOU!

  19. I spent at least two hours looking through guides and tutorials and help menus – You saved a great amount of additional time and major frustration. You are a great friend to all of us “techrons” (in Florida we call tourists who are driving like morons, “Tourons” so I suppose it is fair that I be a techron. Thank You!

  20. Who would have thought to look at Norton! Being a technodummy, I was trying to find a solution in Windows! I was SO annoyed when those green/blue boxes started popping up!

  21. Thanks for the information. This has been driving me bugs (pardon the pun) for longer than I’d care to admit.

  22. Thanks so much for helping me get rid of those blessed tick icons. They make
    all the files so much harder to view. I knew it was Norton but did not know how to
    fix it ! !

  23. THANK YOU! This has been driving me crazy for the past few days. Could not figure out where those were coming from.

  24. If you go to settings on the Norton 360, it is the “Backup Status Overlay” causes the blue arrows. I dont know about the check marks…I havent seen any of those. But if you turn off the “Backup Status Overlay” then they will no longer appear. That is the only thing that this option is for. It won’t make your computer vulnerable or anything. The option is just to let you know what has been backed up and what hasnt been.

  25. Yes… this still works! Thank you. Only took me an hour to find this answer, but worth it. That Norton 360….

  26. 4 hours of frustration could have been solved by 15 minutes of googling and reading through the varied pages, this one that fixed it here was on page two of my search for the blue arrow search I did, thank you so much for the peace of mind this sight gave me, and unchecking it in norton did work for me, but then again I have XP still, haven’t migrated to 7 yet. Thanks again for the answer.

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