Ever wondered why there is a lock icon overlay appearing for some of your files and folders, as in the image below:

And for some folders:

I had a reader ask about this recently. Upon searching the web I found the explanation I needed, from Raymond Chen’s blog. The lock (padlock) overlay icon appears for files/folders which are private, but located under a non-private directory. Per Raymond Chen [MS]:

A private item is an item where the only user account with access is you.┬╣ You create one of these, for example, by going to the sharing wizard and saying Share with: Nobody. To avoid clutter, the overlay is shown only when there is a transition from non-private to private. (Otherwise you’d have a lock overlay on everything in your Documents folder, for example.)

┬╣Even though you are the only user account, there can still be access granted to groups and non-user accounts such as the Administrators group and the SYSTEM account.

Checking the properties of a file with padlock symbol and viewing the Security tab, it looks like this:

Tip: Quickly Make a File or Folder Private in Windows 7

If you quickly want to make a file or folder private, right-click on a file/folder, click Share with and choose Nobody. This displays that file or folder with padlock symbol, if they’re not already contained in a private folder.

Check out our other articles on Icon Overlays.

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  1. kathy
    said this on Saturday, April 5th 2014 9:27 pm

    I do too padlock icon on my internet explore and google please tell how to get this off

  2. Sherrie Hewson
    said this on Monday, August 5th 2013 12:48 pm

    A padlock icon is on Google +1 why is this and how do I take it off

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