I imagine like many involved in web development, I rely heavily on a number of version control applications: I use Dropbox, Subversion (SVN) and Git.
For years I’ve used the TortoiseSVN client for Windows. It integrates with the Windows Explorer shell making it quick and easy to manage your version controlled code within Explorer.
I like that I don’t need a separate full-blown application that acts as an interface between the code on my PC and the SVN repository; I like that I don’t need to use a command prompt; but I love that TortoiseSVN adds overlay icons to tell me the state of each file (is it up to date, changed, added, etc.?).
Recently I’ve started using Git at work and so I’ve also installed TortoiseGit which does something similar.
And of course Dropbox does the same: it shows you which files have been synchronised with the cloud, and which are in the process of uploading.
The problem, though, is that each of these applications uses multiple overlay icons but Windows only uses the first 15.
TortoiseSVN and TortoiseGit both use the same nine icons:
Dropbox uses eight icon overlays. If you have OneDrive installed (which you will if you use Windows 8 or above) then it uses three. And Windows itself uses a few to indicate offline files or enhanced storage.
That’s 22 icon overlays, and like I said: Windows only uses the first 15.
So, inevitably you end up with some icons missing, and depending on which these are it can make life just that little bit harder when trying to figure out quickly whether a file is in sync or not, or whether it’s not even been added.
That means you need to make a choice about which icons you want to use and which you don’t.
What Microsoft should do…
This functionality was introduced in Windows 95, to still limit this value to 15 icons when we now have a 64-bit operating system and literally gigabytes of RAM and terrabytes of hard disc scpace seem mad.
Microsoft should now either
increase the limit from 15 to, say, 256 or 1024 or whatever multiple of eight they choose, or
provide a set of standard overlay icons (that can be updated as part of the current Windows theme) for the most common overlay icons (e.g. normal, read only, added, modified, deleted, ignored, conflicted, locked, question mark) that any application can hook into.
How to fix it
Anyway, the most straight-forward way to fix this is by editing the Windows Registry.
The icon overlays can be found in the following key:
Computer \ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers
It turns out you can safely rename the folders which will reorder the icons. The folders are just containers for the real information contained within them.
Export (backup) the ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers folder in its entirety, in case you need to restore it later.
2. Prioritise which icons you need
My current preference is for the following:
DropboxExt1 (green Synced)
DropboxExt2 (blue In progress)
DropboxExt5 (red Sync problem)
DropboxExt7 (grey Folder not synchronizing)
You can use whatever naming convention you prefer. I rename the original folder names with a number prefix and an underscore, e.g. 01_1TortoiseNormal. Folders that I want to drop to the bottom I prefix with a simple x, e.g. x5TortoiseReadOnly.
UPDATE: Some users are reporting that they prefix with a space as this appears to be the trick that OneDrive/SkyDrive has used.
In regedit it looks like this, with the unprioritized icons dropping to the bottom of the list.
3. Restart Explorer
Close any Windows Explorer windows.
Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager.
Look for Windows Explorer listed under “Background processes”.
Right-click it and select “Restart”.
Your taskbar will disappear a couple of times as the Explorer process is restarted, but you should now see all the overlay icons you want within your folders.
(Currently I’m having issues with OneDrive — formerly SkyDrive — but as I don’t rely on it for too much I’m not that bothered, to be honest.)
“Gijssays” posted a comment below in January 2016 that reads:
There is an even more permanent solution to this problem:
Go to the registry key ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers
Right click > Permissions… > Advanced
Now disable inheritance, take ownership of this key and check “Replace all child permission..”
Once you are the owner of the key you can permanently remove OneDrive / Dropbox or whatever keys you do not need.
To secure this key from future edits make it read-only for the SYSTEM user.
I have not tried this solution but I wanted to surface it into the article in case it helps anyone.
Zdenek Polach has also created a script to fix this. See The Overlay Icons Nightmare – TortoiseGit, SVN, Dropbox War Solved.
About a year ago I bought myself a new backpack, the Cabin Max Tallinn, for about £25. The reviews were favourable (average of 4/5 stars) and when it arrived I was delighted with it: mainly because it was more compact than the large rucksack that I bought for a trip to California about a decade ago.
I packed it and headed off to Glasgow and then London to seek my fame and fortune attend the first NYCGB Alumni choir singing day. It was a timely opportunity to road test the bag.
That four day trip identified two main issues. This wasn’t quite the bag that I thought it was.
However, I don’t like throwing stuff away, and I don’t like sending stuff back because it’s not 100% what I want it to be. This bag was about 95% the way there. I like the whole computer hacker culture (not to be confused with the illegal ‘cracker’) so…
Open zipped pocket
The first issue was that in the middle compartment there was a small, meshed pocket with a zip. I looked at that and thought it was the perfect size to store a passport, for example.
There was one small snag: the top of the zip wasn’t sewn down. So even when the zip was closed you could still slide items into the meshed pocket beneath the zip.
Who designed that?! It was like a shirt pocket with a redundant zip sewn into the top seam.
I wrote to Cabin Max and asked if this was a fault or a feature. It turned out to be a feature. I told them this was ridiculous and whoever it was I corresponded with agreed and said that she would pass on my feedback.
So I got my sewing kit out and completed the job: I sewed the zip down so that when the zip was closed it was… well, closed.
No inner straps
It wasn’t until a later trip last year that I realised there was another problem: if I didn’t pack the back completely full (as I had done for the London trip) then my clothes and whatever else I put in the large, main compartment just rattles around in there.
What this bag was missing, that every other rucksack or suitcase I own has, were straps inside that would allow me to tie down whatever I place into the main compartment.
So today I added my own. Having bought a couple of quick release tie-down straps online last week—the kind that people use for strapping things to their golf caddies (I believe)—this evening I measured them up (using the straps in my giant rucksack as a template) glued them in and sewed them down. Job done.
This weekend I’m heading to Sheffield for the second NYCGB alumni concert. I’ll report back how I get on with my two alterations to my bag.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed a strange behaviour with Windows 8.1. I have two monitors and whenever I tried to move the mouse between them my mouse pointer got stuck in the middle.
I would have to back up the mouse pointer then move it really quickly to get over the ‘hump’, and reach the next monitor.
Not the charms bar
At first I thought it may be caused by the Windows 8 charms bar. So I switched off the top-right corner navigation under Charms bar > Settings > Change PC settings > PC and devices > Corners and edges.
But it turned out not to be that. The mouse pointer blocking behaviour continued.
My attention then turned to ModernMix™, a Windows 8 application from Stardock that allows Modern (Metro) apps to run in a standard window on your desktop.
I had noticed this behaviour only after I had installed ModernMix, so I reasoned that it must have caused it. And sure enough uninstalling ModernMix seemed to stop the behaviour… until I rebooted the PC.
But I didn’t discover this until after I had emailed Stardock support.
Registry hack fixes it
Stardock support were incredibly helpful. The following day I received this reply:
While I can reproduce what you are seeing, I can do so without MM installed. It seems it is a thing with 8.1: