What are these 2 small blue arrow overlays which appear on desktop icons?

If you have noticed an icon with 2 small blue overlays, then know that it has been placed there by the Windows OS to indicate that the file or folder has been compressed to save disk space. If you are looking for a way to remove these two blue compression arrows on desktop icons, then this post will show you how to do it. My younger daughter recently brought this to my notice and so I decided to write about it.

2 small blue overlays which appear on desktop icons

blue arrows on desktop icons

You may have noticed several icons in your Windows operating system which have an overlay icon on it. This could be the most common overlay arrow icon, which indicates that the icon is a shortcut icon; or it could be a padlock icon, which would indicate that you have a private item in a non-private directory. Two small blue arrows on the top right corner of the icon indicate a compressed file or folder.

To save disk space, the Windows operating system allows you to compress files and folders. When you compress a file, using the Windows File Compression function, the data is compressed using an algorithm, and re-written to occupy lesser space. When you access that file again, the data has to be again decompressed first before you can access it. Thus reading compressed files require more time and consume processing power too. The compression behavior is as follows:

  • If you move a file from a DIFFERENT NTFS drive into a compressed folder, it is also compressed.
  • If you move a file from the SAME NTFS drive into a compressed folder, the file retains its original state, either compressed or uncompressed.

The 2-arrows can appear if you compressed the folder or file, or if you moved the file or folder into a compressed folder.

Remove two blue compression arrows on desktop icons

You have two ways of removing this icon overlay. The first is to decompress the file or folder and the other to prevent Windows from displaying this overlay icon even when the folder is compressed. In the latter case, you will not know simply by looking at the icon if the item is compressed or not and that could be a disadvantage.

1] Decompress via Properties

To decompress a file or a folder, right-click on and the file or folder and under the General tab, select Advanced.

Here uncheck the option to Compress contents to save disk space and click Apply/OK. Windows will start un-compressing the contents and the 2-arrows will disappear.

2] Registry method

Before you begin, create a System Restore Point first. Now to remove the 2-arrows overlay icon, you will have to open Registry Editor. To do so, press Win+R in combination. In the empty field of the Run dialog box that appears on your computer screen, type regedit and hit Enter.

When the Registry Editor opens, navigate to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons

Please note that, if the Shell Icons key does not exist, you will have to create it. To do so, select File Explorer, right-click Explorer, chose New and select ‘Key’ from the options displayed, and name the key as Shell Icons.

Remove Lock Overlay Icon on Encrypted Files

If you already have Shell Icons, you will see a string 179 in the right panel of your window screen. If not, create a new String Value and name it 179.

New String Value

Now set its Value Data to the full path of a blank icon file. You will have to create a blank or transparent .ico file of size, or you can download this one from our servers and use it.

Now, for removing the 2-arrows Icon Overlay, edit the string value 179 and insert the path of the blank .ico file you want to use.

At any point in time, if you would like to restore to original settings, then simply delete the 179 String.

We recommend the first way of doing it.

You can also use our freeware Ultimate Windows Tweaker to remove the double blue arrows icon overlay for compressed files. You will find the tweak under Customization section> File Explorer tab.

TIP: If the icon does not change, you could clear rebuild the Icon Cache using our freeware Thumbnail and Icon Cache Rebuilder for Windows 10.

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Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

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