Be Creative AND Organized: Color-Code Your Windows Folders

Intro Image 21   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows FoldersThe words “creative” and “organized” are rarely used in the same sentence. Usually it is one or the other. However, often being creative can help you be organized and there are plenty of cases of that all throughout the Internet. One of those cases is right here on MakeUseOf in this very article. Perhaps you may think that coloring a folder is being organized, but combined with other organizational habits, it can change the way you manage your files.

Before we go any further, I want to suggest that you take a look at the MakeUseOf article Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files, which is an in-depth guide to organizing your folders and files the right way. Color-coding folders won’t really be that much of a benefit if your files and folders are otherwise in a messy disaster of confusion.

How Color-Coding Your Folders Can Make You More Organized

Intro Image1   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

When you open up your Documents folder, does it look something like this?

Documents Folder   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Perhaps you have even more folders than what is pictured above. And if that’s the case, you likely have a hard time discerning between all of them. Color-coding folders comes in handy when you want a folder to “pop” out from the rest. There are certain things you can do to access a common folder more conveniently, such as adding it to the favorites sidebar or pinning it to the Windows Explorer icon in Windows 7. However, that too can’t be used too frequently or it becomes counterproductive.

What I suggest is a combination of organizational methods and integrating color-coding into your practices.

Documents Folder With Colored Folders   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

As you can see, the color-coded folders are significantly easier to spot.

Two Programs To Achieve One Task

There are actually three really good folder customization programs available. However through my research I ran into a bit of a snag and found that one of the programs (I’ll mention it later) isn’t compatible with Vista or Windows 7 (I suppose that means it’s not “really good” right?). I was quite bummed out about this.

Folder Colorizer

Folder Colorizer   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Folder Colorizer, created by Softorino, is a simple program that works great. I want to point out a couple quick “notices” about the program though before we jump into checking it out.

First, watch out for the “bloatware” when installing the program. Just be sure to uncheck the box.

Folder Colorizer Installation bloatware1   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Second, you must give them your email for special offers in order to use the program for free (to my knowledge there isn’t any paid option to bypass this). I tried clicking through this, but it wouldn’t work until I provided an email. Now, what you might try is using a temporary email address.

Folder Colorizer Free Activation Window   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Now on to the program itself. To start, simply right click on an already existing folder, hover over “Colorize!” and pick your color. It’s that simple. Note that you may need to refresh the window for changes to appear.

Folder Colorizer Right Click Documents Folder   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

If you decide you no longer want a folder to be “colorized”,  follow the same steps as if you were going to change the color, but click “Restore original color”.

But wait! There’s more! Folder Colorizer also provides a folder color manager which allows you to add and remove colors, as well as creating custom colors with the color wheel. To delete a color, hover over it and click the red “x”.

Folder Colorizer Color Manager   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Despite the first couple bad impressions about the program during the setup process, I was quite pleased with the simplicity and accuracy. And really, “bloatware” is to be expected with a free program so I’m certainly not knocking it for that. It’s just good to be aware of and to not just install everything that’s in the installation process on your computer.

Folderico

Folderico   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Folderico, by Shedko, is  a robust folder color-coding program. Before I go into it though, I want to prevent some potential confusion right at the start. There are two programs with the same name and spelling. However, one is spelled with a capital “I”, FolderIco. This program doesn’t stack up against Folderico by Shedko and the vibe that I got was that it was trying to copy it. However, if someone has had a different experience with FolderIco, I welcome you to share your thoughts in the comments.

Now on to Folderico (hope that wasn’t too confusing). There’s no need to worry about accidentally installing any additional software during the setup, which is a plus. It also does a great job of explaining its features in a tutorial-type setting on the main page.

Folderico has seamless integration with Windows Explorer and can be accessed through the context menu by right clicking a folder. However, the way it works in Windows 7 64-bit is different than how it works in other versions, including Windows 7 32-bit. Below is an image from the website showing how you might typically interact with Folderico. This applies to all, but Windows 7 64-bit.

Folderico Integration Image From Website   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

As you can see, you can access quite a few settings directly in the context menu. However, if you have Windows 7 64-bit (which is what I have), you get the “lightweight version”.

Folderico Context Menu Lightweight   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Once you click it, you’re prompted with the Folderico program (this is the same as if you were to just click the icon on your desktop.

Folderico Change Icon Window   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Next you want to select your folder type. There are two themes that come installed with Folderico, however if you want more variety, there are several more themes that you can download for free from the official website.

Folderico Select Icon   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Now that you’ve selected your icon, simply click “Apply“. You’ll also notice that if you ever want to remove the customization you can simply click the “Reset folder icon” button.

Now let’s quickly take a look at what else Folderico offers us. With the window open, you’ll see a few more buttons – Options, Language and Tools. I suppose there’s the About button too, but that is pretty self-explanatory.

Folderico Options   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Most of the tools and options won’t likely be needed for the average user. In the Options, you can change how an icon is installed, how icon names or numbers are displayed in the context menu, as well as some advanced options such as adding hidden attribute to extracted icon files (which is enabled by default).

Folderico Advanced Options   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

The Tools tab gives you some control on the integration to the shell and changing the library icon.

Folderico Tools   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Let’s not forget the Language tab though. There are quite a few languages available and if your preferred language isn’t shown, you can download additional languages.

Folderico Languages   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Note that Folderico isn’t only for Windows 7, but that it also has a version for XP as well as a portable version.

Folder Marker Free (XP Only)

Folder Marker   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

When I was trying this out on my Windows 7 operating system, I couldn’t figure out if I was missing something about the program, if I didn’t install it right (unlikely) or if the program was faulty. Well, it was somewhat of a combination. I was missing something and the program is also faulty (in my opinion).

Folder Marker Forum Message   Be Creative AND Organized: Color Code Your Windows Folders

Only the premium versions (Home and Pro) of Folder Marker is compatible with Vista and Windows 7. So unless you use XP, this isn’t relevant to you. Now, that could change, but as of now – that’s the current status. I haven’t had the means to actually test this program, but Mark wrote about it a while back on Geeks Are Sexy and he had good things to say about it. It’s quite unfortunate that they have to be sticklers about not developing it for Windows 7.

Conclusion

Although color-coding Windows folders isn’t a standalone solution to file management and organization it can be a great addition to your methods, while spicing up your computer with a bit of creativity. What are your thoughts on color-coding folders? Do you see it as a helpful addition to your organizational methods? Have you tried it or will you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image Credits: 3d colorful folders on white background via Shutterstock, Colored folders on a white background stacked via Shutterstock, Folder Marker, Folderico

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

63 Comments -

0 votes

Resident Evil 4 Weapons Vendor

Thank you Aaron. I like how quick and easy it is to use the Colorizer one. Also when you open the folder you colorized, I noticed that the color stays even in the taskbar when you hover over it, in Windows 7 of course.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

I noticed that as well! It’s quite integrated with Windows 7, contrary to the other two, which I like! Thanks for reading!

0 votes

Nikhil Chandak

does it changes the color of startbar ??
or Folderico can change the color of startbar ?
because I wanted a tool for changing the color of startbar …

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0 votes

Dhaval Patel

i am using it last 3 years and it is very good to identify the folders….

0 votes

Matjaz Mirt

I’ve been using Rainbow Folders for years. But I’ll try those two. Seems more integrated in Windows. Tnx for tip.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks for sharing about Rainbow Folders. Wish I had known about that one. When researching for this idea, I never came across it.

But thanks again and hopefully the readers will see it and try it too.

0 votes

juss passing thru

They have a color changer for folders that is called “folder marker”….there is a paid version and a free version….the paid version only offers a few more colors from what i could see but its similar to both colorizing programs u recommended…

0 votes

ha14

Rainbow Folder was popular soft to color folders.
http://www.english.aionel.net/

0 votes

druv vb

Thank you for this. I’ll definitely try Folder Colorizer. Its always a pain when trying to search for a particular folder, although I’ve been using a custom icon folder. Having coloured folders will surely catch your view at a glance, and the ease to access the colors through the context menu is much nicer than having to go through several windows for a custom icon.

0 votes

Rajaa Chowdhury

I have already been using Folder Colorizer for a few months now and loving it. Really organises things visually with a simple color changing of the folder.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Thanks for sharing your personal experience about it!

0 votes

Terafall

Thanks for the article.
Usually I change each folder’s icon manually but Folderico simplifies the process

0 votes

susendeep dutta

I like sub folder methods of arranging files.

0 votes

Dee

I can’t believe that Windows hasn’t come up with this option yet. I love using colors to make note of special items on my PC> Thanks for the software tips.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Yeah it does seem quite ironic, seeing that their logo (except for the most recent one with Windows 8) has been quite colorful.

And not a problem Dee. I’m happy to help! Also, some readers pointed out Rainbow Folders, which seems good too. I overlooked it though prior to this article so I haven’t had a chance to personally try it.

0 votes

gpvprasad

But I have doubt, I think it will increase power because more processor power is used to render different colors

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Personally, I wouldn’t say I have the quickest computer (it’s going on 4 years old) and I didn’t have any issues at all. I run several programs plus a Chrome browser with a lot of extensions for all that I need to do.

Perhaps some older computers might notice a decline in power, but otherwise I don’t think the typical user, especially with today’s computers, will have many issues.

The only other people that might not want something like this would be gamers who are trying to salvage as many resources as possible.

0 votes

Terry Keefer

As I like to organize my information visually Folder Colorizer has become of a great help. And it is so intuitive! Great job! I became a huge fan and hope we`ll see more great apps coming from Softorino. Cheers:)

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Terry,

Do you use any of their other apps? I had never heard of them prior to discovering Folder Colorizer.

Thank you for sharing your user experience. I know the readers appreciate that as well. I too found Folder Colorizer very intuitive.

Thanks for reading!

0 votes

Terry Keefer

Hi, Aaron!
I was just looking for the software to arrange my folders somehow, `cause there are lots of them. So I got to their website and decided to try Folder Colorizer. Then I downloaded PhoneStick as well as i needed to transfer my media files from iPhone4s.
Unfortunately one doesn`t benefit much if he/she lacks the series of their devices (i mean mac-ipad-iphone). For my PC it was a nice option.
At the moment am testing the app in a trial mode, and am pretty satisfied. It has some limitation for transferring, of course, so soon i must consider buying the app, i guess.

0 votes

Armando Zea

It sounds very interesting. I will dowload one of the programs and install it in my computer

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Feel free to share your thoughts after trying them Armando. Thanks for reading.

0 votes

Cathy Horner

I love this idea!! I have so many files for different things. Thanks!

0 votes

SLT

I have been using colored paper file folders in my law practice to organize case files for a decade, so why not colorize the computer file folders likewise. Particularly when scanning is leading to paperless offices. Thanks for the article because I didn’t have any idea this was possible. I am all for organization and color.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

My thoughts exactly! Glad you found this useful! Thanks for reading.

0 votes

Hi Aaron

Are any of these compatible with an iMAc or can you suggest a free programme
thanks

0 votes

Rahul

I like this tool and i read your article on organizing folders and it was a refresh to read it.

1. I thoroughly plan my partition before putting any folders. If i have 1 TB, i will distribute ans set the space according to media, (music and video will be higher). After that i label that partition so later on i remember this partition is for this
2. I automate the extract and moving of files and folders in different directories and use git for version control of some important documents, which i sync it with another computer
3. I avoid creating sub-folders as it becomes very difficult to process it for backup
4. I don’t keep anything in My Documents, and only create important shortcuts for frequently accessed folder

I also believe one important user experience is too visualize thumbnails for pdf, or video files so organization becomes easy. In windows 7 i excluded ccleaner from cleaning thumbnails but thumbnails get cleared in windows 8 even though i am admin.

PS – I have just written the manual for make use of – automate the web part 1 and part 2..and love make use of

Thank you

0 votes

Rebecca Doremus

Years ago I purchased a program named “Folder Magic” by CloudEight. Although I had XP at the time, and I have Windows 7 64Bit now, the program installs and runs. It is the best I have tried, including a couple you had mentioned. The program also allows the installation of icons, and they have about eight packs that you get when you purchase the software. The cost is $12.95 but all updates are free. I have never had to purchase new versions, etc.

0 votes

Kelly Karpinski

This is very useful. However, I could not download Folderico. I kept getting bounced around to different pages. I used the link below “Download to your PC.” Folder Colorizer worked fine.

0 votes

Garey Boone

I’ve been using CustoPacks to change the entire windows shell they have a folder colr changer integrated with it but not all themes support it. I love the Folder Colorizer I’ll be using that instead.

0 votes

Daniel J. Karas

I’ve always wondered why Windows didn’t have this feature. It seems so natural, since plain manila color folders are so ’90′s. Microsoft OneNote has colored folders in the notebooks & tabs, why not file folders? Colorizer is a great product.

0 votes

Prasanth Mathialagan

These customisation tools are awesome!! Well done!!

0 votes

Michael Meredith

0 votes

Michael Meredith

What a brilliant idea, after 30 years of computing I have found a logical and workable way to organize my files.

0 votes

eenr256

There is no need to install any new programs: right mouse button on a folder, Properties, Customize, Change Icon. This does not just colorize, but also associates your folders with special symbols.

0 votes

Eileen Souza

I’ve used Folder Marker Pro on my Windows 7 64-bit system for a couple of years. I like it a lot and the developmer is very responsive to both suggestions and technical questions. I use this product extensively in my color-coded genealogy organizing system so it was worth the $34. It allows you to color a folder and all its sub-folders in a single click and it allows you to create distributable copies of your color-coded folders so you can back them up and move them without losing the colors. I had previously tried a free version of another software but when I went to my new computer, I lost all the colors in hundreds of folders and had to do it all over again. Finally, it also includes some decorative folder icons in addtion to the colored ones. I have been very pleased with this product and I have not experienced any problems with it. I highly recommend it.

0 votes

Edward Deaver

Does this patch any .DLLs that could lead to security threats? I remember you have to replace 3 DLLs in order to do custom themes , I am wondering if this does the same thing just in the baclkground.

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Sebastian Hadinata

Nice article, I like the first one :D

0 votes

Kimberly Noh

Thanks Aaron as a Bookkeeper this will help with organizing files in the to Do – To File and important doc to move to cloud. Love it.!

0 votes

Paul Hays

Call me a color geek – I like this! I use a tab colorizer in FF, now I find I can do this with windows?! Color me happy!

0 votes

Arun Vishnu

thanks for such a good review and nice tip

0 votes

Luis Braz

I’ll give it a try, thanks for this article.

0 votes

Siva Lekha

right now. i am downloading Folderico. i will try it. is very helpful if the tools like this are available and notified here in MUO. thanks

0 votes

Nancy B

Sounds simple enough. I too am surprised that Windows 7 didn’t come with this as an option.
Never thought of doing it and might save a tad of time when looking for something in my files….but it will look pretty!
How much space does it take on the hard drive if you eliminate everything you can from the download?

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Nancy,

Thanks for your comment, but I’m finding your question a bit unclear. These are different programs, so they are going to be different file sizes… but again, if you could rephrase your question I feel I’d be able to help better.

Thanks for reading.

0 votes

Marija-Ira Pletikos

I love, love, love this… i always play with icons, and color.coding them si so simple and so cool!

0 votes

Shahbaz Amin

I used to have a freeware small software in Windows 7 which gave option to change a folder’s color. Haven’t tried anything like that in Windows 8 yet – do these programs work in Win 8?

0 votes

lance burn

a think its better having colours it looks better as well, a bit colour

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I used an Ave software but was disappointed because the colorized folder stay small even if we choose ‘Large Icon’. Since then I prefer assigning unique icons to folders. Another workaround is using colored folders icons.

0 votes

pp potana

Nice way to organize. Thank you guys

0 votes

Giggity Goebbels

Lol i am gonna try it

0 votes

Guest

Another feature Windows borrowed (stole?) from Apple. This was a feature way back in 1990 when Apple released the first Macintosh to have a color monitor, the Color Classic. Starting with System 6 on color Macs, and continuing with System 7, OS 8 and beyond (to this day), You could apply “Labels” to your folders, which essentially were colors attached to different categories. If you went into the Labels Control Panel, you could change the labels’ names (Essential, Hot, In Progress, Cool, Personal, Project 1, Project 2) to anything you wanted. You could assign different colors to, for example, different people using the same computer.

Apple also included an Easter egg in the System 7 Labels Control Panel. If you deleted all the names of the labels and left the text boxes blank, then restarted, you’d see the Label menu display the letters “ALAN JEF” for the Apple programmers who wrote the Labels control panel app.

reocities.com/SiliconValley/7933/mac.html

0 votes

VJmishra7

Great article. Gonna try it now

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Sourabh Rawat

thanx 4 dis, i was searching for a software like dis for Windows 8……….

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EdmarJohn SanDiego

are there any color that isn’t so vibrant? It looks girly.
but great job though it really helps to organize folders

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Folderico has quite a few “not-so-girly” colors. Might want to look into that one.

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Jamie Knop

I have been looking for something like this but not had much luck. Reason being I want to be able to colour code ANY file or folder + be able to add a note to them. If anyone has any suggestions then thanks.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Jamie,

These programs SHOULD be able to color code any folder, but I don’t think they can do files — haven’t heard of any apps doing that actually.

Also, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “adding a note to them”. I’m assuming “them” are the folders?

0 votes

Jamie Knop

Ah thats a shame, my hunt continues!

By add a note for example in “details” view in a folder having a column to add notes in, small sentences e.g. “waiting on jimmy to get back to me”. Just a little reference text. Cheers

0 votes

Aaron Couch

I see what you’re saying. Well have you looked into something like Evernote or Google Docs? Those might be better solutions. For something that you’re looking for.

0 votes

Jamie Knop

Thank Aaron but it has to be locally based as we work with a lot of folders/files and the added time to upload/organise would be hassle. I’m sure there is something out there that fits my our needs its just finding it!