Be Creative AND Organized: Color-Code Your Windows Folders

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color code 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

color code windows folders

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

color code windows explorer

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.

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color code windows explorer

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

color code windows explorer

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.

color code windows

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.

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.

color code windows

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”.

color code windows

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, 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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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

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.

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)

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).

color code 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

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Comments (68)
  • Teresa.wow

    What about Windows 8 or 10? I can’t find anything.

  • Rfletch

    Very disappointed in both of these recommendations. Folder Colorizer added crapware and a browser hijacker despite the fact that I declined these “offers.”
    Folderico worked sporadically at best and did not add a right-click context menu at all.
    Both of these programs are junk.

    • Aaron Couch

      Rfletch,

      I appreciate your feedback, however I didn’t have the same experience when I went back and redownloaded both of these tools. Both work fine. Also, this article is over 2 years old and a lot can change in the installation in two years. “Bloatware”, though I hate it, doesn’t define how well a program performs. I was able to opt out of all the additional installs that Folder Colorizer prompted me with. Folder Colorizer is also in my context menu and works fine. I would like to note that I specifically highlighted the need for unchecking these boxes during the installation in the article itself.

      If Folderico is only working part of the time, please provide more information to me as to when it’s not working. Only then will I have an idea as to what is going on. You may also want to contact the company.

  • Dennis Schwab

    Aaron,
    I tried both Folder Colorizer and Folder Marker. Folder Marker has been upgraded to work on Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. However I liked Folder Colorizer much better since it works seamlessly with Windows, in that when using the Windows Explorer to search and or scroll through your Folders and Sub Folder you just have to right click on the one you want and the pop up menu appears with the Colorize item listed in the list of commands. Just hover over Colorize move over to the new Colorize pop up window with the selection of colored folders shown, move the mouse pointer to the color desired and right click or left click on the color (either right or left works) and voila your folder is colored.
    I have an iMac with OS X 10.10.1 and Parallels 10 with Windows 7, and neither Folder Colorizer or Folder Marker would color the folders in my external hard drive even when a particular folder or drive was configured to be shared with Parallels and Windows 7. I can still readily access my external WD Book Hard drive with either Windows Explorer or my OS X Finder and open and save to it with either OS whether shared or not. The only folders I can colorize are those that are within my Windows 7 partition (C:) of my iMac Computer internal hard drive.
    I do wish that the colorizer program would also color the files as well as the folders and sub folders.
    As a new iMac user I have discovered that there are a lot of Apple – iMac and others users that are very upset with Apple for removing the ability of coloring files and substituted this long available feature with Tags, which is a colored dot or overlapping colored dots at the extreme right of the file names, not as readily apparent as colored files. However, Tags does have the feature of adding a written description of the file, which I’m not sure how useful it is because Apple’s Finder has one heck of a search and find feature with spotlight. Although there are a lot of other Apple Users that claim that tags is much better than colored files, I believe that the truly creative types, that mostly make up the population of the Apple Orchard, are the ones that really depend on colored files and detest tags, because of who and what they are and what side of the brain they use. Those that like tags are probably the more ordered types – more Windows file structure oriented, who appreciate the quality and virus immunity of Apple products. I myself, a longtime Windows user and recent Apple convert, like both after having been introduced to colored files and labels, through the incorporation of XraFinder in my iMac which also works seamlessly with the Apple OS Finder, which has the fastest and most comprehensive file search capability that I have ever used.
    All of you who have read this far I salute your patience and high threshold to tolerating rambling.

    • Aaron Couch

      “All of you who have read this far I salute your patience and high threshold to tolerating rambling.”

      Haha well, I appreciate you sharing an in-depth user experience with me and the readers, Dennis! Thank you. I love comments like that.

      I wish I had a solution for your problem with the programs not working with Parallels. If you ever do come across something else, I’d be very interested to hear about it! And I’ll do the same in return.

      Thanks for reading!

  • 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.

    • 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?

    • 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

    • 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.

    • 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!

  • EdmarJohn SanDiego

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

    • Aaron Couch

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

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.