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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 Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files Creating Order From Chaos: 9 Great Ideas For Managing Your Computer Files It's frustrating isn’t it when you can’t find that file? When you’ve searched every folder imaginable on your computer, and somehow it got lost….or worse, deleted. Now, there are excellent search tools for Windows that... Read More , 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.

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 Five Free Temporary Email Services To Avoid Spam Five Free Temporary Email Services To Avoid Spam Read More .

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 A Simple Checklist To Safely Installing Free Software Without All The Junk A Simple Checklist To Safely Installing Free Software Without All The Junk Picture this - you've just found this awesome free software that you are stoked about because of all that it can do for you, but when you install it, you discover that it is packed... Read More on your computer.


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 How To Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once & For All How To Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once & For All Your desktop is a mess. Admit it. Just like a desk with papers all over, a messy computer desktop is far from productive. Plus, it just doesn’t look nice. If you’re having issues finding the... Read More .

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.


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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