Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (2023)

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (1)

Your desktop icons usually don’t have any marks next to or over them.

Perhaps the only marks you may see are the arrows on the bottom left corner of the icon to show the file is a shortcut.

However, next to the icons, you may see checkmarks you haven’t seen before.

Do they show something is going wrong?

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks?

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (2)

The checkmarks next to the desktop icons belong to Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service.

These checkmarks are green and show that your files have been successfully uploaded to the OneDrive cloud space.

They come in two different shapes that indicate their storage location.

A circle with a green border and a green checkmark inside shows that the file is locally available, but it may be deleted if you have insufficient storage.

A solid green circle with a white checkmark indicates the file is permanently available on the device.

What’s OneDrive?

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (3)

OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service that allows you to sync and share your files in the cloud.

If you have enabled OneDrive, you can access your files on all your devices and be sure that you’ll never lose your important data.

The free storage space offered by OneDrive is 5 GB, and you’ll automatically get it when you create your Microsoft account.

Plus, you don’t need to install any apps on your system to access OneDrive because it’s baked into Windows 10.

You can set up a personal account, known as the Home account, or use the version offered by your office or school.

If you want to expand your storage, you need to pay a monthly fee and subscribe to Microsoft 365.

It has many different perks, such as 1 TB of paid storage and another 1 TB of free storage and access to Microsoft Teams, Office Maps, Microsoft Editor, Microsoft Family Safety, etc.

To access your files on another device, you need to log in to your Microsoft account and all your previously stored files will be there.

It has a Files on Demand feature, which allows you to access your files without downloading them.

This way, you can save lots of local storage.

You could even share your files with other people by sending them the link that OneDrive generates for you.

In addition, OneDrive allows you to access your files on your mobile devices by installing its mobile app, and as soon as you connect to the internet, it will sync all your data across your devices.

As a result, when you change the contents of a file, you can see the new version on all of the connected devices.

You could even set up a OneDrive account on iPhone and Mac devices.

You just need to download the app and set up the account by providing your Microsoft account or any email address that you use to set up your original OneDrive account.

OneDrive Status Badges

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (4)

When you select files and folders to store on your OneDrive account, the tool will let you know the storage status of the file through badges or symbols next to the file icon.

You’ll see a green checkmark next to the file’s icon when your files are successfully synced and uploaded to your cloud storage.

It’s a good sign that everything is protected and you’ll never lose your data.

However, you may see green checkmarks with two different designs, each indicating a different status.

Here’s what they mean:

If you see a green circle with a green checkmark inside, it indicates your file is locally available because it has been downloaded to your device.

This feature allows you to access your file even when you don’t have internet access.

If you have a space shortage and want to have the file only in the cloud, you can right-click the icon and select Free up space.

Although this file is locally stored on your device, it may get deleted if you run out of disk space.

However, you can make sure it permanently remains on your computer by right-clicking the file and selecting Always keep on this device.

The other green badge is a white checkmark inside a solid green circle.

Like the other green icon, it means that you have the file locally stored, but it’s always on your device to make sure you’ll never lose it.

You can’t return this file to “online storage only” because it has the Always keep on this device option activated.

Other OneDrive Marks

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (5)

As mentioned before, you can see your files’ storage and syncing status through the badges displayed next to file icons.

The green checkmarks aren’t the only marks you’ll see on your icons because your files may have different storage statuses.

Here’s what you may see as well:

  • A cloud icon that’s white inside with blue borders shows that your file is only available online, and you can’t access it without an internet connection.

These files don’t take up any local space on your device.

  • A white cross inside a solid red circle indicates syncing the file has run into a problem.

You should look for ways to troubleshoot syncing (more on that later).

  • A circle made of two arrows shows that OneDrive is processing changes and syncing the file.

This icon should soon change to one of the above icons, either green or red.

If syncing takes a long time, the file may be too large, you have many files syncing simultaneously, or you have a file open online.

  • A chain sign next to the folder icon indicates it’s a shortcut, and the original file has already been shared.
  • An icon that looks like a person next to the cloud icon means you’re sharing that specific file with other people.
  • A padlock next to a file icon means the file or folder settings don’t allow syncing.

For example, the file is temporary, has an invalid name, or the name contains invalid characters.

In addition to files on the desktop or in the File Explorer, you’ll see icons on the taskbar.

These icons indicate the general status of OneDrive activities and don’t refer to a specific folder.

All of these icons involve a cloud symbol with a mark next to it.

Here’s what you may see:

  • A solid white cloud means all the files are synced, and OneDrive has no problems.

If you have two OneDrive accounts and both are running with no issues, you’ll see two cloud icons.

As mentioned before, you can have a business account and a personal account running simultaneously.

The personal account has a solid white icon, and the business account has a solid blue icon.

  • A gray cloud means that OneDrive is active on your device, but it’s not entirely set up, or you have signed out.

In this case, you should open the OneDrive app and finish the setup process or sign in.

  • A pause icon on a cloud means the syncing has been paused.

You can click on the icon, select More and click on Resume syncing.

  • A solid yellow triangle with an exclamation mark inside means there’s an error in your account that you need to fix.

It has a warning message that you can see by clicking on the icon and checking what’s wrong.

How To Remove Checkmarks On Desktop Icons

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (6)

As stated earlier, the checkmarks on your desktop icons mean your files are synced and stored in the cloud.

That’s good news for those who are worried about losing their important data.

However, if these icons annoy you, the only way to remove them is to disable OneDrive.

That’s a personal decision and depends on whether you want to back up your files in the cloud or not.

Some people disable OneDrive because they have other cloud services that are more reliable or offer more storage for free or at lower prices.

If you decide to disable OneDrive, you can uninstall it in the Control Panel.

Go to Programs and Features, find OneDrive, click on it, and hit Uninstall.

However, if OneDrive is built into your OS, you can’t uninstall it.

Instead, you can unlink your device via OneDrive settings.

If you want to remove the OneDrive icon from your system tray, go to OneDrive settings and click on Quit OneDrive.

Alternatively, you can pause syncing, which is the easiest way, and you can resume it whenever you want.

However, it’s not a permanent solution, and you can pause syncing for a limited timeframe.

To do so, go to OneDrive settings and select Pause syncing.

Select your desired time, and you won’t see those icons for that period.

Remember that changing the status of your files doesn’t remove the icon; instead, it will show a different icon on the folder.

For example, if you choose the Free up space option, the file will become online-only, and you’ll see a cloud icon next to the file.

How To Save Files On OneDrive

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (7)

Uploading files to OneDrive is relatively straightforward as it involves a simple cut and paste process.

You can upload files and folders on OneDrive via File Explorer.

Easily drag the folders you want to sync and drop them into the OneDrive folder.

After opening File Explorer, find OneDrive on the left pane and click on it.

Press the Windows key + left arrow to keep the window on the left side of the screen.

Press Windows Key + E to open another window of File Explorer.

Now, keep it on the right by pressing Windows Key + right arrow.

Navigate to the file you want to sync, drag it, and drop it in the OneDrive window.

How To Share Files Using OneDrive

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (8)

OneDrive allows you to share files and folders with other people and even set time limits.

Suppose you want to share your last holiday pictures with your family.

In that case, the synced files on OneDrive will be easily accessible to them via a link you’ll give them.

You can also set an expiration date to stop sharing if you have a Microsoft 365 account.

Here’s what to do:

Right-click on your intended folder and click on Share.

You can even allow people to edit and make changes to the folder by selecting the Anyone with the link can edit option.

Otherwise, you can disable the Allow editing option.

Click Apply.

Now, you need to provide the recipient’s email address to send the link.

Alternatively, you could click on the Copy link button and send it to the person via any messaging app.

Click Send and then Close.

After that, the other person will receive an email with the link to the shared files.

You could stop sharing the files whenever you want.

Right-click on the file and click Share.

Click on the three horizontal dots in the upper right corner and select Manage Access.

Hit the X next to the share link to remove it.

Click Stop sharing.

If you have different recipients, you can select which ones to stop sharing the files with.

Click on their email addresses to remove them from the list.

Troubleshoot Syncing Issues

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (9)

As mentioned earlier, a white cross inside a solid red circle means OneDrive can’t complete syncing files.

You may see this icon next to the specific folder or OneDrive’s icon on the taskbar.

OneDrive may run into syncing issues due to different factors.

For example, you’ve stored too many files on OneDrive even if you have enough storage.

In other cases, you’re running out of storage.

You need to prioritize your files and only sync the most important ones in both cases.

To check your storage status, go to OneDrive Settings and click Account.

You can see your free storage space under the OneDrive section.

Proxy settings, firewalls, or antivirus programs can also interfere with the syncing process.

You may want to disable these programs temporarily and see if you can resume syncing.

If nothing helps, you can unlink your OneDrive, which means signing out of your account, and then set it up again.

To do so, click on the cloud icon on the taskbar and go to OneDrive settings.

Select Unlink this PC.

Note that unlinking doesn’t make you lose your data, and everything will remain in the cloud storage.

Then, you can go through the setup process by following the OneDrive Wizard instructions.

What’s Microsoft’s Personal Vault?

Why Do My Desktop Icons Have Check Marks? (Explained) (10)

If you have sensitive files to store on OneDrive, you can have an added layer of security through Personal Vault.

It allows you to access your data only by secure identity verification modes, such as fingerprint, SMS codes, or face recognition.

Personal Vault will remain locked without these verification methods, and nobody can access it.

You can also scan your documents via your mobile devices and add them to Personal Vault.

Although using this feature is free, there’s a limit to the number of files you can add.

If you want to save more than three files in Personal Vault, you need a paid subscription.

The files will be available in the OneDrive folder, and you can access them by completing the identity verification processes.

To activate Personal Vault, click on the OneDrive icon in the left corner of the taskbar.

Go to Help & Settings > Unlock Personal Vault > Next > Allow.

Follow the on-screen prompts to finish the setup process and start uploading files to Personal Vault.

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