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Why aren't my Dropbox icon overlays appearing correctly?

Looking for the Dropbox badge? Learn why it may not be appearing.

If you don't see Dropbox syncing icon overlays on your files, there are a few possible explanations.

The most likely explanation is that Dropbox may have shut down unexpectedly. Icon overlays appear over your files only when Dropbox is running. To check if Dropbox is running, look for the Dropbox icon in your menu bar or system tray:

  • Windows: You can find and run the Dropbox application from your Start > Programs menu
  • Mac: You can find and run the Dropbox application from your Applications folder
  • Linux: You can find and run the Dropbox application from your Applications > Internet folder

If you've verified that Dropbox is running and are still having issues with icons, here are some other possible explanations:

  • The Start Dropbox on system startup setting is unchecked in your preferences, or Dropbox was forced to quit
  • You are looking at an inactive Dropbox folder in its previous location

  • You need to restore the Dropbox operating system integration by reinstalling Dropbox

    • Reinstalling will fix any installation issues, such as a broken icons file, that may be causing icons to disappear or appear incorrectly

If none of these scenarios apply, you may have a corrupted settings file. It's possible to fix your settings by unlinking and relinking your computer.

For our advanced users

There are a few other operating system-specific explanations for why the overlays might not work on non-stock configurations of Dropbox:

On Windows XP

  • If your Dropbox folder is placed at the root (or top level) of a partition or hard drive, Dropbox may have issues accessing certain settings files. Moving your folder to another location on your hard drive should solve this problem.
  • Installing Dropbox without an administrative password will break all overlays. Re-installing using an administrator's password should resolve the issue.
  • Windows has a limit of 15 overlay icons that Windows Explorer can load, and the operating system reserves four for its own use. To find out how many overlays you have registered, you can check the registry:
    1. Press the Windows key + R and enter regedit.
    2. Navigate to the following registry key with this path:

    3. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers
      
      		        
      Scroll right for complete command line.

      If the Dropbox overlays are in the first 15 positions, they will display; otherwise, you'll need to make room for them. Please note that this requires you to delete or deprioritize other applications' overlays, so only proceed if you’re sure about what you'll affect.

    4. If you decide to proceed, you can select individual keys and delete them by right-clicking on the desired key. If you don’t want to delete them, you can rename them and place a Z at the beginning to send them to the end of the alphabetically sorted list.
    5. Quit explorer.exe and launch again from the Task Manager, or restart your computer.
    6. Launch Dropbox, and the sync icons should re-appear.

On Mac OS X

Installing Dropbox without an administrative password will break all overlays. Re-installing using an administrator's password should resolve the issue.

If you have other applications or services that also add overlay icons or context menu items to the files within your Dropbox folder, try to temporarily quit them or uninstall them, and then restart Dropbox and Finder.

  • To restart Dropbox:

    1. Click the Dropbox icon in the menu bar.
    2. Click the gear icon and select Quit Dropbox.

  • To restart Finder:

    1. Click the Apple icon at the top of your screen.
    2. Click Force quit.
    3. Select Finder, then click Relaunch.

On Linux

  • Opening your Dropbox folder from a symlink will break both overlays and the Dropbox contextual menu that appears when you right-click on a file or folder.
  • Dropbox depends on the Dropbox Nautilus extension for the contextual menu and icon overlays. If you installed Dropbox from the command-line and are not seeing icon overlays in your Dropbox folder, try downloading and installing the Linux package.

On Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8

  • If your Dropbox folder is placed at the root (or top level) of a partition or hard drive, Dropbox may have issues accessing certain settings files. Moving your folder to another location on your hard drive should solve this problem.
  • Installing Dropbox without an administrative password will break all overlays. Re-installing using an administrator's password should resolve the issue.
  • Windows has a limit of 15 overlay icons that Windows Explorer can load, and the operating system reserves four for its own use. To find out how many overlays you have registered, you can check the registry:
    1. Press the Windows key + R and enter regedit.
    2. Navigate to the following registry key with this path:

    3. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers
      
      		        
      Scroll right for complete command line.

      If the Dropbox overlays are in the first 15 positions, they will display; otherwise you'll need to make room for them. Please note that this requires you to delete or deprioritize other applications' overlays, so only proceed if you’re sure about what you'll affect.

    4. If you decide to proceed, you can select individual keys and delete them by right-clicking on the desired key. If you don’t want to delete them, you can rename them and place a Z at the beginning to send them to the end of the alphabetically sorted list.
    5. Quit explorer.exe and launch again from the Task Manager, or restart your computer.
    6. Launch Dropbox, and the sync icons should re-appear.