Show Compressed and Encrypted Files in Color in Windows 10

File Explorer, the default file manager app in Windows 10, is able to show compressed and encrypted files in color. This can be very useful because it allows the user to quickly identify those files. Here are two methods you can use to enable this feature.


Encrypting File System (EFS)

For many versions, Windows has included an advanced security feature called Encrypting File System (EFS). It allows the user to store files and folders encrypted, so they will be protected from unwanted access. Other user accounts cannot access your encrypted files, neither can anyone from the network or by booting into another OS and accessing that folder. This is the strongest protection which is available in Windows to protect individual files and folders without encrypting the whole drive.

lock folder icon

When a file or a folder is encrypted, File Explorer shows its icon with a lock overlay icon at the top right corner. Additionally, its file name can be shown in green color.

NTFS compression

NTFS compression makes certain files and folders smaller. Unlike ZIP file compression, with this compression type, you do not need to create an archive file. Compression will happen on-the-fly and the files can be accessed transparently as they were before compressing. Certain files like images, videos, music which are already compressed won't be shrunk but for other file types, it can save you disk space. But keep in mind that it affects performance. This is because of extra operations the OS has to perform when the file is accessed, copied out of a compressed folder or put inside a new compressed folder. During these operations, Windows has to decompress the file in memory. As it follows from the name of the feature, NTFS compression doesn't work when you copy your compressed files over the network, so the OS has to decompress them first and transfer them uncompressed.

When a file or folder is compressed, Windows 10 displays a special double blue arrows overlay over their icon.

Windows 10 Compress File Example

Note: Windows 10 supports NTFS compression natively like previous versions of the OS, but it supports a number of newer algorithms including LZX, which was not available prior to Windows 10.

File Explorer can show compressed files in blue color. Let's see how to enable this feature.

To Show Compressed and Encrypted Files in Color in Windows 10,

  1. Open This PC in File Explorer.
  2. In the Ribbon user interface of Explorer, click File -> Change folder and search options.Tip: you can add the Folder Options button to Quick Access Toolbar. See How to add any ribbon command to the Quick Access toolbar.
  3. If you have disabled the Ribbon using a tool like Winaero Ribbon Disabler, press F10 -> click Tools menu - Folder Options.Folder Options General Tab
  4. Switch to the View tab.Folder Options View Tab
  5. Enable (check) the option Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color, then click OK.Windows 10 Show Compressed Encrypted Files In Color

You are done. The change will be applied instantly. The result will be as follows.

Show Compressed Encrypted Files In Color In File Explorer

Alternatively, you can apply a Registry tweak. Here's how.

Show Compressed and Encrypted Files in Color with a Registry tweak

  1. Open the Registry Editor app.
  2. Go to the following Registry key.

    See how to go to a Registry key with one click.

  3. On the right, modify or create a new 32-Bit DWORD value ShowEncryptCompressedColor.
    Note: Even if you are running 64-bit Windows you must still create a 32-bit DWORD value.
  4. Set its value to 1 to enable the feature.Windows 10 Compressed Encrypted Files In Color Registry
  5. To make the changes done by the Registry tweak take effect, you need to sign out and sign in to your user account. Alternatively, you can restart the Explorer shell.

Note: A value data of 0 for the ShowEncryptCompressedColor DWORD value will turn off the feature. This is the default value.

That's it.

Some articles of interest:

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

2 thoughts on “Show Compressed and Encrypted Files in Color in Windows 10”

  1. In older versions of Windows (all the way back to NT4?) the registry value is named “ShowCompColor”. Not sure why they changed the name since the old value is still also written to the registry.

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