Windows 10 brought computers into the digital age with a modern design and robust functionality. Windows 11 built on this foundation with a focus on seamless streaming, syncing and remote storage revolutionize file transfer.

A PC user can easily retrieve their online file on Windows and work on it without having the file on local storage at any point. Microsoft’s proprietary cloud service, OneDrive, blends effortlessly with Windows 10 and 11. It works as a part of the OS connected to the cloud and you can access your files from there anytime with an Internet connection.

If your OneDrive data is represented by icons on your desktop, you may see green check marks on desktop icons.

green check marks on Desktop icons

Google also offers a similar service with Google Drive and also uses green check marks to indicate when the cloud service is running and files are synced with the cloud storage.

green check marks on desktop iconsSo, why are there green check marks on desktop icons? This article tells you why and how to remove it (or them).

Why Are There Green Check Marks on Desktop Icons?

Green is the universal color for the Internet, or being online. A green dot on most messaging platforms, for example, means that the person is online. With this, you can understand what is happening if you see a green checkmark on some desktop icons.

No, the green check marks don’t mean your PC has been invaded by malware. There’s no need to go into meltdown here.

Instead, the green check marks is how Microsoft OneDrive tells you that it has successfully backed up all your files. All your selected files and folders are now on the cloud. So, should you lose the PC or suffer storage failure, your important data remains safe on the OneDrive servers.

Another fine consequence of the green check marks is the ability to port your desktop icons to another PC. If you ever wish to access your cloud files from another Windows PC, you can restore your saved desktop icons to the new PC as well.

See? Told you there is nothing to worry about. So, don’t panic the next time you ask yourself, “Why do my desktop icons have green checkboxes?”

However, you should know the specifics of what you’re dealing with here. Even though the color of the check marks is green, there are two types.

  • The green outlined checkmark. When this type appears on your desktop icons, it means the highlighted icons represent an online file. They can’t be used offline but can be downloaded when you need them.
  • The solid green checkmark. This type of checkmark highlights a file that is fully accessible and downloadeable offline. They can take up space on your local hard drive.

Before we move on, let’s briefly talk about two other colored check marks that OneDrive generates:

  • The blue mark. Blue is the most common representation for uploading or downloading stuff. A blue check mark on your desktop icon means that the file is being uploaded to OneDrive

Please note that you cannot access online-only files when your device is not connected to the Internet.

  • The red mark. A red mark on your desktop icon means there’s a problem with the OneDrive file. It commonly shows up when the file in question isn’t synchronized with the cloud. This can happen if a network disruption interferes with cloud syncing.

Google Drive also has different icons that represent when a file is syncing, when it is queued, and when it is fully synced.

These days, Microsoft’s OneDrive and Google Drive no longer display the annoying green checkmarks on Desktop icons. However, these checkmarks are displayed in the respective apps, and sometimes their folders, especially next to synced files.

green check marks on desktop icons


green check marks on desktop icons

Now we’ve dealt with the burning questions, “What do green check marks mean on desktop icons?” and “Why is there a green check mark on my desktop icons?” let’s move on to solving the problem of green check marks on Desktop icons on Windows 10 and 11 desktop icons if you still see them.

How to Get Rid of the Green Check marks on Desktop Icons?

You have several ways to stop the appearance of green check marks on desktop icons. Whether you’re using Windows 10 or 11, the methods here will quickly fix the issue.

However, before you start, installing the latest version of your cloud solution can help you eliminate the problem. As we mentioned earlier, OneDrive and Google Drive no longer impose green check marks on Desktop icons.

That said, you can follow the methods below if you still see the annoying icons.

Method #1. Disable OneDrive Sync

The green check marks represent that your files are on OneDrive and do not have issues with syncing. So, one way to remove them is to stop the cloud service from syncing your files.

  1. Locate the OneDrive icon in the system tray and click on it.
  2. A menu will pop up. Click on “Help & Settings.”
  3. Click on “Pause syncing” and select a timeframe.

green check marks on desktop icons

Method #2. Turn off OneDrive

You can get rid of the green check marks on your PC’s desktop icons by dealing with the root source. Since the marks represent OneDrive functions, disabling OneDrive will get rid of them.

  1. Locate the OneDrive icon in the system tray and click on it like before.
  2. Click on the Settings icon from the pop-up menu.
  3. Select “Quit Drive” to turn the service off.

green check marks on desktop icons

You may get notifications telling you to enable OneDrive again. That’s the price you have to pay if you decide to turn the service off on Windows 10/11.

That said, you shouldn’t see the green checkmarks on Desktop icons anymore.

Method #3. Build the Icon Cache Anew

Usually, the previous steps are sufficient to deal with the green check marks on desktop icons Windows 10 issue.

If for some reason the green check marks don’t go away, rebuilding the icon cache might help. The icon cache on Windows is a database that stores copies of every desktop icon. A refresh can eliminate the green marks and restore normal icons to your desktop.

Step 1. Hit the Windows key and type “cmd” in the Start menu.

Step 2. Right-click on Command Prompt in the search results and select “Run as administrator”. Alternatively, simply select “Run as administrator” in the right panel.

Step 3. When the elevated cmd app launches, you need to run some commands. Run each command below. Type or paste the command and press Enter. Do this for every command:


taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F  (note:- your desktop will go blank)

DEL /A /Q “%localappdata%\IconCache.db”

DEL /A /F /Q “%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*”

Shutdown /p

Your PC will shut down once you execute the final command. Restart it after a few seconds and everything should be fine.

Method #4 Delete the Files

The green check marks will obviously disappear if you remove the parent icons. So, if you still see that the Desktop icons have green check marks, you can simply delete the icons from your desktop if you don’t need them. This won’t affect the parent files in OneDrive. They will remain safely saved in the cloud.

You can take the chance to find all the unnecessary files on your computer and delete them for good. Doing this manually can be daunting as so many files will be scattered all over who knows where on your PC. You can use an utility like Auslogics BoostSpeed’s cleanup tool to save the day and free up storage space on your PC.

For files specific to OneDrive, you can try out the service’s embedded “Free up space” tool. It will help you clean files you’ve copied from OneDrive but no longer need from your Windows 10/11 desktop.

To use this tool, simply right-click an icon with the green check mark or check box and select “Free up space” in the context menu. Once the icon disappears from your desktop, repeat the process for the other icons with the unwanted labelling.

Fixing Green Checks All Over Windows

Sometimes, the green check marks on Desktop icons may be the least of your worries. If you use third-party cloud storage and syncing applications such as Google Drive’s Backup and Sync, you may see overlay icons while using your operating systems.

Google Drive’s desktop solution for syncing and backing up files is similar to OneDrive. You can use it to keep your files in the cloud without having to save them locally. Similarly, green check marks may appear on some synced folders once the synchronization is successful. Now, if you don’t like seeing this, there are measures you can take.

First Method: Disable Google Drive’s Sync

The first step is removing the folder where the green check shows. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the system tray and click on the Google Drive icon.
  2. Select the Settings icon in the top right and click on Preferences.
  3. Now, go to the My Laptop tab and click on the folder.
  4. Uncheck the “Sync with Google Drive” option and click Done.

green check marks on desktop icons


Second Method: Edit the Registry

Before you start, please note that editing the registry comes with serious risk. If you change the wrong key or string, your operating system may begin to malfunction. So, back up the entire registry to be on the safe side.

That being said, here is a step-by-step guide on how to get to the following key in the Windows registry:

  1. Press the “Windows key + R” on your keyboard to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Type “regedit” (without the quotes) in the text field and press Enter or click OK. This will open the Registry Editor.
  3. In the Registry Editor, navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
  4. Click on the “Explorer” folder to expand it.
  5. Scroll down until you see the “ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers” folder. Click on this folder to expand it.
  6. You should now be at the desired key: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers.
  7. Now, delete the Google folders under the ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers key.
  8. Restart your computer.

green check marks on desktop icons

Now that you’ve learnt how to get rid of the “green checks on Desktop icons” issue in Windows 10 and 11, you can continue to give your Desktop area a cleaner look.