Software Design Blog

Journey of Rinat Abdullin

Fixing Icon Overlays for Dropbox + TortoiseSVN

If you are using Windows 7 (x64), Dropbox and TortoiseSVN, then you might eventually encounter that half of your icon overlays went missing.

Microsoft Office 2010 could also break these icon overlays (details).

Since TortoiseSVN seems to be sharing same overlays with TortoiseCVS, TortoiseHG and TortoiseGit, these programs could experience same glitches.

TortoiseXXX - windows shell integration for a given version control system.

Dropbox - SaaS backup solution that works like version control, but performs all the sharing automatically in the background.

Loosing overlay icons hurts badly, since both Tortoise and Dropbox are extremely good in what they are doing.

Problem

There is only a limited number of overlay slots available in Windows. That’s the byte order limitation (probably around 15, with 4 reserved by the OS). Whenever the limit is breached, we’ve got problems.

Solution

So we’ve got to reduce the number of overlays. Since there are no settings in Dropbox or TSVN to disable certain overlays, we’ll have to do this manually.

Step1: Start the registry editor (regedit) and navigate to the:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\
  Explorer\ShellIconOverlayIdentifiers

Step2: Backup the entire branch. JIC.

Step3: Delete overlays that are rarely used and not essential for everyday work. I personally deleted these:

  • Offline Files
  • TortoiseLocked
  • TortoiseIgnored
  • TortoiseUnversionsed

Step4: Reboot.

As the result, Tortoise icons finally show up. Behavior of the Dropbox is more erratic, but this is not critical.

Caveat

There could be better solutions to the problem.

However, I didn’t investigate the case a lot, for the lack of time - just checked that there are no proper solutions in the google, fired up the regedit, deleted a few entries and found out that it works for me.

NB: Copy of DropboxPath utility for x64.