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On a Mac, you can right-click on a file/folder to give it a color which is then displayed in the Finder (the Mac utility like Windows Explorer) behind the label of the file.

Is there a way to do this in Windows 7?

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migrated from Feb 15 '11 at 5:05

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3 Answers 3

There's no such functionality in Windows. But you could use 3rd party software for changing folder colors. Some options are:

Unfortunately none of these seem to work with files, they only affect folder icons

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Uh... yeah, there is a way. (Ugg... this answer utilizes such a distasteful approach... But, yeah, it ought to work.)

I'm not saying that it's a sensible way, and not very customizable, but there is a way to get Explorer to show some color on specific files. If you want to make some files look different than other files, perhaps for a presentation of some sort, and you don't care about how the data of those files are stored on disk, then, well, this is possible. Without using third party software, in fact.

The ways I have in mind is to alter how data gets stored, just for color effect. Not usually my priority, but just in case this actually happens to be your priority, then my answer is that yes, something like this is technically feasible. This approach may be limited to just files, not folders, but it can be done using just the software built into a Windows operating system.

If you compress a file, using the NTFS file compression feature (not the support for Zip files), then Explorer will render it was blue, instead of the normal Black color.

If you encrypt a file, then Explorer will render it green. Note that using the NTFS file encryption feature may require a Professional version of Microsoft Windows, so that may or may not be an option depending on what flavor of Microsoft Windows you are using.

Microsoft XP File compresion overview notes that "You cannot encrypt an NTFS-compressed file." So it appears that there's no risk of confusion as to which of those colors will be used.

You may need to check a "Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color" box to enable the colors, as noted by the "Displaying Compressed Files in Color" section of MS KB 307987.

That's what I can offer to you as far as options built-in into Explorer. I'm not saying that the flexibility is as good as what is offered by the Mac interface that you were describing.

By the way: If you weren't trying to use Explorer (the built-in graphical file manager), you may have other options. Web pages can show the contents of a directory, and web pages support color. Getting into third party solutions, there are command line programs that will allow customizable colors to be placed on files based on which file extension the software uses. (JP Software's TCC/LE would be one such option.) Modern versions of Windows do come with built-in support for some programming languages (e.g., with Windows Script Host can interact with files). So, if anybody is seeking other options, then custom solutions could be created. Some of the other answers on this page mention some additional additional third party options, which may offer you some easy pre-made solutions if you're willing to download software for such a feature.

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For files you can use FileMarker.NET. This is software similar to Folder Marker from the same developer, but it works with files, not folders.

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