enter image description here

Image of Word icon

On some icons I am seeing a two blue arrows at the top the right pointing towards each other. I first noticed it on the icons on folders which I archived which happened randomly. I archived the folder and the text went blue as expected, then when I went to the folder again the text was black and the folder icon has these arrows. When I just recently installed Office 2007, I noticed the same arrows on the icons for the programs.

OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (the latest update: 1115) Application: Microsoft Office 2007 suite and file explorer

  • 8
    It is supposed to indicate NTFS compression. Right click on the partition/volume in question select properties, and see if it is on?
    – Psycogeek
    Nov 17, 2015 at 21:28
  • @Psycogeek Yes, the volumes are all NTFS.
    – Dominic JL
    Nov 17, 2015 at 21:45

10 Answers 10


I archived the folder and the text went blue as expected...

Blue text in Explorer = NTFS compression is enabled via the properties (this has been standard in Windows for many versions now).

enter image description here

Two blue arrows is Windows 10's new way of showing the same thing, at the icon-level.

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Reference/More info:


When I just recently installed Office 2007, I noticed the same arrows on the icons for the programs.

That's kind of weird, and is may be just a matter of icon cache corruption.

For that, here's a couple things to try:

Ensure the EXEs are not actually compressed.

Try creating new shortcuts to the EXEs and see if they appear as expected.

Try clearing Windows' icon cache and see if that corrects the icons. For that, see this existing SU question: Refresh Icon Cache Without Rebooting

  • Cheers, but why then would the office shortcuts be compressed? The .exe files are not archived, only apparently the shortcuts. When I then try to uncompress them they are not compressed.
    – Dominic JL
    Nov 17, 2015 at 23:38
  • @DominicJL You're right, sorry about that. I would have suggested exactly what you did as laid out in your answer -- try recreating the shortcuts, and/or clearing the Icon cache. :) Nov 18, 2015 at 13:01
  • Interesting, I seem to get this when I generate an advertised shortcut with WiX, but I checked the compression property and it's disabled. May 16, 2016 at 3:10
  • I feel like an old man. I remember in windows 2000 when the filename was blue, not black. You darn kids and your fancy icons. Get off my lawn!
    – JJS
    May 30, 2020 at 19:01

To elaborate on the potential root cause, this will occur more often on Windows 10 systems that are running relatively low on free disk space. The Windows Update process will automatically compress files and folders to ensure that crucial operating system patches will install successfully:

Compressing files

To help free up disk space, this update may compress files in your user profile directory so that Windows Update can install important updates. When files or folders are compressed, they appear as having two blue arrows overlaid on the icon. Depending on your File Explorer settings, you may see icons that look larger or smaller. The following screen shot shows an example of these icons.

Compressing files

After you install the update, your files are restored to their original state, and the blue arrows disappear from the file icons in File Explorer. At any point during the update process, you should be able to access your files.

Windows Update - KB4023057 Release Notes
Microsoft trying to push KB4023057 again to user systems

  • Hell, I didn't know about this behaviour until it happened to me today. I downloaded 2GB of ebooks and my C drive free space fell to about 10GB. The Advanced properties fixes mentioned here work for me.
    – Dizzley
    Jan 4, 2019 at 12:02
  • Can this auto compression be turned off permanently? I don't want this to happen by itself without my knowledge.
    – joedotnot
    Aug 29, 2021 at 6:11
  • @joedotnot I think that the simple answer is "no." To elaborate, this is an inherent part of the Windows Update process and if your free disk space percentage falls below a certain threshold, the compression will occur to ensure that your operating system still receives critical security updates. As a result, it's highly unlikely that Microsoft would afford us the opportunity to turn it off. On the other hand, this situation can be avoided relatively easily by ensuring that the operating system partition maintains a healthy amount of free disk space.
    – Run5k
    Aug 29, 2021 at 18:09

The files under Desktop folder have same issue. I solved problem using below steps.

  • Right click to Desktop folder.
  • Click to Advanced button
  • Unchecked compress contents to save disk spaces. Click Ok, ok and apply buttons.

After these steps, arrows should be disappeared and also you can use below command to clear icon cache.

ie4uinit.exe -ClearIconCache

This does indicate compressed files and in my experience had some broken behavior with shortcuts, so I "fixed" it a few weeks ago. You can hide this overlay in the same way as people have been hiding the shortcut arrow overlay for years, it's just a different number key in the registry.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons]

Put a blank icon file in Windows/System32 and perform the registry change above (easiest way is to copy the above and paste in to notepad, save as a new file with the .reg extension, then double click that file).

If you're doing it manually that's a String/REG_SZ value, and you can of course put a full file path there if you don't want to put things in System32.

You can read about how I found this out, download an empty icon, enable/disable .reg files and a batch file to both copy the icon and run the registry change on my blog: http://nerdshack.info/windows-10-and-double-arrow-icon-of-death/

Hope that helps :)


The real problem seems to be a bug: the (Office) shortcuts refer to icons that are in %systemroot%\installer... and these folders are now compressed so also the icon is compressed. Workaround: create new shortcuts that refer to the (uncompressed) executables. (or uncompress the installer folders: not recommended).


I ran into this when building installers with InstallShield. The solution was to edit the shortcuts "Behavior" from "advertised=YES" to "advertised=NO".

  • 1
    This is absolutely true for the InstallShield shortcut icons. If 'advertised' is set to true, the shortcut file mapping information is coming from MSI database whilst non-advertised (normal) one is from the target directly. The benefit to take this way is the self-maintenance using MSI database. eg. missing files can be recovered from MSI. However, the problem here is, that MSI database itself may be compressed to save disk spaces, which is reasonable as they won't be accessed frequently. Therefore, all were just doing their parts - and simply we don't like the result of that.
    – Scott Rhee
    Oct 18, 2016 at 3:39
  • 1
    Thanks for the explanation! Also, thanks for the up vote. I was previously down voted on this, which I find irritating when I post a useful and proven answer! Especially when no comment is left was to why someone wants to burn their own rep points to discredit me.
    – BuvinJ
    Oct 18, 2016 at 12:26

I didn't find out the problem, but I did come up with a solution. I simply remade the shortcuts from the .exe files, deleted the old shortcuts and the icons were as usual. Perhaps this is just a bug with Windows 10 like some apps have the icon of other apps.


Other answers have provided great solutions. It's also important to know that if your Hard Drive storage becomes too low, Windows automatically compresses your files (as indicated with the arrows in the upper right hand portion of your icons). So when the other user here mentions they "just recently installed Office 2007, I noticed the same arrows on the icons for the programs" - it may not be Office 2007 as much as the installation subsequently ran storage space very low.

You can turn off this compression by changing your settings via the following steps:

Settings / Windows Settings -> System (Icon) -> Storage (left hand column) -> "Change how we free up space automatically" (Blue hyperlink) -> Storage Sense (Toggle) -> Turn Storage Sense off.

Hope this helps explain to some people why this was happening and an easy (eg non Powershell) method of 'fixing' things.

  • 2
    Personally, I'd rather have windows compress some files as opposed to failing some potentially important save/install/etc operation because I was too preoccupied to realize that I was low on space. It's not a particularly invasive feature, but I didn't know it was toggle-able so thanks for pointing it out.
    – arkon
    Jan 17, 2019 at 7:33

Or you could just look up the root folder and uncompress it, if its the harddrive, untick the box. Otherwise you have to right click the folder, properties, general, advanced and untick the compress box.


It might be just a windows update which didn't have enough space.

After you install the update and restart your PC, your files should be restored to their original state.

If not... then I think the second solution is to just uncompress the folders:

  1. Right click to Desktop folder.
  2. Click to Advanced button
  3. Unchecked compress contents to save disk spaces. Click apply buttons.
  • 1
    Updates do not trigger Windows to automatically compress folders to make space. There is a recent feature, I believe in the latest version of Windows 10 that should be released later this month, that will do this, but as of build 1809 that is not a feature. Therefore your answer does not actually answer the question, not does it add information not addressed in the existing answers. May 1, 2019 at 16:50
  • 1
    @music2myear: “… should be released later this month”?  I believe that it has been doing this for about six months now; see this and Run5k’s answer above. May 1, 2019 at 17:53
  • Huh, well TIL. I thought I'd seen that feature listed in the release notes for the upcoming feature update. But I suppose I may have read it in an earlier set of notes. May 2, 2019 at 15:27

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