How to Remove the Lock Icon on Encrypted Folders in Windows

EFS is one of the lesser-known features of Windows. You can use EFS (Encryption File System) to encrypt files and folders using your own Windows account password. Once encrypted, no one, including the system administrator, can decrypt the files without your Windows user account password. Though EFS is not as strong as BitLocker or other encryption services, it is fairly good if you need a quick encryption solution.

When you encrypt files and folders using EFS (Encryption File System), Windows will overlay those encrypted files and folders with a simple lock icon. This overlay lock icon helps you differentiate the encrypted files from unencrypted ones. Obviously, other users on your system will know that the files are encrypted and thus restricted. If you don’t want Windows to announce to everyone that the files are encrypted by displaying the overlay lock icon, here’s how to remove it.

Note: before making any changes to the Windows Registry, make sure you have a good backup of it. The backup helps you to restore Windows Registry in the case of any mishaps.

What we are going to do is to modify the Windows Registry to replace the original lock icon with a blank icon. You can download the blank ICO icon from here (right-click and select “save link as”).

To start, search for regedit in the Start menu and open it. If you are using a standard user account, then right-click on it and select the option “Run as Administrator.” Alternatively, type regedit in the Windows Run Dialog box (Win + R) and press the Enter button to open the Registry Editor.

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After opening the Registry Editor, navigate to the following location. If you are using Windows 10 with creators update installed, then copy the below path, enter it in the address bar appearing on top of the Registry Editor and press the Enter key.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

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Once you are here, right-click on the Explorer key and select the option “New -> Key.”

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The above action will create a new blank key. Name the key “Shell Icons.”

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After creating the new key, we need to create a new string value and point it towards the blank icon. To do that select the newly created key, right-click on the right panel and select the option “New -> String Value.”

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Name the new string value “178” and press the Enter button.

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After naming the value, double-click on it. Enter the path to the blank ICO file and click on the “OK” button. As you can see from the below image, I’ve stored the blank ICO file in my downloads folder, copied the path and added it to the value.

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This is how it looks when you are done editing.

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Restart the system, and you will no longer see the lock overlay icon on the encrypted files.

In the future, if you want to revert back, right-click on the string value, select the “Delete” option and you are good to go.

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Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above method to remove the lock overlay icon on the encrypted files in Windows.

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