One very interesting feature of MacOS and, to some extent, Linux, is the ability to mark or tag files and folders to remind you you should prioritise working on certain projects. Every icon on your computer can be marked with a coloured dot or a small icon to highlight them. Unfortunately, Windows does not have such a functionality built in. You can change a folder icon, but the default set isn’t really suited for this specific scenario. Moreover, the process for doing so is a bit convoluted.
I’ve been looking for a way to simulate that functionality since I first created Tech 4 Freelancers, for I write my posts on Word and then upload them to WordPress. This means that I have a folder on my computer specifically devoted for Tech 4 Freelancers posts and sometimes I start writing something and then abandon it because I forgot about it and there is no clear indication of which articles I completed and which I didn’t. Yes, it’s possible to use a prefix like [WIP] in the folder name, but this isn’t exactly the way I want my folders to behave and I honestly care more about being able to visually recognize what I have to work on rather than have them listed first.
Finally, I found a program that gives me the functionality I want in a simple and lightweight package. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Folder Marker.
Overview and versions
Folder Marker is a small (approximately 4 MB) shell extension that adds a new entry called Mark folder to the right-click menu, allowing you to change folder (but not file) icons on the fly. Compared to MacOS, which lets you mark any elements, it’s a limitation, but I believe it’s not a huge deal, considering that it forces me to be more organized with the Tech 4 Freelancers’ folder.
Being a service rather than a start-up element, it has almost no impact on boot times, making it suitable to be installed even on low-end hardware.
It’s available in three versions: Free, Home, and Pro. This review is focused on the Free version, which offers limited functionality but is good enough for most use cases. The Home and Pro editions include advanced functionality, like the ability to add unlimited entries to the User Icons tab, or change shared folder icons, as well as more bundled icons. They’re priced at 24.95 € and 34.95 € (excluding VAT) respectively, with discounts for volume purchasing. Spending 25 € or more also includes a gift license for Emsisoft Antimalware.
Before you can use the Mark folder entry, however, you should run the Folder Marker executable at least once per user. This limitation somewhat surprised me when I switched user on my workstation, because I didn’t expect it to behave this way. It’s a minor bug, but I believe it should be fixed, especially since not everyone may realize they need to run the program to fix it.
Speaking of running the program, this is what the main window looks like:
The Folder box allows you to select which folder you want the new icon to apply to, and in Folder icon you can select what icon you want to use. In that screenshot, the currently-selected folder represents Windows 10’s standard folder icon. You may notice that the custom ones provided by Folder Marker look somewhat different. This is because they’re based on Windows 7’s style. The difference in appearance is notable if you use medium icons or larger, but it gets lost if you select small icons or details.
Again, not a huge deal, but I can’t help it but feel like the developers should go the extra mile and include icons suitable for Windows 8 and 10 as well, at least for paying users.
Opening the Actions drop-down menu brings up a list of available options. It’s possible to apply the selected icon to one or multiple folders, setting it as the default system-wide icon folder, reverting to the original folder icon, undoing all changes, and so on. Some of these options require clicking yes on a UAC pop-up. There’s also a weird bug where reverting to the default folder icon requires Folder Marker to run as administrator: selecting that option when running with limited privileges prevents the program from making any changes. Additionally, all the options about changing or restoring default folders require a sign off before those can be applied.
The Folder menu allows to apply changes to a single folder or multiple ones. Honestly, I don’t know why this is even there, since Multiple Folders doesn’t prevent the user from changing the icon for just a folder.
Language is pretty much self-explanatory. It brings up a list of available languages and clicking on an entry changes it on the fly, both in the main window and in the right-click menu on folders. It defaults to the current user’s language.
Help allows to view the program’s help file, check for updates, select whether to check them automatically or not, and view the About box.
Right-clicking a folder allows to change its icon on the fly by selecting from a predetermined list. User Icons will not appear in this menu if you use the Free version, however.
There really isn’t much else to say. It does what it says and it works rather well and made my Tech 4 Freelancers folder easier to work with.
Those who want more icons can sign up for Folder Marker’s newsletter and get a download link for additional icons, which essentially are a subset of the icon packs available on their website. In my opinion, those aren’t particularly useful and the default ones will be good enough for most users. What’s really aggravating is that you can’t simply install the additional icon pack and have Folder Marker recognize it: you need to manually add those icons yourself.
Folder Marker is definitely a useful program. The two bugs I mentioned earlier are definitely a bit annoying and I believe that the developer should address them as soon as possible, but if all you need is a simple program through which you can organize your folders, this program is definitely for you. Give the free version a shot, it may be worth it.