Missing Icon Overlays in Office 365

OneDrive Limitations on Windows 7 & 8

As companies migrate to Office 365 and make broader use of cloud-based file sharing applications, the interoperability of preferred apps and various operating systems can create some unique technical support challenges.

Recently while providing Tier 2 and 3 support, we had an end-user report that their OneDrive for Business icons had disappeared. These are the little green checkmarks on a synced file that let you know it has made it safely to the Cloud.

OneDrive has 3 icons.  Synced. Syncing. Error.  These icons are actually known as “Icon Overlays.”  The individual icons will be that of a Word Document or an Excel Document, etc. The green checkmark or red X are then overlaid atop the document icon.

There are lots of programs that provide Overlay Icons. OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, DropBox, Google Drive, etc.

A problem occurs when a user gets too many of these applications going at once because there is a limit to how many Overlay Icons can exist in a Windows 7 or 8 system. That limit is 15.

And DropBox, it turns out, adds 8 different OverLay icons on its own.

This particular customer had multiple users with DropBox and OneDrive both working happily. So what happened in this case that made it different?

Of course when I asked the user what changed, I got “Nothing. Nothing at all…”

But – as it turns out – this user had OneDrive for Business and the consumer edition of OneDrive both running.  He ran this way for months without issue, and then system Logs indicated that DropBox was installed a week prior.  And that apparently put the system over the current Icon Overlay limit, causing the failure.

As cloud file services proliferate, I suspect our customers and lots of end users will run into this issue again.  Hope this information helps someone else with this problem.

And in the meantime, hopefully Microsoft and Dropbox have some icon overlay enhancements planned on their product roadmaps!

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