How to Fix Missing TortoiseSVN File Status Icons in Windows

    Craig Buckler
    Craig Buckler
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    TortoiseSVN
    For many Windows-based developers, Subversion and TortoiseSVN is a great source control solution. It’s free, is regularly updated, works on most versions of Windows and integrates well within the OS. TortoiseSVN will be one of the first systems developers install after upgrading to Windows 7. Tortoise normally shows an overlay icon on every version-controlled file to indicate whether it has been added to the SVN repository, is new, modified, etc. While it may not be absolutely essential, the overlay offers a quick view of the current project status. Tortoise icon overlays Unfortunately, Windows Tortoise users can encounter an issue where the file overlays disappear. It’s not an issue specific to Tortoise and it can affect any application which adds several icon overlays. The problem is caused by the number of overlays permitted in different versions of Windows. Vista 32-bit appears to support 15 overlay types, whereas Windows 7 64-bit supports 11. Installing a program which adds its own icon overlays can therefore disable them in another application. Windows registers 3 icon overlays (this may differ between versions). Tortoise registers another 9. Dropbox registers 3 and will re-install them if they’re missing when the application is restarted. So Windows 7 64-bit users will only be able to view Tortoise icons if at least 4 (non-Dropbox) overlay types are removed from the system. Here be dragons! The fix I’m about to describe involves tampering with the Windows registry. It’s dangerous and one false move could trash your Windows installation! If you’re willing to take the risk, fire up the Windows Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and navigate to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerShellIconOverlayIdentifiers Export the branch as a .reg file — this will allow you to restore the old settings should anything go wrong. You will see the Tortoise and other icon overlay identifiers as sub-branches. You can delete unnecessary
    icon overlay types by right-clicking a branch and selecting Delete: registry editing Choosing which overlays are unnecessary is your decision and will depend on your requirements. There may be overlays for applications you do not use or have uninstalled. I removed the TortoiseLocked and TortoiseReadOnly types because I rarely use those SVN facilities. You could also delete the lesser-used Windows Offline Files and SharingPrivate
    . Once you’re done, reboot Windows and check whether the Tortoise icon overlays have reappeared. The version of Windows you’re running will determine how many branches you need to delete. If in doubt, remove one at a time, reboot and check. I hope that helps someone, somewhere. All comments welcome … let the sneering from Mac and Linux users begin!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about TortoiseSVN File Status Overlay Icons

    Why are my TortoiseSVN overlay icons not showing up in Windows 10?

    This issue often arises due to a limitation in Windows 10, which only allows a certain number of overlay icons. If you have other applications that use overlay icons, such as OneDrive or Dropbox, they might be taking up the slots. To resolve this, you can edit the Windows Registry to prioritize TortoiseSVN overlay icons. However, be cautious while doing this as incorrect changes can cause system instability.

    How can I restore missing TortoiseSVN icons?

    If your TortoiseSVN icons are missing, you can try refreshing your icon cache. To do this, open the TortoiseSVN settings, navigate to the Icon Overlays section, and click on ‘Clear cache’. If this doesn’t work, you might need to reinstall TortoiseSVN or adjust your Windows Registry settings.

    What does the absence of TortoiseSVN overlay icons indicate?

    The absence of TortoiseSVN overlay icons doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem with your repository or working copy. It’s usually a visual issue related to the operating system or the TortoiseSVN client itself. However, it can make it harder to see the status of your files at a glance.

    Can I customize the TortoiseSVN overlay icons?

    Yes, you can customize the TortoiseSVN overlay icons. You can do this by going to the TortoiseSVN settings, then the Icon Overlays section. Here, you can choose which icons you want to show and in what order.

    Why are my TortoiseSVN overlay icons showing incorrectly?

    If your TortoiseSVN overlay icons are showing incorrectly, it could be due to a conflict with other applications that use overlay icons. You can resolve this by adjusting the overlay icon settings in the TortoiseSVN settings or the Windows Registry.

    How can I check the status of my files without TortoiseSVN overlay icons?

    If your TortoiseSVN overlay icons are not showing, you can still check the status of your files by right-clicking on the file or folder and selecting ‘TortoiseSVN’ > ‘Check for modifications’.

    Why are my TortoiseSVN overlay icons not updating?

    If your TortoiseSVN overlay icons are not updating, it could be due to a problem with the icon cache. You can try clearing the cache in the TortoiseSVN settings. If this doesn’t work, you might need to reinstall TortoiseSVN or adjust your Windows Registry settings.

    Can I use TortoiseSVN without overlay icons?

    Yes, you can use TortoiseSVN without overlay icons. The overlay icons are a visual aid to help you see the status of your files, but they are not necessary for the functioning of TortoiseSVN.

    Why are some of my TortoiseSVN overlay icons showing, but not others?

    This could be due to a limitation in Windows, which only allows a certain number of overlay icons. If you have other applications that use overlay icons, they might be taking up the slots. You can adjust the priority of the TortoiseSVN overlay icons in the Windows Registry to resolve this.

    How can I troubleshoot issues with TortoiseSVN overlay icons?

    If you’re having issues with TortoiseSVN overlay icons, you can try clearing the icon cache, reinstalling TortoiseSVN, or adjusting your Windows Registry settings. Always remember to back up your data before making any changes to your system.