Padlock icon in Windows Explorer

by Mitch Tulloch [Published on 18 April 2012 / Last Updated on 18 April 2012]

What does the padlock icon mean in Windows Explorer?

Occasionally when using Windows Explorer in Windows 7 you may see a padlock icon overlaid on top of an icon for a document or other file.  What does this mean?

The padlock icon means the file is a private item in a non-private directory.  This means that only one user account is currently allowed to access this item—you.  Note that groups such as Administrators or the built-in SYSTEM identity may still be able to access the item.  If you use the Sharing Wizard in Windows 7 and share a file with Nobody, the file will be a private item.

Mitch Tulloch is a seven-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award and widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. For more tips by Mitch you can follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.


The Author — Mitch Tulloch

Mitch Tulloch is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, networking, and security. He has been repeatedly awarded Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status by Microsoft for his outstanding contributions in supporting users who deploy and use Microsoft platforms, products and solutions. Mitch has published over two hundred articles on different IT websites and magazines, and he has written or contributed to almost two dozen books and is lead author for the Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press. For more information, see .

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