Many Windows 11 users are seeing a brown icon box on their Dropbox or One Drive files. When they try to open these files, they get an error such as “Word was unable to read this document. It may be corrupt.”
This brown icon box appears on files that have the FILE_ATTRIBUTE_OFFLINE flag set. This happens when Windows cannot access or download files stored in the cloud (for example, in software like Dropbox or OneDrive.)
In other words, you cannot access these files because you aren’t logged in or synced to OneDrive or Dropbox.
So, to fix this issue, go to the Start Menu > All apps and, run the OneDrive (or Dropbox) app, enter your password if asked to do so. If you are logged in, try logging out and then back in. After signing in to OneDrive or Dropbox, you will find that the brown icon box is gone.
This will do the job for most users, but keep reading if you can’t fix it this way.
(If you get the message “Other people are editing this document” on OneDrive when editing a Word document from your OneDrive local folder, check the article I’ve written on it.)
How to Fix OneDrive Files Have a Brown Box on Icon
I assume you made sure you are logged in OneDrive; if not, read the previous session. To get rid of it and access your files, try turning on “Always keep on this device” in your OneDrive – Personal folder. If this doesn’t work, try to uninstall OneDrive and reinstall it.
Set your OneDrive personal folder to Always keep on this device
- Open the File Explorer and right-click on the OneDrive – Personal folder.
- Click on Always keep on this device in the context menu:
Uninstall OneDrive (and Reinstall it) to Remove the Brown Box Icon
- Open the Windows 11 Start Menu, then select All apps:
- Go to OneDrive, right-click on it and select Uninstall.
(If you want to have an easier time when freeing up disk space by uninstalling apps, check my article on how to uninstall multiple programs at once in Windows 11.)
- Check if the brown icon box disappeared from your files.
- If not, download OneDrive and reinstall it:
If these don’t work, try to turn off Archive Apps and Storage Sense.
How to Fix Dropbox Files Have a Brown Box on Icon
If your Dropbox is running and you still see the brown box icon on your files, try to switch your file status in Smart Sync to local as explained below:
- Right-click on the file or folder with the brown box icon, then click on Show more options.
- Click on Smart Sync and change it to Local instead of Online only:
If this didn’t work, try the fixes below.
How to Fix Files Have a Brown Box on Icon in Windows 11
If nothing else worked, you could try to change these settings in Windows 11 to remove the brown icon from your files.
Turn off Archive Apps on Apps & Features
The Archive apps feature stores online apps that you don‘t use frequently, so we will turn off this feature by following the steps below:
- Enter Settings on Windows Search and click on Open:
- In the Settings window, click on Apps on the left sidebar:
- Then click on Apps & Features:
- On Apps & Features, click on More Settings, then select Archive Apps:
- Turn off Archive Apps.:
Turn off Storage Sense
According to Microsoft’s official website, “Windows Storage Sense is a silent assistant that works with OneDrive to automatically free up space by making locally available files that you aren’t using anymore online-only again.”
So, we will try to turn off Storage Sense to keep your files always stored locally:
- Enter Settings on Windows Search and click on Open.
- In the Settings window, click on Storage:
- Under Storage management, turn off Storage Sense:
The brown cabinet box icon usually appears on files stored in the cloud but cannot be accessed by Windows. The easiest way to fix this issue is to sign in to your OneDrive or Dropbox account, and you will be able to open these files again.
In OneDrive, you can also fix this issue by right-clicking on the OneDrive – Personal folder and checking Always keep on this device on the context menu.
In Dropbox, you need to right-click the file with the brown icon > more tools > then change Smart Sync to local.
If you want to learn how to have the old Start Menu back on Windows 11, read my article on how to bring back Windows classic Start Menu to Windows 11.