aNewDomain.net—Most heavy-duty computer users have a desktop crammed with icons. I personally have enough icons to completely cover my 23” monitor screen. Although I have developed several methods of organizing and hiding icons, I have never found a better solution than Stardock’s Fences program.
The Fences program lets you corral your icons into individual areas called fences. You can easily move and resize fences, color them, and hide them when not in use. When applied to your desktop, the fences look like the image below.
I have been using Fences for several years. It used to be free, but with its newest version, Stardock has started charging $9.99 for the program. I set out to see if the new features are worth the price.
The first additional feature that I found useful is the ability to create a fence out of any folder. Called folder portals, this lets you create a portal to any folder that you use regularly giving you easy access to your pictures and documents without cluttering your desktop.
Another useful new feature is the ability to sort the contents of any fence. Not only can you sort by name, size, and all the normal criteria, but you can also sort by the number of times opened or date added to the fence.
With this new version of Fences you can also define rules for adding icons so that new items can be automatically added to any fence.
Like the previous version of Fences, you double-click (or double-tap) on any blank space on your desktop and your icons will fade out. If you have an extremely cluttered desktop like I do, just the idea of seeing a clean desktop every now and then is very liberating. Double-click again and all of your icons will return. You can even pick icons and individual fences to exclude from the auto-hide.
For the most, Fences works well with the desktop in Windows 8, but I found one exception. This new version gives you the ability to create additional pages of icons to your fenced desktop. To access the additional pages, you take your cursor to the edge of your screen, hold down your mouse button and drag left or right to view the additional pages. This is a great feature and works well with a mouse, but while other features worked well on a touch screen, this feature did not. It conflicts with the Start and Charm menus and was almost impossible to control on a touchscreen. It might be better for Stardock to develop a tab-like feature instead of the dragging that is now necessary to change pages.
Are the new features in Fences worth $9.99? The answer is a resounding “yes.” If you want to gain control of your desktop without nesting icons and searching through folders, Fences will do the job.
Platforms: Windows 8/7/Vista/XP (XP 32-bit only) Folder portals and pages require Windows 7 or 8
Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at aNewDomain.net covering tech tips and tricks, apps, gadgets, and consumer electronics. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger, +SandyBerger on Google+, and www.facebook.com/sandyberger on Facebook.Tags: Productivity,Software