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Stardock Fences

Desktop Organization for Windows

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

Photo © Stardock

Photo © Stardock

Stardock Fences is a utility designed to organize your Microsoft Windows desktop. Stardock Fences allows you to partition your desktop into shaded sections. For example, the auto-layout utility created sections or "Fences" for quick links, recent things, programs, files & documents, web links, etc. You have complete control over the appearance, including transparency, color intensity, tint and saturation. Fences is a Microsoft Windows only product. Stardock Fences has been around for several years and the current version is 1.01.

Check out the Fences Screen Shot Gallery

Overview of Fences

If you are a developer, designer or anyone in information technology, you likely spend a lot of time on your computer. Many of us use the desktop as the dumping ground for files, links, applications and other stuff that we think we need quick access to. We always think we will clean it up later. I don't know about you, but I rarely do.

The Microsoft Windows desktop has been pretty much the same since the beginning. As monitors have grown, the icons on your desktop seem to blend together into a mess. You open your desktop and spend longer than you would like trying to find something. You might even download a file again because it's lost on your desktop, which wastes additional time.

I have been using Fences for a couple of days, and I have found the utility really easy to use. After you install Fences, you can create an auto-layout which organizes everything on your desktop into shaded sections. Don't worry, by default, Fences creates a snapshot of your original desktop so you can easily roll back.

Stardock is a Microsoft Gold Partner and their offices are located in Plymouth, Michigan. Their focus is on Windows experience and PC games. Dell users will recognize at least one of their products as they are the developers of the Dell Dock.

Pros

  • The UI is really pleasant and not overwhelming. I like the transparency which allows your desktop photo to show through. The fences are more like shaded sections.
  • Includes a free version for personal use. If you want to implement for your organization, the retail price is currently $19.95. I am sure you can get a quantity discount.
  • Runs on 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7 and Vista.
  • Auto-layout get's you started within a few minutes. You can create as many fences as you need and move icons between fences.
  • It's easy to switch between Fences and you old disorganized desktop.
  • Double clicking on your desktop hides everything, which is really nice if you share your screen during presentations.

Cons

  • Only runs on Windows. But then again, Apple's UI is pretty decent.
  • New files that land on your desktop show up outside of the shaded areas so you need to move them into a fence or re-run the auto-layout. The pro version includes a feature that allows you to handle how new icons get saved in your Fences desktop.

Bottom Line

My overall impression with this product is very positive, which is why I gave it 4.5 out of 5.0 stars. I am going to continue using Fences and see how it goes. If I can get my hands on the pro version, I will review it and see if it's worth the extra $20. I really like the New Icons and Rules feature in the Pro version. According to the documentation, it allows you to direct new desktop icons into different Fences based on file type, name or date created. This seems like a simple way to keep your desktop clean and organized.

Installation was a snap and I was up and running within a few minutes. According to Stardock, Fences has low system impact but integrates tightly with the Windows.

I created a Fence for my Excel documents. I have a number of Excel documents and my desktop has become really hideous (ask my staff). Setting up and configuring a new Fence was really simple. Fences uses Impulse for digital distribution and installs it during the setup process. I don't know much about Impulse except it was recently acquired by GameStop.

I strongly recommend you give Stardock Fences a try. If you are like most people, it will turn your desktop from chaos to calm.

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