Windows Freeware Top 10 – Fences by Stardock

When Xerox invented the GUI, its goal was to make computers easier to use. By having a consistent interface with icons sitting on a virtual desktop, Xerox believed the average person, with little training, could quickly become productive. The concept is simple and Xerox has certainly been proved correct.

However, with the Xerox's original creation of the computer desktop, along with it came the analogous 'clutter.

If you're like me, you have quite a bit of software installed on your computer. With each program comes an icon which is dropped into the next available open space on your desktop. After a while, your desktop begins to resemble mine. The icons are all jammed together, titles are cut off and all the images start to run together; sometimes I spend several minutes looking for a program I use infrequently.

If you've ever tried to find a program in a cluttered mess such as this, join the club.

For several years, I kept a completely clean desktop; no icons, no taskbar. I put my icons in a self-hiding window on one side. The self hiding window/desktop bar was a standard feature of Windows XP, but Microsoft decided that it didn't need to make it available in Windows 7, so when I upgraded, I was put back in icon hell.

I happened to be visiting a colleague of mine when I noticed the icons on his desktop were grouped into all these neat little boxes with category names. WOW! I was instantly drawn to its simplicity and quickly turned the discussion from the project at hand to his desktop.

The program he was using is called Fences from a company called Stardock. Now my cluttered desktop looks like this.

Fences allows you to organize your desktop. When you install it, you create categories or 'Fences' on your desktop within which you drop your icons. I have fences for utilities, system, applications, Office, media, etc. Once you have your icons in your fences and your fences arranged and sized on your desktop, you can lock them in place by right clicking on the desktop, choosing View->Lock Fences. When you add new software, the installer will drop a new icon on the desktop as usual. All you have to do is drag the new icon to a fence and drop it even if your fences are locked.

Remember that I said I used to have a perfectly clean desktop? Well, Fences allows you to hide all your "fences" by simply double clicking on the desktop. To show them, simply double-click a second time. Easy and clean!

So, here are my Pro's and Con's:


  • Allows you to organize your desktop into groups of logical associations
  • Allows customizing positions on desktop
  • Clear your desktop with ease


  • None that I can think of!

The free version of Fences is full featured and is restricted to non-commercial use. Fences Pro is on sale right now for $9.99. It has some enhanced features plus allows business use.

If you are stuck in "icon hell" and are looking for a way to organize your desktop, I recommend Fences. If you decide to give a try, let me know your thoughts. Or, if you have another solution, I want to hear about it; post a comment

Mark A. Andrews


Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies whose software is review here. I use this software myself and that is the only guarantee I make. If you use it and it doesn't work for you, then so be it. I am not responsible for your computer and should any software I review damage your computer or cause you harm, I am not responsible. USE ANY SOFTWARE I REVIEW HERE AT YOUR OWN RISK! You've been fully warned.

About Mark Andrews

Software Engineer, Geek, Family Man
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