I had posted an article about how to effectively organize your Windows desktop before, which included a several software, one of them is Stardock Fences, which is the software that will be reviewed. If you still do not know what is Stardock Fence, I would say that it is a unique software (which is one-of-a-kind) that allows you to organize the shortcut icons on your desktop in the way you desired. Besides a multiple-shaded-area for each different categories of icons is possible, it also has this killing feature – double click to make all (customizable) shortcut icons to become disappear. And one more advantage of this software is that it is absolutely FREE. In conjunction with the just release version 1.00 Customer Technical Preview of Stardock Fences, I have decided to do a simple review on this free software. So, let’s go on with the review of the software:
First and foremost, you must get the installer file downloaded. You can download the latest version here (by the time of writing, the latest version is v 1.0 RC). During the installation of Stardock Fences, just like most of the software, it will get installed after a few clicks. Nothing much special, except that you have to aware that this software will install their own digital download store: Stardock Impulse automatically, though it can be easily disable by modifying the Windows startup program. A quick preview on the installation progress:
Running the program
Upon execution of the software after installation, it will offer you to organize all the desktop icons by itself (Auto-layout). It is good for the first time user as it gives you the concept on how to organize your desktop icons in different categories. However, if you prefer to customize them yourself, you can always refuse it and DIY. By right clicking on the desktop and go for Configure Fences… , you can see the simple setting interface of Fences. Under Fences, you are able to choose from several preset layouts in Fences, or your own customized one (Below is my own customized layout, so it will be a bit different from yours).
Whereas under Customize, you are able to choose the display manner of your Fences label. Besides that, you are also able to fully customize how the Fences look, with transparency, brightness, hue and saturation within your control, and what’s more, Fences on the desktop will change immediately based on your choice to give you a preview how does a certain combination of settings looks like. I personally likes to set the transparency to 50%, which is just nice without fully overlapping my lovely wallpaper. It also let you choose whether to outline fence areas, and also have the scrollbars fade out when fences are inactive. Simple and very user friendly.
Tools allows you to enable/disable quick hide, which I doubt you will disable it if you are using this software. Quick hide is a unique feature which is in the process of patenting where a double click on the desktop can hide all the icons (customizable), and with another double click, all the hidden icons will reappear. Other than that, the software author does aware that some of the users prefer to have certain shortcut icons to always stay on the desktop. Therefore, you can customize which shortcut icons to always leave visible. It is under the blue-underlined clickable option under Quick-hide. This is particularly useful when you needed to show certain shortcut icons on the desktop during presentation, meeting etc. but without deleting/managing the unnecessary shortcut icons. I do feel it is able to make your presentation more professional, without having all the cluttered shortcut icons presented to audience. With snapshots, you are able to do a backup on your on customization of Fences, just in case if the software crashed or upgrading the software. Just click Take Snapshot and it will do the rest for you.
Underneath of Tools, there is More tools option for you. If your computer always deal with different display screen (eg. different resolution, different ratio), it allows you to store the fences sizes and position for each different configuration of screen. As mentioned earlier, upon the first run, Fences will offer to perform auto-layout for you. If you missed it or you wanted to do another auto-layout, you can just click on it and it will perform auto-layout for you, arranging you shortcut icons accordingly. And last but not least, it allows you to turn Fences on or off, in case you wanted to disable it for some reason.
Nothing much under Help, just a brief introduction of Fences, some basic use and quick tips. Worth a look if you are very new to this software though.
About page just shows you the version of your installed Stardock Fences, and the option to have the debug information E-mailed to Stardock in case you having technical problem running Fences, and also the option to check for updates.
I had it installed on two Windows environment, Windows XP and Windows 7 Professional 64 bit. Fences works pretty well and smooth on both of the Windows, except if the icon number is a lot, it does take some times to load the icon images during startup, but it is bearable of course. With the latest update just released today, I can feel that the quick-hide fading is much more smoother than previous beta version. Besides that, occasionally the quick-hide operation by double click could cause some minor-flickering of my Windows 7 taskbar, which I am not to sure whether it caused by Fences, or something to do with my display driver. Nevertheless, everything works pretty fine for me.
And certainly, there are some changes on the right click menu for Fences. Previously, Lock Fences was placed above Configure Fences, which I found it quite handy sometimes but they decided to make it placed under View. As you can see, you can select either to show your desktop icons in large, medium or classic (small) sizes. And several easy-to-understand options are available too like auto arrange icons etc.
Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
On Vista and Windows 7, both 32bit and 64bit versions are supported.
Impulse must be installed in order to download and update software.
I knew that the review of Stardock Fences is a bit lengthy, but I had tried to cover everything in the software, to help you to decide whether the software worth a try. But if you seek for my opinion, of course, give it a try, I would say, regardless which Windows you are using. You can easily uninstall it if you doesn’t like it, which is the case that I doubt it will happen though :P. All in all, Stardock Fences is one of my best recommended desktop customization software.
Download Stardock Fences