Is your virtual desktop out of control?

By Sandra Clitter  

I don’t know about you, but my computer desktop gets wayyyyyyyyy out of control (truth be told, my physical desktop needs some help, as well, but no one but me can help me there!). The icons on my computer desktop run amok. I have all kinds of 1/2 completed documents out there (temporary storage while I’m working on them). I have shortcuts to favorite programs. I have shortcuts to frequently used folders. I have some training PDF’s that are waiting for me to have time to work on them. I try to drag them into a logical order – Programs, you go ‘stand’ on this side. Training docs, you go to the lower-right quadrant. Truly temp files…please locate yourselves in the top-right corner. Etc. That’s all fine and dandy until I add a new icon to the desktop and it simply takes the ‘next available’ space. Then, I try to reorganize them, but the Windows ‘arranging’ features work against me (even if I have the ‘auto arrange’ feature turned off). In the end, I give up, Windows wins, and I just have to hunt and hunt to find the icon that I’m seeking when I need it :-).

I know that Apple products handle desktop organization more elegantly, but do we Windows users have to deal with what we’ve got?…or can we take control?


I ran across a free utility that allows Windows users to better ‘herd’ (i.e. organize) desktop icons by creating designated types of groupings that users can more readily manage. I downloaded the free version, but the paid version ($19.95) allows additional controls. Even with the free version, I’m happy that I can now find what I’m looking for on my desktop.

The utility is called “Fences” (makes sense because it puts ‘fences’ around your desktop icons, isolating them in logical groups). It is made by Stardock and is available for download here: download “Fences” here.

For demonstration purposes, I picked a desktop that wasn’t HORRENDOUSLY cluttered to be able to show an example of the before and after.

Here’s the before image:

Here’s the after image:

I was able to move the location of the fences, rename the fences, add/remove icons from the fences very easily. New icons get added to the ‘non-fenced’ locations…then you can drag them within whichever fence you like.

All-in-all, I like being able to ‘tidy up’ my desktop simply by organizing the icons in a fashion which makes sense to me. Users can change a number of aspects of the appearance of the fences, but what you see above is the default. You can also back up your settings, so that you can recover, in case someone ‘messes’ with your desktop.

From an efficiency standpoint, just like having a good filing system in a filing cabinet, or good organization to your virtual documents, having good organization for your virtual desktop is essential to being able to work in the most effective manner possible – Now I just have to work on my physical desktop!


  1. Posted January 15, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Howdy! I know this іs somewhat off topic but I was ωondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my
    comment form? I’m using the same blοg platform as yours and I’m
    having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

  2. Posted August 8, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink | Reply


    Fences looks really good! Nice image of it in your report, helping us to visualize how Fences works.

    For me, I put very little on my desktop. On my MacBook Pro I have NO icons. I prefer to keep all the data presorted into the folders they belong to… like under a client’s name, a subject matter, or my personal life (again divided into multiple subfolders).

    On my Windows machine (used only for special projects these days since I use my MacBook Pro for 90% of my daily activity), I have a few icons, but only those for programs, NOT for documents or projects. Again I organize these as described above.

    Can I always find everything? NO… sometimes I’m WAY too clever for myself. The name of the folder (or the name of the document within a folder) made sense when I created it but days, weeks, or months later it’s hard to retrieve. But at least I can generally check the main folder for the topic or client and find it then.

    Thanks for helping us to discover Fences!

    Charlie Seymour Jr

    • Posted August 8, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink | Reply

      I know what you mean, Charlie about using your folders for storing things. I do that, as well (although sometimes I organize a bit ‘too well’ and can’t find what I put where!), but for the ‘current work’, I find that keeping it on the desktop (just as I would a piece of paper) helps me to keep it ‘in the front of my mind’. Sometimes filing it in the appropriate folder creates the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ scenario for me which is really NOT good :-). I truly use my virtual desktop as I do my actual, physical desktop. Now, with Fences, I can organize it the way I do my physical desk. Things I use all the time here, things ‘to do’ over here. Reference stuff over there, etc. I’m liking thinking of the Fences as the ‘piles’ on my desk. So far, it’s working for me!!!

      As for finding the stuff that I’ve ‘hidden’ from myself, all I can say is – thank goodness for Google Desktop!! As long as I remember a keyword, I can find what I’m looking for – whether the name of the document or folder makes sense or not!

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] talked about “Fences” in another post (a desktop organization tool) which allows you to better organize your desktop. That was more of a ‘functional’, […]

  2. […] reading here: Is your virtual desktop out of control? – SLC Consulting Categories: Desktop Monitor Tags: gets-wayyyyyyyyy, needs-some, physical Comments […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *