Fences 2.0 helps manage your desktop chaos

A new version of Fences was released earlier this month, adding a couple of new tricks to the Windows desktop organizer.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
3 min read

Fences 2.0 doesn't mess with what worked in the first version, which we loved when we looked at it three years ago. You get the same easy functionality of creating shaded areas (aka fences) on your desktop for organizing your files and folders. It lets you create rules, as you could with the old Fences Pro version, which automatically direct certain types of files to particular fences. Fences 2.0 introduces two new and useful features -- Folder Portals and Desktop Pages -- but before we get to them, let's quickly go over how the app works.

When you launch Fences 2.0, you can either start with a default layout or start from scratch and create your own fences. Choose the former, and the app will organize all the icons on your desktop, save the Recycle Bin, into fences. In my case, it created three fences: Programs, Folder, and Files & Documents.

To create a new fence, draw a rectangle on your desktop and choose "Create Fence here." You can then name and resize the fence. You can also drag the fence to reposition it, and there are a number of views and ways to sort a fence, which are accessible from a pull-down menu located in the upper-left corner of a fence.

Click the X in the upper-right corner to close a fence. When closing a fence, you can choose to delete all of the files contained therein, or you can close the fence while leaving its files on your desktop.

Lastly, you can double-click to hide all of the fences on your desktop, and you can exclude certain folders from this quick-hide feature (from the View menu accessible from the upper-left corner). Double-click again and your hidden fences reappear.

Now, to the two new features: Folder Portals and Desktop Pages.

A Folder Portal does not take you to another dimension, but it does offer a live view from your desktop to any folder. There are three ways to create a Folder Portal. You can hold down the Alt key while dragging and dropping a folder to your desktop, draw a rectangle on your desktop and choose the "Create Folder Portal here" option, or you can right-click on a folder and choose "Show this folder on the desktop." Not only does a Folder Portal give you quick access to the contents of a commonly accessed folder, but it also lets you open the folder by double-clicking the header or any blank space of a Folder Portal.

Desktop Pages lets you create multiple desktop screens (aka pages). Much like swiping through screens on a smartphone, you can swipe through these Desktop Pages. To swipe, move your cursor to the side edge of your display and drag while holding down the left-mouse button. Or you can hold down both mouse buttons and drag from anywhere on the screen. You can also use the Alt key and the arrow keys on your keyboard to swipe through your pages. To move a folder from one page to another, simply drag it to the edge of your screen.

Pricing has changed. There is no longer a limited free version and a pro version. Instead, there is one version, but you can try before you buy with a 30-day free trial. Fences 2.0 costs $9.99 (or $6.99 upgrade for Fences Pro users).

Like the idea of Fences but are on a Mac? Give Desktop Groups a whirl.