I reviewed Nimi Places two days ago and found it to be a great program to bring order to the desktop.
One of Ghacks' readers mentioned Tago Fences in the comments as an alternative that is closer to Fences than Nimi Places, and since I'm always interested in new programs, off I went to take it for a test ride.
Tago Fences looks and feels very similar to Fences. You get the option to create groups automatically (something that it calls fences) or create the setup you want to run with manually instead if you prefer it that way.
Note: The program requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0.
If you select the automatic option you end up with a couple of icon groups on the desktop. On my PC, it created Other, Shortcuts and Documents automatically and moved all icons into those groups.
These groups are similar to the groups that commercial program Fences creates.
All desktop icons are placed inside the fences which are placed at the top right of the screen by the program. A scroll bar is added automatically if the size of the group is not sufficient to display all icons at the same time.
It is possible to resize each group individually, pin it to its location, and add or remove files and shortcuts to it as well using drag and drop.
All files and programs are launched with a double-click as usual. A right-click enables you to hide or remove items from a group, to rename the fence, and modify the size of the icons and colors.
New fences can be added via the program's system tray icon. It creates a new group that you can move around on the desktop and resize to fit its purpose.
Each program or file that you drag and drop into it is not really copied to the fence but linked from it so that it remains accessible in its original location as well.
This is also true for icons on the desktop, but they are added to one of the groups automatically and hidden on the desktop by default.
It is still possible to display them all again with a double-click on an icon-free location on the desktop and hide them again using the same operation.
The preferences list several interesting options to customize the program and its functionality. You can disable the automatic adding of new files on the desktop to a fence for example, or disable the program's autostart with Windows.
There you can also enable the hiding of fences when not focused and set default colors for new fences.
Tago Fences is a great alternative for the commercial Fences program for Windows. It offers the core functionality of that program and does a great job at that regardless of whether you use its automatic creation feature or create all groups manually instead for full control of the desktop layout.
The program used about 60 Megabytes of memory while running on a 64-bit Windows 7 system. Part of it can be explained by its Microsoft .NET dependency.
All in all though it is a solid option for Windows users who want to organize the icon mess on their desktop.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.