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Organize Your Desktop with Fences

   June 27th, 2012

Desktop with FencesAt a meeting last week, a colleague from my consortium's central office showed off a free program he found called Fences. Its function is simple: group desktop icons together in labelled boxes.

Of course I like organization, so this appealed to me. This was the first time I'd seen something like this, but it wouldn't surprises me if a similar function was native to OS X or Windows 7 (Fences looks like it's Windows-only).

I don' t know that I'd actually use this on my personal computer, but I've been thinking about using this on my library's public workstations.

We deliberately limited the number of desktop icons on the public computers to keep things from being confusing and overwhelming. But, if we organize things with Fences, and label each group, we might be able to present more options while still keeping things understandable.

I could see Fences for Microsoft Office programs, Browse the Internet (with a variety of browsers to choose from), Local Websites (maybe the local news sites, Town Hall, the schools), and then perhaps also some to highlight library tools or pages on our website.

I obviously haven't finalized things yet, but I like that this got me thinking about a new way to do things. Thanks Tracy!

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7 Responses to “Organize Your Desktop with Fences”

  1. ChiLibrarian Says:

    We use this for our public computers. It works very nicely. We have a ton of icons, including ones for the most popular email programs grouped with Internet browsers. People generally have no trouble finding what they need.

  2. Patrick W. Says:

    iOS has this ability on the iPad, where you can group applications together into labeled boxes. On that platform it’s meant to replace the filing system you find naturally on desktop computers, so that instead of scrolling higgledy-piggledy through page after page of icons, you have a way of organizing that wasn’t there before. I know that Mac OSX Lion was designed to mimic the interface and usability of the iOS platform, but I wasn’t aware that Windows was taking the same tack. My question is, “Why?” Are there studies that show that people respond better to the usability of that platform, or is this a case of companies following what they think consumers want? Or are they trying to convince consumers of what they want? Novelty is good, but only if it’s better than the old way of doing things. This means of organization is a good one, but it strikes me as being different: not better.

  3. Veronica Says:

    I’ve been using Fences on my work computer for about a year and I love it. I do a lot of graphic design and the best feature is that if you double click outside the fences, all your icons disappear. No visual distractions on the screen! I’ve tried to sell my fellow librarians on it, but no dice as of yet.

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @ChiLibrarian: that’s exactly what I expected – thanks for posting your experience.

    @Patrick: I’m sure it’s all those things, but, being cynical, probably based more on popularity and sales than on actual user research. Like reality shows – are they on television because people actually want to watch them, or do people watch them just because they’re on?

    For my purposes though, we don’t really have any organization on the desktop – just the icons. Fences seems to be different yes, but also better than nothing at all.

    @Veronica: I wondered about that feature – I think them disappearing would make me tense (or at least take some getting used to). But then again, even during my “off desk” time patrons can still see me, so visual distractions generally are not what keep me from being able to focus.

  5. Angy Says:

    Thanks for posting this – I just installed it on our patron workstations, and I’m now waiting patiently with fingers crossed for positive feedback. I think it makes our jumble of icons look better organized, and I can find what I’m looking for quicker, but I’m sure there will be a couple people who can’t find their shortcut because it moved, even if it’s now labelled.

  6. Bryan Says:

    Looks nice and could be a positive for our patrons, but does anyone know if other programs might interfere with it, such as Fortres 101, for some reason on some PAC’s it doesn’t mess with the desktop icons and on others it will (even thou they have the same settings). So just wondering if anyone has tried this. If not planning on implementing on a few to see. Will let everyone know

  7. Sadia Yamin Says:

    I was looking for an app for a long while which can organize my computer desktop.Then I found “Fence” at http://www.mevvy.com/articles/the-15-best-tools-apps-for-windows-part-1/#.URIPX_JsuJ0 .Its free and also very easy to use……..hope you will enjoy this………. 🙂