The best utilities do a useful job, simply. They are nearly transparent; you barely know they are there. Quietly, elegantly, they push ahead of you as you work, making the load lighter. Fences, by Stardock, does its job just this way and is one of my favorite programs I use every day.
If your desk has become overrun with icons, to the point that you can barely see your background wallpaper you need to look at Fences. At its most basic operating level, with a double click anywhere on the screen, Fences hides all of your icons. Want to see them again? Just double click.
That simple gesture, hiding all those distracting icons, is enough to help me focus on the task at hand. Of course, Fences does more. With a right click and a drag of the mouse you can define "fenced in" areas on your desktop that can be used to organize and group files and folders. You can name a fence anything you like, size it, or resize it. Fences will even grow scroll bars if you need them. You can drag them around the screen, putting them wherever you want. And, yes, these fences also disappear when you double click on the screen. You have control of the color of the fences, and their opacity.
Best of all, Fences is free.
A "pro" version ($19.95, provided by Stardock for this review) adds a few other features, notably the ability to have icons and files automatically moved to a particular fence. For instance, you could have music files in a music fence, photos in a photo fence, and so forth. It can also shuttle downloaded files into their own fence. These are not hard coded...you can choose which fence, if any, automatically gets a certain type of file. The pro version also has sorting of the icons by date, type, size name and other criteria. Also, in the pro version, fences can appear "faded" until you mouse over them.
Give it a try. The free version is great, and may be all you need. The pro version builds on a solid program and gives additional flexibility without adding significant complexity. I've found Fences to be an indispensible addition to Windows computing.