The 9 Best Free Fence Alternatives for Windows Desktop Management

In the same way that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their physical desktop, you can also infer a similar amount of information from a person’s Windows desktop.


If you live in a world of virtual clutter, it may be wise to turn to a third-party desktop management app for help. The most famous is Fences, but there are plenty of other options as well.

Here are the best free alternatives to Fences for managing and organizing your Windows desktop.


1. Fences

Wait, how can Stardock’s Fences be an alternative to Fences? Listen to us.

Today, Fences is a paid app. You can enjoy a 30-day free trial, but after that you have to pay $13 for the app. If you want the full app, including Object Desktop, it will cost you $36.

Fences hasn’t always been a paid app, though. When it first made a name for itself, the app was free.

And the good news? You can still download that old, free version of Fences. Sure, it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as the latest releases, but it still works well.

to download: Fences v1.01 (Free)

2. Nimi places

Nimi Places is a desktop organizer app that allows users to organize their desktops into customizable containers. Each container can contain files and folders from multiple locations, and each file or folder can be represented as an icon or a thumbnail.

From an organizational point of view, you can add colored labels and create rules for containers so that specific actions are performed at predefined times. Each container can use a separate theme, and you can use different sized icons within each container to support visual imagery on the screen. The containers also have a built-in media previewer.

The thumbnails are also worth looking at in more detail. Not only does Nimi Places have the ability to create thumbnails of images and videos, it can also work with Photoshop files, web page shortcuts, folder folders, and an assortment of productivity files.

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to download: Nimi places (Free)

3. Xlaunchpad

If you are an Apple user, you are familiar with Launchpad on macOS. Yes, you can try tweaking the Start Menu in Windows 10 to partially replicate it, but having all your installed apps neatly displayed and available with a single click is super handy and a real time saver.

If you’re the type of person who has hundreds of app shortcuts on your desktop, give XLaunchpad a try. It brings the Mac Launchpad experience to Windows. Once installed, you will see a Rocket icon on your desktop. Click on the icon and you will see all your apps. You can finally remove all those app shortcuts from your desktop.

to download: Xlaunchpad (Free)

4. SideSlide

People who have used Fences for Windows will like SideSlide. It’s the Windows equivalent of sliding all the clutter on your physical desktop into your office drawers. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

The program revolves around a Workspace. Within the workspace, you can add containers, shortcuts, commands, URLs, RSS news feeds, images, reminders, notes, and much more.

All content in your workspace is instantly available with just a single click. Just dock the app to the side of the screen and it will stay out of sight when not in use; move your mouse over the dock and it will expand immediately.

Customization is SideShare’s priority. With a little tweaking, you can make the app work exactly the way you want it to.

to download: SideSlide (Free)

5. ViPad

Another desktop organizer for Windows 10, ViPad also takes a container-based approach to organizing your desktop. However, it only uses a single container, with tabs along the top of the container’s window, allowing you to jump between the different groups of content.

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Tabs can contain apps and documents, web links, social media contacts, and even music. The tabs are fully searchable (just start typing to start searching) and can be customized to your needs using drag and drop.

Best of all, you can customize your tabs by downloading free Windows 10 icons from the ViPad website.

to download: ViPad (Free)

6. TAGO fences

TAGO Fences is the most lightweight app on this list. If you just want a few core features without all the added extras you probably never will, give it a try.

It’s also arguably the most Fences-esque experience, with the aforementioned Nimi Places a close second.

The app allows you to store multiple shortcuts and apps within each fence and has a scroll bar if the list of icons gets too large for the container.

You can change the background and tile colors, show or hide individual icons, and drag and drop your content for each container into the order you want.

to download: TAGO Fences (Free)

7. Virtual Desktops

We know some of you try to avoid third-party apps whenever possible, so we’ll be using the native Windows 10 Virtual Desktops feature as well.

Windows 10 marks the first time that multiple virtual desktops have become a mainstream feature. When used properly, they can greatly reduce the amount of clutter on your desktop. For example, if your desktop is a hodgepodge of Steam shortcuts, school assignments, and new memes you’ve found on Reddit, why not give each category its own desktop space?

Press . to create a new desktop Windows + Tab. In the new window click + New desktop in the top left corner. Press . to switch between desktops Windows + Ctrl + Left Arrow (or Right arrow), and to close a desktop, press Windows + Ctrl + F4.

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8. Rocket Dock

Want to get the feel of Mac’s infamous Dock right from your Windows? You can with RocketDock, the free app from PolyVector that makes your Windows similar to the Dock of Mac OS X Aqua.

After downloading and installing the app, RocketDock transforms your desktop into a Mac-like minimalist UI. In addition, it is also quite lightweight at the same time, at only 11MB.

You can adjust the settings from the Dock itself, as the app gives you a separate icon for the settings menu.

to download: RocketDock (Free)

9. Rain gauge

Another free app on our list, the Rainmeter, is an open-source desktop customization that allows you to display user-generated customizable desktop widgets or applets known as “skins”.

Don’t worry though; you can always download and install new skins, also known as “suites”. Moreover, apart from various skins and themes, the app also displays information such as CPU, RAM, network, battery power, RSS feeds, images, and so on.

To get the most out of Rainmeter, check out our complete guide to creating custom Windows desktop icons with Rainmeter.

to download: rain gauge (Free)

Do you need a Fences alternative for Windows 10?

Windows 10 may be on its way to making all these apps obsolete. You can now use the Start menu to group shortcuts and apps into expandable folders (drag one icon over the other to get started). If you link the Start menu to virtual desktops, you could say that apps like Fences are reaching the end of their lifecycle.

However, some users will still love the extra features they offer. People will get the most benefit from cluttered desktops.

If you’re looking for the most Fences-esque experience, we recommend Nimi, although all the apps on this list are viable Stardock Fences alternatives.

Image credit: scanrail/deposit photos

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