Portable Apps

Category: Software

Did you know that you can load up a flash drive with your favorite programs and run them on any computer, without installing, directly from the portable drive? Here's the scoop on portable apps...

What Are Portable Apps?

A portable app is simply a program that you can take with you on a portable device, such as a flash drive, or an external hard drive. You can even put portable apps on your iPod or MP3 player -- basically any device that has file storage and can be plugged into a USB port.

Plug your portable device into any Windows computer, and you have instant access to your own software, documents, data and settings. The beauty of portable apps is that you can do that without the hassle of installing software on other computers. And when you unplug your device, there are no worries about leaving any of your personal data behind.

Why Use Portable Apps?

portable apps

You've got your home computer set up just the way you like it. But about when you travel for business, vacation, or even when you're using a friend's computer? Wouldn't it be great to carry all your favorite programs, your browser bookmarks, and custom settings along with you?

Portable apps allow you to take your favorite email program, configured just the way you need, along with with your address book and settings, whereever you go. You'll never be without your instant messenger and your buddy list. Your calendar, to-do list, and all your appointments come along with you. You can even bring your office software (word processor, spreadsheet, etc.) as well as your documents and presentations.

Are you always forgetting website passwords when you're away from your home computer? Put a password manager on your portable drive and you can give your brain a break. Oh, and if you're the one that people call when their computers get hosed, a flash drive with a collection of anti-virus, anti-spyware and other utilities is a great thing to bring along.

Where Can I Get Portable Apps?

Visit PortableApps.com and you'll find a large collection of open source software and freeware that you can download. Everything you need for on-the-go computing and troubleshooting is available for free. Here's a sample of the portable apps that you can use:

Internet Apps

  • Mozilla Firefox - Web Browser
  • Mozilla Thunderbird - Email Client
  • FileZilla Portable - FTP Client
  • Miranda IM Portable - Instant Messaging for AOL, MSN and Yahoo
  • PuTTY Portable - Telnet And Ssh Client

Office Apps

  • OpenOffice.org - Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentations
  • AbiWord Portable - MS-word Compatible Word Processor
  • Notepad++ Portable - Full-Featured Text Editor

Multimedia Apps

  • GIMP - Photo/Image Editor
  • CoolPlayer+ - Audio Player
  • MPlayer - Movie Player
  • InfraRecorder - CD and DVD Burner

Utility Apps

  • 7-Zip Portable - File Archiver (zip/unzip)
  • ClamWin Portable - Antivirus
  • JkDefrag Portable - Disk Defrag and Optimizer
  • KeePass - Password Manager

You can also find portable versions of popular web browsers and other utilities at Xenocode. Grab a copy of Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer (IE7 or IE8), Safari or Opera to try a variety of web browers without having to install or uninstall each one. This is a great thing if you're a website developer, since you can easily see how your web pages look in every major browser. Xenocode also offers Adobe Reader so you can handle PDF files, the WinAmp multimedia player, and the Gimp image editor.

Want to build you own portable apps? Check out the resources available on the PortableApps.com or Xenocode websites. If you're a programmer looking to develop a new portable app, an end-user or system administrator who wants to adapt existing apps for portability, you'll find help there.

Do you use portable apps? Post a comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Portable Apps"

Posted by:

20 Mar 2009

Is the portable apps compatible with Sandisk U3 drives? Can I download just the apps I want at any given time from the package after the package is loaded onto the U3? Thankyou.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm not sure if/how the U3's "programs on the go" feature is different than using portable apps on other flash drives. But I'm sure it will work with the ones from portableapps.com or xenocode.

Posted by:

20 Mar 2009

Yes both U3 and Portable apps can reside on the same drive. The main difference is that U3 is propriatary and 90% will charge you to use. Most have a free trial and then like 5% are free.

The one problem that I find in usings U3 or Portable apps for PC repair is that it requires a USB 2.0, which is not new tech by any means, but most of the computers I look at are not right off the show room floor. So they may or may not have that tech.

One more thing that I would like to mention about U3 is that when you put a U3 memory stick in a machine it will show up as Removable storage and as a DVD rom drive. This I believe has to do with the autorun feature of U3. If you are working on a PC that for some reason doesn't like you doing that (ei. a laptop that I worked on about 2 weeks ago) no amount of U3 will help you. I have, at length, debated if I should carry any Portable apps as a tech support over just a external hard drive with some installable apps.

Posted by:

27 Mar 2009

You didn't mention my favorite media player, VLC, which plays more formats and is simpler to use than most commercial players. The portable version is so complete I use it on my main computer without installation. And once you get used to Thunderbird & Firefox portable, you'll never leave home with out them (the automatic updates even work with the portable versions.)

Posted by:

03 Apr 2009

Dude, you didn't mention a site that really should be mentioned when it comes to portable apps. I mean http://www.portablefreeware.com

It is the site that I always visit first when I am looking for something in this area. And why bother with Adobe reader bloatware when you can read PDF's perfectly with Foxit? It comes in the tastes 'regular' and 'portable', whichever you like.

Posted by:

Andrew Donnelly
06 Apr 2009

Hi Bob,

Cool list. I'm always using Filezilla & Gimp from my USB stick. Mikogo is also an app you could add to your collection of portable tools. It's a free desktop sharing tool so you can share your screen with multiple people live over the web for online meetings, web conferencing, & remote support. Great little app to share screens and help others with tech problems via remote support. We just announced the new Mikogo portable version 2.0.4. Drop by the site to check it out. -- http://www.mikogo-blog.com/mikogo-portable

Posted by:

20 Apr 2009

hello bob.
that is a really helpful list of portable apps. but there's much more apps that you can put in the thumbdrive, and use it directly on any computer without installing. as a student, my friends and i usually put games in the thumbdrive, with the savegame so we can play it on the computer lab's pc. but it needs really huge thumbdrive, like 2gb++.
oh, and i've used the mozilla firefox portable,and it works really well, just almost the same like the default, except a few function being reduced.

Posted by:

21 Apr 2009

If you cannot find a portable for the app you need, you can make your own. Have tried Portabilizer, an exceptional app.


Also have tried AutoIt3/PAC Compiler

Now there is Thinstall, JauntePE, ThinApp, NSIS, etc.

Posted by:

04 Jun 2009

http://portableubuntu.demonccc.cloudius.com.ar -- Portable Ubuntu for Windows

Posted by:

30 Aug 2009

Please tell what is the drawbacks of portable applications???

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