Having Portable Apps on a USB memory stick lets me have useful applications available and configured as I prefer on any Windows computer.
INSTALLING THE PORTABLE APPS PLATFORM
Although not obligatory, I prefer to start with the Portable Apps Platform: a portable software menu, backup utility, app directory, automatic updater, and application management system. Download and install to the root of a USB memory stick or other portable device.
Double click Start.exe in the root of the memory stick to open the platform. Select “Options” and configured as desired. Non-default settings I select include:
- Advanced: Check for updates on platform startup
- Advanced: Hide “Portable” in App Names
INSTALLING A PORTABLE APP
On the Platform, choose Manage Apps – Get More Apps. A directory of available apps will open; select any desired. Portable Apps I have found particularly useful include:
- Development: Notepad2-mod
- Graphics and Pictures: FreeMind (requires Java)
- Internet: FileZilla, Opera, Pidgin, PuTTY
- Utilities: Console, jPortable, SIW, WinMd5Sum, Xenon File Manager
Java-based applications like FreeMind require a Java Runtime Environment to be present either on the host computer or on the Portable Apps device. I install jPortable on my portable device to insure my Java applications run everywhere.
Manual installation is possible if the normal installation method fails. Download the desired installer from the Portable App store and double-click the installer. Specify %drive%\PortableApps\ as the installation root. In the Portable Apps platform, select Manage Apps – Refresh App Icons if needed to insure that its menu displays the newly installed application.
INSTALLING OTHER PORTABLE APPLICATIONS
You might find a portable application you want to use that isn’t part of the Portable Apps framework. Portable Apps plays nicely with them, too.
A portable applications of this type usually comes in a zip file or other compressed archive. Decompress it to %drive%\PortableApps\. Confirm that it created a directory with the application’s name, and inside the directory is the application’s executable. Change as needed.
In the Portable Apps platform, select Manage Apps – Refresh App Icons and confirm that its menu correctly displays the newly installed application. Right click on the new application and assign it to an appropriate category.
One such application I always install is CCleaner Portable, assigning it to the Utilities category.
Note that keeping such applications up to date is your responsibility. The Portable Apps framework can only check for updates to Portable Apps.
UNINSTALLING A PORTABLE APP
The platform has an uninstall tool (right-click on the menu entry of the app you wish to uninstall and choose Uninstall) but it often hangs. I prefer to uninstall apps manually: Simply delete the corresponding directory in %drive%\PortableApps\. Then in the Portable Apps platform, select Manage Apps – Refresh App Icons to insure that its menu no longer displays the uninstalled app.
Close all Portable Apps except the Platform. On the Platform, choose Backup – Backup Files. Be sure to save it to, or later copy it to, a location where your regular backup routine will preserve it.
Document how to have file associations to my liking using Xenon or another portable file manager. For example, how to associate HTML files with my portable browser rather than the host computer’s default browser.