With the abundance of cloud services around today like Dropbox and Windows Skydrive, who needs a USB drive anymore? Well, I can think of a couple of reasons — more storage capacity and offline accessibility. You can add one more reason to the list thanks to PortableApps.com. The name of their website says it all; you can bring your files with you as well as the apps you need to work with them. No need to worry whether or not the school, library, or your friend’s computer has what you need to stay productive.
The software is open source and free to use. Given that, PortableApps isn’t going to have the proprietary software that you know and love. Instead, they’re going to provide you with an alternative for pretty much everything: OpenOffice for the Microsoft Office Suite, GIMP for Adobe’s Photoshop, etc. You’re not limited to just productivity and multimedia applications either, there’s a multitude you can choose from and they’re broken down into categories.
To install, you can choose to download one of the suites they’ve put together or just the platform.
Once you’ve downloaded the executable, simply double-click and follow the prompts. The location of the executable when you open it doesn’t matter; however, when asked where to install the platform, make sure you choose your flash drive. Once you are done installing, your flash drive will now have an icon like this:
From there, download the apps you want to carry with you and follow the same process. Once again make sure you install it to the flash drive. Here’s a screenshot of the installation of Audacity, an audio editor and recorder:
Gone are the days of carrying around an executable to install an app that you need to use, now you can just plug your flash drive in and get your app on. Remember, the software is open source to freely modify to your heart’s content. I’ll leave you with some easy aesthetic mods I’ve made.
To change the color of the menu, follow the path specified below:
PotableApps –> PortableApps.com –> Data –> PortableAppsMenu
Open the “PortableAppsMenu” file and change the theme to a color of your choice. Save and close.
To change the name of you an app (I’m using Audacity as an example again):
PortableApps –> AudacityPortable –> App –> AppInfo –> appinfo
Open “appinfo” and change the name. It was “Audacity Portable” by default.
To change the name of your flash drive which will be renamed “PortableApps.com” once you install the platform, open the “Autorun” file that should be in the root folder of your flash drive. Change the label.
After these modifications, you’ll have a menu that’ll match your desktop, not have “Portable” after every app name, and that you can call your own.