Take your computer on the go with Portable Apps

Take your computer on the go with Portable Apps

Portable Apps is like having your own computer—when you don't have your own computer.

Take your computer on the go with Portable Apps
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Portable Apps lets you access all your go-to apps anywhere, anytime—regardless of whether you are using your own computer or not.

With more than 400 apps, 980 million downloads, and available in 55 languages, Portable Apps allows you to access your favorites via a USB flash drive, a cloud folder, or just about any portable storage device. Portable Apps is like having your computer without having your computer.

Portable Apps is released under the GPL and MIT licenses, and it is compatible with Windows XP through 10, or Linux and MacOS via Wine or CrossOver. Developed by John T. Haller, a computer science major at Binghamton University and the developer of Portable Firefox, Portable Apps launched in November 2006 and has been in development since 2004. The current version, 15.0.2, was released on May 17, 2018. Plus, Portable Apps is supported by 200 volunteers and 220,000 community members.

Portable Apps to the rescue

Portable Apps was a lifesaver for me when I agreed to teach a graphic design class for high schoolers at St. Lawrence University last year. As I explained in a previous article, I was not allowed to install any apps on the university’s Windows computers and needed a way to share certain ones with the students—namely GIMP, Inkscape, and Scribus.

With the first day of class quickly approaching, I searched for ways to share the magic of open source graphic design with my students and rediscovered Portable Apps. I had been briefly introduced to it in a computer forensics classes two years previously, where we used Portable Firefox, so I knew there had to be a way to do it. And, thanks to open source software, there is.

To share Portable Apps with my students, I purchased USB flash drives and had the university’s logo imprinted on them. The students got to keep these branded Portable App flash drives after the class ended.

I copied Portable Apps over to each student's flash drive from the master flash drive. The process was very slow, and I tried reformatting the drives between FAT and NTSF, but that made little difference. Using my open source apps and the Adobe Suite, which was already installed on the computers, I was able to teach my students graphic design, comparing how open source apps and Adobe apps worked in much the same way.

Part of the teaching process involved having the students find and install their own portable apps on their flash drives. The students chose their own apps to install, and the most popular choice was PokerTH Portable.

What's your type?

Fonts are, of course, an integral part of all apps. Portable Apps supports the installation and use of standard font formats. As the website says:

The Platform supports the ability to take standard font files (TTF, OTF, etc.) with you and use them on any computer without the need to install them into Windows. Just copy the font files you'd like available to the X:\PortableApps\PortableApps.com\Data\Fonts directory in a standard platform setup.

Portable Apps is available through its website, PortableApps.com, and on SourceForge. John Haller’s website, Rare Ideas, encourages people to share their own ideas and projects.

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About the author

Jeff Macharyas is the Development Writer at Clarkson University and holds a MS in Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics from Utica College
Jeff Macharyas - Jeff Macharyas is a writer, graphic designer and communications manager who has worked in publishing, higher education and advertising for many years. He has been the art director for Quick Printing, The American Spectator, the USO’s OnPatrol, Today’s Campus, and other publications as well as a project manager, editor, writer and circulation manager. Jeff is certified in Google Analytics and holds a Technician Class Amateur Radio license: K2JPM. He is also a certified fencing instructor. Jeff...