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portable app creatorAs computer users shift their lifestyle from using one static desktop in one place to using multiple computers from multiple locations – while keeping their data mobile inside USB drives – portable apps rise in popularity. The concept of portable apps gives you the convenience of always having all of your favorite applications all of the time without the trouble of installing them on every computer you use. Just put them on your USB thumb drive, and you are good to go.

You can begin building your portable apps collection by going through the list on this article: 100 Portable Apps for your USB Stick 100 Portable Apps for your USB Stick (for Mac and Win) 100 Portable Apps for your USB Stick (for Mac and Win) Read More , by visiting PortableApps, or by using a search engine. Most popular applications (and some of the not-so popular ones) are available as portable apps, so there are plenty for you to play with. But if you can’t find the ones that you need, you can build your own. The adventurous types can try the manual way How To Create Your Own Portable App For A Flash Drive How To Create Your Own Portable App For A Flash Drive Read More , while the more practical types can use PAC – Portable App Creator.

Compiling The Application

Creating a portable app is basically collecting all the elements of an installed application – which are normally scattered on different locations on your computer – into one place, so that it can be used on different computers. That’s exactly what portable app creator will help you to do.

It seems that the original developer of PAC has long abandoned the project. So the one that we are going to use is the modified version by a PAC user. To download the latest version of the app (v. 0.97.3 beta), visit the site, and scroll down to the lower part of the page (the comment section) to find the download link.

After you download and extract the zip file, open the PAC Compiler. This application will build the ‘real’ application: Portable Application Creator. To do so, PAC Compiler needs a file called autoit-v3-sfx.exe and will scan your drive for it. If it can’t find the needed file, it will ask you to download the file from the Internet.

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portable app creator

After that, PAC Compiler will build PAC.

create portable app

It will appear on the same folder as the compiler.

create portable app

Creating A Portable App

Now let’s start building our portable application(s). Run PAC and tell it which drive is the portable drive.

create portable apps

Plug in your portable drive and find out the drive letter. Go back to PAC, choose the letter and click “Next“.

how to create a portable program

The next step will be locating the installer file of the application that you want to turn into a portable app. The PAC documentation mentions that the applications should be something that you’ve never installed before in your hard drive.

how to create a portable program

Continue the process by clicking “Install Application“.

how to create a portable program

PAC will remind you to install the app in your portable drive.

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When the installer starts, it will ask you where to install the app. Browse and choose your portable device as the place to install the app.

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After the installation process is finished, click the “Browse” button to locate the installed app on your portable drive. Click “Next” to continue.

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Go through the steps one by one until the last one: “Process Shots“. Click “Next” to continue.

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Click “Done” to complete the process, and your portable app is ready.

portable app creator

Using Portable Apps

If you peek into your portable device, you should find two folders: the application folder, and “PAC_Launchers” folder. To run the portable app, you should not open it from the application folder, but from the shortcut located inside the PAC_Launchers folder.

If you want to move/copy your portable app to another location, you should include both the application folder and the PAC_Launchers folder. I’ve tried this, and everything went well. I created a portable application of a game that I recently purchased, played the game on different computers, and then copied the portable app and PAC_Launchers folders to another USB drive. When I opened the game from a different USB drive, the game continued where I left off.

Please note that portable app creator will not always work on every application. The documentation states that PAC can’t create portable apps out of applications that require a “real restart” of your system during the installation process. Since there are some apps which ask for a system restart when they actually don’t need one, you just have to try creating the portable apps to see whether the process will be successful or not.

If the applications that you want to convert into portable apps are already installed on your system, you could try uninstalling them first before turning them into portable apps.

Are you a portable apps user? Have you tried to create your own portable apps? Do you use other portable app makers? Share your experiences using the comments below.

  1. thurana
    February 18, 2011 at 3:25 am

    We've discussed Cameyo before: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/c...

  2. Bh156840
    February 17, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Does this mean i can use this on a video game?

    • Anonymous
      February 18, 2011 at 2:22 am

      I think it's possible, for install-able PC games.

  3. Mike
    February 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    This is brilliant.

  4. Anon
    January 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Cameyo seems to do the same thing as far as I can tell. http://www.cameyo.com/

  5. Anon
    January 29, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Cameyo seems to do the same thing as far as I can tell. http://www.cameyo.com/

  6. Jack Cola
    January 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Once you used this program to create your portable app, why not ditch the USB and use DropBox to keep everything in sync like settings etc. I did it with Thunderbird here http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/access-your-personalised-thunderbird-client-on-any-computer-worldwide/

    • Anonymous
      January 28, 2011 at 3:35 am

      That's a great idea, Jack! As a heavy Dropbox user myself, I wonder why I didn't come with that trick. Anybody who's blessed with a speedy internet connection should definitely try it.

    • Jack Cola
      January 28, 2011 at 4:08 am

      Thanks

  7. Jack Cola
    January 27, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Once you used this program to create your portable app, why not ditch the USB and use DropBox to keep everything in sync like settings etc. I did it with Thunderbird here http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/a...

  8. Mr.Ven
    January 27, 2011 at 6:07 am

    I never know that there are portable apps, looks these kind of portable installation solves many of our issues especially on working with multiple pc's.

  9. MarioMaster100
    January 26, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Does this portable app creator also compress the apps pretty good?

    • Anonymous
      January 28, 2011 at 3:12 am

      The result that I got was not compressed. But the total size was just a little bit bigger than the installer size.

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