How To Convert Any Windows Program to Run on a U3 Drive

Guy McDowell 20-04-2009

Have you ever been working on a different computer and thought, “Drat, I wish I had ProgramX with me. That would really help.” Or am I the only one that still uses the word ‘drat’? Yes, you could carry around a binder of CD’s and DVD’s with you, but that’s really cumbersome and doesn’t look that cool.

Advertisement has developed software called PackageFactory that takes your desktop application and converts it into a U3P application to run on your U3 drive. Best of all, it’s free for personal use! If you’re a developer and you want to use it on your commercial application to make a U3 compliant package, it only costs $39.95 – and I think that’s Canadian dollars. So it’s a steal at any price.

For this tutorial, I’m going to try converting Sysinternal’s autoruns.exe to a U3P application. I was going to try to make a U3P application out of PackageFactory, but I thought that might be like dividing by zero and implode the Universe. You can thank me later for not doing that.

The first step is to follow the ultra-simple instructions on PackageFactory’s interface. Applications that have such a blatantly easy to use and follow interface are wonderful. Good work here. There is a more complicated Advanced Mode to help in converting more complex program’s, yet for now let’s stick with the Wizard Mode.

how to make u3 programs

Yep. It’s that simple. Your best bet is to click on the Drop EXE Here or Click to Add box. Then select the .exe file you want to convert.


How To Convert Any Windows Program to Run on a U3 Drive step 2

I chose autoruns.exe of course and simply clicked on the Open button, which returned me to this screen:

How To Convert Any Windows Program to Run on a U3 Drive step 3

At this point, you can edit the Program Name or add a Description if you’d like. Then, just click on the Create! arrow. PackageFactory will then convert the program and ask you where you would like to save it. Probably the best spot to save it to would be your Desktop. That’s it for creating the U3P program. No, really! Don’t tell me to shut up! Really, that’s it!


Now you just install the program on your U3 drive. If you haven’t done that before, it’s fairly similar to installing a program on your computer – probably easier even.

Open up your U3 device’s Launchpad and click on Add Programs then select Install from My Computer. Your U3 device may be different than mine or have a different type of menu, but this is what mine looks like. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

add programs to u3

Then select the U3P package you want to install from your Desktop. Follow the prompts and then test the program to make sure it works. Kazowie! Done!


Since autoruns.exe is a very simple program with just the executable file to convert, the PackageFactory Wizard works just fine. However, if you have something that requires .DLL’s or more to run, try using the Advanced Mode. It may take some practice and research to get it to work, but it can work. I’ve converted some fairly complex applications after a few tries and a little Googling and cursing in Ukrainian. Well, I assume it’s Ukrainian swear words since my wife says them a lot. Maybe it’s nonsense. She’s a little loopy after being with me for so long. I thought ‘дупа‘ was a term of affection.

Now you can really use your U3 drive for just about anything, just about anywhere and not worry about affecting someone elses computer or leaving as many tracks. Got any great little apps or neat ideas for using PackageFactory? Have you used PackageFactory for any really complex apps and got it to work? Want to learn Ukrainian swear words? Let’s hear it in the comments.

Related topics: Portable App, USB, USB Drive.

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  1. ZsN
    January 24, 2010 at 7:50 am

    how can i install linux os on u3

  2. Karen
    August 21, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Thank you for the informaiton about "package Factory." It was really easy to use but did not seem to work in converting iTunes. It gave me a successful message but will not launch after installation on my Cruzer U3 Disk. I need help in removing the program fromt he disk. I have searched everywhere. Can you help?

  3. Scorpio
    April 22, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    "This is my rifle. This is my gun." great post.

    • Guy McDowell
      April 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm

      Ha! You caught that - right on!

      Oddly enough, no one caught my 'Supernatural' reference in one of my recent articles.

  4. Jim
    April 21, 2009 at 11:47 am

    This article is wrong. PackageFactory only allows you to zip up a program and then have it be able to appear in the U3 menu. IT DOES NOT MAKE ANYTHING PORTABLE THAT IS NOT ALREADY PORTABLE.

    If something is already portable, you don't need U3 or PackageFactory or anything else. Just use and their set of portable apps and then add any other portable software you want (their platform works with everything).

    • Guy McDowell
      April 21, 2009 at 8:59 pm

      It appears that you are at least partially correct. I don't claim to know all the details about how U3 drives work, but an actual U3P app has to have the .exe as well as a manifest.u3i file, which appears to be something like an XML file. Otherwise, you could just move the .exe file onto the U3 drive, but it would actually end up extracting to, and running on, the host computer. Having it as a .u3p means it really runs on the U3 drive.

      It is true that has great apps that will run on pretty much any USB drive, but how much the application interacts with the host, I don't know.

      So, in conclusion, don't shoot the messenger. Talk to the PackageFactory developers.

  5. Bob
    April 21, 2009 at 2:42 am

    So all we need now is a program which will create truly portable apps and not just U3! Or is there one that I missed?

  6. Guy McDowell
    April 20, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    That does look pretty cool. I'll have to try that out. Thanks!

  7. Charley
    April 20, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    You know what would be cool? Putting package factory in u3. Then, go on to any system you want that has cool software and make that u3 portable. ;)

    • Guy McDowell
      April 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm

      I honestly hadn't thought of that, but that might work for simple executables. Fortunately, a lot of simple executables are OSS or freeware, so there would be no need to co-opt it.

  8. Jack Edward Alexander
    April 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Author could have taken the article one step further by including the information on how to convert a U3 from FAT to NTFS to increase it's efficiency. Last week or thereabouts there was a nifty article at on how to do so. It's easy and my 'sticks' do seem to function better with my machine....

    • Guy McDowell
      April 21, 2009 at 8:46 pm

      Good idea! I haven't tried that yet, but I think I will. Perhaps there will be an article on that in the future here.

  9. Womble
    April 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Extremely cool post I will take a look at this!

  10. Alessandro
    April 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    you can use on any pendrive??

    • Guy McDowell
      April 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm

      Unfortunately no. It has to be a U3 pen drive. Sandisk makes some decent affordable ones.

  11. James Rintamaki
    April 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    hmmm, now if this could work with programs like MSOffice or Photoshop/Premiere, that'd be nice (albeit, transfer speeds from a U3 drive would be quite painful..)

    • Guy McDowell
      April 20, 2009 at 10:19 pm

      It might be possible, but as you say, the data transfer rates would be brutal. Although there is a U3 version of OpenOffice out there. I've used it and it's alright.

  12. Jim
    April 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I'd like to see SuperAntiSpyware and/or Malwarebytes to work using this.