You can begin building your portable apps collection by going through the list on this article: 100 Portable Apps for your USB Stick, 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, 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.
After that, PAC Compiler will build PAC.
It will appear on the same folder as the compiler.
Creating A Portable App
Now let’s start building our portable application(s). Run PAC and tell it which drive is the portable drive.
Plug in your portable drive and find out the drive letter. Go back to PAC, choose the letter and click “Next“.
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.
Continue the process by clicking “Install Application“.
PAC will remind you to install the app in your portable drive.
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.
After the installation process is finished, click the “Browse” button to locate the installed app on your portable drive. Click “Next” to continue.
Go through the steps one by one until the last one: “Process Shots“. Click “Next” to continue.
Click “Done” to complete the process, and your portable app is ready.
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.