Top Ten Portable Applications

Hey Chris, I wanted to tell people in your videos and chat my favorite use of Portable Applications. I am now dual-booting Vista and XP, just for the programs that run on XP and barely work on Vista. Instead of installing the programs on both Vista and XP, I’m running the programs off of my 2 gigabyte Cruzer micro usb flash drive. I’ve found some awesome programs that I’ve run smoothly right off the drive. The increasing sizes of these drives makes them more convenient and easy to use. Here are my top 10 recommended portable app’s, in no particular order.

  • Firefox Easily the most powerful open source browser is also available in portable form. You can even save your bookmarks, addons, and history right to the usb.
  • NVU Portable Easy Html coding on the road with NVU. Whenever I need to code something in HTML (well hey its better than Frontpage) really quickly.
  • GIMP Portable Open Source Photoshop-like program. Portable edition helps so you don’t have to install all the stuff on your computer.
  • Filezilla My FTP client of choice. (And I know Chris recommends WinSCP, but I think they’re all the same.) Runs fast and allows you to upload on the fly.
  • VLC Great program for watching a lot of Video and Audio formats.
  • Open Office Similar to Microsoft Office, this document editor has much of the functionality of the expensive Microsoft Office.
  • 7-Zip Unzips many file formats, such as RAR and ZIP
  • Foxit Reader Instead of using Adobe’s slow and junky PDF reader, use this free (for basic features) one thats fast.
  • Miranda IM Instant Messaging Program that works with AIM, Jabber, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo, Gadu-Gadu (I have no idea ask someone else) and more.
  • Double Killer A simple program that scans your hard drive for duplicates. You can save so much disk space by clearing up those double MP3s.

65 thoughts on “Top Ten Portable Applications”

  1. 1. Firefox: Yes, the perfect web browser even in portable form πŸ™‚

    2. GIMP: Never liked using GIMP, even on a desktop. I prefer Photoshop.

    3. VLC: I prefer MPClassic, though I should go ahead and try out VLC once more.

    4. Open Office: Useful; then again anything that ISN’T Microsoft is useful XD

    5. DoubleKiller: I did not know a program like that existed! Thank you so much for letting me know!

    Thank you for this list πŸ™‚

  2. Hey, I’d like to add a few tips to that for all you portable apps users. A lot of apps can be “portable” even if they aren’t listed as one. Simply copy their entire installation folder to your USB drive, and sometimes they’ll work as portable apps!

    I don’t guarentee this to work with all of them, but a lot of open sourced and often cross platform programs are portable; if it doesn’t tinker with your registry, usually it’ll work. Even certain closed source programs, like Guilde Wars can be run from a USB drive, although I’m not sure I would want to depend my game play to the transfer rate of a USB drive.

    I have AssaultCube, an open source first person shooter game on my flash drive, and I also have Stellarium (which I was introduced from a video by Chris), to impress friends.

    Experiment with softwares you find, they may have the ability to run as a portable app!

  3. There is a nice way to get all these apps on your drive and have a nice menu for them using portable apps.

    I use it on my 1gig Lexar drive and its great. If anyone wants to check it out go over to

    Oh ya and 1 to add to the list is possibly the best free audio software out there Audacity

  4. Something I think you should note is that these are ran off of another program on the flash drive called U3. These applications are specially made to be portible using the U3 application, and are not the same .exe that you would launch, say, from your desktop.

    I’m sure U3 would come on the drive if it was U3 compatible, which is identified by a logo on the drive that says U3 inside of a square. The U3 software can be found here: . However, most of the apps available for download from U3 are not free. Check out the apps here:

  5. Oops, those are links to the wrong place. I don’t think you can download U3, but here is a list of the software:

    Sorry for the two bad links. The first one shows you the U3 software logo, and you can continue to the U3 software list at the bottom of the page, which is linked above. The other points you to the U3 software developer tools.

    Sorry about that.

  6. I think VLC would be an excellent program to take mobile – giving you the opportunity to play .mov files from your home movies, or various types of music files on your personal media player. I suppose it would be on an Iphone – as not many MP3 players support programs being loaded onto them.

    The others sound okay too, but do you really need a zip folder program on your phone…?

  7. This is a great list!

    I absolutely love the GIMP, despite being hard to use. 7-Zip is also great, so much better than Win-zip.
    Firefox is great on the desktop, as well as on a portable drive. Filezilla is FTW (sorry Chris :P)

  8. Firefox is very nice with their bookmarks, I use “foxmarks” computer to computer, and to school it syncs everything all the time, it’s an amazing add on. πŸ™‚

  9. Firefox! Deffinetly Firefox!
    I’ve been using Firefox for a long time now because it’s (as far as i can tell) the fastest and most user-friendly web-browser ever. And best portable app from the list πŸ™‚

  10. Hello Chris.

    I have been using portable applications for a good four years now and the have never seized to fail on me. They are very helpful and are quick to use.

    Currently i am using FireFox Redshift version and i have loved it ever since. It has been great to me and has never game me trouble. I also use VLC as my favorite media player becuase it plays almost any video format i have and usually plays at a much higher quality. The last app that you have stated was 7-zip Portable which is my main program for unzipping files like rar and zip files. Its good to see that all of these apps are free and do great things as well. Maybe the will make a free IRC portable client hopefully and till that day we must wait.

    Well thanks for the blog Chris and hopefully they will make more portable apps in the future and hopefully there will be more open source applications available in the future.


  11. I am really glad they sent this into you, I have been looking for a good portable IM client, and I have been looking for something that finds double files. Now I know these are portable, I’m plugging my flash drive in now and searching for them, thanks πŸ™‚

  12. Hey Chris, I agree very much on Firefox…I am currently using Firefox 3 Beta4…and I use Cute FTP Pro…but I think that WinSCP and Filezilla are great alternatives also…currently I am using the AIM 6.8 Beta for AIM but I would also recommend Miranda.

  13. Double Killer is so awsome!
    I just deleted for over 7 gb of music because my friends were giving songs that i already had so thanks.

    All these programs are amazing.
    I reformat my pc ALOT so this is so useful and saves alot of time

    as one of the users said, go there to download

  14. Another that I would have to add to the list would be WinSCP portable. If you do a lot of FTPing this is a must have on your flash drive, it comes in quite handy. Firefox and OpenOffice are great portable applications to have too.

  15. Great tips!
    I always have a flash drive with me and now i am going to load some of these apps. I knew they existed, just not that many. Thunderbird will be a big time saver on a flash drive so I dont have to check multiple webmail accounts.

    Keep it going!

  16. I love firefox (like everyone else) and foxfit reader. The only problem i have with foxfit is that it can’t open PDF’s in a browser…or maybe i just dont know how to. VLC=The best freeware media player ever! i love all its features like wallpaper fullscreen.

  17. I use the u3 drive thingy. I mostly use Firefox Portable. It’s a good thing that I have a 4GB drive, because I have Portable on it. I would suggest to people looking into portable apps on your drive is to not to have too many. You’ll fill up your drive if you do that. Also, don’t use your iPod to use this if you can help it. The iPod wasn’t designed for that.

  18. Links to download these programs whould have been good; however, I would not have open office as a portable application because that would be on your Desktop or Laptop unless you thought it would be really cool to install it on a USB drive and took around with you. As a html portable editor you can simply use notepad or wordpad.

  19. is a great way to put these and other portable utilities on a flash drive to take your programs with you on the go. PStart is also a good portable utility that basically creates a start menu from the portable utilities on your flash drive. Unlike PortableApps, however, it doesnt have restrictions. It must simply be an exe that doesnt need to be installed to any particular system. Thanks for the list!

  20. I LOVE portable apps, its what keeps me from having to use IE at school, which is why I love Firefox Portable.
    GIMP Portable on the other hand, allows me to do some great stuff in web design and not have to use some of the default images in the software we have at school.
    7-Zip Portable helped me A LOT with trying to install flash for Firefox Portable
    FileZilla portable is great for uploading my site files to the server
    and I haven’t tried the other apps, but I feel they are worth a try though.

    ~ Tyler J. Brown AKA Condoulo

  21. I love the open source application and find that for the most part most are almost as good as some of the expensive software. like the Gimp application has great ways of using layers just like Photoshop but isn’t as robust as photoshop. Now Miranda has got to be on of the best tools for I M I have been able to find. It joins all my I M clients together and can open all at once.
    Some of the apps I had never heard of ,but I’ll try them

  22. These apps are all very good! I am a big fan of open office and vlc those are the two I use on a regular basis. I tryed miranda out but wasn’t a big fan, I only use two IM programs anyway so its not too bad to have both running. Nice post Chris

  23. I tried using firefox portable at one point, but it ended up being more of a hassle than a help. I am a die hard user of firefox (hence “mozilla”rama) but there is the one problem with firefox (and probably many more) which is start up! firefox starting launch is very slow as you probably all know. the added flash drive transfer only seemed to lengthen this time for me, this could

  24. My vote is for Quicken. My only complaint is, Apple does NOT support enough Money-Management Software programs!! And Quicken 2007 for Mac works, but not very well…, while i’d give “Money Management Software” a Must-have, I’d also say, Apple MUST do something about improving Quicken, or somehow convincing MS to write MS Money for Mac! -Tony πŸ™‚

  25. This is some cool stuff. Just put these on a thumbdrive and your good to go. This would be great for people who can’t install programs at work or school.

  26. vlc is a great program for videos. it comes with preinstalled files allowing for playback of most any video you can throw at it.
    firefox is a -must- in my opinion, everyone should get rid of IE!

    i use winRAR for zip files, i might try that 7-zip program

  27. Nobody has mentioned the best part of portableapps – the Apache server + MySQL. This is a wonderful tool for those who need to do web development on the go. Hang your flash stick round your neck and forget worries of losing your laptop together with your data. There are internet cafes everywhere and/or you can borrow a pc from a friend or colleague. The portable applications leave no trace of your work on the host pc.

  28. I know this is a rather niche program, but the PuTTY SSH client is a very useful portable application. You can download a standalone executable for use on removable media. I used to use it on public computers to access my computer at home to work on PHP pages in vi.

    just my 0.2 cents on the subject

  29. Firefox FTW! I’ve been using Firefox for awile now. Its simple and one best browsers I’ve used.
    I’ve been using 7-Zip since my evaluation version of Winzip ran out and its great and probably works better than WinZip.

  30. Thanks Chris! I have been wondering where you got Miranda. I hated using all of the separate programs for something that i knew could be simplified. I couldn’t find Miranda, till this post, so, again, Thanks Chris!

  31. I like VLC but it seems to have weird support for subtitles and will overlap lines sometimes. I use Media Player Classic as my main media player and use VLC as backup in case MPC can’t play a certain video.

  32. I use a couple of these apps, i cannot wait until these applications come to the i Phone and iPod Touch!

  33. Portable VLC!!! How come I didn’t know about this?!?!? I install Firefox and VLC on every computer I come across, so this is gonna be extremely handy and convenient. Thanks Chris!

  34. I absolutely agree. I did a speech in college about the advantages of keeping your applications and documents on a flash drive. They are always with you and you have the software to read them with no problem. Firefox, Thunderbird, VLC, GIMP, NVU, and 7Zip are things I just can’t be productive without. Open office has it’s quirks, but is great for on the fly editing! I haven’t used Miranda IM though I’ve heard good things about it, I prefer gaim/pidgin. Great list! Thanks.

  35. I use some of these however I think Skype should be on this list to. u3 drives have a free Skype download to your drive. It’s quick and easy, and Skype is one of the best programs around. Not only that, you don’t have a crumpled down version of Skype. It’s the full thing with all features.

    Thus: You can turn ANY computer into a calling station. Good for roadtrips with hotels with computers that your allowed to use so long as you don’t download anything to them.

    So it should have been on this list.

  36. One of my favorite portable applications is TrueCrypt. It can create a virtual encrypted drive on a hard drive or flash drive. You can have it automatically mount the virtual drive an ask you for a password, when plugged in. Portable apps can run out of the encrypted drive. TrueCrypt is a excellent program an it keeps getting better. They are coming out with a new version almost every month. Another of my favorite portable apps is PortableTor. Tor routes you web browsing around the world. I recommend trying both of these programs.

  37. Firefox and all it’s lovely addons is my favorite tool to use on my computer. I haven’t tried the portable version yet, but I do keep a copy of my bookmarks on my portable harddrive to use on my laptop when I use it. I update my saved bookmarks 2 or 3 times a week. I will have to check out the portable version to see how much easier it is.

    NVU Portable sounds interesting. I use Crimson Editor for my HTML editing but I will have to check out NVU Portable. If it will make it easier for me to do my editing no matter what I’m using, laptop or desktop, then that will be great. I wonder if Crimson Editor has a portable version?

    Filezilla/WinScp, VLC Player, Open Office.. all good programs that I use quite a bit. I will check out the portable versions to see how well they function.

    7-Zip I haven’t tried before, but JustZipIt I use faithfully. You can check out the other software that makes JustZipIt here or download JustZipIt from here It’s small and fast and works with different file types. Not sure if it’s got a portable version or not though.

    Double Killer I will definitely have to check out since I got various MP3s from different family members and I’m sure there is doubles in there somewhere.

    Thanks for this list, some really great programs on here. I never really thought about ‘portable apps’ before so I got some checking out to do since I go between a desktop and a laptop. Thanks again for all the great ideas. πŸ™‚

  38. I absolutely live for portable apps. It has been great for testing out Firefox 3 beta 4 without messing with my regular Firefox installation. I tend to stick with the for most of them but also have gotten some from

  39. I loved the double killer, I freed up so much space on my computer. I didn’t know that I had a so many copies of just one file.

  40. Damn Small Linux is great, it rescued my PC. VLC has played every single video file I’ve thrown at it. I prefer Opera over Firefox, not sure if it’s portable though.

  41. chris good tips. I have found that one of the best portibale things for like flash drives is nible x linux all you need to do is download make bootable and nible x and set ur bios to boot off usb and you have a operating system in your pocket at all times,I’v foudn that it is great tool for dionostics when my laptops hard drive died i could run a check disk utilatly from the drive and repair it. well great tips ~afro!

  42. I have firefox on the flash drive on my keychain, I use it to bypass the stupid school censors πŸ™‚

    I also like to put slingplayer on there so I can watch tv in the computer lab πŸ™‚

  43. I run Firefox and VLC as well as AI Roboform, strange no one mentioned that one, portable passwords is a must.

  44. I never know that they have specific applacations that only run on a specif proccesor or work better on it… I have intell core 2 due and i am useing some of the applacations on the list and they work great on my computer!….I Thanks for the update

  45. i personally use FireFox portable, (great application btw) i am thinking about getting miranda. i need to run my im stuff. 0.o


  46. 7-Zip is available as a portable app?

    I’ll have to check that out because whenever I do website work for my dad, I have to use his computer (he wants me to use frontpage, because its what he uses… bleh) and he has some annoying (and terrible) ZIP application called ZIP Central. It’s horrible, horrible, horrible.

    He doesn’t like me installing new software on his computer, as he is somewhat uncomfortable using open source or free software.

    7-Zip in portable form will help me with this problem. I run it on both of my personal computers. It is really nice and stays out of the way until I need it.

  47. I love it when apps are simple and portable. And, when ever I can, I download a zip file of a program instead of the exe installer. Then, all I have to do is run the app from where ever the heck I want to, instead of from the Program Files directory.

  48. Wow! I agree with everything on this list! These ARE my top 10 favorite portable applications! And i have a cruzer micro drive too! I especially like using a combination of and Gimp to do my photos, and I use Firefox and the foxit plugin to surf the web, and I save my bookmarks to the USB stick.

    And by the way, if your wondering, yes, I sent this to Chris, and hey, 38 comments so far ain’t bad. I have 3 usb sticks and a 160 GB hardrive, which I clean the double – mp3’s with DoubleKiller. So hey, If you like portable apps like me, download some and try it!

  49. I love portable apps, they help so much when I am on a different computer such as work where I dont have Admin rights, so having a USB thumb stick version of FF for instance is really nice.

  50. I use portable firefox in college. I boot from a USB key cos we’re not allowed install another web browser (or anything for that matter) on the college PCs.

  51. I love running applications on a USB drive. But It sucks that most of the time only open source programs are made in the portable version. I mean I wouldn’t mind seeing some colsed sourced programs on a portable version

  52. Portable Opera blows away Portable Firefox and is greased lightening. Import all your IE, Firefox and Opera bookmarks in a jiffy.
    Upload your doc files to Office on Line and you won’t have to clutter up your drive with WP files.

  53. Thanks a bunch for the list, I will put it on my flash drive! I also recommend Thunderbird Portable.

  54. I think that it is very imortant to have portable applications, Even though most people have laptops now days and don’t need the portability of the application, i think it is still good for all of those “old fokes” . The people that still use a desktop computer alot.

  55. I too use – and Firefox rocks. I use a 16GB ‘Survivor’ from Corsair and love it.

    I tried the Miranda IM client and it didn’t work very well. Computer freezes for 5 seconds at a time when sending and receiving IMs. Pidgin (also available at works much better.

    The whole concept of Portable Apps is great: no matter which computer I plug my Flash Drive into, I get my bookmarks and saved passwords. Very handy. From the laptop at home to the desktop at work and even in my kids’ laptop (when they want to use mine for heavy duty gaming with BFME2) it all just works.

    Going to send a donation to the guy some day…

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