Why do you need portable apps? Well, we’re usually faced with a space crunch on our hard drives due to the huge file sizes that result from 4K and Full HD videos, 20MP photos, lossless audio rips, graphic-heavy games, and the sheer amount of data we store on our PCs. Also, it doesn’t make sense to install each and every software most of which we might use occasionally on our already packed computers. In such cases, all you need to do is use a 16GB pen drive and pack it with the myriad software that you need. Using these is as simple as plugging the USB stick into your machine, and clicking on the app to start. Besides, your `cleaner’ computer will boot up faster, and you can also use these software on the go when your own PC is not at hand.
Now, portable apps can be installed in two ways: You can download the portable installer from the software’s website and save it to your pen drive. Or, visit http:www.portableapps.com and install its software. This allows you to use the Portable Apps dashboard to install, launch and manage multiple apps.
1 LibreOffice is a complete office suite that allows you to edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations from the USB drive itself. This way, you always have access to your templates, formatting styles and settings wherever you go. It is compatible with Microsoft Office file formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and it even lets you save documents to a printable PDF .
2 Sumatra PDF is lightweight PDF reader that comes with all the features you require: multiple viewing modes such as facing pages, book view, the ability to rotate documents, read in full screen or as a presentation, and more. It even supports eBook and comic book formats like Mobi, ePub, CBZ and CBR. Sumatra PDF comes with a clutter-free user interface. It loads documents in tabs, which can be navigated with keyboard shortcuts.
3 Notepad++ a souped up version of MS Notepad lets you open multiple TXT files in tabs. It creates a back up of unsaved files, supports bookmarks, and even allows for split-screen editing. You can install plug-ins to add a spell checker and support for multiple clipboards. Notepad++ also works for coding in HTML, Java, C# and CSS: Its auto-completion feature lets you type commonly used functions quickly; its automatic highlight feature helps you find matching tags, and you can even scroll through a program with the help of a document map.
4 PNotes provides you with a digital option to the sticky notes that clutter your workspace. This software is highly configurable, yet light on system resources. It lets you configure the note’s appearance, transparency and font type. You can format text, create bulleted lists, insert images, emoticons, and even set it to alert you of overdue tasks. All your notes are saved in PNotes’ `Control Panel’ where they can be sorted by tags and grouped by folders with assigned priority levels.
5 VLC Media Player supports a range of video formats MPEG, DivX, XviD, H.264, WMV and Real Video straight out of a USB stick. It supports subtitle files, and its software-based audio amplifier even lets you increase sound volume well beyond the system maximum to boost weak output.
6 While you can use VLC as a music player, we recommend XMPlay Portable for audio files such as MP3, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, WAV and WMA formats.It allows for “gapless playback“ of songs; you can listen to internet radio, create playlists, enable visualisations and even change its UI appearance.
7 GIMP is a full-fledged photo-editing software, much like Adobe Photoshop. You can use it to touch up images, fix perspective and distortion caused by camera lens, create cut outs, adjust colours, and even work with complex graphics. It supports the lossless RAW format, and lets you save your final work as a PSD, JPG, TIFF , GIF and PNG.
8 If Gimp seems too complicated, then check out XnView. It lets you resize, crop, rotate, adjust brightnesscontrast, tweak colours, apply filters and even `batch process’ multiple files at once to save time and effort. It can read 500 image formats, and you can exportconvert files to 70 formats, including PSD, GIF , PDF , PNG and TIF .
9 WAV Audacity is an audio editor that lets you record your voice; import music and special effects in , AIFF, FLAC and Ogg Vorbis formats. You can work with multiple tracks in a single project, adjust volume levels for each track, crossfade songs, adjust bass and treble, change pitch and tempo, and you even get a range of effects and filters to reduce noise. Your final output can then be saved as a single mix or exported as separate tracks in WAV , FLAC, Ogg Vorbis and MP3 formats.
10 Avidemux is a video-editing software that lets you trim, crop and resize movie footage. It also lets you re-encode a video file from one format AVI, MP4, Matroska, MPEG-2, H.264 and H.265 to another to cut down on file size. With Avidemux, you can apply basic visual effects such as rotate, flip, add borders and grain to the video.
11 Krita Desktop is a feature-packed painting application that lets you work in layers, saves your final work as a vector file and also supports Photoshop’s PSD format. You get “drawing assistants“ and brush stabilisers to offset a user’s shaky hands while sketching shapes. Its built-in brush engines allow you to apply special effects, create your own custom brushes and import other users’ texture packs from its website’s Resources page.
12 Blender 3D is a robust open source software for 3D modelling, rendering, animation, compositing, motion tracking and editing videos. Here, you can render photorealistic objects with detailed textures and HDR lighting. It comes with 20 brush types for sculpting 3D objects and characters, a builtin library of camera effects, and realistic simulations for objects like fluid, smoke, hair and cloth.You also get access to graphic extensions created by other animators. This software is resource intensive and should be used on a PC with a 64-bit quad-core processor and at least 8GB RAM.
13 If your job requires you to work off different PCs, then use portable browser versions of Chrome, Opera and Firefox to surf the internet. This ensures that you do not leave a `cookie’ trail of your browsing history on the host PC. Using these, you can also save your bookmarks on the USB stick.
14 The Mozilla Thunderbird email client lets you carry your inbox with you and draft messages in “offline“ mode for times when you don’t have an internet connection. Setting up multiple accounts is simple: Provide your name, ID and password and Thunderbird will automatically load mail server settings for you. It allows you to view emails in tabs; you get a built-in calendar, as well as a safeguard that warns you about suspicious web links in an email.
15 TeamViewer is a remote access and collabora tion app with cross-platform support. This means you can use it to initiate a remote session between multiple PCs and smartphones that also have the software installed. Once you register with the service, you can configure it for data compression and lower video quality to conserve bandwidth.All remote sessions and communication via its whiteboard and messenger feature are secured with AES 256-bit encryption.
16 With portable Skype you get the same features as the full-fledged desktop version: you can send instant messages, make voice and video calls (provided you have a webcam), initiate group conversations, transfer files and even share your screen for remote assistance.
17 Telegram Desktop is a secure instant mes senger. You can be logged in to multiple devices (smartphones and tablets), and on different platforms (Android, iOS, Win Phone, Windows, Mac OS, Linux) at the same time. Plus, you can share an unlimited number of files (JPG, MP3, DOC, ZIP , etc.) of up to 1.5GB each. So the messages you sent from your smartphone along with the files you have shared will be visible in the Telegram Desktop window too. You can configure the app to save shared files to a specific folder on the pen drive; automatically clear cache when you log out and enable two-factor authentication for enchanced security . On the down side, the desktop version does not support the secret chat function that’s available on its mobile app.
18 In situations when you have to work with spotty internet bandwidth, use Free Download Manager. It splits files into “sections“ and downloads them simultaneously to save time. It allows you to resume downloads after broken connections, and even includes a scheduler. Besides, FDM lets you preview videos before they are downloaded completely; it supports BitTorrent, a popular peer-to-peer file sharing protocol and automatically organises files by their type.
19 7-Zip is an efficient file archivalcompression tool. You can use it to extract compressed files from formats such as ZIP , RAR, TAR, CAB and ISO to a folder of your choice. Conversely , it can be used to create a compressed file by selecting the files folders and then clicking its “ Add“ button. It lets you select the compression level (Normal, Fast, Ultra…); split the final file into multiple manageable blocks (CD, DVD…) and encrypt the archive with an AES 256-bit cipher.
20 If your PC seems sluggish, it’s probably be cause of the temporary files created by the software you use. Enter CCleaner, a tool that purges your system of this junk. The app first analyses your system to give you a break up by software of all the residual files on your computer along with the amount of space they occupy . Select what you want to remove and click the “Run Cleaner“ button to start the process.
21 Uninstalled software leaves residual files and Registry entries. Revo Uninstaller saves you the trouble of manually clearing these files by thoroughly uninstalling a program. You can even use this utility to remove those stubborn toolbars that refuse to go away . And if you cannot find the offending software, then enable Revo’s “Hunter Mode“ and click on the unwanted application’s shortcut to start the uninstall procedure.
22 Recuva lets you retrieve files that you might have permanently deleted from your PC. It uses a wizard-driven interface to list deleted files in a searchable format, along with the option to preview them if they are images. Now, there is no guarantee that you will always be able to recover deleted data, but it is a useful utility to have on hand in an emergency . That said, in case you need to retrieve critical files, it is best to get pro fessional companies who do this for a fee.
23 KeePass gives you an easier and secure way to remember your passwords. All your logins are stored in one database and locked with a “master“ password. The entire database includ ing usernames is encrypted using AES and Twofish cipher algorithms. You can securely copy-paste sign-in details into the browser or use “auto-type“ to do it for you. Credentials stay encrypted even when KeePass runs in the background to prevent in-memory hacking attempts.
24 Use ClamWin to scan your PC for viruses.
This is extremely useful because malware can sometimes disable the antivirus software installed on your PC. With ClamWin on your flash drive, you will be able to identify and remove infections. Just make sure you have the updated version at all times.
25 Along with a portable antivirus, you should also scan your system for spyware and adware. These are pesky programs that usually get installed along with certain free software, or when you might have clicked on an unknown web link in an email. To take care of these malicious programs, keep an updated copy of SpyBot Search & Destroy at hand.
PREP YOUR USB FLASH DRIVE
You will need a pen drive with 16GB capacity. Invest in one that supports USB 3.0 this will guarantee faster read-write speeds on newer PCs that support the standard. Format your drive: Double-click My Computer and right-click the external drive icon that appears under Devices with Removable Storage. Click on Format and select NTFS from the drop-down list as the file system of choice. Check the Quick Format box and click Start to initiate the process. Your USB flash drive is now ready to be filled with portable apps. It is recommended that you regularly replace the software on the flash drive with latest revisions.Note: Before removing the USB drive from your computer, exit all portable apps and wait for the activity light on your removable drive to stop flashing. This may take a minute or so. Select the Safely remove… option from the icon in the system tray. If you remove the drive while it is writing, you may lose data.