Portable Applications

Most of us use our USB memory sticks to transfer files from one computer to another, which is definitely more convenient than using CDs or even worse, floppies. However, what most of us don’t realize is that a USB stick can be used in several efficient ways that can even make our lives much easier. This is especially true for people who are constantly on the move or those of you who find yourself working at different computers at different places, like at home, work, at a friend’s place or at the library.

This article is meant for all of you mobile folks and it will teach you how to run applications from your USB memory stick. Well, before we get started, you might ask,” Why do I need it“?

Well, for an example, let’s say that your computer at work doesn’t have Firefox installed and the arrogant system administrator simply refuses to install one for you. No problem! You can run Firefox and many more useful applications right from your USB stick. Below, I will discuss a few freeware applications that you can run right from your USB stick.

1. Portable Firefox

Firefox is fast becoming everyone’s favorite browser. However, there are still people who are running their lives and machines on other browsers. More often than not, it’s Internet Explorer. So, if one of your family members simply refuses to install Firefox on your home PC and you find it terribly inconvenient to do your work from Internet Explorer, worry no more! You can just carry a USB memory stick with Portable Firefox on it! With this, you can carry all of your bookmarks and any other information you need to run from another computer.

You can download Portable Firefox here.

2. Foxit PDF Reader

Foxit PDF Reader does what the name suggests. It helps you open, read and print PDF files. It supports all of the standard features that a PDF reader must have. For example, browser integration, copy/paste of text from documents, etc. The good thing is that, unlike Adobe Reader, it takes a lot less time to open files.

Download Foxit PDF Reader here.

3. Treepad Lite

Treepad Lite is your friendly personal information manager. It can help you store your e-mails, notes, hyperlinks, text, etc. in one or many different databases. It looks just like the Windows Explorer most people are familiar with, which makes storing, browsing and searching data within it so much easier. To find your information, you can just browse through it just like you would browse through directories in Windows Explorer. Or you can simply use the search function. Treepad and the data that you have stored in it can be conveniently run from a USB stick, making it extremely useful for people who work on different computers during the course of their day.

To download Treepad, click here.

4. Quick Mailer

The Quick Mailer simply helps you shoot off a quick e-mail without having to load up an entire e-mail suite. It’s extremely small and doesn’t need any installation. It effortlessly integrates into your browser and it also lets you send e-mail from multiple accounts. To do this, all you have to do is edit the From: field.

Download Quick Mailer here.

5. WordWeb

WordWeb is a comprehensive English thesaurus and dictionary that can be used to look up words from within most of the programs that people have installed on their computers. Features include definitions and synonyms, proper nouns and related words and even pronunciations.

To download WordWeb, click here.

6. Miranda Instant Messenger

This application is very useful for people in offices and schools where access to instant messengers isn’t allowed. Miranda IM is a small multi protocol IM client that lets you connect to most of the IM services like MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, AIM, etc. It does not need any installation, which means it can be run from the USB stick. You also have availability of more than 350 plug-ins, which you can use to make your Miranda IM even cooler!

To start using the Miranda IM, download it here.

7. Open Office Portable

This is a big one. Now, wouldn’t it be just great if you had a portable office suite (something like MS Office), but free of cost? Well, the Open Office Portable can do just that. This is an office suite that you can run from your USB memory stick. The suite contains a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing package and database all in one. It is compatible with MS Office, Word Perfect, Lotus and other major office applications. By using this, you can take your documents wherever you go.

To download Open Office Portable, click here.

8. Portable GIMP

Portable GIMP is a simple to use image editor for Windows. It’s a freely distributed program that can be used for tasks such as photo retouching, image composition and authoring. GIMP is a program for everyone. It can be used as a paint program or even as a batch processing system. It can also be used as an image format converter or an image renderer, depending on what you want to get out of it and what your skill level is. You can augment it by using plug-ins and add ons, which are available online.

Download Portable GIMP here.

9. XM Play

XMPLAY is an audio player that plays most of the popular audio formats like MP3, OGG, WAV, WMA, etc. It functions just like most of the other audio players that are out in the market and it can be easily customized and extended with the help of freely available plug-ins and skins.

Download XMPLAY here.

10. Universal Extractor

Universal Extractor is a program used to extract files from any type of archive. Be it a simple zip file, a .rar file or even a Windows installer package, this can do the job. To extract files, you just need to right click on your archives and extract them to the desired folder. It’s works as simple as the description given here. Nothing more and nothing less.

To download Universal Extractor, click here.

Above, we have a list of extremely useful Applications that can be run from the USB. However, an important thing to be aware of is the fact that when using USB sticks, it’s possible to spread viruses between different machines. When you use a portable application on an unknown machine, the outcome can sometimes be undesired.

Follow these steps to ensure your safety:

  • Make sure you have a reliable antivirus program on your PC and make sure the virus definitions are up to date.
  • Scan your PC and the USB stick regularly for viruses.
  • If possible, make sure the other computer you use your USB drive with is also being scanned regularly.
  • To remove your USB stick after use, first make sure that the drive access light has stopped blinking. Then click the USB icon in the system tray to “safely remove hardware.” Don’t just remove it after closing the window.
  • And always make sure to backup your applications and important files.

As long as you follow these safety measures, you will not only enjoy the convenience of running applications from your USB stick, but you will also realize that when used efficiently, it can be a lethal weapon in your arsenal making your work life even more effective.

~ Yogesh Bakshi