Carry a PC in Your Pocket

Snag the Best Software

Once you've got the flash drive of your choice, it's time to stock up with the tools you'll need when you're away from your regular system. The term "portable software" usually refers to an application that can run from a single folder (usually on a removable device) without adding any files or Registry entries to the host system. Although this leaves out the traditional behemoths like or , you can still find a lot of handy software that meets the portable requirement.

Your suite is waiting. If you want an all-in-one package of basics--spreadsheet, word processor, graphics--you can have your pick of portable suites, all completely free (in some cases, donations are accepted).

An excellent collection is Portable Apps, which comes in two sizes, (260MB installed) and (105MB installed). Both versions include an antivirus program, a Web browser (Mozilla Firefox), an instant messenger (Gaim), a Sudoku game, a calendar and task manager (Mozilla Sunbird), and an e-mail client (Mozilla Thunderbird). The Standard version also comes with a portable version of the suite, while the Lite version has the AbiWord word processor instead.  Your suite is waiting

Another all-in-one free collection can be found in . The winPenPack suites come in more flavors than Portable Apps--Essential, 1Gb, School, Game, Web--and there is even an option to make your own. You can also download individual applications. The offerings fall into a wide range of categories--from office, Internet, graphics, multimedia, and development to security, system, and utilities. The choices include considerable overlap with PortableApps, with both offering Mozilla and OpenOffice products, for example.  What's for launch

What's for launch? Running your portable applications will be easier if you have a pop-up menu launcher. You'll find one in U3 flash drives, as well as in both PortableApps and winPenPack. In each case, an icon is added to the taskbar tray (the icon-studded area near the clock); click it to see a Start-menu equivalent that lists the applications on your flash drive. Personally, I find the winPenPack launcher to be the most flexible and easiest to customize. You can separately from winPenPack. If none of those meet your needs, you can try still another free portable app launcher, , from Pegtop Software.

Roam the lands of the free. But big collections are not the only place to find portable applications. Sometimes you can find a portable version of your favorite program just by using your favorite search engine, entering the application name and then "portable" as keywords.

Other good places include sites like and the portable freeware section of site. Another site where you can find a portable section is .

Finally, try entering the keyword "portable" in the search box of your favorite software download page.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scott Dunn

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?