PortableApps.com is a free site offering links to over 300 portable apps including freeware, software, mobile apps, and other platforms that allow you to take your work offline.
A portable app is a travel version, if you will, of a full-fledged application or software, or a version that allows you to work with files from a full-fledged application, either with full functionality or partial, such as Adobe PhotoShop files. These portable apps allow you to take your work or online project on the road by installing them in a synced cloud folder, on a local computer, or install them on a flash, thumb, or portable drive, and work offline.
Consider this situation. You arrive at an archive or library and are told that you cannot take your computer or smartphone into the special collections area where you wish to do your research. Even though you might be doing digital research, you must do it on their computers, not yours. With these portable applications, you can install them on a flash drive or on the cloud, if you have access, and run them without your laptop, taking notes, capturing screen shots, editing graphics, whatever you might need to do while there. Just plug your thumb drive into their computer after you log in, and your programs are waiting to help you work more efficiently, and in a familiar working environment.
In addition, there are many helpful, lightweight apps useful for those using what I call downsized or streamlined laptops like Chromebook or notebook laptops. When there isn’t much storage or power capabilities on the computer, and its key ability is to run applications on the web, these smaller apps work great whether installed on the notebook or on a thumb drive.
You may download the PortableApps software program that allows quick access to downloadable apps and programs, or use the website. With the software program you can easily keep your apps up to date and organize things with folders, favorites, and searches. The majority of these programs are free, but some may have a fee or timed testing use limit.
For genealogists, there are a variety of apps listed that may help you with your research efforts. I’m listing just a few that I think are useful, but your choices may vary depending upon your needs. Some of these may be familiar as you might be using their full versions.
- Gramps Portable (family history research and tree software)
- Office Apps (word processors, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.):
- Apache OpenOffice Portable
- LibreOffice Portable
- FocusWriter Portable Word Processor
- Jarte Portable Word Processor
- Cherrytree Portable (note-taker)
- CintaNotes Portable (note-taker)
- PDF-XChange Editor Portable (PDF editor and viewer)
- Evince Portable (document viewer of pdf, ps, djvu, tiff, etc.)
- Foxit PDF Reader Portable
- Artha Portable Offline Thesaurus
- Virtual Magnifying Glass Portable (screen magnifier)
- Image Management and Manipulation:
- Caesium Portable (image converter and optimizer)
- Cornice Portable (image viewer and slideshow)
- FastStone Image Viewer Portable (management and converter)
- Fotografix Portable (lightweight image editor)
- GIMP Portable
- IrfanView Portable
- RawTherapee Portable (advanced raw image proecessor)
- XnView Portable
- Download Managers: For managing regular and multi-thread downloads:
- Web Browsers:
- Social Media:
- Read Text Aloud:
- CamStudio Screen Recorder Portable
- Converber Portable (units converter)
- Cook Timer Portable or SnapTimer Portable (timer, useful for limited appointment times on the computers)
- BleachBit Portable (cache, temp file and history cleaner)
- Disk Cleaner Portable (temp, cache, and history cleaning utility)
- ReNamer Portable (file renamer)
To use these, either install the PortableApps software or download the individual files and follow the instructions to install them on a thumb drive, portable drive, or the cloud. This typically involves double clicking on the app file and ensuring the installation folder is on your portable destination. Label the thumb drive, or if you installed on the cloud, write a note to remind you of where they are and how to access them, and make sure these are with you on your next research adventure.
PortableApps.com is also available in multiple languages including English.