Most of us these days have several computers that we take with us, but what if you want to turn any computer into your your computer? This is where the idea of ??”portable” applications comes into play.
Once you’ve downloaded these apps to a flash drive or external hard drive, you just need to connect your device to a compatible computer and all your software and data will be here.
What is a mobile application?
When you install most applications on your computer, it makes changes to the system and integrates. Windows applications, for example, select a folder on the local hard drive, make registry entries, and typically expect Windows to provide some convenience so that it can do its job.
If you just copied the folder with the application to an external drive and tried to run it on another computer, you will either get a bunch of error messages or a program that does not work correctly.
To make an application portable, you have to make it think that all of its dependencies are satisfied. While this can be done manually, it is much easier to use one of several specialized applications that scan application dependencies and then replicate them in a virtualized fashion. The software then creates custom dependencies that make the application think it is running on the original computer. Kind of like the “Matrix”, but for applications.
It is important to know that there are applications that are portable by design. The developers created them specifically so that they work without being dependent on anything.
First, check if it’s not already done
Before you go down the path of building a portable application yourself, it’s a good idea to check to see if someone else has done the work for you. Of course, you are unlikely to find a paid program this way! However, many popular free apps have been converted to portable versions ready to download.
We recommend PortableApps.com, which has its own launcher and application management interface. Just download the installer, install it on your external drive and select all applications from the list you want.
Virtual devices as an alternative to a mobile app
Using a platform like PortableApps is great, but there might be an easier way to make any Windows application portable â€” to make Windows itself portable! How? Just get a portable version of VirtualBox from vbox.me and install a licensed copy of Windows on it. Then you can install all the Windows applications you like on this virtual machine without any additional steps.
The main problem here is that you need a separate license for a copy of Windows on your virtual machine If you have an old license or a spare license key, this can be a great alternative. It might be worth buying another copy of Windows, depending on your use case. Especially if it turns out that an important Windows application is not working after converting to portable.
It’s the same with cloud-based subscription apps. Using a portable virtual machine might be the only way to get them to work this way. The virtual machine will use whatever internet connection the host offers, but from an application perspective, it is still on the same “machine” it was installed on.
Most Popular Mobile App Maker
There used to be quite a few portable application makers out there who quickly converted your Windows applications to portable versions. Unfortunately, you will find that most of them have not been updated in almost ten years.
Others, like Cameyo, are now only available as a paid service. It’s the same with VMware ThinApp, which only offers a free trial. If you are willing to pay the huge amounts required for these commercial solutions, no one will stop you. This additional Windows license probably doesn’t seem that expensive right now, does it?
We’ve tried out a few older free portable apps and found one that still seems quite usable.
Create a mobile app using Enigma Virtual Box
This is the Enigma Virtual Box application. It is one of the few free handheld application vendors that still attracts developers’ attention. Basically, this is a free version of the commercial Enigma Protector application, but it works great for casual users.
- Go to the Enigma website and download the Enigma Virtual Box Install the app and then launch it.
Yes, the app doesn’t look intuitive, but it’s actually very easy to use. So don’t be alarmed.
- How Enigma works, you need the software already installed on your system before turning it into a portable application. So, if you haven’t already, install the app you want to make portable and then return to Enigma.
- You will now see the drive path fields for the input and output file names. Li>
- Click the Browse button to the right of Enter Input File Name.
- In our example, we are going to create a portable version of the free Audacity workstation software. In the file browser that opens, navigate to the location where the executable file of the corresponding application is installed.
- Select it and click Open.
- Enigma also needs to know where the dependent files are. So then click Add and then Add Folder Recursively, as we want all subfolders to be included as well.
- We now use a pop-up file browser to find the installation folder that contains our “.exe” file. Select the folder and click OK and OK again.
- Optionally, you can also change the output destination for the final portable application. By default, it will be saved along with the original “.exe” file, but you probably want to save it elsewhere. The process is the same as for selecting an input file. You can also rename the file as you like.
- We are now ready to create our own portable application. Click “Process” and watch the magic.
- Wait until processing is complete and then close this window.
Run the application
You should now have a single .exe file that you can run from anywhere. Find the file in the location where you saved it, and then move it to portable storage. Be sure to test it on a different computer to make sure it works correctly. Don’t make your first try when you really need the app the most.
There is no reason why you cannot use your own portable apps built with Enigma along with a manager like Portable Apps. Create your own custom apps folder and launch them however you want. Armed with a portable power source, there is no limit to the possibilities. Also check out our post on the best portable apps to always have with you.