How to: Make your own portable apps
| by Francis D'sa
Some use IrfanView as a basic image editor, while others prefer using Photoshop. You might even use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for a more advanced use. Well, the software is usually installed on individual PCs and when you are using another PC, be it in office, college, a friend’s home or elsewhere, you cannot expect the same software to be installed. Installing the same software to work faster would need you to carry it wherever you are or download huge files and pay for multiple licenses. But what if you don’t have the installer with you and the internet is down or slow?
Start capturing your installation
Well, this is the case with many PC users who need to carry their work around on pen drives but lack access to the software the data is created with. If there was a portable version of the same software that you use, it can save your day. The portable app would simply run from the external drive and would need no installation whatsoever. This not only allows you to carry along your work software with you, but it also saves a lot of time if the other PC does not have the required software installed. Many ordinary programs can be turned into portable ones. Doing this used to be quite a task, but it isn't anymore. We'll show you how to make portable apps for Windows using two methods, one of which runs on your PC, the other which does it for you online.
Snapshots being taken before installation
To begin with, you need to download and install a utility called ‘Cameyo’. This utility is nothing but an application virtualisation environment which packages the entire application including all settings, data, executable files, DLL files, registry entries and other necessary files into a single executable file. Once executed, the application is extracted into a temporary folder and the registry values and user settings etc. are temporarily added to their respective locations on the guest PC as if it was installed. Using this method, you will no longer need to install your apps every time you move from one computer to another.
Recording mode when an application is being installed
Download Cameyo from ‘www.cameyo.com’ and install it on your PC. Before you begin, it is highly recommended that you scan your PC for any viruses and malware to avoid these being carried along in the portable app. It's also advised that you clear your PC of junk and temp files and defragment your hard drive. Make sure you have administrator privileges on your operating system or else you won’t be able to create the app.
Install your application
Method 1: Creating portable apps on your own PC
Start Cameyo and you will be greeted with a huge listing of all the portable apps that have already been made and distributed for free. You can simply browse through the apps and if they are already there, simply download them and avoid the trouble of making them yourself. But if what you want is not listed, you will need to create it. Click on the Studio icon below. The interface will change to a new page with three icons. Click on ‘Capture App locally’. Now the utility starts working in the background and takes a complete screenshot of your computer’s operating system in the present state. This will take a while and depends on how fast your PC is and how many programs are already installed on the PC. Once it completes, you will be asked to install your desired software as usual while the Cameyo utility is running in the background, recording a log of all the changes the new software makes to the PC. Once the software is installed, click on the ‘Install Done’ button in the Cameyo window. If the application you just installed requires a PC reboot, go ahead but don’t click on the ‘Install Done’ button.
Snapshot post installation
Once done, Cameyo will take another snapshot of the PC. It uses the two snapshots to create the portable app and stores the values in the app package itself. After Cameyo has finished working on the snapshots, you will get a message that the app has been created and stored in the user documents location. You will also have the option to edit the package. This is crucial at times because while you were installing the software, if you mistakenly accessed any document or file, the data could be stored in the portable app package. You can accidentally embed sensitive data from your PC into the portable app. Just edit the package and delete the unwanted files if any. That’s it! Copy the executable file to your USB drive and you are ready to go. You can also upload it to your Dropbox account if needed. Once your app is created, you can uninstall the software from your PC if you want.
Packaging of the portable application done and its location
Edit the package details to confirm nothing is added accidentally
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