How to Make an Application Portable

by Dan Eash

Imagine running your favorite software on any Windows computer from a USB thumb drive. Better yet, imagine leaving none of your personal data behind when you remove the drive. That's the advantage of portable applications. You don't have to install them before use, and they leave your registry untouched. If all your applications were portable you could replace your operating system without reinstalling your programs. Until recently, packaging software to make it portable was a complicated process, because most applications use the system registry and files outside their program folder. Thanks to Cameyo, that's no longer the case.


Download and install Cameyo. Click the "Download Now" link at then click it a second time when the page reloads. The file will be saved wherever your browser's preset download location is. Navigate to that location and double-click the Cameyo "exe" file, then follow the prompts to install the software.


Start the Cameyo packager. Double-click the Cameyo desktop shortcut to launch the program and click the "Capture installation" button on the "Cameyo Application Virtualization" screen. A "Packager" pop-up window will appear to inform you that Cameyo is taking a snapshot of your system. Wait for the snapshot to finish.


Install the software you want to package. When Cameyo finishes its initial snapshot another pop-up window will appear telling you to install the software you want to package. Navigate to the installation executable for this file and run it, following the on-screen prompts to install it on your system.


Take a final snapshot with Cameyo. When you finish installing the application you want to make portable, click the "Install done" button on the Cameyo installation pop-up window. Cameyo will take a second snapshot and compare it to the first one to create its package. Look for the package in your "My documents\Cameyo packages" folder.


Edit your Cameyo package. You can make additional changes to your portable app by clicking the "Edit existing package" button on the "Cameyo Application Virtualization" screen. When you open the package a "Package Editor" screen will appear where you can change your portable app's "General," "Files" and "Registry" settings.


  • check If you plan to make a lot of portable applications, then a virtual machine such as VirtualBox (with your favorite operating system inside it) will make your life easier. You can build portable applications without actually installing the software on your computer. When you close your virtual machine everything you did will be rolled back as if it never happened -- except for the portable app you created.


  • close If you're running Windows 7 but you want your portable app to work with Windows XP on up, build your portable app on a Windows XP system. All you need is a virtual machine with Windows XP installed inside it. You don't have to change your primary operating system.

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About the Author

Dan Eash began writing professionally in 1989, with articles in LaHabra's "Daily Star Progress" and the "Fullerton College Magazine." Since then, he's created scripts for doctor and dentist offices and published manuals, help files and a training video. His freelance efforts also include a book. Eash has a Fullerton College Associate of Arts in music/recording production and a Nova Institute multimedia production certificate.

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