10 Free Mini Apps–Perfect for a USB Thumb Drive


Do you carry a USB thumb drive with you at all times? If not, you should. You can get a lot of capacity for not much money, and keep your drive right on your keychain. These are great for backing up critical files, transferring files between computers, and more. Plus, if you canvas the world of free, open source software you can find a lot of cool applications with very small footprints that you can have on your pocket drive all the time. In this post, I’ll round up some of these miniature marvels, which you can load ultra-quickly for doing common tasks. The applications in this post are for Windows, and, in some cases Linux.

Qm from Pyric Interactive is an extremely small e-mail client, with a footprint of only 16K. It loads in an instant—faster than loading a browser-based e-mail client. You can also add it to your Send To menu for use with Internet Explorer, so you can fire off files to people without hassling within an e-mail client.

Miranda (774K) is a small, fast instant messaging client with support for almost all popular protocols. It’s designed to be resource efficient. It supports AIM, Jabber, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo, Gadu-Gadu and other instant messengers.

SpeakFreely (690K) is a small VoIP application. You can use it to conduct calls over the Internet or any TCP/IP network. It also comes with limited PGP capabilities, so you can encrypt your communications if you choose to.

IrfanView (822K) is one of the best graphics programs I’ve ever used, and you can even use it to create slideshows. It’s very fast to get into for tasks like working with screen captures and more. When I wrote about it before, lots of the readers agreed that it’s a great application.

FxFoto is a good application for editing and organizing photos, and it works with Windows Vista. It comes with lots of templates you can use to attractively archive your photos.

SG TCP Optimizer (596K) is a great little program for tuning and optimizing your Internet connection. It doesn’t need to be installed—just run it and optimize. It tweaks TCP/IP parameters in the Windows Registry and many other parameters so that you get the best performace possible on whatever Net connection you’re using.

RemotePad (248K) combines a plain text editor with an FTP client. You can use it to edit and upload text, download text, and move files around with colleagues.

ASFRecorder is a Windows Media streaming client with a footprint of 368K. It lets you download, store and manage files in .WMV, .WMA, .WMX and many other rich media formats. You can use it with Windows or Linux.

Text2HTML (240K) converts plain text to HTML. It’s especially fast and good at taking a bunch of text files and turning them all into HTML.

If you find yourself using your USB thumb drive on foreign computers a lot, TinyResMeter (92K) is a fast, easy way to guage the system resources available to you.

Do you have any good tips on small and fast applications for portable use?



ZuluPadPro for Germany for me!?
Please write your answer in German language.


Yes–KeyNote, for sure. How do people LIVE without this little program? Also, “Jarte” – very cool word processor, with a flash-drive version to download!


TinyResMeter is excellent !!! I hope the 0.98 will be out soon with some more usefull features.

Matthew Griffin

I’ve been carrying around a USB drive for a while now and it’s already saved me more than a couple times. Thanks for the list and also thank to all the commenters for more great mini apps.


MPUI! The only portable media player you need, period. End of discussion … no no no, don’t even try to bring up VLC or Media Player Classic. It’s over


Portable Apps is a nice application suite. I also am never without Keynote (greatest app EVER), and recently started using XAMPPLITE — nice little WAMP server on my USB drive. Very user-friendly.


The programms I have on my USB are the mobile versions of Firefox, Thunderbird and TiddlyWiki – the only things I need when I’m away from my “devices”.


Hmmm, SG TCP Optimizer with its Registry tweaking does not sound like a good idea considering you are making permanent changes to the host OS’s registry. This sort of feels like it goes against the spirit of the idea of having your own apps on a USB stick.


I keep the following on my hard drive and copy most or all to each keydrive:

4NT command processor replacement, with many additional features
Atlantis RTF/DOC editor
cpp Command Prompt Portable – instant command line environment
EssentialPIM personal information manager
Locate32 indexes file names (not contents) for quick find
NoteTab plain text editor, HTML editor, with programmed clips
OffByOne web browser
Opera web browser
Powermarks bookmark manager
SumatraPDF quick PDF reader
TC GUI version of 4NT, above
TotalNotes combination of many things, including a browser
treepad tree-based editor
XMPlay MP3 player (not related to XM radio)
ZuluPadPro small personal wiki system

And, of course, “If_you_find_this.txt”, with instructions and a reward offer for safe return in case I lose the keydrive.

Anup Sharma

I would suggest Foxit Reader (stand alone one)here. It is a great app, uses lil resource and greatest of all, it is portable. The size is around 3.31MB.
The PDFEdit, PDF editor from Foxit Software, is another great app in my repertoire. Size is only 696K.
What can we ask for?


hi, i add “FastStone Photo Resize” is the excelent resizer picture portable; very until.

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