Blog Post

Portable Apps for the Mac

I have a keen interest in portable apps (like those covered by Doriano) from my time spent working on client sites. Having a suite of productivity applications on a USB flash drive has come in handy many times in my consulting career, especially when I’ve needed a graphics application.

The Windows (s msft) portable apps suites seem to better known,  but I came across a slew of free Mac (s aapl) portable apps while researching another topic, so I thought I would share them here, as they should be useful if you ever have to “hot seat” on a customer’s Mac or breathe some life into an older Mac that may not have all the software you require. In each case, the install routine follows Mac standards, which makes installation from a Flash drive simple and quick.

Portable GIMP. The popular open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop (s adbe) is available as a portable application, which can come in handy if you work on projects where graphics applications are in short supply. It requires X11 to run.

Portable Firefox. Mozilla Firefox isn’t always available on our clients’ machines, but Portable Firefox is an easy alternative to pack along for testing or other activities. While this version of Firefox is compatible with extensions, you are best keeping it “lean and mean” if running Firefox from a USB drive. Portable Firefox will let you import your local Firefox preferences if they are available on the machine.

Portable Camino. If Firefox isn’t your browser of choice, you can use Portable Camino to meet your portable browsing needs. The good news is that the portable browser’s features are on a par with the full version.

Portable Adium. This portable version of the popular multiprotocol and open-source Instant Messaging client supports AIM, GTalk (s goog), Yahoo (s goog) and Jabber IM. Portable Adium lets you import your local Adium preferences if they are available.

Portable Nvu. The portable version of Nvu can come in handy if you need a text editor for editing HTML and other files.

Portable AbiWord. Portable AbiWord is a great portable word processor for most general word processing uses.

Portable OpenOffice.org. There is a portable version of the popular open-source office suite available. However, the only stable version is for the PPC platform, with the Intel (s intc) version still in testing and not ready for use yet.

Remember, if you plan to take a USB flash drive with portable apps to a client site for use of one of their machines, you should always check their IT security policy, because they may have security restrictions in place.

Do you use Mac portable apps? Which ones?