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10 Portable Apps for Web Designers & Developers

I’ve posted before about web development freeware to download for times your workstation dies on you- and today I want to feature something even better: ten portable applications, to keep on a trusty USB drive. These are especially useful for workers who travel a lot, or even for the odd moments you absolutely must do work on a random machine that doesn’t have your usual apps installed.

  • Google Chrome (Win) and Firefox (Win / Mac)

    First up: portable browsers. Have these on your USB stick, and you’ll never be forced to use IE again.

  • Gimp Portable (Win / Mac)

    What I like most about Gimp is how easy it is to learn for someone accustomed to Photoshop. It installs easily, is very well documented, and is a powerful image editor. (If Gimp is overkill for your needs, check out my recent feature on online photo editors).

  • Inkscape (Win / Mac)

    Most designers are more dependent on Illustrator than Photoshop, which is why Inkscape, an Vector Graphics Editor, is such a killer portable app. It may not be as powerful (yet) as other Vector Graphics applications, but it will definitely get most jobs done- and it’s Open Source.

  • Filezilla (Win) and Cyberduck (Mac)

    I’m not sure what it is, but I always seem to forget to keep portable FTP programs with me- this in spite of the fact that my FTP program is probably the top third most-used application in my daily workflow. Filezilla, fast and powerful, is good for Windows- and for Mac my choice is the Open Source Cyberduck.

  • OpenOffice (Win) and AbiWord (Mac)

    Because most of my clients send me content in Microsoft Word documents, I always have either OpenOffice or AbiWord, both free apps which support MS Word docs, on hand. If you haven’t looked at OpenOffice lately, check out all the new features that make this office suite a true contender. Of course, you can always use Google Docs, although I’ve found that the latter won’t open some Word docs for me.

  • Nvu HTML Editor (Win / Mac)

    For emergency HTML editing, you can’t go wrong with Notepad, of course- but an app like Nvu is nice as well. I like to think of Nvu as somewhere in between the plainness of Notepad and the powerfulness of Dreamweaver. *Note: Apparently, Nvu Portable is no longer being updated. Try KompoZer (here or here) instead. Thanks, Uri!

  • SyncPAppX (Mac)

    Finally, I couldn’t complete this list without mentioning SyncPAppx, a nifty little app (for Mac users) that synchronizes Portable Safari, Portable Mail, Portable iCal, Portable Address Book, and Portable iChat to the ones on your local machine. It syncs user preferences for all these apps, which makes for a lot less headache.

Do you use portable apps?


  1. By Uri posted on October 6, 2009 at 6:38 pm
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    AFAIK Nvu is no longer developed (owned by Linspire, which closed down). Try this: http://www.kompozer.net

  2. By The Minneapolis Web Design Guy posted on October 7, 2009 at 1:52 am
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    Thanks so much for compiling this list. It amazes me how fast things develop in this industry. 20 years ago tools of any trade changed at a very slow pace. Now they change daily. Thanks for keeping the community updated.

  3. By Rodger Turner posted on October 7, 2009 at 4:51 pm
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    I’d suggest WinSCP as an alternative to Filezilla. I find it handy for sites that no longer support FTP and only accept SCP.

  4. By Victoria Blount posted on October 8, 2009 at 8:29 am
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    This is a great blog, with extremely helpful resources for web designers like me, thanks

  5. By tom posted on October 8, 2009 at 12:53 pm
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    Most from among these exists on Linux too

  6. By sabrina posted on October 15, 2009 at 6:06 am
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    Thanks for sharing this. This is helpful for web development and design.

  7. By elainehuxley posted on January 20, 2010 at 12:26 am
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    For any related query of the portable devices you can visit the site given below.
    http://forums.techarena.in/portable-devices/
    First I used to waste a lot of time for searching the internet for the latest mobile phone and other portable devices. But now I get the maximum solution from the given link. I will suggest you to visit this site for the solution of your problem.

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