GnuCash Portable Support

Your finances... on the go!

Many of the most common issues that arise when using GnuCash Portable are addressed here. Please read through the various topics to see if any of them address your question. You can also post a question in the Other Apps Support Forum.

<< Return to GnuCash Portable Home

GnuCash Portable-Specific Information

General GnuCash Information

Installing GnuCash Portable

To install GnuCash Portable, just download the portable package from the GnuCash Portable Sourceforge page and then double-click it. Select the location you wish to install to and click OK. A GnuCashPortable directory will be created there and all the necessary files installed. That's all there is to it.

Using GnuCash Portable

To start up GnuCash Portable, just double-click GnuCashPortable.exe file where you installed Portable GnuCash on your portable drive. Then, use it just like you would a local copy of GnuCash. There are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Stay Safe - When using portable apps, it's always a good idea to practice Safe Portable App-ing.
  • Removing Your Drive - When you're done, exit GnuCash and then wait for the activity light on your removable drive to stop flashing. This may take a minute or more on slow drives or computers. Then select the 'Safely remove [device]' option from the icon in the system tray. If you remove the drive while it is writing, you may lose data.

Upgrading GnuCash Portable

To upgrade to a newer version of GnuCash Portable, just install a new copy of GnuCash Portable right over your old one. All your data will be preserved.

Copying Your Local GnuCash Settings

If you're using a local copy of GnuCash, you may wish to just copy your local GnuCash settings right into GnuCash Portable. Your local GnuCash profile is usually installed in C:\Documents and Settings\[user] Just copy anything that starts with a dot(.gnucash, etc) to the GnuCashPortable\Data\profile directory. Then, and this is important, delete the file GnuCashPortableSettings.ini within the GnuCashPortable\Data\settings directory, if there is one.

Setting GnuCash Portable to Use a Specific Language

By default, GnuCash Portable will operate in the language of the operating system it's running on. If you'd like, you can set it to use a specific language regardless of operating system settings. After running GnuCash Portable at least once (and generating your default settings), head to GnuCashPortable\Data\settings directory and open up GnuCashPortableSettings.ini. In there, set Language equal to the language you wish to use... de for German, for instance. It's blank by default, which means it will use the operating system default). You can find a list of the installed languages and the codes you should use by looking at the sub-directories within: GnuCashPortable\App\GnuCash\share\locale Note that this setting was LANG in versions of GnuCash Portable prior to 2.4.4.

Retrieving Financial Quotes

GnuCash has the capability to retrieve financial (stock, fund, etc) quotes from online sources (yahoo by default). This requires access to a Perl interpreter and the "Finance Quote" Perl module. This can be obtained portably in Perl Portable. The alternative is to install ActiveState ActivePerl on the host machine and run the script located at GnuCashPortable\App\GnuCash\bin\install-fq-mods.bat.

Running From a CD (GnuCash Portable Live)

GnuCash Portable supports running from a CD right out of the box, and it's a snap. Start off by downloading and installing GnuCash Portable to your hard drive... it doesn't matter where. Run it at least once to generate the default settings. Then, customize it as needed, being sure not to move GnuCashPortable.exe or any of the other critical files. Next, copy the example GnuCashPortable.ini from GnuCashPortable\Other\Source to GnuCashPortable and change "RunLocally" to true. Then, burn the whole GnuCashPortable directory to a CD and you're ready to go.

If you use GnuCash Portable from a USB flash drive with a write-protect switch, you're covered, too. The GnuCash Portable Launcher will automatically detect when you protect the drive and offer to run your files locally for you.

Additional information about the options in the INI is provided in the Readme.txt file within the GnuCashPortable\Other\Source directory.

Known Issues

The following are known issues with this package:

  • Administrative Rights
    • Online Banking - The online banking components of GnuCash (aqbanking & gwenhywfar) unfortunately write configuration data to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE registry entries. Writing these entries requires you be logged in as a user with administrative rights. If you do not have these rights, GnuCash will work fine without the registry entries, however some of the online banking features will not work correctly.
    • Non-portable GnuCash - If a non-portable install of GnuCash resides on the PC, GnuCash Portable will attempt to temporarily disable registry entries that it created in order to prevent conflicts. These entries are unfortunately also in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. If you do not have administrative rights the entries will remain and GnuCash Portable will still work, however it is possible that some configuration settings may be saved to the local PC.
  • Renaming GnuCashPortable.exe - Once on your portable device, the launcher can be renamed to anything you'd like except for GnuCash-bin.exe. It tries to detect an existing instance of GnuCash so it doesn't just launch a new local one and if it is named GnuCash-bin.exe, it will detect itself.
  • Read/Write Required - Both the GnuCash directory and the Profile directory must be writeable on the USB drive. Drives with a writable switch can not be in read-only mode unless you choose to run locally, in which case settings will not be saved.
  • Network Drives - There has been a report that Microsoft patch MS051-011 may break the ability to run applications from networked drives and that GnuCash Portable is affected.
  • Non-ASCII Character Directories Fail - GnuCash Portable will not function correctly when placed in a directory containing non-ASCII characters. GnuCash Portable's entire path must be ASCII characters. The workaround is, of course, to use an ASCII path for GnuCash Portable. In a situation where this is not possible (for example, when being placed on a desktop of a non-English machine), you can set GnuCash Portable to run in Windows 98 compatibility mode under Windows XP. (Thanks Wigaldlinger)


Modifications to the default install of GnuCash have been made to make it run portably. These changes are listed here so they can be reproduced if so desired.

  • Launcher - GnuCash Portable Launcher is included. It performs a number of functions including: backup/restore of certain registry keys in certain instances, setting necessary environment variables, fixing paths in the Guile slibcat file, dynamic swapping of liborbit DLLs to fix issues under Windows 2000.
  • Format - GnuCash Portable is packaged in Format with a Installer. It allows for easy installation to a portable device, detection of existing installs of the Platform, in-place upgrades allowing you to install a new version right over your existing one and tight integration with the Menu.

Version History

GnuCash Portable was first created by IllusionofDemise of When I first discovered it in the beta forums I was excited, as I had just started using GnuCash for my finances and had also just started using several applications. Unfortunately the download site was down and remained down for several weeks. I decided to take a crack at creating my own version and the rest, as they say, is history. Eventually I did find a copy of the original by IllusionofDemise and a few of his ideas found their way into my version, however the vast majority of it was modified from the launcher & installer of the Firefox Portable release from Portable

    9/29/2008 - Pre-Release 1
    - Updated GnuCash to 2.2.7
    9/18/2008 -
    - Official Release
    8/20/2008 - Pre-Release 1
    - Updated GnuCash to 2.2.6
    - Updated installer to 0.10.1
    5/27/2008 -
    - Official Release
    4/28/2008 - Pre-Release 1
    - Updated GnuCash to 2.2.5
    3/31/2008 - Revision 2 Pre-Release 1
    - Updated launcher to allow changing the language GnuCash uses by either changing 
      a setting in GnuCashSettings.ini manually or changing the language on an upcoming
      version of the Platform menu.
    - Updated splash screen to use the official GnuCash icon.
    3/26/2008 -
    - Official Release
    3/25/2008 - Pre-Release 2
    - Added check for CommonFiles\Perl (portablized Perl).
    - Updated web references to
    - Changed version number back to to correspond with official PAF specs (.1 or 
      greater is only for Revision releases).
    3/14/2008 - Pre-Release 1
    - Updated to Pre-Release status.
    - Integrated official splash screen.
    - Changed all web references to
    3/3/2008 - Development Test 1
    - Updated Multi installer to
    - Updated GnuCash to 2.2.4.
    - Changed portable version numbering to be based upon GnuCash version.
    2/13/2008 - 0.2.5
    - Changed access level request to user from admin (affects Vista only).
    - Changed PortableAppName from 'GnuCash Portable' to 'GnuCash Portable'.
      The former is only necessary on Mozilla apps.
    - Changed to 'Multi' installer which allows the choice to not install translation
      files.  This saves 40MB from the install, bringing it down below 100MB.
    1/29/2008 - 0.2.4
    - Changed check for still-running launcher to use a mutex instead of a lock file.
    - Completely rewrote UPXGnc.cmd, the script for UPX compression of all exe and dll 
      files in the App folder.  This now verifies that the resultant compressed files can 
      be correctly decompressed and reverts them if not.
    - GnuCash binaries are now compressed (using the above script).  It's been tested
      extensively and everything appears to work fine.  This shaves approximately 67MB
      from the installed footprint.
    - Removed logging from launcher since bugs have been few and far between and the app
      is nearing release.
    - appinfo.ico updated to include 24bit alpha versions.
    1/14/2008 - 0.2.2
    - Fixed bug with Profile write permissions test failing when it shouldn't.
    - Fixed bug with RunLocally setting a bad profile path causing it to fail.
    - Fixed bug with LauncherLog failing to write to $TEMP when GnuCashPortable directory 
      is not writeable.
    - Added lock file for the launcher and a check to make sure the launcher is not still
      running from a previous launch (cleaning up).
    1/9/2008 - 0.2.1
    - Updated GnuCash to version 2.2.3
    - Changed newadvsplash::wait to newadvsplash::stop /WAIT for compatibility with newest
      plugin version.
    12/21/2007 - 0.2.0
    - Updated GnuCash to version 2.2.2.
    - Commented out the liborbit fix.  GnuCash 2.2.2 uses a patched liborbit that is 
      intended to fix previous issues.  The liborbit fix will be removed completely in a 
      future release if this works as intended.
    - History settings are now updated to reflect the current profile directory on startup.
      This fixes bugs with GnuCash not being able to locate and automatically open the last
      accounts file if the drive letter changed or the profile was moved.
    - Updated source text, help file/images, appinfo.ini and splash screen to reflect 
      change in status to official application (test-release).
    11/30/2007 - 0.1.5
    - Fixed bug where local temp files were not being deleted after running locally.
    - Added PerlPath to ini options to specify the path to the Perl binaries, needed for
      online banking support.  By default the path is set to 'C:\Perl\bin'.
    - Reworked how PATH environment variable is used.  Existing path is no longer prepended
      to the GnuCash binary paths.  Instead the path is overwritten with the GnuCash binary
      paths and the Perl binary path.  Use of the PerlPath ini option is necessary to
      enable online banking support if Perl binaries are not located at C:\Perl\bin.  
      This fixes the following two bugs:
    - Fixed bug with PATH environment variable being set to null when the existing path
      contained quotes.  This was causing GnuCash to fail to execute on affected systems.
    - Fixed bug with PATH environment variable being truncated when the existing path is
      near the maximum PATH size (1024/2048 bytes).
    - Added localization strings to launcher.  English only for now.
    - Cosmetic changes to launcher source to reflect changes in latest PAF sources
      (modelled after Firefox Portable
    11/26/2007 - 0.1.4
    - Fixed bug with Win2k liborbit fix.  Non-win2k OS will now no longer use the older
      liborbit files.
    - Changed TMP directory to PROFILEDIRECTORY\Temp.  This directory is now removed on exit.
    - Changed launcher to wait for gconfd-2.exe to exit before cleaning up since it hangs
      around after gnucash-bin.exe exits and has temp files locked.
    - Added environment variables check to debug log
    - Updated findprocDLL to newest version.  Old version was used in previous binaries and
      would not properly detect running processes due to different return values.
    - Updated App\AppInfo\appinfo.ini to version 0.9.8.
    - Changed installer and updater to use App\AppInfo\appicon.ico as icon.  Removed 
      installer.ico from source.
    11/14/2007 - 0.1.3
    - Added registry entry handling for aqbanking & gwenhywfar.  These are HKLM keys, so
      they require admin access.  Online banking wizard should work correctly now if you
      have admin rights.  GnuCash itself will still work without admin rights.  Aqbanking
      version 3 will work without admin rights, so in future GnuCash releases this may
      not be necessary.
    - Changed Wait & Admin warnings to mention online banking dependencies.
    - Added version check to "intelligent start".  Fixes are re-applied if version has 
      changed since last run.
    - Combined GnuCashPortableSource & GnuCashSource folders to a single Source folder.
    - Changed program icon to one with 16, 32 & 48 sizes.
    - Fixed typos in Readme.txt.
    - Changed installer source to look in separate folders under "Files" for PortableApp
      and App files in preparation for a separate updater.
    - Added "updater" source which is basically an installer that doesn't include the App
      files.  This allows distribution of a 360KB update rather than a 39MB full install
      when a new PAF release does not contain an updated version of the App.
    - Added help.html and related files.
    11/12/2007 - 0.1.2
    - Added launcher status logging.  On by default during development testing.  Log saved 
      to EXE directory as LauncherLog.txt
    11/9/2007 - 0.1.1
    - Added option to continue running when GnuCash registry entries are discovered and user
      has no admin rights to disable them.
    - UPXGnc.cmd script added in source directory.  When complete this script will compress
      all exe and dll files in the GnuCash binary directories.  Currently causes crashes
      as not all files have been found that don't work correctly when compressed.  Use at
      your own risk.
    11/9/2007 - 0.1
    - Test-release.
    - Utilized GnuCash 2.2.1