PortableApps.com Platform Support

Many of the most common issues that arise when using PortableApps.com Platform are addressed here. Please read through the various topics to see if any of them address your question. You can also post a question to one of the forums for the apps. A list of known issues and upcoming features can be found on the PortableApps.com Platform Bug Report and Feature Tracker.

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PortableApps.com Platform and Suite Issues

Installing the PortableApps.com Platform

To install the PortableApps.com Platform, just download the installer for the version you'd like from the PortableApps.com Platform and Suite homepage and run it. It's best to install it right to the root directory of your portable drive (X:\ where X is the drive letter). When you select to download our platform, you'll automatically be shown Detailed step by step instructions on downloading and installing.

Using the PortableApps.com Platform

To start up the PortableApps.com Platform, just double-click StartPortableApps.exe in the root of your portable drive. In many cases, Windows will ask if you'd like to start PortableApps.com when you plug in your drive. Then, use the intuitive PortableApps.com Menu to launch your apps, browse your drive, search the web and more.

When using any portable software, here are a couple tips:

  • 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 all portable apps and then wait for the activity light on your removable drive to stop flashing. Then click the eject button in the PortableApps.com menu and select to safely eject your drive. If you remove the drive while it is writing, you may lose data.

Adding PortableApps.com Format Apps to the PortableApps.com Menu

The easiest way to add new apps to your platform is to use the built-in PortableApps.com App Store. Just click Apps - Get More Apps... and then select how you would like to see the apps organized (by category, by name, new apps, or recent updates). Check off the apps you'd like to install and then click Next. The platform will automatically download and install them for you. And, since you're getting them from PortableApps.com, you know they've been checked for malware and viruses and haven't been altered since we checked them.

The PortableApps.com Menu can automatically add apps in PortableApps.com Format from outside the app store, too. Just download the the PortableApps.com Installer (ending in .paf.exe) for the app you'd like to add (like FileZilla Portable, for instance). Then, in PortableApps.com Menu, click Apps - Install a New App and then select the FileZilla_Portable_X.Y.paf.exe file you just downloaded. The PortableApps.com Menu will automatically install it to the proper location for you.

You can also run the installers directly. As long as you have your portable apps installed to the standard location, they will automatically find your PortableApps.com drive, install and tell the menu to refresh.

Adding Other Apps to the PortableApps.com Menu

The PortableApps.com Menu will also work with other standalone and portable apps. You just need to place them in a directory "next to" the PortableApps.com directory. So, in a standard layout, you'd create a directory within the X:\PortableApps directory and place it within there. For example, if you have a portable program MyApp.exe, you could create a folder called X:\PortableApps\MyApp\ and place MyApp.exe and all its files within there. Then, just click Apps - Refresh App Icons within the PortableApps.com Menu and your new app will show up.

It should be noted that, unlike apps in PortableApps.com Format, other apps labeled as 'portable' may not meet the definition of a portable app according to PortableApps.com. They could leave things behind on the local PC or some functionality may break as you move PCs. You will need to check with the provider to ensure it is fully portable. Additionally, apps not in PortableApps.com Format will not have their data backed up when you select to only backup app data using the platform's backup feature. It will be backed up during a full backup, though.

If you wish to add custom command line parameters to a non-PA.c Format app, you can do so with an INI file. Create a text file (in either ANSI or UTF-16 LE BOM format) in the same folder as the app and name it appname.exe.pap.ini where appname is the name of the file to be run. The contents of this file should be:


Add the desired parameters after the equal sign.

Removing Apps from the PortableApps.com Menu

To uninstall a portable app, just right-click and select Uninstall. The Platform will ask if you're sure, then it will take a few moments to delete all the files.

You can also just delete the app itself in Explorer. From the PortableApps.com Menu, just click the Explore button and browse to the PortableApps directory. There you will see a list of the directories containing the installed apps. To uninstall Mines-Perfect Portable, for instance, you'd just delete the Mines-PerfectPortable directory from your device. You can then click Options - Refresh App Icons within PortableApps.com Menu and the it will detect that you uninstalled the app.

Renaming Icons in the PortableApps.com Menu

To rename an app icon, just right-click on it. A rename window will appear and you can enter the name you'd like and click OK. The originally name is shown above for your reference. If you'd like to reset the icon to the original name, just clear the text from the rename box. Any changes you make are instantly shown on the PortableApps.com Menu.

Hiding Icons in the PortableApps.com Menu

To hide an app icon, right-click on it and select hide. To unhide an icon you have hidden, right-click on any icon and check off show hidden icons. The menu will refresh and show all icons, including the ones you have hidden. The ones you have hidden will have a line through them. Right-click and uncheck Hide. Then right-click and uncheck Show Hidden Icons.

Manually Updating the Platform

If you run into a situation where your copy of the PortableApps.com Platform is unable to automatically update itself due to corruption, disk issues, a network issue, or a bug, you can manually update it. First, head to the Download page and download a copy of the current release. If your copy of the Platform is able to run, start it up and then click Apps and then Install a New App (.paf.exe). Explore to the location of the new copy of the Platform you downloaded, select it and click OK. The update should happen automatically and your PortableApps.com Platform will restart with the new version.

If your copy of the PortableApps.com Platform does not start, explore to the location of the download of the current version you just downloaded. Run the installer and select Upgrade Existing Install. If you installed to one of the standard locations (root of a portable drive, userprofile folder, cloud folder) it should automatically detect it. If it does, select the platform to upgrade and continue. If it does not, select custom location and click Next. Now browse for the directory containing the platform's Start.exe launcher and select it. This folder will also contain the PortableApps folder that contains all your apps. Don't select the PortableApps folder within, though. Select to install and launch and everything should be working as before. If not, please post in our platform support forum with the complete details of your issue and we'll help you out.

Issue with app installers showing and requiring clicking Next/Finish during automatic updates

When automatically updating or installing your apps via the PortableApps.com Platform, the installers should be running in silent mode. The only exception to this is if you need to agree to agree to a license agreement when installing a new app or when updating an app and the license has changed. (And we'll be consolidating that in a future release.) If you see installers checking the install directory and requiring you to click Next and then Finish, that means the installers are unable to see the running PortableApps.com Platform and are not running in fully silent/automated mode. First, make sure both the PortableApps.com Platform and PortableApps.com Updater/App Store are still running. If you close the platform while the updater is running, installers won't run silently. Second, try rebooting your machine. Sometimes Windows has issues with processes being visible to each other after specific applications have run or Windows has been running for a long time. There is also an obscure bug that takes places with a specific set/number of processes running that is fixed by a reboot. This is fixed in the current PortableApps.com Installer release but many apps use an older version. Third, make sure the permissions on your drive are correct. If using NTFS on an external drive, ensure Everyone is set to Full Access for everything within the PortableApps directory. Fourth, check your machine for viruses and malware. Infections can sometimes interfere with some processes and with messaging between processes. Fifth, check your drive for errors. Some logical errors can interfere with the installers checking for the platform on your drive. Sixth, try installing a new copy of the platform over itself. You can download it from the Download page and run the installer, select a custom location, then select the directory that Start.exe is in. Lastly, if none of this applies to you, you can post a note to our forums with the complete details (Windows version and build number, 32 or 64-bit, full install path, and any other relevant details).

Running an App As Admin

You can run a portable app as another user by right-clicking and selecting Run As Admin.

Adding or Removing a Personal Picture on the PortableApps.com Menu

Starting with the PortableApps.com Menu 1.1 release, you can add a personal picture to the menu. To do this, just move your mouse over the upper-right region of the menu. A highlight box will appear. Click it and select the picture you wish to add. 48x48 pixel images work best. To remove your personal picture, just right-click on it. You can use BMP, JPG or PNG files. Transparent PNGs are supported and when you choose a PNG, the outline is removed.

Using The Built-In Wallpaper Swapper

The PortableApps.com Platform has an easy-to-use wallpaper swapper built in. It will change the wallpaper on the PC to your own while it's running and change it back when you exit. To use it, just save the wallpaper of your choice as a Windows BMP file (RGB encoding for the geeky) to your X:\Documents\Pictures directory and name the file portableapps_wallpaper.bmp. The next time you start up the PortableApps.com Platform, it will find it and use it. You can also add a portableapps_wallpaper_wide.bmp file which will be automatically be used on widescreen displays.

Moving the PortableApps.com Menu and Changing Its Startup Location

To move the PortableApps.com Menu, just move your mouse to the PortableApps.com logo at the top. You'll see the mouse pointer change to a four way directional arrow. Hold down your mouse button and move the menu wherever you'd like. When you close the PortableApps.com Platform, the menu will remember it's relative position on the screen (top, middle or bottom as well as left, center or right) and start up at that same location even if you move to another PC.

Rename Your PortableApps.com-Enabled Drive

To rename your PortableApps.com-enabled drive, just click on the drive name in the lower left corner of the menu. Type in the name you'd like and click the ">" button or hit enter on your keyboard. You may need to eject and reinsert your drive for the new name to show up in Windows Explorer.

Using Portable Fonts With the Platform

The PortableApps.com Platform supports the ability to take standard font files (TTF, OTF, etc) with you and use them on any computer without the need to install them into Windows. Just copy the font files you'd like available to the X:\PortableApps\PortableApps.com\Data\Fonts directory in a standard platform setup. You may need to create the Fonts folder. Everything else is automatic and the fonts will be available to you in your apps while the platform is running. It should be noted that some apps use non-standard ways of determining what fonts are available and won't be able to see them (GIMP and Scribus, for example), though in some of these apps you may be able to manually add that path.

Note that Windows 10 introduced a bug that causes the APIs to load fonts and inform apps to be processed much slower (on the order of 10 to 100x) in the Creators Edition update. As a result, we recommend limiting the number of fonts you have loaded at platform start if you experience slowdowns.

Backing Up Your Settings (Bookmarks, Email, Preferences, etc)

The PortableApps.com Platform comes with PortableApps.com Backup, an easy-to-use backup utility. Just click the backup icon on the PortableApps.com Menu and select backup. You'll get to pick what you want to back up and where you'd like to store your backups.

Note: PortableApps.com Backup's app data backup feature only works with apps in PortableApps.com Format (since their data is in a standard location). For other apps, you should be sure to backup your entire drive.

Select Eject or Shutdown for the left bottom button

As of version 12.0.4, you can right-click on the left bottom button of the menu and select between Automatic, Eject, and Shut down / Log off. Automatic, the default, will automatically choose between Eject and Shut Down / Logoff based on whether the platform is being run from a removable drive (as reported by Windows). The Eject and Shut Down / Logoff options will always show the Eject or Shut down / Logoff buttons regardless of where the platform is run.

Using and Updating Multiple Copies of the Same App

PortableApps.com Platform 13.0 introduced the ability to use and update multiple copies of the same app. Once you've installed the app you'd like more than one copy of, browse to your PortableApps directory and make a duplicate of the AppNamePortable folder you'd like another copy of. Copying and pasting it in Explorer will work fine. Rename the second copy to AppNamePortable_Copy_2 (replacing AppName with the name of the app). You can have up to 10 copies of the same app with the 10th being AppNamerPortable_Copy_10. Now, when you check for updates within the PortableApps.com Platform, the update will applied to all copies of the same app. Be sure to preserve your original AppNamePortable copy as that will be the one the updater uses to determine when all of them need an update. Note that a couple of apps maintained by the publisher using a much older version of the PortableApps.com Installer may not support multiple copies of an app (example: Task Coach Portable).

Disable the PA.c Windows Taskbar Icon (Win7 and up)

To disable the Windows taskbar icon, close the PortableApps.com Platform. Browse to X:\PortableApps\PortableApps.com\Data and open the file PortableAppsMenu.ini in your favorite text editor (Notepad is fine). In the section [DisplayOptions] add the following line:


Then save and restart the PortableApps.com Platform.

Note that this may not work on Windows 8.1 due to a Windows bug but will work once Windows 8.1 Update 1 is applied.

Change the Language of the PortableApps.com Platform

To have the PortableApps.com Platform appear in your own language, just click Options and then Language in the menu and select the language of your choice. The menu will instantly change to your selected language. Plus, most apps in PortableApps.com Format will automatically detect the language you are using in the menu and switch to it on launch.

Uninstalling the PortableApps.com Platform

Since the PortableApps.com Platform is self-contained, uninstalling is a snap. To remove, you simply delete its files. This would be the Documents and PortableApps directories as well as the Start.exe and autorun.inf files in the root directory. If you don't have any data you wish to save on your portable device, you could also format it if you'd like. If you do have data within the Documents directory you'd like to save, simply delete the directories you don't wish to keep. To remove the custom icons on the Documents directory (or any others), just delete the hidden desktop.ini file within each directory.

Running the Platform from a UNC Path

As of version 12.0, the PortableApps.com Platform supports running from a UNC path directly. Previously, a mapped drive letter was required. Most apps should function from a UNC path as well.

Unfortunately, there is a bug in the PortableApps.com Installer (the packaging format used by all our apps) prior to 3.0.12 that causes them to be unable to install due to not enough free space on UNC paths when run in automatic mode. Automatic mode occurs when the platform runs the installers directly either through the platform's built in app store, updater or via the Apps - Install a New App option.

The workaround for now is to map a drive letter to your UNC path that contains the PortableApps.com Platform. You can also run the .paf.exe installers directly and select the \\Server\ShareName\Path\PortableApps directory to install to by browsing so the final path is \\Server\ShareName\Path\PortableApps\AppNamePortable. We will also be continuing to update our installers to the new format for full compatibility with UNC paths.

You may receive a message when trying to run EXE files from your UNC path similar to: 'Security Warning - We can't verify who created this file. Are you sure you want to run this file?'. This is because Windows hasn't determined that the UNC path is on your local Intranet. To fix this error:

  1. Open your Network and Sharing Center by clicking Start - Control Panel - Network and Sharing Center
  2. Within the Network and Sharing Center, click on Internet Options in the lower left
  3. In the Internet Properties window, select the Security tab
  4. In the Security tab, click Local intranet and then click Sites
  5. In the Local intranet window, click the Advanced button
  6. In the new window, enter the \\server\share within the 'Add this webdite to the zone:' box and click Add. It will appear under the Websites list as 'file://server' or similar.
  7. Click close, OK, OK on the various windows and then close the Internet and Sharing Center.
  8. You should now be able to run EXE files from this server without Windows prompting you with security warnings.

Advanced Features

These advanced features require you to edit the PortableAppsMenu.ini file within your X:\PortableApps\PortableApps.com\Data directory. You need to edit it with the Platform closed and be sure to add the entry (or edit the existing entry if it is already there) to the [DisplayOptions] section unless otherwise noted.

  • Global Hot Key - By default, the platform uses a global hot key of Ctrl-Alt-Space to show the menu from other apps. You can select an additional option or disable it by changing the line GlobalHotKey=CTRL-ALT-SPACE to another value. Valid entries are ALT-SPACE, CTRL-ALT-SPACE, CTRL-ALT-P, CTRL-ALT-M, CTRL-SPACE, WIN-ALT-SPACE and DISABLED. Note that WIN-ALT-SPACE will not work on many versions of Windows and using ALT-SPACE will prevent that standard shortcut from bringing up window controls.
  • Environment Variable Scope - By default, the environment variables set by the Platform (PortableApps.comDocuments, PortableApps.comPictures, PortableApps.comMusic, PortableApps.comVideos, PortableApps.comRoot, PortableApps.comApps, PortableApps.comPlatformVersion) are specific to the PA.c Platform process and any apps/processes launched from it. If the SystemWideEnvironmentVariables entry within the SystemIntegration section is changed to True, the variables will be made available across the current user's session while the platform is running and all running windows will receive a notification that the environment variables have changed. Note that this will cause many running apps to flicker as they refresh.
  • Portable TEMP Directory - If you create a directory called TempForPortableApps in the same directory as Start.exe ('next to' the PortableApps and Documents directories), the platform will use that as the TEMP directory for all apps it launches. Note that any local apps launched from the platform or its apps will also use this as TEMP, so use with caution!

Advanced options no longer listed separately here have now been added to the PortableApps.com Platform's expanded Options window, mostly on the Advanced tab.