40+ Desert Island Web Development Tools


What would you do if you were suddenly stranded on a desert island in the middle of nowhere, with only a USB drive, a dial-up internet connection, and a barebones computer with no software outside the operating system installed? Of course, you’d use the internet connection to call for help first, but what about after that? How would you keep your design business going?

Okay, maybe a scenario that’s a bit more likely would work better. What if your computer crashed, wiping out all of your data and programs, and you have a deadline in two days? Or maybe you want to be able to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice without taking anything more than a change of clothes and a USB drive. If you have the apps below, neither of those scenarios would be much of a problem.

The apps on this list can help you with everything from coding to graphics to running your business and managing your projects, all from a single USB drive. And while USB drives are getting bigger all the time (last I checked a 64GB one wasn’t too badly priced, and that’s 4GB more storage than my current MacBook has), you still need special programs in most instances to have true portability. The apps below are just that: truly portable and small enough to fit on a USB drive (often a very small USB drive).


Notepad++ Portable Edition

Notepad++ Portable Edition1 is a coding application that includes all the features you’d expect in a coding app. It’s written in C++ and runs on Windows. It’s open source and was released under the GPL license.


The portable edition includes all the features of the regular version. It has multi-view, supports a multi-language environment, a WYSIWYG editor, auto-complete, syntax highlighting and folding, and macro recording and playback, among its other features. It’s a great lightweight coding app.

Nvu Portable

Nvu Portable3 is the portable edition of Nvu Web Authoring Software. It includes a WYSIWYG editor and powerful file management. It’s aimed at users who might not be particularly technically savvy and only have a limited knowledge (or none at all) of HTML and CSS.

Nvu Portable4

The portable edition has all the features and capabilities of the regular version. It works on Windows systems, and was released under the open source GPL license.

Oiko CSS Editor

Oiko CSS Editor5 is a full-featured CSS, (X)HTML and XML editor in a portable format. It works on Windows 98 through XP. It’s a fairly robust editor, with an easy-to-use interface, grouped view of properties and selectors, a tree view of your CSS’s structure, and includes active preview in both IE and Mozilla browsers.

Oiko CSS Editor6

Graphics and Multimedia

Blender Portable

Blender Portable7 is a portable version of the Blender 3D rendering program. It works with the PortableApps.com platform. The portable version includes all the features of the regular version of Blender.

Blender Portable8

Blender has a range of features for rigging, modeling, animating and rendering 3D images. It has a fully customizable window layout and a non-overlaping, non-blocking UI. And it includes a built-in text editor for annotations and editing Python scripts.

GIMP Portable

GIMP Portable9 is a good alternative to Adobe Photoshop in a portable format. While GIMP’s user interface takes a bit of getting used to compared to other photo editing programs, it’s actually quite flexible.

Gimp Portable10

The portable version of GIMP has all the features of the full version, including layers and filters. It can also be extended and expanded, just like the full version.

Lightscreen Portable

Lightscreen Portable11 is a portable app that runs on Windows and lets you take screenshots of the desktop of whatever computer you’re on. It will perform five configurable actions (to capture window, screen, etc.) and each has its own hotkey.

Lightscreen Portable12

Lightscreen will save images in PNG, JPEG and common other image formats. It also has a delay function for taking screenshots. It runs as a hidden background process and is activated with one or more hotkeys.

Portable Audacity OS X

Portable Audacity13 is portable audio editing software for Mac OS X. Audacity has tons of features, including the ability to record live audio, edit (including the ability to edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks), add effects to audio files, and work with a variety of different file formats.

Audacity Portable14

While the full version of Audacity is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux machines, the portable version is available for Mac OS X and Windows15. Considering it’s open source, it makes sense that a portable version for Linux would be developed if there’s enough demand.

Portable Inkscape OS X

Portable Inkscape16 is a portable vector graphics editing program. Inkskape has features similar to other vector graphics programs, including Illustrator, CorelDraw, and Xara X. It saves graphics in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format.

Portable Inkscape17

There is extensive documentation available for Inkscape on their website, a big plus if you’re new to using it. The portable version is only available for Mac OS X, though the full version is also available for Linux and Windows.

FastStone Capture

FastStone Capture18 is a portable screen capture utility. You can capture anything on your screen: windows, full screen, rectangular regions, objecs, freehand regions, and even scrolling windows (a big plus over many other screen-capture programs, portable or not).

FastStone Capture19

Other features include the ability to add text annotations to captures, resize them, and use hotkeys for specific functions. FastStone Capture only works on Windows systems, but is compatible with Windows98 right up through Vista.


Fotografix20 is a portable graphics program that lets you both edit and create images. There are brush tools, support for custom brushes, layer and channel support (including adjustment layers and masking), and a variety of other tools included.


One of Fotografix’s biggest advantages, though, is it’s tiny file size: it’s only 367KB. If you want a really lightweight and easy to use graphics editor, Fotografix might be the right choice for you. However, it’s not as robust as a program like Photoshop, so keep that in mind.


Artweaver22 is a portable, freeware paint program. It lets you create sketches right from photos and includes a wide variety of brushes. It also lets you create new brushes and customize existing ones.


Artweaver also supports transparency and layers, and a variety of image formats (JPG, PNG, PSD, and more). It’s expandable via plugins, too. Artweaver works on Windows 2000, XP, or Vista.

VLC Media Player Portable

VLC Media Player Portable24 is a portable media player for using audio and video files. It will play MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV, MP3, and a host of other file formats. And, in addition to playing your various media files, it can also act as a media server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6.

VLC Media Player Portable25

Winamp Lite

Winamp Lite26 is the portable version of Winamp MP3 player software. Skins and plugins are also portable, making this another great solution for listening to MP3s on the go. Portable setup is a bit involved but not particularly complicated.

Winamp Lite27

File Management

FileZilla Portable

FileZilla Portable28 is another PortableApps.com application for FTP. It supports FTP, FTPS, and SFTP file transfers, as well as management for transferring large files (over 4GB). There are tons of configuration options. It also supports HTTP/1.1, SOCKS5 and FTP-proxy, and includes logging to file, synchronized directory browsing, and remote file search.

FileZilla Portable29

WinSCP Portable

WinSCP Portable30 is an FTP program for Windows that includes SFTP and SCP protocols and directory synchronization. It’s been around for awhile but performs all common file operations and has an integrated text editor. It also supports batch file scripting and a command-line interface in addition to a GUI.

WinSCP Portable31

7-Zip Portable

7-Zip Portable32 is a PortableApps.com program that lets you compress and uncompress a variety of archived file types, including 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2, TAR, and RAR files. It also supports creating encrypted 7z and ZIP archives and includes a powerful file manager. There are localizations for 63 languages available with the portable edition.

7-Zip Portable33


Toucan34 lets Windows users back up and sync data between two drives (like your hard drive and USB drive). It’s completely portable and free to download. There are a variety of advanced backup settings you can use, including incremental backups with compression and advanced rulesets.




XAMPP36 is a complete, portable web server package of Apache, MySQL, PHP and Perl. It’s preconfigured, so all you need to do is unzip and install it. It includes phpMyAdmin, FileZilla FTP Server, SQLite, the Zend Optimizer, and MiniPerl, among other features. It’s a complete web, FTP and database server in a single package. There’s also a lite version that includes Apache, MySQL, phpMyAdmin, SQLite, and their related packages.


Portable Firefox

Portable Firefox38 is the portable edition of Mozilla Firefox. It’s a great app to take with you for working on other people’s computers, as you can store and access your own bookmarks, passwords, and preferences. The portable edition doesn’t leave anything behind on the computer you’re using, so you can be secure in saving your passwords and other information. It even appears to work with any extensions you install. It’s a PortableApps.com app, so it’s only available for Windows machines.

Portable Firefox39

Don’t forget if you’re using Portable Firefox to also make sure you’ve downloaded some of the useful web development add-ons available.

  • Firebug40 – For viewing and on-page editing of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • CSS Viewer41 – A basic CSS property viewer.
  • HTML Validator42 – An HTML validator toolbar for Firefox.
  • Web Developer43 – Adds a menu and toolbar with various tools for web developers.
  • CodeBurner44 – An HTML and CSS reference guide built into Firefox.

Instant Rails

Instant Rails45 is a Ruby runtime solution with Ruby on Rails, Apache and MySQL, all ready to run. All you have to do is put it in the directory you choose and run it; there are no installation files.

Instant Rails46


Server2Go47 is a server package available with a variety of different configurations. There are packages that include Apache, PHP and SQLite; Apache, PHP, SQLite, and MySQL; Apache, PHP, SQLite, MySQL, and Perl; as well as mini packages (with only the needed files) and a “plain vanilla” package that doesn’t include PHP, Perl, or MySQL).

Portable Chrome

Portable Chrome48 is the portable vesion of Google’s Chrome browser. It includes all the features of the regular Chrome browser, including better stability and speed, tabbed browsing, and search right from the address bar.

Portable Chrome49


Opera@USB50 is a portable version of the Opera web browser. It’s very similar to the desktop version, though the differences aren’t expounded upon in the documentation for the app. The full version (and presumably the portable version) includes tabbed browsing, a password manager, an inline spell checker, and support for savable browsing sessions.

Opera USB51

MoWeS Portable

MoWeS Portable52 is a portable web server for Windows. It’s been tested on Windows 98 through Vista. It’s free and released under the GNU/GPL license. The server is based on Apache, MySQL, and PHP. The biggest difference between MoWeS and many other portable server packages is that you can download MoWeS preconfigured with a variety of software options, including TYPO3, WordPress, PHPMyAdmin, OS Commerce, Drupal, Mambo, Joomla!, and others.

MoWeS Portable53

Planning and Productivity

Dia Portable

Dia Portable54 is a diagramming app similar to Microsoft Visio. It’s more focused on informal diagrams than Visio, though, and is great for casual use. It works with XML files, and also includes the ability to export files to EPS, SVG, PNG, WMF, and XFIG files. Dia also lets you print diagrams (including multi-page ones).

Dia Portable55

It’s compatible with Linux, Unix, and Windows systems. It can be used to draw UML diagrams, flowcharts, and other types of diagrams.

Mozilla Sunbird, Portable Edition

Mozilla Sunbird, Portable Edition56 is a Windows and Linux compatible calendar application. It’s a full-featured, stand-alone calendar application, perfect for scheduling and simple project management.

Sunbird Portable57


ToDoList58 is a portable project management and task list manager. It lets you subdivide tasks an unlimited number of times to make them more manageable. And it saves your task lists in XML format so that you can format them with stylesheets.


ToDoList is under constant development and is suitable for IT project management as well as more general task management (like the GTD method). There are French and Spanish versions available in addition to English.

Task Coach Portable

Task Coach Portable60 is another task manager that lets you manage your to-do list and tasks on the go. Features include an easy-to-use UI that makes it easy to create, organize, and manage tasks, as well as the ability to set a budget for particular tasks, set start dates and deadlines for each task, and more.

Task Coach Portable61


GnuCash Portable

GnuCash Portable62 is another PortableApps.com application. It’s an open source financial management app with most of the features of commercial finance programs. It works with double-entry accounting, stock/bond/mutual fund accounts, and can handle invoices and accounts payable and receivable.

GnuCash Portable63

GnuCash is perfect for small business accounting and bookkeeping. It uses a checkbook-style register to make it easier for new users to learn. It also handles reports and graphs, multiple currencies, statement reconciliation, and more.

OpenOffice.org Portable

OpenOffice.org Portable64 is the PortableApps.com version of the open source OpenOffice.org suite of business programs. It includes all of the regular OpenOffice.org applications: Writer (a word processor), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (graphics), and Base (database).

OpenOffice.org Portable65

OpenOffice.org is a great alternative to Microsoft Office and provides much of the same functionality in a free and open source package. It’s very easy to use in comparison with many other office suites, and it’s free.

AbiWord Portable

AbiWord Portable66 is a word processor that can open a variety of files from other word processing programs, including Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Open Document (OpenOffice.org), Office Open XML, RTF, HTML, and more. It includes all the basic functions you’d expect in a word processor, including spelling and grammar check and mail merge.

AbiWord Portable67

The portable version is built on the PortableApps.com platform and works on Windows 2000, XP, or Vista. There are plugins available to extend AbiWord’s functionality.

Other Useful Apps

Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF68 is a lightweight, portable, free PDF viewer for Windows. It’s designed to be portable, so there’s no “portable version” per se. It works with a variety of keyboard shortcuts, and can be configured as your primary PDF viewer.

Sumatra PDF69

Eraser Portable

Eraser Portable70 is a portable version of the Eraser security app. Eraser allows you to completely delete files from your harddrive by overwriting them multiple times with predefined patterns. It’s free and open source (under the GNU General Public License). This is a particularly useful app to have if you work with sensitive information on a regular basis, as it can be used to completely remove any traces of an original file.

Eraser Portable71


OperaTor72 combines Opera and Tor to let you browse anonymously from any computer. No data is stored on the computer you’ve plugged your USB drive or other portable device into, making it particularly useful if you’re using a public computer. It also includes Polipo, a caching web proxy, adding an extra layer of anonymity and security.


Portable Windows Live Messenger 2009

If you need to keep in touch with your colleagues or clients, then Portable Windows Live Messenger200974 is a great way to do it. It’s a fully functional version of Windows Live Messenger 2009, just in a portable format you can use from any USB drive. It’s useful for a lot more than just instant messaging though: you can use it to share documents, and communicate via voice and video.

Foxit Reader v3.0

The Portable Freeware Collection offers Foxit Reader V3.075. Use Foxit to open and read PDF documents on the go. Just be aware that according to the comments on the download page, it can be difficult to install and configure.

Foxit Reader76


KeePass77 is a password management program for Windows. It’s free and open source and can help you keep track of all your passwords for FPT accounts, email, website passwords, and more. It saves everything in a single database file that you can open either with a key or key file.



TrueCrupt79 is a portable encryption program that will create a virtual encrypted disk and mount it as a real disk. You can encrypt an entire partition or USB flash drive. It uses parallization and pipelining to let data be accessed as fast as if the drive wasn’t encrypted. Be aware that TrueCrypt does require administrator privileges in order to access files, which is a major drawback if you may need to use public computers.

Pidgin Portable 2.1.0

Pidgin Portable80 is the portable version of the Pidgin instant messaging client (formerly Gaim). It supports AOL, MSN, ICQ, Jabber, and Yahoo IM. You can add encryption plugins to it to enable secure messaging.

Pidgin Portable81

WinPT Portable

WinPT Portable82 lets you encrypt files on your flash drive and then unlock them without having any special software installed. It’s still in development, so it’s not entirely bug-free, but according to most reports it’s a very polished build. The only thing it requires to run is GnuPGP83, which is also available as a portable app.

Trillian Anywhere

Trillian Anywhere84 lets you use the Trillian IM client from a USB drive or disk. It lets you take your contact list and preferences with you wherever you go and use a full-featured but portable version of Trillian from any computer with an internet connection.

Further Resources

  • 100 Portable Apps for Your USB Stick (for Mac and Win)85
    This is an excellent roundup of useful apps from makeuseof.com, though it’s not specific to development and design apps.
  • PortableApps.com Suite and PortableApps.com Platform86
    Many of the apps in this post are built on the PortableApps.com Platform. PortableApps.com offers a huge variety of programs for use on a USB drive or other portable media. The suite includes a web browser, email client, office suite, calendar/scheduler, and other useful programs.M
  • FreeSMUG87
    FreeSMUG offers free open source software for Mac users. Some of their apps include Adium, Cyberduck, Vienna, and Newspeak.
  • Linux for Travelers88
    Linux for Travelers offers a ton of information on portable computing for Linux users.


  1. 1 http://notepadpluspe.sourceforge.net/
  2. 2 http://notepadpluspe.sourceforge.net/
  3. 3 http://www.softpedia.com/get/Internet/WEB-Design/HTML-Editors/Portable-NVU.shtml
  4. 4 http://www.softpedia.com/get/Internet/WEB-Design/HTML-Editors/Portable-NVU.shtml
  5. 5 http://css-editor.info/
  6. 6 http://css-editor.info/
  7. 7 http://portableapps.com/apps/graphics_pictures/blender_portable
  8. 8 http://portableapps.com/apps/graphics_pictures/blender_portable
  9. 9 http://download.cnet.com/GIMP-Portable/3000-2192_4-10526507.html
  10. 10 http://download.cnet.com/GIMP-Portable/3000-2192_4-10526507.html
  11. 11 http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/lightscreen_portable
  12. 12 http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/lightscreen_portable
  13. 13 http://www.freesmug.org/portableapps/audacity/
  14. 14 http://www.freesmug.org/portableapps/audacity/
  15. 15 http://portableapps.com/apps/music_video/audacity_portable
  16. 16 http://www.freesmug.org/portableapps/inkscape/
  17. 17 http://www.freesmug.org/portableapps/inkscape/
  18. 18 http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=775
  19. 19 http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=775
  20. 20 http://lmadhavan.com/software/fotografix/
  21. 21 http://lmadhavan.com/software/fotografix/
  22. 22 http://www.artweaver.de/index.php?en_version
  23. 23 http://www.artweaver.de/index.php?en_version
  24. 24 http://portableapps.com/apps/music_video/vlc_portable
  25. 25 http://portableapps.com/apps/music_video/vlc_portable
  26. 26 http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=515
  27. 27 http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=515
  28. 28 http://download.cnet.com/FileZilla-Portable/3000-2160_4-10834891.html
  29. 29 http://download.cnet.com/FileZilla-Portable/3000-2160_4-10834891.html
  30. 30 http://winscp.net/eng/docs/portable
  31. 31 http://winscp.net/eng/docs/portable
  32. 32 http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/7-zip_portable
  33. 33 http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/7-zip_portable
  34. 34 http://lifehacker.com/5101097/toucan-syncs-and-backs-up-your-files
  35. 35 http://lifehacker.com/5101097/toucan-syncs-and-backs-up-your-files
  36. 36 http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html
  37. 37 http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html
  38. 38 http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable
  39. 39 http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable
  40. 40 http://getfirebug.com/
  41. 41 https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2104
  42. 42 http://users.skynet.be/mgueury/mozilla/
  43. 43 http://chrispederick.com/work/web-developer/
  44. 44 http://tools.sitepoint.com/codeburner/firefox/
  45. 45 http://rubyforge.org/projects/instantrails/
  46. 46 http://www.softpedia.com/progScreenshots/Instant-Rails-Screenshot-98363.html
  47. 47 http://www.server2go-web.de/download/download.html
  48. 48 http://stadt-bremerhaven.de/portable-chrome-021510/
  49. 49 http://stadt-bremerhaven.de/portable-chrome-021510/
  50. 50 http://www.opera-usb.com/operausben.htm
  51. 51 http://www.opera-usb.com/operausben.htm
  52. 52 http://www.chsoftware.net/en/useware/mowes/mowes.htm
  53. 53 http://www.chsoftware.net/en/useware/mowes/mowes.htm
  54. 54 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/dia_portable
  55. 55 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/dia_portable
  56. 56 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/sunbird_portable
  57. 57 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/sunbird_portable
  58. 58 http://www.abstractspoon.com/tdl_resources.html
  59. 59 http://www.abstractspoon.com/tdl_resources.html
  60. 60 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/task_coach_portable
  61. 61 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/task_coach_portable
  62. 62 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/gnucash_portable
  63. 63 http://www.softpedia.com/progScreenshots/GNU-Cash-Portable-Screenshot-108772.html
  64. 64 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/openoffice_portable
  65. 65 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/openoffice_portable
  66. 66 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/abiword_portable
  67. 67 http://portableapps.com/apps/office/abiword_portable
  68. 68 http://blog.kowalczyk.info/software/sumatrapdf/index.html
  69. 69 http://blog.kowalczyk.info/software/sumatrapdf/index.html
  70. 70 http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/eraser_portable
  71. 71 http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/eraser_portable
  72. 72 http://archetwist.com/en/opera/operator
  73. 73 http://archetwist.com/en/opera/operator
  74. 74 http://www.techbeta.org/instant-messaging/portable-windows-live-messenger/
  75. 75 http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=1041
  76. 76 http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=1041
  77. 77 http://keepass.info/
  78. 78 http://keepass.info/
  79. 79 http://www.truecrypt.org/
  80. 80 http://portableapps.com/news/2007-08-13_-_pidgin_portable_2.1.0
  81. 81 http://portableapps.com/news/2007-08-13_-_pidgin_portable_2.1.0
  82. 82 http://lifehacker.com/5128024/winpt-portable-encrypts-and-unlocks-your-usb-drive-data
  83. 83 http://portableapps.com/node/11402
  84. 84 http://www.trilliananywhere.com/
  85. 85 http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/portable-software-usb/
  86. 86 http://portableapps.com/suite
  87. 87 http://www.freesmug.org/portableapps/
  88. 88 http://www.linuxfortravelers.com/general/portable-apps

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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

  1. 1


    That you do not approve of a tool does not mean nobody does. Calling them jokes is rather childish. We’ve been there long ago with emacs vs vim..

    Thank you for the list. Didn’t know Sunbird had a portable version. Thanks for pointing that out!

  2. 52


    Surprisingly yes, XAMPP is very portable. Copying all the install files to a folder, run the setup script and it resets all the config files to the new absolute directory tree. If your at home and the USB is D: and you go to work and its now F:, run the setup script and BAM! Launch the apache service and prepare for goodness. I do this myself between homw/work/college

    Winamp Portable! Its about time! No more loosing all my skins and plugins when the inconivently timed OS reinstall creeps up…

    Notepad++…see winamp abaove…

  3. 103

    How timely! Actually I’m preparing to move to a small island in the Philippines where there are no landlines and only EDGE wireless service but I still want to develop sites in my retirement. Upside, I’m 4 blocks from the ocean, a house is about 1/20 the comparable cost in LA, and the people are teriffic.

  4. 154

    Yes, since version 1.7.2 XAMPP is portable and can be easily placed on USB drive

  5. 205

    Why would a web dev need Blender Portable?

  6. 256

    Notepad++ YES, that’s my editor of choice, free, gets the job done.
    NVU, I agree, why? Komposer is the better choice if you really want to go that route, since it’s more updated at least
    XAMPP is available as a portable app, I’ve got it installed on one of my USB drives, along with several of the other apps listed above. Works fine.

    WinAmp as a dev too, we all need a break sometimes.

  7. 307

    And if we’re gonna have OpenOffice & Winamp in there, should have Portable Scribus as well for DTP

  8. 358

    love the planning and productivity apps… thanks!

  9. 409

    Sweet article. I love finding new portable apps to dump onto my external hdd.

    Glad to see notepad++ was the first entry. I use it every single day.

  10. 460

    @Tom, You are the greatest Joke that ever lived in this planet, they are portable, meaning light apps that can be installed on USB to be read in anywhere device that support it, meaning devices that are not quite powerful enough to run the full blown apps..

    Great Post SM!

  11. 511

    I agree that the list seems rather improvised.

    I would say that eclipse with aptana covers more than a few of the different applications and keeps them organized under the same project, helping to keep the clutter down.

  12. 562

    Nice information

    Can any body tell me what is the main difference between portable and regular type of software? And if portable is so powerful then why we were using full version?

    Thank you

  13. 613

    appserv is a very good option for a personal web server to test yours sites. ;)

  14. 664

    Toby have you ever heard of svg and png graphics?

  15. 715

    @Mike: Portable versions allows you to save all configuration and extensions/plugins within application folder, which then allows you to quickly move the application around, without the need to re-installing the application. This is obviously good for USB drives, or when you are re-installing your operating system, basically it is a great feature for people who are on the move or constantly re-organizing their workstation.
    Sometimes portable applications have a problem with registering file extensions. Other than that, I can’t think of a better excuse to use an installer rather than the portable version :)

  16. 766

    Thank you! :)

  17. 817

    i use xnview to manager images , convert images….and to take screenshot too :P

    notepad++ is the best tool in this list

  18. 868

    So basically, you’re saying that we should just download all the apps from portableapps.com?

  19. 919

    Well .. if I was stranded someplace, I’d have that and more stuff with more AND better features already installed on my netbook 8)

    … which runs with Linux.
    Thus: Yet another useless, because windumb-centric article.

    cu, w0lf.

  20. 970

    Good Lord, I have never seen such a collection of apps that are so aesthetically unpleasing. Why can’t us coders get some decent looking apps. I am looking at you WinAmp!

  21. 1021

    Yeah the list is really desert island one not on productivity bent but of despair………

  22. 1072

    Ahem!! I develop websites with windows and 80 % of people I know do.
    And they arent the lamest ones. :)

    Best in such situation with these apps i would try to make an attempt to escape.

  23. 1123

    These applications can become alternative to “pirated” applications. I believe this will help lessen the software piracy even more.

    Let us disseminate this information to everyone!

    Thank you for this wonderful post.


  24. 1174

    @Rafi B

    Thank you for information.


  25. 1225

    I am quite new to this site, but if I may post a comment: the title made the article sound interesting… but it is only for windows users :(
    Why aren’t you more specific in the title? Please specify “for windows”.
    I do all my web developpement on Linux, where most of these apps (ar an opensource alternative) can be installed in ONE operation (either via a GUI or command line).
    Yes, only ONE operation :)
    One exception though: a portable version of IE :)

  26. 1276

    One of the best list posts so far, really really useful.

  27. 1327

    Handy. But I feel the operating systems these tools are available for should be much more prominently displayed, esp for people on macs who aren’t going to find much useful in this list.. which is fine since there’s so many more options for PC users, but it’d be nice to mention that up front and make it more obvious which arte mac friendly, or even linux friendly. what about some icons or something!

  28. 1378

    OK guys, I am sorry, but winamp for developing?

  29. 1429

    You forgot Django. Check out:


  30. 1480

    Great article (if your a windows user). I can’t run windows makes me feel like I ride the short bus. Recovering from a disaster is much easier on linux as you can easily write shell scripts that can be run to restore your desktop and server to working condition in minutes, (not hours like windows).

    I would be interested in an article which automates the install of these programs on windows.

    If your interested in the shell scripts I mention above, read my blog: Nick Yeoman’s web design blog

  31. 1531

    Cre8ive Commando

    October 1, 2009 4:08 pm

    Nice listing, looks similar to my article I wrote earlier: Web Design Survival Guide – Back to basics web design ;-)

  32. 1582

    I recommend Komodo Edit instead of Notepad++ :

    Downloads :

    Enjoy !

  33. 1633

    I agree … it “should have been titled 40+ Desert Island Web Development Tools for Windows. The article did me little good. :

  34. 1684

    OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. 1735

    With all due respect, I don’t think this post is worthy of Smashing Magazine. If I wanted to find a certain portable app – well, what’s Google there for?

  36. 1786

    Great article but being stuck on a desert island most web developers would need an internet connection to download the software and for testing, great view. Maybe web developers would migrate to a desert island?

  37. 1837

    I don’t think that Msn Live Messenger 2009 portable is legal, that’s modified M$ software and that’s not allowed by M$

  38. 1888

    NIce round up! But I really miss gold ol’ Textmate!

  39. 1939

    awesome collection of portable apps…..which can help us for effective management of personal & professionals life….thanks :)

  40. 1990

    so you just discovered a website, then you made a post – how nice!
    Whatabout just a link to http://portableapps.com enough?

  41. 2041

    NVU ?!
    Are you kidding – this was abandoned years ago, as was the follow up: Kompozer…

  42. 2092

    I use Mysql Workbench 5.1 on my usb drive too. Useful when you need to design a mysql database from scratch and export a pdf diagram… http://www.mysql.com/products/workbench/

  43. 2143

    really awesome, thank you ! :D

  44. 2194

    Any good clickable wireframe apps

  45. 2245

    Lawlz. I develop on Ubuntu… so it was nice to see portGimp/PortInkscape! Didn’t know about them! Portable FF looks interesting, esp if it can run my most-used plugins: LiveHTTPHeaders and WebDevToolBar.
    The rest of the list, of course, is useless. Still.

    For real development, I need all the browsers, as a regular user sees them, so I’d never be able to do anything on a desert island and a USBstick (browsers are hogs).

    Anyone know a better version of Gpass (for Gnome, instead of Keepass), one that can go on USB?

    But, if it came to desert island, it would be vim, not notepad++. Seriously, why use an inferior editor? 2000kB installed, does everything except make coffee like Emacs does.

  46. 2296

    My list in no specific order

    1. netbeans (autocompletion for xhtml, css, php, python,ruby…)
    2. CLCL# store multiple cuts and paste
    3. selenium ide, plugin for firefox
    4. webdeveloper also for firefox
    5. notepad++ for those quick and dirty fixes
    6. filezilla
    7. FlashDevelop which i think kicks the Flash IDE’s but tenfold and more.

    For graphics except blender i can’t find any os/free tool i like.

  47. 2347

    I also use lot of portable apps and I like to comment the apps Nvu for coding. Now I think it is better to use KompoZer then Ncu. KompoZer is an unofficial bug-fix release for Nvu that fixes many of the outstanding bugs in Nvu 1.0. As Nvu is no longer updated.

  48. 2398

    Good list! However, if I were stuck on a desert island I wouldn’t be making websites!

  49. 2449

    I like ’em all..thanks

  50. 2500

    That’s really useful .Thanks a lot


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