Editor’s Swiss Army Knife

Most of us these days probably carry a USB stick with us pretty regularly, handy for getting files off client’s laptops and so forth, but it can also be your swiss army knife!

I have a range of ‘portable’ applications on my USB stick which I use to solve little problems when the software installed in my edit suite doesn’t easily do the job. Here is a list of some of the more useful apps I have on my own USB stick – these are all for Windows, there might be similar options for use on a Mac, but it’s been such a long time since I regularly used one that I haven’t tried to build up tools for use there.
The open source answer to Photoshop. It’s a little different, and not quite as powerful in some ways, but it’s more than suitable for the basic tasks, and if you spend a little time learning it you could even find that Photoshop is unnecessary for your regular video work.
GIMP Portable

A powerfule video converter, AVIDemux is helpful for many simple video conversion or trimming tasks.
AVIDemux Download (Download the Windows ZIP version, not installer)

Audacity is a fantastic audio editor. I’ve used it in the past for many simple little audio edits and tidy-ups, and occasionally converting formats.
Audacity Portable
(For MP3 support, you will also need LAME – see here)

VLC Player
The VLC player is a fantastic video player. It will play almost any video file you can throw at it. With a little effort you can even do some conversions with it.
VLC Portable

FFMpeg is an exceptional tool. It can read and write an amazing number of video formats. On it’s own it’s a command line application – officially provided as C source code. You can download a Windows binary from here: FFMpeg Windows Builds or you could use a GUI front end such as WinFF – a portable version of which is available from here: winPenPack – x-WinFF

Other Tools
Beyond these video, audio and graphics tools, there are a variety of other portable applications I regularly find a use for, such as:
7-Zip – Support for a wide range of archive files including 7Zip, gZip and bZip
AbiWord – Basic word processor, able to open many formats including Word documents.
FileZilla – Fully featured FTP client.
Pidgin – Instant messaging client – MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Google, ICQ

Are there portable tools you’re never without? What about alternatives for Mac? Post a comment.

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