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.
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.
(For MP3 support, you will also need LAME – see here)
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.
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
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.[box color="yellow"]The content in this post has been restored from archives after all the site's content was lost in January 2012. Comments from the original post have been lost[/box]