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Build the perfect portable toolkit with SyMenu

26 January 2015, Mike Williams

SyMenuIf you regularly work on other people’s PCs then it can be wise to bring along some software of your own.

Add portable Firefox and GIMP to a USB stick, say, and you won’t need to rely on the host PC’s browser or graphics editor any more. Your favourite applications will be available wherever you are, with your own settings, and a relatively private history (it won’t be as easy for the PC owner to see the sites you’ve accessed).

Organising and launching these applications can be a problem, as they won’t be indexed on the host’s Start Menu or Start Screen – but that’s where SyMenu comes in. This free launcher provides an easy way to arrange all your applications, files and folders, and access them whenever you like.

SyMenu works immediately as a portable Start Menu, no configuration or setup required. Launch it, press Ctrl+F1 at any point and a pop-up menu appears, giving speedy access to your host system’s Start Menu applications, Control Panel applets, folders, recent documents and more. If you’re working on a Windows 8 PC which doesn’t have a Start menu then this could be helpful, all on its own.


Create a custom menu for your portable apps, then find and launch them anywhere

You can also extend the menu by dragging and dropping applications, documents, folders, URLs and more.

Alternatively, a Batch Import tool will crawl entire folder trees to add the items of your choice (every EXE file in your USB stick’s NirSoft folder, say).

If you don’t have all the portable programs you need, no problem. SyMenu integrates with and its PAF Suite, listing applications like 7-Zip, AbiWord, Autoruns, Dia, DOSBox, FileZilla, Firefox, GIMP, KeePass, OpenOffice, VLC Media Player and more. Select what you like and the program can install them to your USB stick (or anywhere else) with a click.

Programs may be organised in whatever hierarchy you like, or you can just use the built-in Search tool to find what you need. Click in the Search box (or press Ctrl+Shift+F1), start typing, and any matches appear immediately – even if they’re applications on the host system.

This would be amazing in itself, but where SyMenu really scores is with its configuration options. You can have selected portable applications launched by custom mouse gestures, or when SyMenu starts, or closes, on all or just certain computers. You’re able to customise home drives and paths, working folders, assign a different user profile or AppData folder. An “Extension Manager” temporarily replaces file associations to use particular SyMenu apps, restoring the originals later. And you can also customise hotkeys, icons, themes and more.

SyMenu really does have something for everyone, then: it’s genuinely useful out of the box, but spend more time with it and you can build the perfect portable working environment. Go grab a copy immediately.

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