Use your favourite apps at work

A while back I posted a couple of methods to access blocked websites at work. Next up, is a method to use your favourite applications that may not be installed on your work computer…

As with last time, I’ll assume you don’t have permission to install software, and thus are forced into using what’s provided – which in most corporate environments means closed source proprietary software and in some cases none at all for the task you want to complete! Often the situation is made worse for those who share computers or use multiple machines with a “roaming profile”.

There is however a solution…

Why not just ask the IT Dept?
Good question, and in some cases this might work for you. However, don’t be surprised if you run into a dead end as your IT staff may be unwilling to support the software you request, or there may be testing/licence policies in place that make it more trouble than any perceived gain from the company’s perspective.

The Workaround
The best solution is to carry your apps with you on a USB flash drive (aka thumb drive or memory stick) – provided of course your computer has a USB port and it’s not superglued shut! Prices for USB drives are dropping all the time and large capacity models are now dirt cheap – you can pick up 1Gb drives for around NZ$30, plenty big enough for your apps and loads of data.

Portable Software
While you may not be able to take all your favourite software with you (such as large or highly specialised apps), there is a good amount of portable software available that in many cases may be a suitable alternative.

To get started on finding “portable” or “standalone” software I recommend visiting – a super site with lots of portable versions of free and open source software. There you can download just the apps you’re interested in, or grab the “suite” containing everything. Another source is which has a list of “handy programs to put on a USB stick“.

Once you’ve grabbed the apps you want, simply install them to your USB drive and launch them from it on any other computer.

My favourites? I regularly carry with me Firefox, Nvu, GIMP, 7-Zip, VLC, Foxit and Filezilla among others…

Online Apps
Finally, don’t forget that the web has some very cool apps/tools online just waiting to be used from anywhere. Here’s a short list of some useful sites to bookmark…

Don’t be tied down by your IT department. With simple workarounds you too can use apps and visit sites YOU want.


About Chris
A self confessed geek, meteorologist (aka weather forecaster), father & proud kiwi mainlander living, working & playing in Wellington, New Zealand.

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