Since I am a great user of my USB drive and a huge lover of portable applications that I carry around I have been looking for some launchers that I can add to my USB drive so that I can boot my portable applications more easily. And since it took me quite a while before I found the right launcher I thought I would write up a review for all you portable geeks out there that are looking for a portable launcher. My favorite is PStart, and that is what I will be writing about.
I will be judging PStart on a few factors which I deem very important for a launcher for all my portable apps. A few of those are an easy to understand User Interface, Simplicity (Who would want a launcher that is more complicated than looking up the app on your USB drive?) and most importantly (in my opinion) Customization.
A quick quote from the PStart Website;
PStart is a simple tray tool to start user defined applications. Designed to run portable applications (like portable Firefox & Thunderbird), you can start anything runnable from USB key devices or removable disks.
The user interface of PStart probably couldn’t get any easier. It is straight forward and easy to use. The Items tab allows you to add your portable applications (non-portable applications also work), folders on your usb-drive or groups to easily find your applications. And if you can’t find them through your specially created groups, there is always the Search tab that will allow you to search through your whole computer (not only your usb-drive). This makes it even better for XP users that don’t have the search bar that Vista and Win7 users have.
Then there is the Notes tab. Have you ever gone to someone’s place and thought of a great idea, and you had to scribble it down on paper and take it with you to remember it? PStart thought that had to end, and that is what the Notes tab is for. You can simply scribble down anything you want to. Personally I keep a To-Do list for my development in my Notes tab, but I guess the sky is the limit on this one. 😉
PStart offers numerous features that make it simple yet powerful. For example, you can choose the simple route by adding a program. However, you can also pass on command line parameters to the programs you launch from PStart. One example where I use the command line parameters is for starting a continuous ‘ping’ command to one of my servers which I can start straight from my PStart. Again, the possibilities with this program are huge!
PStart also offers;
- Scheduled Execution
- Environment Variables for Applications
- Dual Monitor Support
- Search for Executables
PStart offers a few interesting customization options. You can change the background image shown in the PStart panel, add a hotkey to open the PStart panel or even add a click-able area on your screen (for example the top left) that can activate the PStart panel.
Aside from these easy to configure customizations there isn’t a lot you can customize about PStart. Personally I don’t need fancy menus to show me my portable programs. However, the opinions on this subject are split. It doesn’t affect the functionality of PStart, but for some it might influence the way they look at the program.
Aside from the lack in design options I think PStart is a great program to use for all your Portable Application needs. No more digging into different folders to start all your necessary programs. The ability to add Environment Variables and Commandline Parameters is amazing! It adds so much power to the way you start programs compared to other Portable Application launchers out there. I can say I highly recommend PStart.
Finally, I will end off with some ratings;