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How to Make a Portable Application The Default File Handler in Windows 8

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The PortableApps platform is great. It allows you to carry around a bunch of programs on a USB drive and even has its own “Start Menu” that runs in the notification tray. One thing it did lack however, was a feature that allows you to associate file types with a portable application while your USB stick was plugged into a PC.

Note: This article assumes you have the Portable Apps suite installed on a USB drive.

Make a Portable Application The Default File Handler in Windows 8

Head over to the eXpresso website and grab yourself a copy.

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Once it has downloaded, go ahead and install in on your USB.

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You will then need to launch it from the PortableApps launcher.

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The app itself is small and runs in the notification area. While running, when you try and open a file, you will be asked if you want to associate this file type with a portable app. Clicking no will result in that particular file association opening with your hosts default file handler from now on. But since the whole point of this article is to show you how you can associate a file type with a portable application we will go ahead and click on Yes.

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A file picker will then open and you will need to go and pick a portable app, we tried to open a .DB file so we will go and look for the SQLite Database Browser we have installed on our USB stick.

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That’s really all there is to it, now when you try and open that type of file again it will open with the portable application you specified.

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But this is a little bit cumbersome right? I mean you have to literally open every file type you want associated with a portable app. Since we Geeks and we really don’t have time to sit and do that, we think a little bit of hacking is in order. Right click on the eXpresso notification icon and open its config file.

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Here you will see that associating a file type is pretty straight forward.

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Editing the configuration file is actually straight forward. All your applications are installed under a PortableApps folder on the root of your Drive and that’s the location the .. represents. So all you have to do is tack on the location of the portable applications exe file relative to the root “Portable Apps” folder. For example, we want to associate a bunch of media file types with our portable installation of VLC Media Player. So we could do the following.

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The last thing you need to do is add a list of file types you want to have opened by the hosts default file handler, which is just as easy.

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That’s all there is to it.

Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 05/28/13

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