It turns out, it is “really-really-ridiculously” easy to create your own U3 applications! The good folks at eure.ca have made available a tiny application named “PackageFactory” that does this magic (free of cost!).
Note that the application you are trying to convert to U3 must be self contained. i.e., It should not depend on the registry and/or be tied to absolute directories. Applications that are built for PortableApps are therefore excellent candidates for conversion to U3.
(Please be aware that you can create a “thinstall” of ANY application.. and then convert the resulting .exe file into a U3p file using PackageFactory!).
Here’s an example of how you can use PackageFactory to create a U3 version of the wildly popular password storage tool KeePass:
1. Download and install PackageFactory
2. Download the Zip package of the latest version of KeePass (ver 2.08 as of this writing) from the KeePass website
3. Extract all the contents of the downloaded zip file into a folder on your computer:
4. Launch PackageFactory :
5. Drag and drop the KeePass.exe file from the downloaded folder into the area marked for the purpose on the PackageFactory screen. Add/Edit the Program name and description fields as required, and then click on the “Create” arrow:
6. The program then creates a .u3p file and prompts for a location to store the newly created file.. Select your desktop, and hit the “Save” button.
7. Click on the U3 icon on your taskbar. Then, click on “Add Programs” and select “Install from my Computer”:
8. In the “Open File” dialog box that pops up, select the keepass.u3p file that you created (Step 6)
9. This will create the necessary scaffolding on the portable/USB device for “Keepass” … note that the application is still not ready to launch .. We have not yet added the required support files.
10. Navigate to the System/Apps folder on your U3 device, and locate the folder containing the KeePass.u3p file(This is a hidden folder.. so, you may need to update your folder options to show hidden files). It should look like:
11. Copy the remaining KeePass support files from the extracted Zip file into the “Data” subfolder (K:\System\Apps\60F08E21-C250-4FDD-A804-CA25DD2892E2\Data in my case). Finally, the folder should contain ALL the files (and folders) that were present in the Un-Zipped (step 3 above):
That’s it! You should now be able to launch KeePass from your U3 Launch applet!
Tip: You can actually convert the PackageFactory application into a U3 file using the same process and keep it handy on your USB device for future projects 🙂