Worried about the latest Internet Explorer security bug? Don’t have Firefox at work? Try installing Portable Firefox on your flash drive.
The download process: When I started to download this, I didn’t see a way to save it to the flash drive, so I downloaded to the default hard drive. It didn’t put an icon on the desktop, so I went to the download manager and double clicked to open it from there. This opened a dialog box that gave an option for where to install the browser and I directed it to the flash drive. At the end of the installation, you get a folder that says FirefoxPortable; inside the folder will be a few folders plus the orange, round Firefox logo that will start the Firefox browser.
Now for the add-ons. One of my favorite Firefox add-ons is Urban Dictionary. If your knowledge of the latest leading edge slang doesn’t go beyond “LOL”, you can quickly copy and paste a word into this search engine bar to look it up on the fly. It’s available at the 100 most frequently downloaded plugins page at Mozilla’s Mycroft Project. While you’re on that page, adding the YouTube search engine can save you a few mouse clicks as well.
My other favorite Firefox Add-on is the FoxLingo toolbar for quick translations. Machine translations have their drawbacks, but FoxLingo keeps getting better and better. I have started using this one in class instead of the slower dictionary.com translation tool to communicate with students who speak absolutely no English. I also like to have an American English spellcheck dictionary installed for on the fly spelling lookups.
While you’re at it, why not install Irfanview image editor? I couldn’t get it to copy from my hard drive to the flash drive–only the shortcuts would copy, which of course means the program itself isn’t there and it won’t run if you move your flash drive to another system. All copies of Irfanview are portable, so you can download or unzip it to your portable or thumb drive. Here is one of numerous free Irfanview download sites.
And how does the Firefox portable browser work? Just fine. This post was written with it. On installation you get two options, I chose the faster option that doesn’t save your current session. I notice very little difference in speed from using the hard disk version of Firefox, although the flash drive is a bit slower–it doesn’t really zoom like Vista usually does. Your browsing history from your home computer isn’t available of course–you start over with browsing history. And if you click on your desktop Firefox icon to open a second window, it will open the portable version, not the one already installed on the hard drive, so you can’t switch back and forth between them.
(Thanks to bulbul via languagehat.)
Update: Opera has a portable version of its browser for USB.