Many admins always bring their important standalone tools with them on a USB stick. The disadvantage of portable applications is that you always have to first open your flash drive in Windows Explorer and then search for the tool. With the freeware utility Pstart, you can launch your portable tools much quicker. The utility works like the Start Menu in Vista.

Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)


PStart is also a portable app that can be installed on a USB stick. You can add tools and folders to its start menu easily by dragging them to the Items tab. The Search tab allows you to search for applications just like with the Vista Start Search prompt. The good thing is that PStart not only finds the tools that you stored on your flash drive but also the applications that are installed on the PC, you are currently working on. Also useful is the Notes tab, which is similar to the Sticky Notes feature in Windows 7 but better in that you can always have your important notes in your pocket.

It makes sense to let Windows automatically run PStart when you insert your USB stick. PStart can create the corresponding autostart.inf for you. Of course, this only works on PCs where autostart hasn't been disabled for security reasons. I tested PStart 2.11 on Windows 7, Vista, and Windows XP.


  1. Garrett W. 13 years ago

    I’ve been using PStart for quite a while, and it really is the best launcher I’ve found.

  2. Ed A. 12 years ago

    Thanks for the help on getting me to a bootable USB stick. I loaded PStart on the stick in the root in its own /PStart directory, then did the config of the startnet file, the machine now boots to the windows on the stick but I cannot find PStart or even the stick itself. I have searched through a-z drives, have 4, c: is a reserved drive, d: is the acer’s main drive, e: is acer’s hidden pqservice drive, and x: is the portable windows drive. But there’s no trace of the stick.
    What am I doing wrong?

  3. Ed A. 12 years ago

    well, i found a workaround – i formatted another thumb drive, put both PStart and NTPWEdit on that, put both the bootable and the other drive into the target machine, and ran PStart. Why I couldn’t find the bootable drive, I don’t know. Anyway, I changed the user password to something memorable, and then restarted the machine, and got back in.

    Thanks again for the excellent instruction!

    Sincerely, Ed

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