Introduction: How to Autorun Portable Apps Off of a CD

Picture of How to Autorun Portable Apps Off of a CD

Here, you can learn how to put free apps on CD. You can run an application without creating any files on the computer, so you can pop it in and out of PCs without causing any disruption. It's also great if the computer you want to work on has restrictions on it. My school doesn't block Autorun files that lead to EXEs, but does block opening a flash drive in Windows Explorer, so this is my solution.

This includes basic coding (don't worry, it's all copy and paste). If you just want to learn how to make simple autorun files, just go straight to step 3.
Inspired by this instructable by marijnboz

You will Need:
-CD burner
-CD-R or CD-RW

Step 1: Get the App

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Go to and click on Applications. Choose your app, download the setup file, and run the setup file. You can even use the Portable Apps Suite and get all the apps on one CD; it is under the 700MB file-size of a standard CD. I am using GIMP for simplicity.

Step 2: Extract the App

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Install the app to a new folder on your PC. Open the folder up, and check for the name of the main Executable file.

Step 3: Create the AutoRun File

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Now open up Notepad. Type the following into it:

[autorun]open= FILENAMEHERE.exe

...and of course replace the FILENAMEHERE.exe with the filename of the main executable.

Save the file as autorun.inf inside of the new folder you created.

Step 4: Run It Once

This step will quicken the future startup process, and eliminate some potential errors. Open up the app and run it once. Change the settings to your liking. These settings will be UNCHANGABLE (if you are using a CD-R or DVD-R) once you burn it.

Step 5: Prepare to Burn

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Insert the blank CD, and open up MY COMPUTER, and double click on your CD burner drive.

Step 6: Start Burning!

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copy and paste the contents of your work folder into the CD drive. This should initiate the burning process.

Step 7: You're Done!

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Once the CD is burnt and finished, label it with a sharpie and store it away. Now, just pop it into any CD drive anywhere and it should autorun the application.


fwjs28 (author)2008-11-21

i have a question on your .INF tid you think i could replace the program with a part of my 'ible as the shutdown shortcut? so that it would automatically shut down the comp when its plugged in?!?!?!?!

jimmers (author)2008-04-01

agree with m-arijns. If you use the portable apps menu or pstart this instructable could be more useful. create a folder like in the tutorial, place all of your portable apps in there (700mb worth! woot!), configure them, install the menu to the same folder, add the shortcuts to the apps into the menu. Write the autorun to open the menu that you chose to use and then burn it. This way the cd will open your menu stuffed with links to all of your goodies instead of just one of your goodies.

Anonymiter (author)2007-11-24

Is there a way to use this same technique to autorun something on a floppy? I tried the .inf on it but it doesn't seem to be the same.

Fenwick (author)Anonymiter2007-11-25

There's no way to do it unless you tweak some of the settings in XP.

PetervG (author)2007-01-23

Okay, sorta seems to be the same as the flash drive one.

Fenwick (author)PetervG2007-11-21

The first two steps are the same, but after that my instructable goes off in a different direction.

Spacekidkyle (author)2007-02-13

Yes, my flash drive is a U3 "smart drive". It can do pretty much the same thing as this, but the PCs at my school stop me from running them. This could work great! I can't fit programs on my flash drive, I use it for too much stuff, and I filled it mostly up. This is a useful instructable, at least for me.

andrew101 (author)Spacekidkyle2007-09-23

i have the same drive :P

THE_GEEK2007 (author)2007-07-04

Hey fenwick, Do you use windowblinds? TGT

Fenwick (author)THE_GEEK20072007-07-05

nope, I've just got a Firefox theme and a theme for windows called "Royale Noir".

THE_GEEK2007 (author)Fenwick2007-07-06

Here is the theme "Noire" in windowblinds.... TGT

PSPerson (author)THE_GEEK20072007-07-10

Windowblinds sucks! It isn't free and it sucks up all of your system resources! bootskin is alright but windowblinds SUCKS

THE_GEEK2007 (author)PSPerson2007-08-16

I'm watching you... TGT

PSPerson (author)Fenwick2007-07-10

thx man! i just got the zune one that is just like it but instead of green it's orange!!!

PSPerson (author)PSPerson2007-07-10

err i mean instead of the start button being black it's orange! see for yourself!

PSPerson (author)PSPerson2007-07-10

oh and what theme for firefox? it looks sooo badass when they're together

Fenwick (author)PSPerson2007-07-10

It's called MidnightFox.

PSPerson (author)Fenwick2007-07-11


Amadeos (author)2007-05-26

use a CD-RW next trime, Add/remove easy

noobsarenew1 (author)2007-03-28

didnt work on my flash drive but it did on disks :) thanks

m-arijn (author)2007-01-25

i've got another idea to improve your instructable...on there is also another program wich you can start other programs of their site...maybe you could put that on your cd??when you go here hereyou can go to basic version, this is a version with no software added, its just the menu. then you can download more software and you can start all the software from this menu.

ps. i've got a U3 flashdrive myself and the menu is almost the same but it's free!!

rockyt (author)2007-01-24

When I need an auto run I just open up notepad and type

label=type something that will show up as the label for the cd

rockyt (author)rockyt2007-01-24

It gets added to a newly created cd along with the other files but needs to remain at the root or the disc

rockyt (author)rockyt2007-01-24

that should say at the root of the disc

Fenwick (author)rockyt2007-01-24

Will do!

m-arijn (author)2007-01-24

it does realy have a lot in common with my instructable(I did post it yesterday or something)...maybe you could refer to it with a link?? something like:this instructable is based on another instructable by marijnboz and a link would be nice

not that i'm someone who wants all the attention but this one is obviously based on my instructable.

except that I like the instructable:)

Fenwick (author)m-arijn2007-01-24

yes, you're right, I was "inspired" to write this because of your instructable. I picked up the Portable Apps website from Popular Science a while ago and did this already, but I did use your instructable for some references on how to set it up and stuff. Sorry I haven't given you credit yet, I'm editing it right now.

alexsolex (author)2007-01-24

hi ! With your story of an autorun file on the CD I had an idea ! It is not related to your "CD apps" but the m-arijn flash one... I put VLC on my flash key, in the VLC directory I made a MP3 directory. I know that the command to run VLC playing the files in the MP3 directory randomly is : vlc.exe "MP3" -Z What I now want to do, is to run this when I plug my flash key. Tried the autorun but does not work... Any idea ? It could be very nice, if you plug your flash key on a pc you got all your music play randomly with no action !! just make the computer sound louder or lower...

alexsolex (author)alexsolex2007-01-24

reply to myself : Sadly, it is impossible to boot an autorun on a flash key (security reasons I think) without previously install something on the PC ...

WolvesOfWar (author)2007-01-24

nice, just like your flash one

m-arijn (author)WolvesOfWar2007-01-24

not his flash flash one. but the idea putting it on a Cd is pretty cool...but most secured pc's don't accept .exe files from a cd-rom...and mostly they do accept them from a flash drive. At least at my school they don't accept CD's with executables.

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