Portable apps for tech writers IV: Wrangling files and PDFs

By now you maybe know that I’m fond of portable apps. That I use them to write, take screenshots and look up stuff in dictionaries with them. But wait: There’s more! No matter how well I manage my contents and architect my information, sometimes files just go unwieldy on me. That’s when they come in:

My favorite apps to wrangle files

Now where’s that file again? Baregrep finds files by name, very quickly – much faster than Windows’ file explorer! And it finds text within ASCII files, again very quickly. It’s my favorite tool to find elusive entries in .txt files or help contents in .html or .xml files. Unix users will recognize the name: This is really a “bare” grep that also masters regular expressions. You’ll have to live with a nag screen upon startup, but, hey: It’s free…

Uh, how come there’s so many of them? Easy Duplicate File Finder finds, uhm: duplicate files. It compares not just file name and size, but contents, too! So when your “to read” folder has gotten too big again, it’ll point out that white paper which you’ve downloaded twice – with different names… It’s also great to clear out project directories where you may have created countless copies of files.

… and now without the spaces. Bulk Rename Utility comes recommended by reader JosephK. He writes: “Bulkrenaming of files with regexp expressions can be done with BulkRename. The interface takes some getting used to.”

For intrepid explorers. XYplorerFree is my portable file explorer of choice – and it’s not even double-pane. But I like it for its comprehensive file-finding and various display options, so I don’t mind that the last free version is almost 4 years old. If you want dual-pane explorers, try freeCommander and UltraExplorer, both of which rank highly. Or try some of the other file explorers in The Portable Freeware Collection.

Portable zipping. PeaZip is my archiving/compression tool of choice. It claims to handle 118 file types. At least, I’ve never had an archive type it couldn’t open. Be sure to grab the “PeaZip portable_standalone” package.

In sync. DSynchronize is a reliable file synchronizer with a straight-forward interface. You can preview what files will be added, deleted or overwritten before committing the changes. You can also opt to sync only newer files or to sync both sides. If you don’t like this one, try Toucan which is a bit fancier and also available from portableapps.com. (Remember that portableapps.com versions don’t require the portableapps.com platform – you can just point their installers anywhere…)

…got til it’s gone. CyberShredder removes files. For good. It overwrites them, up to 7 times. This can be useful when you want to be sure your files are not on the machine after you leave.

Going truly portable with PDFs

It’s a bit ironic that it’s called “Portable Document Format”, when it’s so difficult to modify PDFs – if it wasn’t for portable PDF editor PDFTK Builder. It lets you reorder, delete and duplicate pages in a PDF file and merge pages from multiple PDFs. You can also split a PDF into files with one page each. (Splitting and merging a subset, however, often gives you much larger file than the source, so it’s more like a first-aid kit for emergency surgery.) You can also rotate and stamp pages and protect your documents with passwords to read or change the documents.

If you just want to read PDFs on a fast, portable reader, I recommend Foxit Reader. Others prefer the even smaller Sumatra.

What tools do you use to wrangle files on the go? Feel free to leave a comment.