PStart v2.11

webfork on 28 Jul 2014

PStart is an easy-to-use system tray program launcher with a hierarchical list of menus for launching applications and documents, much like the Windows "Start" menu. Includes support for drag-and-drop program management, customizable look and feel, program auto and scheduled start, search, and much more.

Unlike many other launchers, PStart automatically uses relative paths when adding applications and documents, so portability is automatically preserved when changing drive letters as long as the applications and documents are located in the same drive as PStart.

Note: 64-bit OS users may wish to use this in a compatibility mode.

System Requirements: Win95 / Win98 / WinME / WinNT / Win2K / WinXP / Vista
Writes settings to: Application folder
Stealth: ? Yes
Unicode support: Yes
Path portability: Automatic relative path (eg. ..\..\personal\work.doc)
License: Freeware
How to extract:
  1. Download the installer and install using the "Portable setup" option to a folder of your choice
  2. Launch PStart.exe
Additional notes from the author (Jens Gruschel): "The installer has a combo box with all removable drives listed. But if you click the [Next] button, you can select any folder you want, so there is no need to copy the file afterwards (which you can do of course). I added this combo box, because I thought that most people would install it to a USB stick (in fact I wrote the program because I wanted such a tool for my USB stick). But since I also like programs located on my D: drive, I didn't want to limit it to removable drives."

86 comments on PStart  The Portable Freeware Collection Latest Entries Feed

Acgrego 2006-04-20 16:15

One of the best programs I ever found. Very very handy!

joey 2006-04-21 02:30

I have the portable app installed in 2 USB drives of mine, with different settings for each. I plug in the first in my PC, use it and unplug it. Then plug in the second. However, there is remnent left behind by the first one and the setting for the second does not pop up. I don't know if the phenomenon is characteristic of portable apps when one uses 2 usb keys alternately. But I notice it happens, which is not a favourable user experience.

AlephX 2006-04-29 08:17

I donĀ“t know if my troubles are caused by this application, but since I and a friend of mine use this one, several files and directories disappear from our USB keys. What a pity! This Launcher is very nifty!

kooKyGuY 2006-05-08 09:49

Make sure to install it with "Portable setup" for a removable device, like it tells you to do here.

AlephX 2006-05-09 02:25

Thanx, kooKyGuY!
We did it, I think. Now I am a bit scared of doing it again :) Well, I wait for a new release or for another similar proggy! I liked this program very much: simple, tidy, portable and free! ...and I had fun in changing and personalizing icons too (with a free icon editor)

Pete 2006-05-26 12:42

Agree to you, Andrew! PStart is the best laucher i,ve ever tried. WinPenpack and ASuite are good too, but PStart is more flexible (no PROGRAMMI-Folder and so on). I hope PStart will start again....

Ruc Razy 2006-08-17 20:09

IMHO, PStart is a pain to use if you keep adding portable apps to your removable drive due to it's inability to sort the apps list alphabetically. The author needs to add that capability ASAP.

Raggedy 2006-08-18 01:20

Once you're in the panel in PStart, you can drag the icons to any order you need. I have mine grouped by the way I use them (most used at the top).

Jens 2006-08-18 01:50

The author will add sorting capabilities and the other 71 features requested by PStart users currently on the todo list. However the features added to 2.09 were very important in my opinion. But sorting items has a high priority of course.

El Salvador 2006-08-18 10:20

"WinPenpack and ASuite are good too, but PStart is more flexible (no PROGRAMMI-Folder and so on)."
ASuite doesn't use folder "Programmi". :)
"The author will add sorting capabilities and the other 71 features requested by PStart users currently on the todo list."
71 features requested? Very interested. :O 2006-08-25 09:12

Love this and have been using it for sometime now. I think every usb key should have this. I've even used it on some flash chips.

Twilight Zone 2006-08-26 10:16

I've tried both,WinPenPack is better.

tm2k 2006-09-21 14:00

I use PStart on my local harddisk for all apps that are portable (to run). It's integrated in my "UBCD4Win Combo CD" folder as a plugin so everytime building that CD I also have all my apps on a DVD/USB stick. For me a must-have tool :)

Kyle 2007-02-06 17:52

Compared to others, Pstart is feature filled and has a nice gui BUT it's using about 10Megs of memory. A bit high for my taste.

Lucas 2007-03-01 05:40

Love PStart, I have it set to autorun when my USB Drive is inserted. I also use it along side rdesktop and seamlessrdp on my Virtual Machine in Linux so I can run Windows programs in Linux easily and seamlessly.

Webfork 2007-04-09 16:54

The best program launcher I have found. Unfortunately, I have to edit the XML file that goes along with the program to make it work how I want. Kind of a pain but definitely 90% better than any other similar program I've yet found.

Bill 2007-04-09 16:55

I've been using PStart for a while and it's great! Is it Vista capable?

Jim 2007-04-23 09:14

Here's a little tip: Did you know that you can use Pstart to call other instances of PStart?

Start with PStart on your Thumb Drive. Open it and customize it to your liking. Next, copy that PStart.exe application (not the .xml, just the .exe) into another folder on your thumb drive, or into another hard drive. Fire up that new version, and customize the menu to your liking. Next, go back to your original PStart menu on your Thumb Drive, and do an "Add File" to add the other (new) PStart menu. Close them all down, and then start up the first one. Clicking the new entry launches the second menu! This way, you can maintain a "location-specific" menu that can be easily called by your portable Thumb Drive menu.

And if you go into the "Advanced" tab while viewing an entry's properties, you can optionally have it close the first menu once it launched the second menu cleaning things up. Then just have a link on the second menu back to the first to make it all seamless.

And whatever device is "missing" (say, you don't have the Thumb Drive installed) when you fire up the second menu, the icon for the entry pointing to the first will simply be missing.

I hope this makes sense. I've been able to create several menus that call one another, and now I have a very nice, portable/localized menu system.

makeing v 2007-04-25 05:34

The best program launcher I have found. thank you!

Jens 2007-05-10 02:30

Jim, you can do the same without an additional copy of PStart.exe, simply by specifying another name in the command line (.xml is added automatically). So "PStart Second" uses Second.xml instead of PStart.xml. Maybe I should write a documentation for such hidden features...

zjz 2007-05-23 09:38

Jens, we would appreciate it if you could give us more details on your skills :-)

Jens 2007-06-01 02:38

zjz, what exactly do you want to know? I BTW updated the PStart f.a.q. page, so at least the command line parameters are officially documented now.

tm2k 2007-06-03 06:21

Changed back to 2.08 because of this feature/bug:

While opening a group in pstart 2.10 by doubleclicking on its icon in the list all programs inside will be started !

doctorforg 2007-06-04 12:35

Amazing program, tiny, flexible, does what it is supposed to. Easily takes the place of several other programs, freeing space on a drive.

tm2k 2007-06-08 09:49

above problem is solved with 2.11 - many thanks to the developers :)

Bill 2007-06-08 13:48

hmm.. that was a bug?... thought it was a new feature to automatically start a group of programs. ;)

moshie 2007-06-15 08:52

BUG ? im using 2.11 and xml has got corrupt many times and now looking for another launcher as this has done this now for the last time to me.

other than that the app is cool

MobiuS 2007-06-19 05:36

I've had absolutely no problems with this launcher at all. I've never had any files deleted. Mine also uses 4MB of RAM, not the 10 that has been mentioned. If you think another launcher is better, please explain why. Simply saying WinPenPack is better doesn't help anyone. For me, PStart had the quickest start-up times of any other launcher. I also like that I can have the folder structure on the drive be anything I want and I can create my own icons on the menu (as compared to the launcher) and have them arranged any way I see fit.

edgar 2007-07-17 11:24

hey, i really need to know how to add pstart launcher and all its bunch of portable software to UBCD FOR WIN, i already made a bootable cd, the UBCD4WIN, but now id like to add pstart so that it can be run along with ubcd4win, i need a manual or howto, to do it. anybody?

naja 2007-08-29 10:33


I also really liked PStart, but im really struggling because my PStart.xml is also getting corrupt all the time. It is truly pain in the ass... Im still using 2.9 something, but i see that someone with 2.11 has the same problem.

I also have a firefox portable on my portable hd and from that since the bookmarks.html, prefs.js and adblocks patterns.ini always go corrupt at the same time as the xml from pstart.

Im really clueless, but it drives me nuts. It's a pain in the ass. I thought it had something to do, with unplugging the disk before proper shutdown or something, but i get it really often lately and i really pay attention to unplugging safely. The strange thing also is that if i just run pstart, without adding any progs, nothing should be written to the xml, so it should only be open for readaccess, then how does it get corrupt? Its a really bizarre problem, but super frustrating since i cause pstart and ff are the to programs i use 10 times a day,...

If someone has some clue, please
naja on gmail . com

qhead7 2007-08-30 19:59

if you want a good launcher that is being worked on alot try out the portable apps launcher at

Dan 2007-09-11 14:07

Not for me. I personally rather the PortableApps menu. I know PStart has a few nice features and it's convenient but unless it's the normal install I rather the menu to look attractive and look like a start menu.

MP 2007-09-27 20:47

Anyone know why the xml file seems to be corrupting for people? I just had it happen to me, lost all my configurations. I'm looking for something more reliable now.

Marcian 2007-10-09 17:57

For XMLs getting corrupted, you can set PStart to make a backup everytime you use it.

I personally have tried PortableApps (like everyone else, very taken by its nice appearance) but soon ditched it becos it was too slow to launch and wallpapers took too much work to make. I tried PStart and it's just perfect for me now. Very customisable, very simple.

Enormator 2007-11-16 14:47

gr8 thingy this thing. Does exactly what you want from it, needs nearly no system resources, is very handy, easy configurable (just drag 'n drop an exe onto it), automatic relative pathes... this list doesn't stop ;)

Jim 2007-11-18 04:19

Been using this for a long time and spent ages setting up my apps (I actually use it instead of Windows Start!). Something locked XP yesterday (something clashing with MSN) and despite repeated attempts to get it to log me off or reboot, I ended up powering off. Everything came back fine, except PStart. When I loaded it, all my entries were gone. I have no idea whether this was the fault of PStart or not, but I can't be bothered setting it all up again unless I know it's not a bug. Needless to say, I didn't have a backup of the xml file. I didn't think I needed one as in the event of my HDD failing, it would be academic. Oh well.

GL 2007-12-04 11:11

The XML file can corrupt if PStart is still running when you log out or shut down your computer, or if your computer crashes. I've had no problems when I'm careful to open PStart, exit the program, then use the "Safely Remove Hardware" feature to turn off my USB drive before logging off Windows XP. Also, the tip above about using the PStart.xml backup feature is a good one to heed.

Spyke 2007-12-22 10:57

I downloaded PStart just to see what it does. I have now 'Cleared' my desktop and use PStart.
It's easy to use, 'clean' and stays out of the way when i don't need it.
I recommend it highly.

Mancubus 2007-12-29 11:24

Hi everyone!

Lately I have encountered a very strange problem with PStart. I have a HUGE collection of a portable soft for different purposes, around seven hundred programs. All of them are carefully listed in PStart, divided into groups, subgroups, each group has its own icon etc. At some moment I noticed that PStart has mixed all icons. I tried to rebuild the icon cache but it didn't help a lot. When I open a panel and change Items size in Settings and then switch it back, it helps for some time, but not for long, and doesn't solve the mixed icons in a right-click menu at all. :-(

Does anyone have any ideas why is it so and how to solve it?

Thank you!

Mancubus 2007-12-29 11:26

P.S. It happens now on every computer I run my set up PStart on, so the problem is not in the system.

gi-minni 2008-02-04 23:17

This program is the best program I ever found so far. It even works with Wine a Windows Emulator under Linux and can be displayed in an UltraVNC session. The other menus are invisible.

Lyx 2008-02-22 05:02

Wonderful application. Basically the only thing i miss is the ability to automatically disable "sensors" when a fullscreen-app is running. Whenever i launch a fullscreen game, i need to remember to shutdown pstart beforehand, so that i would not accidentally trigger the sensors while playing the game. Even a quick option to disable sensors temporarily would help here.

Technomancer 2008-03-06 03:17

I've been using PStart for some months now and it's enabled me to not only run stuff from my pendrive without having to search through the folders to find what i want, but installed on my laptop has helped me to clear all my desktop completely and run a program, (or more than one), quickly and without fuss.
My colleagues are frustrated by this because when they use my laptop, they can't find what they are looking for nutil i show them PStart. They all want it now.

I haven't had any problems with it as yet and i give it 10/10 for well written, easy to use software.

Technomancer 2008-03-06 03:20

Re Mancubus.
Do you think that so many programs in the menu might be the cause?.

Try a fresh, clean install of PStart and gradually add items to the menu and see if it reaches a point wher the problem re-occurs.

Gmacri 2008-03-06 14:29

PStart is indeed the best launcher I found, and also is portable.
It can search for files and can take notes with personalized colours.
I set an autorun.inf file in my flashdrive so when my USB drive is inserted Pstart menu can launch, with a personalized icon in the explorer.
A good idea is: always save a backup of your XML file in a secure place.

m-p{3} 2008-04-06 14:48

Until now PStart was the only application to correctly behave as I wanted. The only feature I miss is the auto-eject when closing PStart, which is nicely done in Portable Start Menu 1.3

That's one main feature PStart is behind another launcher.

Raj(india) 2008-05-02 23:04

I find RunIT to be very powerful. Does not stay in tray. menu pops up with hotkey. Sadly, development has stopped long time back.

Reidar Abrahamsen 2008-06-01 05:54

I like PStart a lot but I have 2 major problems:

1. When I plug it into a new machine it gets a different drive letter and I have to reload the apps.

2. It is still running as a process after I exit it. I have to go into Task Manager to stop the process before I can eject the pen drive.

Do anybody have solutions to this?
Please let me know.

The Seabat 2008-06-05 14:09

Forget about WinPenPack. That is a clunky, over bloated pile of junk that is a nightmare to configure and set up. Stay with PSart and you'll be happier, lots!

modemman 2008-08-08 08:14

Reidar: Put EjectUSB (you'll find it on this site) on the same drive and add it to the PStart menu. When you're ready, just run it, it will close all apps and processes that use your drive (incl. PStart) and then eject. I have an NDAS drive I use with portable apps and it is usually a pain to find and close every process (not just apps) that accesses the drive and unmount manually. EjectUSB works for me 99.5% of times. I still find PStart to be the best.

TRISTAN 2008-08-12 15:10

One of the best programs I ever found. Very very handy!

torks 2008-09-05 05:42

what a find! i've been a fan of portableapps for quite a while, which granted, has a beautifully rendered launcher...but it's out the window now. PStart is much quicker and smarter choice. Genius :o)

xod 2008-10-22 09:20

@modemman: just wanted to say the same =)...use EjectUSB and be patient once you've started it, it will say when it's ok to disconnect the great!

PStart is very nice indeed, but the autorun.inf doesn't work (may be it's my pendrive...corsair survivor), it appears in the autostart menu when I stick it in the USB Port but when I click on it, it just refuses to open with some error-message...why is that and how could it be solved? What about ASuite (yeah, I's some kind of PStart affront jens =D)?

thx for your great work anyways!

The Fox 2008-10-30 21:34

What's its compatibility with scan disk's U3 LaunchPAD?

The Fox 2008-11-06 17:28

EjectUSB works fine but some systems read it as a Trojan, which my school computer does.

The Fox 2008-11-06 17:32

Is there a way to not have PStart run at startup?

Ivan iz Samari 2009-02-02 12:42

As well as every other application - you can put it in autostart.inf. Look in wikipedia

Asiangotchi 2009-03-27 18:58

Wow! Great program. Now I don't have to open Windows Explorer all the time to get to the programs I need. ^^

GEOvanne 2009-04-05 15:58

ive tried other portable start menus and pstart is still me favorite. I had a problem with the xml becoming corrupt, so i made a backup of my settings then deleted pstart, i installed it again and restored my settings from the backup, its been working good since then. i think it has to do with pulling out the drive before fully closing pstart.

i wish the code was open source, cause there are alot of aesthetic changes i want to make to it.

GEOvanne 2009-04-05 16:01

i use it on my U3 device because the U3 start menu only allows U3 apps. so i only use pstart, iv only ever use the U3 menu to eject

Pete 2009-04-13 04:37

the galacticos choice for me
PStart 211+Launchy
Absolutely no problems, more time for my own works...

semiRocket 2009-04-24 13:30

@Raj(india) I have tried RUNit, and I must say this app is looks great. It's a shame that is NOT portable, cause' it writes all it's settings to %WinDir%\runit.ini

If anyone is interested here's the link
Last version thrown up is from 99'. The app supports Win95 also

Lego-Fone 2009-07-11 00:57

As a new user and looking at previous posts with troubles with corruption pointing to unloading, reminds me of this:

Note: When running in traveler mode, the TrueCrypt driver is unloaded when it is no longer needed (e.g., when all instances of the main application and/or of the Volume Creation Wizard are closed and no TrueCrypt volumes are mounted). However, if you force dismount on a TrueCrypt volume when TrueCrypt runs in traveler mode, the TrueCrypt driver will not be unloaded when you exit TrueCrypt (it will be unloaded only when you shut down or restart the system). This prevents various problems caused by a bug in Windows (for instance, it would be impossible to start TrueCrypt again as long as there are applications using the dismounted volume).

Is this why EjectUSB seems to work ? I think so, and look forward to using Pstart with hindsight. Thanks to the developer and useful FAQ.

dianoga 2009-08-14 21:28

not completely related, but thanks Lego-Fone for that tip. I was just trying to figure out why my TrueCrypt would not load again after dismounting earlier. Now I think I see why. But I don't remember force dismounting..Hmm..
To stay on topic. Yes Pstart is great! Just remember to exit Pstart before you dismount or turn off system.

millerjohneric 2009-10-18 17:15

I keep looking for a replacement for this....NOTHING comes close.

JORDATECH 2009-12-16 04:01

All in all this program was quickly thrown together and has but one purpose to stress the user out. This program is good in some cases but lacks in the crucial part file transfer what you have with Pstart is a basic shortcuts menu that doesn't even self establish the appl menu you have to manually do that.

Rob 2009-12-23 00:28

Runit is portable. Use a link or batch file to the executable. Taken from web site: pass the path of the .ini-file as a command line parameter to RUNit.exe so you are no longer stuck to c:\windows\runit.ini i.e D:\Programs\RunIt\Runit.exe D:\Programs\RunIt\runit_config.ini Works on XP and Vista.

semiRocket 2010-06-09 16:18

OMG, used PStart for a very long time until one day its XML got filled with nuls and all my settings were gone. If you must use PStart backup its XML regularly!

Anyway I switched to ASUite now, it's a little slower and takes more time to load etc... but at least it's making backups of its XML.

Windowpains 2010-07-31 05:29

This application is the BOMB!!!!!! It works well with just about anything but the two places I have found it useful are the establishing of a front-end to a portable drive, and for grouping all common but miscellaneous applications into one shortcut which can then be called by Windows or other shell or File Management system. This is nice because it brings order where none was previously possible. Great work, guys!

Kayg 2011-02-02 22:46

Recently started using PStart to build WinPE disks for various environments. Problem I am having is that when I copy PStart.exe over to the mounted wim image (for building the WinPE) and then copy the PStart.xml over - no matter where I put the .xml on the disk it fails to list the apps I have put into PStart. Any help would be appreciated.

It's WinPE 3.0 btw
kayghunter at gmail dot com

Thanks in advance.

portafreeuser 2011-02-26 00:22

I tried this program and I liked it, but i didnt ultimately keep it because I'm already using Appetizer and Executor. I use Appetizer like an autoexec.bat and use Executor to launch programs. I highly suggest those as an alterternative for those who are avoiding the xml corruption issues here.


donald 2011-02-26 01:42

@kayg Are you transferring all programs and file structures?? And was everything set up portably? ie are you using portable applications from the same drive, and is it the same drive as your pstart menu? is pstart set up portably or is it installed to your hard drive?

@portafreeuser You should know it is possible to backup the xml file very easily. It is also possible to set a copy of it to read only as well.


Sean 2011-03-15 18:40

I use my flash drive on several computers whose security software is not kept up, so I use a flash drive with a write protect switch. Unfortunately PStart tries to write to something on startup. I have to hit "continue" *several* times before it will run. Is there a way that we can change it to read only, until specifically told to write something?


webfork 2011-03-15 18:56

Sean: good question, but no I don't think there's a way to run the program from read-only media without complaints.


bublible 2012-03-01 00:37

Could you PLEASE add option for "DELAYED STARTUP" (with defined delay in miliseconds/seconds - user could just write the number) to PSTART for any applicaiton in it that has set "AUTORUN: ON STARTUP"? I really miss this option a lot! :-(


webfork 2012-03-01 01:08

bublible: recommend contacting the author directly for that via the website link.


bublible 2012-03-01 12:22

@webfork: thank you for your answer - I did ;-)


JohnTHaller 2012-03-01 17:39

bublible: PStart is no longer actively developed.


_joepie_ 2012-04-13 16:48

I like PStart a lot an use it every day, but I would like to run two PStart menu's at the same time, unfortunaltely that doesn't work.
I use one for my most used prog's (Drive D:) and would like another menu extra when working on my webshop with all the nescesairy software together (Drive E:).
I installed PStart on both drives, but on automated startup at Windows start, only one menu pop's up.
Is there a way to use PStart so that I can do that..??


webfork 2012-04-13 21:14

_joepie_ do it all the time. The program should allow multiple instances without special configuration. Please post your settings in forums.


_joepie_ 2012-04-14 10:47

@webfork, which part of the settings, or do you mean the xml files..?


webfork 2012-04-14 14:31

joepie: system specs, what your autostart looks like on the drives, etc.


_joepie_ 2012-04-15 00:11

@webfork: problem solved;
This is what happened, I had a version of PStart from 4 years ago running on my PC at the D-drive.
When I installed the newest version of PStart on my E-drive I replaced the old version of PStart on the D-drive at the same time, however only the menu of the E-drive was working.
After your last comment that I should work, I completely removed PStart from the D-drive and reinstalled it again.
Now everything works fine, I think that some remains of the old Pstart menu was interfering..does not matter anymore, I got what I want..!!
Great, thanks a lot Webfork...
_joepie_ makes a deep bow for WF.. :)


webfork 2012-09-22 19:54

The program does indeed have minor problems on Win7: I frequently have to restart in order to get to the "Panel" view. Based on developer activity to date, we are unlikely to see an update to fix this.


albert 2017-04-12 22:18

The best launcher I've never used. It works very well in Windows 10, and only in 769KB.
I've love it very much.


Post your comment