Creating standalone applications using VMwareThinApp

Discussion in 'Windows' started by neo_vi, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. neo_vi

    neo_vi Member

    Feb 1, 2008
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    VMware’s applications are very powerful. They are useful in many ways. In this tutorial we are going to see the power of VMware ThinApp. ThinApp is used to create standalone portable programs.

    Tools required

    VMware ThinApp – can be downloaded from
    This is paid software, but u can download some trail version, or u can register with them for a trail key.
    Any application you want to make it portable.

    NOTE: Some applications won’t work, they will crash. You cannot create applications which require dotnet framework support. Some will have other compatibility issues. But most of them will work perfectly. Don’t try to make portable windows XP with this application, U cannot do it. (LOL). For that you can download VMware Workstation.


    Installation is as usual except the license number. U can use the trail version by requesting them a key.


    There are two programs inside it
    1. VMware ThinApp Log monitor
      As the name says, log monitor will monitor the logs. Pre installation logs, post installation logs.. etc. You will know about it in detail in latter part of this tutorial.
    2. VMware ThinApp setup capture
      Setup capture helps the log monitor to produce the logs. It performs a scan and gives the output to the log monitor.
    Here I am going to use a freeware an ‘image viewer’. I hope I cannot tell the name for copyright issues.


    1. Open the setup capture dialog box and click next.
    2. here I am assuming that your default windows directory is ‘c:\’. If not goto advanced settings tab in the dialog box and change it.
    3. Click next to start the pre installation capture.
    4. A status message of ‘Saving Snapshot’ will be displayed and below that it will also display the file path which it is currently scanning.
    5. Please use this application in a clean PC. Clean PC means that the program you are creating as portable should not be installed before. If it is already installed, the setup capture will capture those things too, so you will be missing the necessary files to create a portable version of the software.


    In this step install the software which u wanna make as portable. Complete the installation, and if it asks for a reboot, Please select ‘reboot later’ and finish the installation.

    And also don’t run the program after installation. Configuration is important in the case of some programs. For example if you are making a game as portable, U have to specify the settings such as ‘full screen’ option, ‘sound’ etc. If you do so your portable version of the application will follow those settings.


    After completing the installation come to setup capture dialog box and click next.

    A status message ‘Post scan in progress’ will appear. It is creating a snapshot after the installation of our program.

    It will display the installed contents after the post scan. No need to select any thing. Just move on by clicking next.

    In the next screen, it will ask for sandbox location. You can leave with the default location (User’s profile). Select merged isolation mode in the next screen. Click next to create the project. It will display the error messages if it has. Usual errors are the target file may be locked by another process, couldn’t copy the temp file etc. No need to worry about the temp file. If it returns an error, please make sure that the target file is not locked and create the project again.

    In the final screen, there will be an option called ‘build now’. After few seconds ‘build complete’ message will appear. Click finish in the setup capture screen.

    Goto the installation directory of ThinApp and goto captures folder, inside that there will be a folder under the name of the program u created with ThinApp. Look for a directory named bin inside that. Check the exe file named with the program you created. That is the portable version or standalone version of the program you created. You can copy it to any folder or any system and run it standalone.

    You can close the log monitor after closing the setup capture screen.


    Extreme portability of application.
    No need to install anything, so you don’t have to worry about the user credentials (whether you are admin or limited user)
    The support files for the portable program will be created separately inside the folder
    ‘%system drive%\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Thinstall\’
    You can also build an MSI installer package with these files.


    Creating portable versions of programs and distributing it unauthorized is illegal. This tutorial is just for educational purposes and to explain the power of VMware applications. I am not insisting you to create any standalone versions. Modifying a program without writing to the author is a copyright violation. Use this tutorial to gain knowledge about the applications. If the program is under GNU GPL license you can modify it. But before that read the terms and conditions of the license.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2017
  2. indiansword

    indiansword Security Expert

    Oct 19, 2008
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  3. shabbir

    shabbir Administrator Staff Member

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