Install your no-install apps with ZipInstaller

ZipInstaller is a small program that can streamline no-install apps in zip files such that they are extracted in the right place, and provides these with shortcuts in the start menu and desktop, as well as an uninstall entry in Windows’ add/remove control panel.

There are so many reasons to like programs that don’t need to be installed; (a) they can be copied onto USB and portable drives and accessed on-the-go from any computer, (b) they can be placed anywhere on the hard drive that you wish, and (c) in most cases they do not write anything to the registry, and can simply be delete in lieu of a formal uninstall.

However, as the number of no-install programs I have downloaded have proliferated, I’ve noticed the following patterns: (a) programs unzipped and forgotten on the desktop, in my download directory, and other random places, (b) programs unzipped and completely forgotten, having no shortcut in the start menu to remind me of their existence, and (c) programs no longer needed but not removed, having no “uninstall” entry in Windows add/remove control panel to call attention to them when I am inclined to remove programs I no longer need.

Which is why I was excited to discover ZipInstaller. This is a very simple executable that can “install properly almost any software compressed in Zip files that doesn’t provide an install/uninstall module”. All you have to do is simply run and point to a zip archive and it will do the following:

  • Extract all files from the zip archive and into the destination directory you select.
  • Creates shortcuts to the program in the start menu and desktop, and adds an uninstall module within Windows add/remove.

You might think: “in this case, why would I want the no-install version of a program in the first place”. The answer is that you can still copy the no-install software to a portable drive, and these programs still does not write to the registry. ZipInstaller merely standardizes the process of managing your no-install software, and in fact (at least in my case) increases the likelihood of my using the program in question and removing it from my system if I do not need it.

The verdict: another freeware utility from Nirsoft that’s brilliantly simple yet very useful. Recommended.

[Thanks to reader CT for bringing this program to my attention in the comments section of a previous post].

Version Tested: 1.21

Compatibility: WinAll.

Go to the ZipInstaller page to download the latest version (approx 39K).

Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started
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  • Alexey Romanov

    Would it be possible to make the actual link to the described programs more prominent?

  • taffit

    The way I handle no-install apps: I extract them to a folder named NoInstall (with subfolders like Graphics, Multimedia, Player, System, …). Then I put either MenuApp or ShortPopup in the root of the NoInstall folder. After you create a shortcut to the MenuApp- or ShortPopup-exe in your Quick Launch bar you have immediate access to all of your no-install apps in an organized manner without ever forgetting again about a certain tool.
    The nice thing about MenuApp and ShortPopup is that these menus are created dynamically, so if you add or remove a no-install app from the folder, the change is immediately reflected in the menu structure.

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  • rico001

    This would also be useful then to package zip programs you download that don’t install themselves — hence the name

    I looked over the website. Their doesn’t seem to be an option to add an quicklanch icon to the desktop.

    Doesn’t adding an uninstall module within Windows add/remove write to the registry?

  • y0himba

    I have been using this for years. It’s one of the first things to go on a computer when I get one or format one. So convenient, simple, and absolutely INVALUABLE.

  • CT

    @taffit – I really like “MenuApp” and “ShortPopup” – I’ve got to see how they work out, long term! ;-) THANKS!

    @rico001 – There is a check-box to choose whether or not to add a desktop icon – ALL programs in your ‘Start Menu’ have Registry entries, but yes, there are also entries for the ‘Uninstall’ option, which isn’t required, and also is a check-box item. I see that there is an “Ability to create self-install executables. (/selfexe command-line parameter)” in ZipInstaller.

    Usint ZipInstaller beats creating a sub-folder in the C:\Programs directory, unzipping the program files into it, creating shortcuts, and then copying the shortcuts to the Start Menu and Desktop – It’s (optionally) just a simple Right-Click option with ZipInstaller! :-D

    Many of the ‘No-Install’ tools on my Thumb Drive are useful every day, so I install them on my Hard Drive & Start Menu!

  • Joe

    @taffitt and CT: Rather than running an extra program using MenuApp or ShortPopup, you can create a new toolbar in the taskbar. Right-click on the taskbar, and under Toolbars, choose Add New Toolbar, then browse for the folder you want. You’ll then have a popup menu for that folder and its subfolders.

    If you want one that uses relative paths, so it’ll run from your USB drive no matter what drive letter is assigned to it, try PStart or Asuite. I sync my USB drive with a folder on my hard drive and run my portable apps from there. PStart is invaluable to me.

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  • CornTallGoYoungGoYoung

    I never looked for this kind of program since I’ve found ZIP2EXE, a program part of open-sourced NSIS ( bundle.

    It’s basically a dumbed-down NSIS-installer using ZIP as input and generate install executable you can carry around.

    The best part is, if you want more customization you can drop ZIP2EXE and just use NSIS, which is not so difficult to learn, and capable to create professional-like installers. AND it doesn’t suck.

    Well, try that with ZipInstaller!

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  • taffit

    @Joe: Thanks for the tip, didn’t know about this. Programs like ShortPopup and MenuApp are nice however if you run applications directly from the stick: it doesn’t matter on which client I am, I just have to start one exe. Oh, and naturally you can customize the shown menu, f.i. to display just files with certain extensions, with icons, without icons, show special folders like the control panel, hotkeys for some menus, display at certain position, hide some items from the menu…
    PStart I already know, it is also a very valuable application, the only thing I don’t use it regulary is that it scans only for executables and it doesn’t build the index dynamically.

  • taffit

    Sorry, forgot to say that at least ShortPopup doesn’t have to run always in the background, it only runs when started, shows the menu and exits afterwards. MenuApp runs in the background to display the menu much quicker as the results of the last run are cached (you can disable this feature).
    Another feature: MenuApp will also display the contents of a folder if you just have a shortcut to it in your menu folder structure… The possibilities are endless ;-)

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  • Spyder Z

    OMG…. Folder>Forget Phenomenon as well, and it’s worse when you have a specific need you download a (Zip Only) program for, and then forget what it was. As I said <3. ^.^

  • bartman2589

    I know this is kind of an old thread but to those whining about ZipInstaller not making installers, you must not have read the documentation for it. ZipInstaller is very capable of making standalone installers for whatever .zip file encased program you want, you just have to use a few command line options to generate the .exe installer. Myself I use a Nautilus action script associated with .zip files (in Linux, but it should be easy enough to write a .vbs script or a batch file to do the same thing for Windows, you can even put a shortcut to any such .vbs file or batch file on the desktop to use it as a drop target if you’re clever enough) so I can generate an installer so I can run the program under WINE if I want, this makes it a little easier to clean up if I don’t like a particular program, and if I do then I have a nice handy installer that I can use to install the program on my Windows machines. And to those who whined about it not offering an option to create a Quicklaunch shortcut, I’d like to point out that not every program with an installer does this either, besides if you’re too damned lazy to drag and drop a copy of the desktop shortcut into the Quicklaunch bar (takes like 5 seconds tops) then maybe you need to lay off the fast food for a bit and take up jogging instead of being a mouse potato 24/7.