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How to do a Portable Install of REAPER on Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux

Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2017

If you install Reaper with the "portable install" option selected, it places the entire program and associated configuration, themes, hotkey settings, etc, into a single directory (rather than the traditional method of installation, which is not fully self-contained.)

This has a few advantages:

  • You can install different versions or configurations of Reaper, and they do not bother each other (or a regular Reaper install). If you're done with one, you can just delete the folder, and it will do no harm to the rest of your installs.
  • You can put your portable install on a flash drive and take it with you for use on other computers: your entire Reaper working environment travels with you.
  • You can back up your entire Reaper environment, or make an experimental duplicate of it, simply by copying the portable install folder.
  • Before reporting a bug, you can try to reproduce it in a portable install, since all settings are at their defaults.


Windows:

  • Enable "Portable install" on the first step of the installation, and click "Browse..."
  • Make a new folder, name it whatever you want, and continue with installation as normal.
  • You'll notice that certain install options are disabled, such as "Desktop icon", "Start menu shortcuts", etc. This is normal for a portable install.
  • Once the install is complete, simply open the folder and run reaper.exe. You can easily create a desktop or start menu shortcut to reaper.exe. (It might be a good idea to rename the shortcut according to which portable install it points to.)
  • See the "All Platforms" section below


Mac OS X:

  • Make a new folder named whatever you want.
  • Download the .dmg file from from reaper.fm.
  • Open the .dmg file and copy REAPER64.app (or REAPER32.app) into the folder you created (instead of into your Applications folder).
  • Create an empty text file named "reaper.ini" inside the folder. You can do this with TextEdit -- but make sure that you save it as a "plain text" file (not a rich text file.)
  • After the text file is created, select it in the Finder and go to the menu item File -> Get Info. Disable the "Hide extension" checkbox, and you will see that the Name is actually "reaper.ini.txt". Rename it to "reaper.ini". Hit return, and when prompted if you are sure, choose 'Use .ini".
  • Run the REAPER64.app file. See the "All Platforms" section below for notes on configuring your new install.
  • You can put a shortcut to REAPER64.app in your application dock if you like. (It might be a good idea to rename the shortcut according to which portable install it points to.)
  • See the "All Platforms" section below


Linux:

Linux installs are portable installs by default, except that the configuration directory is kept at ~/.REAPER. To make what is effectively a portable install, simply repeat the normal installation procedure for a different directory, and swap out .REAPER config directories as needed. But do see the following section:



All Platforms -- after you have installed:

  • You will need to import your license key into the portable install. Find reaper-license.rk by running your regular Reaper install and choosing "Options -> Show REAPER resource path in explorer/finder...". You are allowed to install a license as many times as you want, as long as you use it on one computer at at time.
  • You may want to export the configuration from a different Reaper install and import into the new install. (Preferences -> General -> Export configuration...)
  • If you are not importing configurations you will also need to configure your audio device.
  • Your plugins (VST, etc.) will be found once Reaper is configured to see the proper folders. (This is likely to happen automatically on the mac, and might happen on windows as well.)
  • ...however your plugins are not contained in a portable install: they typically live in a separate directory, so they won't "travel" with your portable install if you run it on another computer. (Many plugins can be made portable, but that's out of the scope of this article.)
  • If you use the SWS extension, you will need to install it as well: configuration export/import will not transfer the SWS extension (although it should transfer configurations related to SWS). When installing SWS to a portable install, simply point it to the portable install folder when prompted.