Make Darktable Portable on Windows

Are you using darktable on several Windows computers? I do and this means usually ending up with quite a messy system

with files in various stages on various PCs. The answer is: make darktable portable!

darktable can easily run from a USB thumb drive aka flash drive. All my data is on a 1Tb mechanical external HDD.

But first things first. Windows usually assigns a random drive letter when you plugin your external drive. This is not desirable and we need to tell Windows to use the same drive letter for the external drive on all your PCs. This is how we do that:

  1. Press Windows Key + R
  2. The Run window opens, type: compmgmt.msc
  3. The Computer Management window opens, click Disk Management
  4. Right click your external drive and click Change Drive Letter and Path…
  5. Do i.e. Change G: > OK
  6. Do that on all your PCs, obviously change to the same drive letter on all (If your external disk has already the target drive letter then change to some other drive letter and back to the target letter)

This is important for darktable to find your image folder in case they are on the same external drive, or to save your exported images.

We fixed the drive letter, next, darktable. The current version is 3.8.0 – but in an *.exe package. You want a *.zip package. Sometimes there is one around, most often not. So here is what you can do:

  1. Download and install the latest *.exe package. If you have already darktable installed, fine, just use that.

  2. Go to C:\Program Files\darktable and move/copy the whole folder to your external drive

  3. Open a text editor (notpad, notepad++ etc.) and type:

    start /d “G:\darktable\bin” darktable.exe –configdir G:\darktable\userdata\config

  4. Save the text file as i.e. darktableExt.bat – note the *.bat extension!

  5. Put this *.bat file on all of your PCs You do not have to create a \userdata\ folder, Windows creates that automatically when you start darktable first time. The database that is usually in C:\Users\YourNameHere\AppData\Local\darktable is now on your external drive and you have the same settings on all your PCs.

Note: This guide was first written for 3.0.1 – but it works on all darktable versions. You can also use it to install a DEV version, or any older version for whatever reason. This this version is run from your external drive it will not messup any other version on you installed, or external drive.

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