Portable PhpStorm

I use PhpStorm to write all of my code for my job at Automattic. It’s an amazing IDE and has made me so much more productive.

However I am an outlier at my company in that I use two different computers rather than only a laptop — my powerful desktop with a big screen at home and my super portable ultrabook laptop when on the go. In order to keep my working environment identical on both machines, I install all of my work applications in portable mode. That is they store their configuration options in files alongside themselves rather than in my user directory or in the computer’s registry. This allows me to keep the applications stored on Dropbox which in turn keeps them synced between my two machines.

PhpStorm by default stores your configuration settings in files inside of your user directory. This is ideal for multi-user machines where each user should have separate settings. This however doesn’t apply to me. So how do you get PhpStorm to store those settings somewhere else?

After installing PhpStorm inside of your Dropbox directory (I have a “Programs” folder for these kinds of things), you need to go into the bin folder inside of PhpStorm’s directory and then open up the idea.properties configuration file in your favorite basic text editor such as Sublime Text or even just Notepad.

EDIT: You don’t even have to install it. If you take the direct download link and swap out .exe for .zip, you’ll get a ZIP file containing all of PhpStorm. You can then extract it to your Dropbox. I’m sure the process is something similar for Mac users.

At the top of the file you’ll find some commented out that have values with ${user.home}/.WebIde/ in them. You need to uncomment these lines and then replace ${user.home}/.WebIde/ with something like ${idea.home}/prefs/ which will instead store things inside of a “prefs” folder inside of your PhpStorm folder.

Lastly you should probably copy the contents of your old .WebIde folder (instructions to locate it can be found here) into the new location so that you don’t lose your existing settings.

Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Portable PhpStorm

    • No you don’t actually need to install PhpStorm. If you take the download link and replace .exe with .zip, you can get the portable version of PhpStorm.

      However since you’re cross-platform, installing PhpStorm to Dropbox won’t be ideal for you. Instead I’d just edit your idea.properties file on each platform to point to your Dropbox folder. That way your settings will sync but your copies of PhpStorm won’t.

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