Tutorials/Playing and saving Minecraft on a thumb drive

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This tutorial explains how to run Minecraft on a portable drive. This is useful if you want to retain your game data (launcher profiles, worlds, resource packs, etc.) when switching computers.

The primary focus of this guide is to create an installation of Minecraft on a portable drive. However, the exact same steps can be followed to create a portable installation of the game; that is, an installation that is not so "integrated" with the computer, which is useful for managing multiple installations and generally keeping things organised.

Please note that this tutorial will only work with the modern 2.0 launcher, thanks to the addition of the --workDir option. It will not work with the older launchers. Another thing to note is that while this guide was written specifically for Windows, it is still largely applicable to other operating systems.


For the sake of this explanation, this tutorial will guide you through installing the game to D:\Games\PortableMinecraft\. However, this guide can be used to install the game to any directory. When following this guide, replace this directory with the directory you actually want to install the game to.

Before making the game portable, it is important to move all existing game data to the desired directory. Navigate to the portable drive in the file explorer, and create the D:\Games\PortableMinecraft\ directory. Navigate to the .minecraft folder and copy all of its contents (but not the folder itself) into D:\Games\PortableMinecraft\.

Once the game data has been moved to the new directory, you now need to move the launcher there too. Simply move Minecraft.exe to D:\Games\PortableMinecraft\.

Now all files are in place, the last step is to create a shortcut to the launcher. This shortcut must also be in D:\Games\PortableMinecraft. Once the shortcut has been created, right-click it and select Properties. In the Target field, append --workDir ..\PortableMinecraft to the end of the string that is currently there. Once done, the full Target field should read: D:\Games\PortableMinecraft\Minecraft.exe --workDir ..\PortableMinecraft.

Everything is now finished. When you want to play, just use the shortcut to launch the game. Do not start the launcher directly (without using the modified shortcut), or the game will just use the default directory in %APPDATA% as its working directory. It is recommended to set the launcher's executable to have the "hidden" attribute to avoid accidentally running it.

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