I am seeking a - preferably gratis - program to copy (only) a single installed program from one Windows PC to another. I am not interested in copying all apps & settings, just a single program.

This probably entails copying registry entries too, but I don't care so much about the mechanics of it, just the end result.

2 Answers 2


This may be impossible, you would need the information what the installer exactly did (it may include COM registration, external dependencies like DirectX etc). Even if a tool can diff the different states before and after the installation, the setup could have skipped the installation of a dependency because it was already installed on the first computer, but may be missing on the second.

What you can try though, copy all files of the target directory to the new computer, if you are lucky this already works out.

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    Even though this answer is likely disappointing to the OP, I agree with the accuracy of this answer. The only exception I can think of is if you run a system monitor program before installing the app that you want copy, and then copy the target app using the results of the monitor program onto a virtually identical system. But that's an edge case, and I think this answer will be accurate (and therefore helpful) in ~99% of cases. Apr 1, 2021 at 9:30
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    @Mawg - If your situation involves the edge case I mentioned above, just ping me, and I'll recommend some quality software to help. But you'll need to run the software I would recommend before and after the installation of the target app. Apr 1, 2021 at 9:32
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    @rock, sorry, too late to run before. Both, no old technology like Active X or COM. I haven't tried yet, but will - I reckon copy the directory, export registry entries and run something like Dependency Walker to get the necessary DLLs ought to do it. I could ask on SuperUser for confirmation of that theory, and will try it & report back here, but was wondering if there is a clean solution with an app, as appropriate to ask at this site Apr 1, 2021 at 9:42
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    @MawgsaysreinstateMonica Yes, I figured it was likely too late to run before. The issue you are facing is one of the big downsides of how Windows (every version since at least Windows 95) is designed and operates. Exporting and importing/copying registry entries and dependencies will likely give you the best shot at it. I give it 50-50 odds to work! :) I've run into the same situation a couple times, and my solution was to find a different suitable app or write a new one myself. With today's virtual machines, you can experiment in a VM instead of your primary OS environment.Good luck to you! Apr 1, 2021 at 9:55
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    @MawgsaysreinstateMonica You may also find Process Explorer and Process Monitor to be helpful. The are both gratis and available here: docs.microsoft.com/sysinternals Apr 1, 2021 at 9:57

There are applications that do allow you to do things like this, but to use them successfully, you should have a strong understanding of how they work and what their limitations are. Generally they work pretty good for most applications, but any software you install which is licensed by machine and may have any measures to strongly tie or enforce the licensing to the machine(s) it is licensed for, typically will not work.

Currently, in my experience, the types of applications that do this are installation builder applications which are usually meant for software developers to package up and provide an installer for end users to run on their PC. Some of these offer a feature called a repackager. One in particular I'm familiar with is InstallSheild which has had that feature for as long as I can recall. However, InstallShield is not a free solution. It is not even remotely what one might call an inexpensive application, as it is a tool that is typically sold to professional software developers and large organizations.

Any of the tools I have ever seen that have this type of functionality will always require you todo this as a specific step. In other words, you cannot do it after the fact (after the software is already installed). You must start with the repackaging software/step before you install the application, so the repackager can monitor or snapshot the changes that occur on the system.

I'm sure there are at least a few other similar applications, but this is the only one I have any recent experience with. I have never seen anything in recent years that would have this kind of functionality at a price point a non-professional would afford a license for. If there is something recent that does, I would certainly love to hear about it and check it out also. There used to be a product by Symantec that was very affordable, but this was back in the Windows 95/98 era and it was discontinued after a short time on the market. I assume it might have been killed off due to their acquisition of Wise, which used to have a competing product to InstallShield.

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