What is Windows Live Writer and How to Use It {Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge}

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge

Jacinda from The Housewives of Indiana did an amazing Bloggiesta mini-challenge on Windows Live Writer 2 years ago. (I’d link to it but her domain is now home to an escort agency, which I’m not going to drive traffic to.) I directed a lot of people to her post because it was informative and well done. Sadly, Jacinda closed up her blog and the post is no longer available. I am constantly pushing recommending WLW so I ran it by Jacinda and she has given her blessing for me to write up a post on WLW.

Windows Live Writer

I've been using Windows Live Writer (WLW) for the past 4+ years. The reason I started using WLW was because I was having problems with the formatting on Blogger. Blogger is notorious for having wonky formatting issues. Quite often I hear bloggers not only having formatting problems but about Blogger not publishing scheduled posts on time and Blogger losing posts altogether. I know someone who lost an entire review index on Blogger. She has no idea where it went; it just vanished. And if that happens, if Blogger loses your blog post, what does one do? Well, first, you stop using Blogger to compose, format, publish, and schedule your posts and you start using WLW. And I’m going to tell you how to do it. 

TIP: I use WLW to format my blog pages as well. Whenever I need to update my About page, review index, or any other page, I update it using WLW then copy the HTML code and paste it into Blogger.

What is Windows Live Writer?

WLW is a free Windows-based program used to compose and publish blog posts. It’s a visual WYSIWYG blog editor. You can save your posts as a draft, publish them right on the spot, or schedule them to publish at a future date. WLW is used in place of a blogging platform’s own post editor.

TIP: You can use WLW for multiple blogs. I use it for 2 blogs: The Book Vixen and A Novel Challenge. You can easily switch back and forth without having to log out and log back in again.

Why use Windows Live Writer?

The main reason I use WLW is for the Dynamic Template plug-in. Another reason I use it is because it saves a copy of each blog post on my computer's hard drive, before and after the post has been published. Plus WLW is so user friendly, you don’t have to know HTML to use it.

Windows Live Writer Compatibility

WLW is available for Windows-based computers. Unfortunately, WLW is not compatible with Mac computers (unless you’re running Parallels and have a licensed copy of Windows OS). If you have a newer Windows computer, you may have WLW already installed on your computer. If you don't, you can download Windows Live Writer directly from Microsoft for free. WLW works with Blogger, WordPress, TypePad, LiveJournal, among other blogging platforms.

How to Get Started with Windows Live Writer

Once you have WLW installed on your computer, you will need to set up your blog. After you setup your blog in WLW, I highly recommend downloading the free Dynamic Template plug-in.

TIP: You can edit posts that were published prior to using WLW.

The Windows Live Writer Tour

Here is what you’ll find in the HOME tab:

Windows Live Writer

  • Clipboard – Cut, Copy, and Paste (I just use Ctrl X, C, and V).
  • Publish – The Publish button will publish or schedule your post; you can choose which blog you’ll be posting to (in my image you can see that I’m composing a post for The Book Vixen); and you can post your draft to blog (good to use when you need to work on your post from a different computer).
  • Font – Font, font size, bold, italicize, underline, strike through, subscript, superscript, highlight, font color.
  • Paragraph – Bullet point lists, numbered lists, block quote, text alignment (left, centered, right, and justified).
TIP: To schedule a post to publish at a future date, click on the calendar to select the day you wish to schedule your post, then select the time. Don’t forget to change the AM/PM accordingly!


Windows Live Writer

  • HTML styles – Paragraph, heading 1, 2, 3, etc.
  • Insert – Hyperlink, picture (from your computer or the web), video (from your computer or the web).
  • Editing – Spell check, word count, find, select all (to select everything in your post; I just use Ctrl+A).
TIP: When adding a hyperlink, check out the options available. You can make the hyperlink open up in a new window (WLW inserts a target="_blank" tag). Click on the ADVANCED button and you’ll be able to insert a rel="nofollow" tag as well. You can also add the link to your ‘automatic link’ list. When you save a link to your automatic link list, the next time you type out the text, WLW will automatically hyperlink it. Perfect for when you mention an author, blogger, or other website.

Here is what you’ll find in the INSERT tab:

Windows Live Writer

  • Breaks – Horizontal line, clear break, split post (aka a “jump” or “read more” break).
  • Table – Inserts a table, you set the width and number of rows and column.
  • Media – Hyperlink, picture, photo album, video, map (it uses Bing), post tags (Technorati, del.icio.us, etc.), emoticon. Just kidding
  • Plug-ins – Whatever plug-ins you add, they will show up in the box (like the Dynamic Template plug-in).

Here is what you’ll find in the BLOG ACCOUNT tab:

Windows Live Writer

  • Blog options – Settings for your blog.
  • Shortcuts – Clicking ‘view blog’ will bring up your blog in your internet browser.
  • Theme – Clicking on ‘blog theme’ will change the editor so that it displays your post as it would look like on your blog. (I don’t like this view because it only shows your blog background and not much else. I’d rather see what my post would look like on my actual blog, so I use the PREVIEW tab on the bottom of WLW.) I will ‘Update theme’ when I change something aesthetic on my blog, like the background or header.

Here is what you’ll find in the PICTURE TOOLS tab after you’ve inserted an image:

Windows Live Writer

  • Size – This is where you can crop your image and resize it.
  • Rotate – You can rotate your image or tilt it.
  • Picture styles – Add borders, use picture effects, and watermark your image.

Windows Live Writer

  • Properties – Hyperlink an image to a website (like a book cover to Goodreads or Amazon) and add alt text to your image.
  • Settings - Revert to original (if you need to start over with the image) and set to default. I used the ‘set to default’ option to automatically align and resize any image I add a certain way, the way I want book covers to look (since I use images mainly for book reviews).
  • Alignment – Align inline, left, centered, or right.
  • Margins – This is great to add margins between an image and surrounding text. (I had to add margins to the image below for the MENU tab because the bullet points weren’t showing up.)

Here is what you’ll find in the blue MENU tab:

Windows Live Writer

  • New post – Creates a new post. (I use Ctrl+N.)
  • Open local draft – Opens a post you saved on your computer. (I use Ctrl+O.)
  • Open recent post – Opens a post you saved as a draft on your blog. (I use Ctrl+O for this as well.)
  • Save – Saves your post. (I use Ctrl+S.)
  • Delete local draft – Deletes a post.
  • Publish – Publish or schedule a post. (I use the Publish button in the HOME tab.)
  • Print – Prints out your post.
  • Options – WLW settings. Take a look at this and the options available.
  • About WLW – Program properties.
  • Exit – Closes the program.

TIP: Go to Menu > Options and take a look around at the different setting options. In ‘Preferences’, turn on the “remind me to type a title/add categories before publishing” reminder. You will also find your ‘automatic link’ list here.

At the bottom of the WLW screen, you’ll see 3 tabs: EDIT, PREVIEW, and SOURCE. EDIT is the visual WYSIWYG editor. This is the tab I use when composing a post. PREVIEW lets you see how your post will look like on your blog. And SOURCE is the HTML code for your post. The very first TIP I shared in this post mentions that I use WLW to update my blog pages. I format my page (like my review index) in WLW. Once I have everything formatted to my liking, I go to the SOURCE tab, copy the HTML code, and paste it in Blogger as a page. When it’s time to update my review index, I update it in WLW and copy & paste the code in Blogger, replacing the existing code.

The Dynamic Template Plug-in

I absolutely love the Dynamic Template plug-in. I have templates for just about everything. If it’s something I post more than once, chances are pretty good that I have a template for it. To give you some ideas, here are some of the templates I have created:

  • Author guest posts – The book information section and about the author.
  • Book reviews – My entire book review format: book info, rating, Amazon and Goodreads wordage that I will link to.
  • Excerpts – I include a book information section and about the author.
  • Giveaways – The text image I use, the rules, etc.
  • Memes and features – I have a template for each meme and feature I do.
  • Book review ratings.

Once you have the Dynamic Template plug-in installed, it’s time to create a template. To create a template, like say a template for book reviews, here’s what you do:

  1. Open up a new post.
  2. Format your book review with general information (nothing book-specific). Think about what you include in your book reviews. I include book information (title, series, author, genre, publication date, etc.), my review format (what I liked, what I didn’t like, etc.), and the wordage for Goodreads and Amazon (which I hyperlink once I’m actually writing a book review).
  3. Once it’s formatted to your liking, go to the SOURCE tab on the bottom of WLW and copy the HTML code.
  4. On the top of WLW, click on the INSERT tab > Dynamic Template > Edit Templates > New. Name your template. Then paste the code into the Template Body section and click OK.

When you’re ready to use a template, click on the INSERT tab > Dynamic Template > the name of your template. The template gets inserted into your post and you are ready to fill in the rest of the information.

TIP: Check the Windows Live Writer Plug-ins directory for more plug-ins.

The Challenge

  1. If you don't already have WLW on your computer, download it for free.
  2. Set up your blog in WLW.
  3. Compose and publish a post. It can be a book review, a meme, or even your Bloggiesta Starting Line post.
  4. Extra entries:
    - insert an image
    - watermark the image
    - hyperlink the image
    - add a block quote
    - add a list, numbered or bullet
    - download the Dynamic Template plug-in and create a template (include a screen shot of your template and add it in your post)


*If you have any questions about WLW, leave a comment on this post.


One lucky challenge participant will receive a Kindle book of their choice ($10 USD or less). You can read a Kindle book on any of the free Kindle reading apps so you don’t need to own a Kindle device in order to enter. Good luck to all who enter!

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Must be 18 years old or older to enter.
  • Giveaway open Internationally, so as long as I can gift you the Kindle book using my Amazon.com account. Void where prohibited by law.
  • Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received.
  • You must use the Rafflecopter widget to enter giveaway. Please see Rafflecopter form information on how to enter this giveaway.
  • Please read TBV's Giveaway Policy before entering.
  • Giveaway ends 9:01 pm (Pacific Time) on 3/30/2014.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


  1. This is a great mini challenge. I have heard live writer is a good tool to use. Then you can write it offline and upload it. Sometimes I have problems with wordpress saving the right version when I write. But I am on a mac so I guess this won't work for me.

    1. Yeah, the only way you can use WLW on a Mac is if you are running Parallels. Sorry :/

  2. This is wonderful - I've been looking for a program like this for a while and this looks really good. Just downloaded it and I'll definitely do my bloggiesta posts with this one :)

    1. It really will making composing and formatting blog posts so much easier! Let me know if you have any questions when you get it up and running.

  3. So I should probably get the screenshot of the template before I actually do the post?

    1. Not sure I understand what you're asking. Are you referring to before you create a template? Or before using a template you've already created? Or something else?

  4. So i downloaded WLW, Made 2 templates, Posted my Bloggiesta Start-up post using WLW.
    Thanks for the tips :)


  5. Yay, I got it working and I love it. Wrote a review with it last night just to get some touch to it. Also made some templates ready for weekly memes I participate in, and downloaded the tagging plug-in since cleaning up tags was one of my goals of the bloggiesta list.

    The review I wrote with WLW can be found from here: http://readdbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/being-sloane-jabobs-by-lauren-morrill.html

    1. Awesome! And I like how you add your review-writing-playlist to your reviews!

  6. Awesome, awesome awesome!!!! I just love the new toy!
    I downloaded
    - WLW,
    - wrote my signup post,
    - downloaded the Dynamic Template Plugin and
    - the Word Count plugin
    - Extras:
    --added image
    --list with bullet points
    --image hyperlinked
    --block quoted twitter party schedule
    -- made a new template with Dynamic Template (will publish in updated blog post)

    1. I also watermarked the template I made that will appear in the Bloggiesta Spring 2014 post

    2. I love how you played around with everything!

    3. Your mini challenge was so great I had to try out everything!!! I'm soooooo glad you told me about Windows Live Writer.
      My update post link: http://wp.me/p3lbM9-d6

  7. I've been using WLW since Jacinda's post. It has saved my blogging sanity. (I do have a Mac so I use it with Parallels)

    I learned a few new things from this post though. Thanks!

    1. I'm glad you learned something new :)

      I even learned some new things when I was working on this post! I learned how to easily add rel="nofollow" tags, which I was manually adding in the Source tab. I also learned how to crop an image within the post.

  8. I've been using WLW for about two years - I learned about it in one of the previous Bloggiestas and I can't imagine ever blogging without it again. (The worst was when my computer crashed and I temporarily had to use Blogger interface.

    The only thing that bothers me with WLW is that if you have an image in your post, which I usually do, it reuploads the image every time you edit & republish the post, and since Blogger saves those images to a WLW album in picassa, there is a bunch of the same ones in there. I wish MS updated WLW so it remembered when it already uploaded an image. But still, it's a minor issue, all I had to do about it was set the WLW album to private and that's it.

    The pros definitely outweigh the cons.

    1. You could try using the Picasa plug-in. It does take a bit to load your album but you can insert pictures directly into WLW without having to open up your internet browser. Maybe that would prevent duplicate images being uploaded?

  9. I'm going to play a little more with this, but I set it all up and saved a draft to work on, we already have templates saved on Wordpress for our memes, but I'm definitely going to play around with this for readathon or even posts.

    1. Awesome! I am jealous that WP has built in templates but at least WLW does it too.

  10. Awesome this is something I have been looking for!!

  11. Bummer.. I have a MAC. I do have Parallels (for video games of course) so I am going to mess around and see if this works. I am unable to preview posts on Blogger anymore. It screwed up a while back and writing to Blogger for help is like talking to the wall. So I need a new program!

    My Bloggiesta Goals and Challenges

    1. If you have Parallels you should be able to run WLW (from what I've read online). That sucks about not being able to preview your posts in Blogger. WLW will definitely let you do that.

  12. I did Jacinda's mini-challenge years ago and have been using WLW ever since! The only problem I have is that the Twitter plugin I was using stopped working and no one has fixed it.

    1. Bummer! Have you tried uninstalling and re-installing the plug-in? If that doesn't work, you could use IFTTT to tweet your posts. Here's my tutorial on IFTTT: http://www.thebookvixen.com/2013/09/bloggiesta-mini-challenge-how-to-use.html

  13. Thanks for the info, it will help me get my writing back on track.


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