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.
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.
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.
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.
The Windows Live Writer Tour
Here is what you’ll find in the HOME tab:
- 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).
- 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).
Here is what you’ll find in the INSERT tab:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
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:
- Open up a new post.
- 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).
- Once it’s formatted to your liking, go to the SOURCE tab on the bottom of WLW and copy the HTML code.
- 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.
- If you don't already have WLW on your computer, download it for free.
- Set up your blog in WLW.
- Compose and publish a post. It can be a book review, a meme, or even your Bloggiesta Starting Line post.
- 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.
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