Windows Live Writer: Essential for Bloggers

20px|Windows Live Logo Windows Live WriterImage via Wikipedia
Windows Live Writer is quite possibly my favorite tool in the Windows Live Essentials package. When I found it I had just started my own blog with a couple of college buddies, and we were looking for a good freeware editor – copying and pasting text from Word into Blogger’s lackluster Web interface just wasn’t cutting it. Imagine my excitement when I found just such a product, developed by none other than Microsoft, free for all legitimate users of Windows XP, Vista and 7.

Jason has already written an excellent guide on installing the Windows Live applications, so I’ll skip those steps and assume you’ve already downloaded and installed the application.

Let’s start by opening Writer. When you first run it, a setup wizard should appear, but if it doesn’t just go to Blogs >> Add Blog Account.



Pick your poison
Pick your poison

Writer will give you the option of starting a new blog using Microsoft’s Windows Live service, or tying the program to a blog you already have. Since it supports Blogger, WordPress, TypePad and others, almost all blogs will work with the tool.

You’ll need to enter your blog’s URL and your login information. Writer may also ask if you’d like to let it publish a temporary post – let it, because this step will make it so that you can preview what your post will look like before publishing.

That’s all there is to setting the program up – we’re now ready to start using it.

Ready to write
Ready to write

Writer has three main tabs, located near the bottom of the screen. The Edit tab is where you’ll spend the majority of your time, as it’s where you’ll be writing your posts. The Preview tab will give you a complete preview of your page, with frames and ads and all. Of course, for people familiar with code you can always look at the code using the Source tab.

One pleasant surprise is how clean the code that Writer generates is – Word inserts all manner of strange strings into what looks like plain text, and it can play hell with your blog’s layout if you use any special code in the body of the post. Writer just does what you tell it to, and the result is good, clean code that is easy to edit.

In Edit mode, you can write, insert images and links, and do other text formatting – it works basically like a version of Word optimized for blogs, with standard font and paragraph settings. You can also insert pictures, videos, tables, bulleted lists, and other things.

Font, paragraph, and insert options
Font, paragraph, and insert options

Once you’ve inserted an image, Writer also gives you some easy ways to tweak them so they look just the way you want them to.

Image options
Image options

The Picture tab is the main one, and it’s here where you’ll position the image in your post and adjust margins and borders. The Advanced tab will allow you to change the image’s size, as well as do some simple cropping and rotating – you can also watermark images, if you’d like. The Effects tab allows you to manipulate the image in more significant ways, with greyscale and sepia-tone filters among others.

Saving and opening drafts as you work on them is also easy in Writer. You can save them to your local computer by using good old Ctrl + S, but you can also save them to your blog by clicking Save Draft and then Save Draft to Blog. Now, anytime you want to edit the post, hit Open and select your blog’s name.

Edit a post that has already been published
Edit a post that has already been published

You can open and edit any post or draft you’ve posted at any time, from any computer with Writer installed. It’s really handy if you use more than one computer over the course of the day.

So now you’ve got a fully-written post, and you’re ready to Publish. Great! Check the bottom of the screen – the long drop-down menu on the left contains a list of all your blog’s tags – pick and choose the ones that apply, or create a new one if you need to.

To the right of the tag toolbar, you’ll see the set publish date box. Fill in the date and time you want the post to go live – you can use this to schedule posts. If you finish something in the morning and want to post in the afternoon, set the it to post on that day at the desired time and click the Publish button in the upper left-hand corner. The post will go up, but won’t appear on your blog until the time you specified.

And that’s Windows Live Writer in a nutshell. I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool, and head-and-shoulders above any other product for Windows or OS X, especially given the price. Any serious blogger needs to give this one a shot.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

3 comments:

Post a Comment

thanks for making Comment here.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.