Escape From WordPress Post Editor Prison With Windows Live Writer

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I Love You WordPress, But We Gotta Talk

WordPress is a phenomenal web-publishing platform, and I love using it. Mostly. There’s one thing I seriously dislike about it though – writing posts within the WordPress dashboard. If I had a dime for every time I’ve walked away from my computer feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by this issue, there’d be an alarming shortage of dimes circulating the U.S.

First off, when I try to write something in the WordPress post editor, I feel thoroughly confined; like trying to breakdance inside a cardboard box. Not that I’ve done much breakdancing, and certainly never inside a box, but I assume it would be a rather unpleasant experience (if you happen to be a cardboard-box-breakdancer, feel free to debunk my assumption).

The other problem for me is distraction. It’s usually a challenge for me to write under the best of circumstances, but when my visual field is bombarded by the dizzying array of links, buttons, checkboxes and empty fields available in the WP dashboard, it’s like … fuhgeddaboudit.

Yes, I’ve tried some of the common tricks to overcome these problems. First, for example, I increased the height of the post box from the default 10 lines to 20 lines. You can do this in your WP dashboard under Settings >> Writing. It was a good start, but still far from optimal; just breakdancing in a slightly bigger box.

Then I tried using fullscreen mode when writing posts. This function is available only when writing in Visual mode (rather than HTML mode). It’s activated via the little, blue button on the toolbar next to the spellcheck button. With fullscreen mode, your enlarge the post editor box to cover the entire area of your screen.

That was a better approach, but it went too far in the other direction. I can’t stand to see text spread across the full width of my screen. The other problem with fullscreen mode is you have to switch back to normal editing mode whenever you want to save your draft, which I do a lot.

Windows Live Writer to the Rescue

In my effort to find a better way, I asked almighty Google to give me a solution, and of course she did (with a memory like that, Google has to be a woman). Of all the reviews and tutorials I found on the subject of “desktop blog editors, Windows Live Writer, again and again, was pronounced the cream of the crop. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. It’s free.
  2. Easy to install and set-up.
  3. Allows you to manage multiple blogs on multiple platforms (i.e. WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc).
  4. Clean, uncluttered interface.
  5. Complete WYSIWYG editing functionality.
  6. Excellent image editing functionality.
  7. Several cool, little extras like word count and spell check.

That’s a short list, and I also decided to do a brief screencast below to show you a bit more about it. Once you’ve had a chance to watch it, I’d suggest you run right over, download Windows Love Live Writer, and start using it. I’m sure it’ll give you a new lease on your blogging life. It has for me.

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Comments (25)

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  1. ondiz says:

    I’ve tried different solutions for mac but live writer on windows is the best…

  2. Ray says:

    Just tried this software out…works great. Especially useful for when I am on the laptop without internet access. I can write my posts and then just publish from the program when I get hookled up. Great tool. Thank!

    BTW…Google being a woman…too funny!

  3. RJ says:

    Now to just come up with more clever solutions for the comment box that doesn’t require third-party integration.

  4. Tenis Oakley says:

    Just love too posting in wordpress using windows live write. Its better than everything!

  5. Jon says:

    We’ve been using Live Writer for a almost 2 years now and whilst its not perfect its 100 X better than the WP editor.

    We like being able to swap blogs quickly, image borders helps us quickly create nice images….but the biggest advantage is having sooooo much more room to work with.

    A must for any blogger……

  6. Jarret says:

    Hey Michael, I just started writing my first blog post with Windows Live Writer. It’s 10x better!

    I have to admit that I feel the same way about the WordPress post editor. It’s been driving me crazy for years with either the 10 line editor screen or the enlarged version that expands to the full width–right to the edge of the screen.

    Either way, it’s simply not conducive to an enjoyable writing/editing experience.

    Oh, I’ve been using the Solostream Prosper theme on a few blogs for the past couple months. Its’ a great theme and I’ve been very happy with it. Let me know if you want a testimonial! One of my sites is doing very well in terms of traffic and is a Google News source.

  7. Traci says:

    Great, helpful post! I am going to go download WLW right now.

    As an aside, the analogy of breakdancing in a box was not lost on this 80s gal. What a great image! :-)

  8. Susan says:

    Absolutely, very cool. I also feel that claustrophobic feeling when writing a post within WordPress and this is definitely something I’m going to tinker with since it looks so easy to setup.

  9. jkavanagh58 says:

    Windows Live essentials, especially Writer seem to get overlooked. I love that in one Windows Live Writer session I can post on Sharepoint, blogspot and WordPress.

  10. Breigh says:

    I think this is one of the best tips you could ever give. I’ve been using WLW for as long as I can remember. The minute I started using WordPress I started looking for an alternative publisher and WLW gives everything you need. I love the addons you can get to make posting easier, like for inserting flickr photos etc.

    The only gripe I have is that the preview doesn’t seem to work with my theme. It just shows me the main page with all the posts. It’s a minor issue though, I just preview it after I post a draft to my blog.

    OH wait, no this is another gripe I have, no ability to add a featured photo through WLW. I always have to post a draft to my blog and then add the featured photo there. Not massively inconvenient but it would be great to be able to do it via WLW!

  11. Martin says:

    I have not used Live Writer for quite a while (ne year plus), has any progress been made with image handling? Making galleries [gallery], attaching images directly to posts etc?

    Does it include custom fields yet?

    Imo Automattic needs to build their own solution, if they can find the time to build iPhone apps and Mobile Themes, ten a WordPress specific desktop editor would probably prove more popular…

    • Image handle is pretty good. Not ideal. Haven’t played with galleries or attaching images, and as far as I can see there’s no custom field functionality.

      I think you should definitely send your suggestion to Matt; a WP-specific desktop blog writer would be the killer WP addon.

  12. Thomas says:

    Michael,

    Another great post amigo as well as a a superbly done video. I am downloading now ;o)

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