Windows Live Writer is a blog publishing tool. It does not take the place of blogging programs like Blogger or WordPress, it enhances your blogging experience by making posting to your blog fun, fast, and easy.
Windows Live Writer: If you click on this thumbnail, you'll see better what the application looks like once you've installed and begun to use it. There is a horizontal toolbar full of functions (which you can see below) and also a vertical sidebar which shows your Drafts, Recently Posted, and a list of Inserts which enhance the ease and writing of your posts.
Adding your blog: Once WLW is installed, you will have to integrate your existing blog with WLW by clicking on and then Add Weblog Account and clicking through the various stages. If you have more than one blog, you will do this each time you want to add a blog.
Update Style: In the tab you can choose Web Preview so that you will be able to see what your post will look like when it is published online. If you want to be able to do this, you will need to update the visual style of your blog as shown at the left. This is where WLW downloads all the pretty parts of your blog. In the course of updating, allow it to post a temporary post which will be deleted automatically. It is possible the post won't be deleted automatically. In that case, you will be notified and it is a simple matter of deleting the post manually. If this process does not seem to work and you get an error message that states that the style template used for editing your weblog posts could not be downloaded check this help/FAQ page. One common reason could be that you are posting to a blog you have chosen to keep private. When using Blogger, if you change permissions for a moment to be viewed by anybody, update your weblog style, and then change the permissions back, that may be all that is stopping the update download.
Writing posts: If you do post to more than one blog, choose the blog you want to compose your post in from the button where all your blogs are listed. Generally, I like that the style of my blog is integrated so I don't have to choose the font or font size unless there is a visual reason. This makes everything look unified on your blog and incidentally was what drew me to WLW in the first place. Pre-Blogger and pre-Broadband, I was in the habit of composing my posts in Notepad. When I began to use Blogger I would copy and paste my Notepad post into the Blogger Post Editor (the wysiwyg editor), but the published result was frequently not pleasing from a formatting standpoint. Conversely, publishing through WLW yields a very polished result. In the tab, WLW allows for font size and color choices as well as text and photo alignment. And if you are anal retentive (a person deemed to be overly obsessed with minor details) in this area as I am , you can tweak things more fully in HTML mode from the tab.
Saving posts: One of the best things about WLW is that you can save your post as a Local Draft which just keeps it safely tucked away for further writing at a later time. You can find it easily in the right hand sidebar under Drafts or from the button in the toolbar which houses all your Drafts and Recently Posted posts from all of your blogs. You can also save it as a draft online: Post Draft to Weblog. This might come in handy if you are working on a different computer later on and want to finish a post. This would mean that you had WLW installed on that computer as well as having your blog account added. Click on , choose the post, and WLW will call up your post from your Weblog online.
Inserting links: There is an additional plugin for this, but I have not tried it as inserting links seems pretty quick and straightforward already. One really nice thing is the Glossary Entry you'll find when you click on the button. You can choose links you use frequently so they can be inserted with one click rather than always typing or pasting the URL. Links are added beforehand by clicking on the button and then Options... where you will find the Link Glossary. Here you can add, edit, or delete URLs.
Inserting images: There are really quite a lot of settings you can fiddle with when inserting an image so I think I might make a separate post about that.
You have the option, when clicking on the Insert Picture button, to insert an image from your computer or a "Picture From Web." In the sidebar to the right you have Layout choices which include settings for alignment and margins. You can also choose to have a drop shadow or Photopaper which gives your photo the white-bordered Polaroid look. You'll also be able to link the photo, of course, and this is where you can choose the size you would like to display in your post while linking to either a URL or the source picture which can be the original size or various other sizes as well. There are other photo effects such as black and white, sepia tone, and rotation.
Insert features: Here you can see all the features you are able to insert, along with some plug-ins I've added. Instead of Insert Tags, for Blogger you can add "labels" at the bottom of the WLW window. To see what I mean, click on the first thumbnail of this post and look at the drop down area in the lower left bottom corner. Insert a smiley is the Smiley Plugin 2.0. Because I always use the smiley plugin, I don't find myself using the Insert Spaces Emoticon anymore but you might like to check it out. Insert Symbol Plugin is useful for adding symbols like the degree sign which I use a lot because I am forever blogging about the weather. And Insert Polaroid Picture is another plug-in. That might seem redundant as there is already the Polaroid feature as one of the borders, but this is necessary if you want to "tilt" your photos. Great plug-in! Click on Add a Plug-in... for more.
When you are done with your post, simply hit the button.
One more tip: if you do use more than one computer for blogging, you can find your draft posts in C:\Documents and Settings\Select Owner\My Documents\My Weblog Posts. In that location, look in the Drafts Folder and locate your draft post. Save it to a flash drive. When you transfer it to the other computer, put it into the Drafts Folder on that computer in the same location. When you open up WLW, click on the button and you should see your post in there in Drafts.
How-to back up your blog posts: You can also save all the posts in the Recent Posts folder (from the above location) to have a record or a back up of your blog posts. You will have to have WLW to open them though. I think.
I hope this post gives you a great idea of what's in store for you should you decide to give Windows Live Writer a try!