Scott Hanselman

Syncing Windows Live Writer Drafts to the Cloud (Dropbox) and other bug fixes

May 21, '15 Comments [28] Posted in Tools
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I still use Windows Live Writer (http://www.windowslivewriter.com) to post to this blog. It remains the best little blogging app out there. It has a nice plugin ecosystem, great WYSIWYG editor (using IE) even though it hasn't been updated since 2012. A bunch of us are working to get it open sourced, and I'll let you know the second I know something.

But for now, let me fix two things about Windows Live Writer that have been bugging me.

Clearing Cached Blog Themes

First, a small bug. My HTML Styles look like this, and have for a while. See how the background is black? Annoying. I always assumed it was a GDI or graphics bug. In exploring the Windows Live Writer code I learned a few things.

Windows Live Writer with black styles

It turns out that Windows Live Writer is trying to render your styles by using your download blog theme's CSS inside those little boxes! My blog (and others, I've heard) doesn't render nicely.

The downloaded them is stored in %AppData%\Windows Live Writer\blogtemplates and you can easily fix this annoyance by simply deleting the folders below blogtemplates.

Using the Default Windows Live Writer Theme

Ah, much nicer.

Syncing your Windows Live Writer Drafts with OneDrive or Dropbox

I've seen some blog posts with folks suggesting junction or reparse points (symbolic links) to hack together a way to "roam your draft blog posts" with Windows Live Writer. It's much easier than that, in fact. You can just set a registry key with your preferred Drafts folder. I put mine in my Dropbox, but you could also use OneDrive or Box. This means your local draft blog posts will "roam" to all your machines. If you're someone who works on a blog post for a few days you'll appreciate this new ability. You can start a post at work and finish it at home. Even the images will roam.

Head over to HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Live\Writer in your registry (via Regedit.exe) and make a new String Value called "Posts Directory."

image

Windows Live Writer will make new Drafts and Recent Posts folders in the location you specify. I set this registry key on all my machines that I have Dropbox installed and now all my blog post drafts are there too!

I hope this helps you out! And I'll be sure to let you know about our plans with Windows Live Writer as soon as I know more. ;)


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Thursday, 21 May 2015 04:00:54 UTC
Great post.. I was actually looking for such kind of tip... Thanks
Thursday, 21 May 2015 04:36:18 UTC
Thanks for this easy workaround. My previous attempts were more cumbersome, but at the time it was the only solution I had found.

My fingers are crossed that you can get WLW open-sourced and updated. It's still the best damn blogging software I've ever used.

Also, *high five* to a fellow Softie.
Thursday, 21 May 2015 05:32:51 UTC
I would really like a Windows Live Writer universal app for Windows and Windows Phone!
Thursday, 21 May 2015 06:18:24 UTC
I love live writer. Crossing my fingers ... and toes ... and eyes that you can get it open sourced.
Davin Studer
Thursday, 21 May 2015 09:07:31 UTC
Very helpful post, Scott...
Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:45:54 UTC
Nice and helpful, as always. Still waiting and hoping for OSS, someday. Will be nice to have these features built-in rather than having to crack open the registry.
Thursday, 21 May 2015 11:48:36 UTC
Hi, Scott,
Great article. I'm still very excited to hear if and when Windows Live Writer will go open source; it's a great application. Changing the recent and drafts folder is easy for some. But the registry is still not a place most people are comfortable. Maybe when Windows Live Writer goes open source, the application can be changed to add the option in the settings. But until then, I wrote a small application to add the registry entry you mention and allow users to change the drafts/recent effortlessly. No manual registry doctoring.

http://www.lehsys.com/2011/04/how-to-change-the-drafts-and-recent-posts-folder-in-windows-live-writer-2011/

I hope this helps your readers!
Thanks for your efforts with Windows Live Writer.

Later,
Larry




Thursday, 21 May 2015 13:25:11 UTC
Perfect timing! Was just looking into how to write a Windows Live Writer version control plug-in. Since Dropbox keeps previous versions of a file, though, this will be enough.
Thursday, 21 May 2015 13:54:29 UTC
Thank you for the tip on how to get roaming drafts! That will come in very useful as I move between my tablet and desktop. And good luck in getting WLW an extended life. It's indispensable.
Thursday, 21 May 2015 15:43:29 UTC
It appears WLW won't install on a fresh Win 10 machine. Anybody else seeing this? https://twitter.com/JudahGabriel/status/601410099693821952

I understand it's possible to make an existing WLW install work on a Windows 8.1->10 migrated install. But it doesn't appear to work with a fresh install of the OS; the WLW installation fails.

I really want WLW to be open source. I really want WLW to be updated.
Thursday, 21 May 2015 16:54:26 UTC
"A bunch of us are working to get it open sourced, and I'll let you know the second I know something."

WOOOOHOOOO. Let's hope this gets somewhere. I really want to write my posts in markdown. Today I wanted a "pre" button and I really want a "code" button so I can pretty up my articles easily. I want some smart developers to improve the theme detection (my latest theme detection is hiding the "more" line in the editor somehow). I want backups to be integrated in to the core or a provider system for it. I bet with a rebooted plugin downloads site I would also want some other things I don't even know yet!

I was actually thinking about this earlier today and thought you would be the one to champion it if it was going to happen.
Thursday, 21 May 2015 16:59:21 UTC
Also I forgot to mention I want the auth to be updated so people don't end up on my blog in desperation when they can't get in to their blogger accounts with WLW any more:



(TL;DR; WLW doesn't support new auth and old auth is disabled by default on Google accounts now + error message is cryptic)
Thursday, 21 May 2015 20:01:16 UTC
And since we are talking about WLW annoyances: How to edit an old post with WLW and a plugin. =)
Thursday, 21 May 2015 21:07:05 UTC
How many RTs did you get? When's your next meeting?
John Dunagan
Thursday, 21 May 2015 23:31:13 UTC
I remember having issues with the registry trick. I forget what the problem was though, I think it's to do with the version of live writer you have. The whole "This version works on these versions of windows, that version works on those versions of windows and we never talk about the version in-between" thing.

Cool to hear it might get some updates though.
Wear
Friday, 22 May 2015 04:13:54 UTC
It would be good to have a plan to save Windows Live Photo Gallery as well.

The Modern App replacements do not have tagging, and the tagging implementation in a certain best of breed professional photo management suite I subscribe to is badly broken and unusable. For these reasons, Windows Live Photo Gallery comes in very handy.
Friday, 22 May 2015 10:34:37 UTC
I was a long time user of WLW, gave it when I moved to Windows 8 and realized there is no "Metro" version of it, sealing it's future in MS ecosystem. I was still using it in my iMac (in a Parallels Windows 7) till a year back.

By early last year, WordPress (self-hosted) I use as my blog backend became good enough for posting including "Save Draft" and other features I used WLW for, WordPress apps for iPad & Android Phone became usable reducing the need for WLW.

Anyways, WLW getting Open Sourced and improved will be a great step forward. All the best for your efforts
Friday, 22 May 2015 17:40:08 UTC
I wonder how hard it would be to recreate it instead of waiting for it to be open sourced?

If one were to start with Electron Shell, it could be cross platform ala Atom and Code. I'd really dig it if the functionality could be added to Code as one or more plug-ins. Once plug-ins open up that is.

When I was using WordPress I absolutely loved Writer. Now I'm using Markdown to static site generators, but they are missing the image management piece of the puzzle (among other things). I do like having both my source and output stored as separate git repos.
Sunday, 24 May 2015 17:40:34 UTC
This works well with OneDrive, thanks for the tip. You will, however, need to ensure the draft folder is set to "Available Offline" as Live Writer in its current form does not see "online files" the way that a Windows Modern app would (online files are essentially shortcuts pointing to files in the cloud).
Sunday, 24 May 2015 22:36:08 UTC
Thank you ..like this mean yarrakkafalı hasan
Monday, 25 May 2015 03:43:22 UTC
Nice and very helpful. Thank you.
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 09:04:14 UTC
Hi Scott, I know that work on opening up WLV has started, so when should we expect the project to be OSS'ed?

Thanks for the great tips btw
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 12:48:15 UTC
Thanks for the fix to save drafts in OneDrive. I've been needing that for a while. I use Live Writer just about every day. I need it.
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 18:37:38 UTC
It looks like Windows Live Writer has just stopped working with ALL blogger.com sites (presumably Google are enforcing 2 factor and/or OAuth authentication now) - so suggesting OSSing it is very timely!
Jason Steele
Thursday, 28 May 2015 19:14:05 UTC
Please get Windows Live Write to become compatible with blogger and blog spot again please please ! I am a blogger and I loved using WLW for my blogging ! Micro soft will loose a lot of customers in blog land and get a bad rap if this isn't fixed soon !. Just sayin ! Why muck about with a good thing !
Country Gal
Thursday, 28 May 2015 23:57:04 UTC
Thanks Scott! Live Writer has always been my favourite blog editor too! I am so glad to hear that you will be helping to revive it! :)
Dora Chua
Friday, 29 May 2015 20:30:30 UTC
Hi Scott.

Thanks for the post it is very helpful.
I would like to know if there is a way to generate Responsive table html while writing the blog in live writer.
It would be nice if Responsive Table generation is included in live writer.
I feel a bit rework for changing the table in live writer to BootStrap responsive table.
Siddu Hussain
Sunday, 31 May 2015 12:25:26 UTC
Thanks as always Scott, and great recent show on Hanselminutes about SVG. That has got to be on a lot of webdevs minds.

I just tried to use WLW on Windows 10 and discovered it will not install (this is after enabling .Net 3.5 support).

Between this and the auth problems, it sounds like the only way to revive this nice little tool is through open sourcing it as you said.
Good luck!
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.