Want to make it quicker to blog about the things you love, style your posts the way you want, and publicize your content?  Here’s how you can make Live Writer a better blogging tool with some of the best plugins we’ve uncovered.

Windows Live Writer is our favorite tool to create and edit blog posts.  It’s free and works great, and the latest beta even looks more stylish with the Office 2010 style ribbon interface.  If you use it on a daily basis, though, you may come across some features you’d like it to have.  That’s where plugins come in; there are hundreds of plugins that can add all kinds of features to Live Writer.  From sharing your new posts on social networks to sharing source code in your posts, there’s plugins for it all.

How Do You Install Live Writer Plugins?

Once you’ve installed Live Writer, it’s very easy to add plugins.  Just download the plugin installer, and install it like any other Windows app.  Next time you restart Live Writer, you’ll see your new feature integrated.

Some plugins have to be installed manually.  You’ll usually download them in a zip file, so unzip the file and copy the plugin file (a .dll file) to your Live Writer Plugin folder.  If you’re using the Live Writer Wave 4 beta, this will be located at:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Writer\Plugins

or: C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Writer\Plugins on 32-bit versions of Windows

Alternately, if you’re still using an older version of Live writer, you’ll need to copy the plugin file to:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live Writer\Plugins

or: C:\Program Files\Windows Live Writer\Plugins on 32-bit versions of Windows

You may notice some other plugins there if you’ve already installed some, so just paste the new one right along with them.

Where Are My Plugins?

In Windows Live Writer Wave 4 beta, your plugins are all stored in the Insert tab of the ribbon.  You’ll see them in a list under the Plug-ins section of that tab.  Just click the plugin name to use it.

If you’re still using an older version of Live Writer, you’ll fine Plugins listed along with built-in options on the right sidebar.

You may not see a link for some of your plugins, especially ones that run behind the scenes and just work on their own.  To find these, click the Plug-in options button, or select Options in the Tools menu on older versions.  Now, select the plugin you want and configure it from the Options button or turn it off to quit using it.

Now that you know how to use plugins in Live Writer, it’s time to start adding some.  Here’s some of our favorites:

See How Wordy Your Post Is

If you’re missing the word count feature in Word, the Word Count plugin can add this feature to Live Writer.  Once it’s installed, press Ctrl+A to select all the text in your blog post, then click the Word Count button to see how wordy you’ve been.

Download the Word Count Plugin

Insert a Screenshot Into Your Post

Screenshots are a great way to explain computer concepts in posts and articles, so the Screen Capture plugin can come in handy.  Once you’ve installed the plugin, simply click the Insert Screen Capture button, and then choose from a rectangle, window, or full screen capture.  This works great for a quick and easy screenshot.

Download the Screen Capture Plugin

Insert Source Code Into Posts

Writing about a neat programming trick you uncovered, or want to share an HTML snippet in a post?  The Insert Code plugin formats your plaintext code into a much more readable format that will highlight the important parts and make it easier to scan.  You can choose from several

Then past your code into the top box, and you’ll see the new formatted version in the bottom box.  All the parts of your code will be automatically highlighted like they would be in most IDEs.  You can then choose to add line numbers and alternate line backgrounds to your code if you wish.  Once the code looks like you want, click Ok to add it to your post.

Download the Insert Code plugin

Insert Code Snippets Quickly in Live Writer

Perhaps instead you need to regularly add text or HTML code in your posts.  The Code Snippets plugin lets you save all your important content and add it to your posts in a click.  You can organize your code into groups, save and export your snippets, and more.

Download the Code Snippets Plugin

Tweet Your New Posts

Want to automatically tweet whenever you publish a new post?  Simply install the Twitter Notify plugin, and then in the Plugin options pane, you can tweak how your tweet will look.  Feel free to change it as you wish, placing {url} and {title} where you want the title and URL of your post to appear, respectively.

The first time you publish a new post after installing the plugin, you’ll be asked if you want to enable this plugin.  Click Yes, and your new post will be tweeted and published at the same time.

Download the Twitter Notify Plugin

Add Social Media Buttons to Your Posts

Want your readers to share your posts on their favorite social networks?  Here’s a collection of plugins that will let you add buttons to Tweet, Like, Buzz, and Digg your posts.  They all works very much like each other; just install the plugin, and then add your social network account info via the Plugin Options window.

Then, the first time you publish a new post, you’ll be asked if you want to enable the plugin for the blog.  Select Yes, and the new button will be added to your post automatically.

Do note that these plugins add javascript code to your posts, so they may not work on WordPress.com blogs.  Normal self-hosted WordPress blogs will be fine.

Download the Google Buzz Plugin

Download the Tweetmeme Plugin

Download the Tweetmeme for WordPress.com blogs Plugin

Download the DiggThis Plugin

Download the Facebook Like Button Plugin

Publish Your Post on Posterous

Windows Live Writer doesn’t support Posterous blogs by default.  If you’d like to use Live Writer to post to your new Posterous blog, simply install the Writerous plugin.  Then, in the Options pane, add your site’s info.  If you leave the last box unchecked, you’ll even be able to publish a post only to your Posterous blog even if Live Writer is set to post to another blog.  Or, you can post to both blogs at the same time; your choice!

Download the Writerous Plugin

More Live Writer Tricks

Want to do more than add new plugins to Live Writer?  Here’s some other great tips we’ve written that can help you get the most out of Live writer:

Backup Your Windows Live Writer Settings

Edit the Windows Live Writer Custom Dictionary

Delete a Live Writer Blog Theme and Use the Default Theme Instead

Add Anything From the Ribbon to the Quick Access Bar in Live Writer Beta

Future Date a Post in Windows Live Writer

And if you’d like to find more plugins for Live Writer, click the Add plug-in button in Live Writer or browse to the Live Writer Plugin Gallery.  Let us know your favorite Live Writer plugins in the comments!

Matthew Guay
Matthew Guay is a veteran app reviewer and technology tip writer. His work has appeared on Zapier's blog, AppStorm, Envato Tuts+, and his own blog, Techinch.
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