If there is one software that Microsoft can claim to be exceptional, it is Windows Live Writer. It is the best desktop blogging tool currently available and it is free! So what makes Windows Live Writer so special? Here is a round up of cool features available in Windows Live Writer,
- Almost perfect WYSIWYG blog authoring. Your editor look as if you are writing inside your blog!
- Edit your blog pictures while writing your post. Crop them or apply various styles on them. Embedding pictures in blog posts is super easy!
- Manage multiple blogs at the same time!
- Built in spell checker and an extensible architecture supporting plugins. But the tool itself is so good that I have never used a plugin!
- Best of all Windows Live Writer supports a wide range of blogging platforms (Blogger, WordPress, TypePad etc.)
So for a blogger, Windows Live Writer is the ultimate tool available. Unfortunately it runs only on Windows platform! Now that means the guys who own costly Mac machines doesn’t have a good blogging tool. However there is a way to get Windows Live Writer running on your Mac. The only catch is that you need to buy a license of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 (which shouldn’t be a problem if you can afford Mac!). Using a virtual machine software you can run Windows inside a Mac machine. Now to use Windows Live Writer, just install it on the Windows running inside the virtual machine!
Running Windows Live Writer on Mac
Step 1 – Download VirtualBox – VirtualBox is virtual machine software(owned by Sun Microsystems earlier and now part of Oracle) which emulates a computer. So it is like a second machine running inside your PC and you can install any operating system inside it. VirtualBox software is available for many operating systems including Mac OS X. You can download the Mac version from here. Install VirtualBox.
Step 2 – Create a Windows Virtual Machine in VirtualBox – Start VirtualBox. From the main screen click on New icon to create a new virtual machine. Choose the guest operating system you want to install (Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7). I would recommend that you install Windows XP since it is cheap and it also requires less memory to run.
Now select the virtual machine memory size based on the Windows version you are installing and also depending on the total RAM you have. For example, if you have total 4GB RAM and you are installing Windows XP, 1GB would be a good choice. Then create a virtual disk. This disk will appear as a normal file with .vdi extension. For Windows XP, I usually give 12GB as the disk size and set it as dynamic so that the space is taken only if needed.
Step 3 – Install Windows on the Virtual Machine – Start the virtual machine you have created from the main menu of VirtualBox. It will prompt you for the boot device. Insert your Windows disk in the DVD drive and select this drive as the boot device. Now install Windows just like you install it in a real machine. The only difference here is that it is getting installed to the virtual disk inside the virtual machine. After installation, the virtual machine will reboot and you will get Windows OS running inside your Mac OS!
Once Windows is running in virtual machine, Click on the Devices -> Install Guest Additions menu from the VirtualBox. This will install a set of drivers onto the Windows. This will give you full integration between Mac and the Windows running on the virtual machine. You can now navigate seamlessly between them and you can even share folders/files between them!
Also keep your Windows installation up to date by enabling and running Windows Update.
Step 4 – Install Windows Live Writer on Guest OS – Now you can easily download and install Windows Live Writer from the Windows running in VirtualBox. Windows Live Writer can be downloaded from here. Now blog your heart out!
The following screenshot shows Windows XP running on Snow Leopard Mac OS.
The same approach can be taken to get Windows Live Writer running on various Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Fedora.