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Seven Essential Applications For Bloggers Using Windows

Looking for some cool blog tools and applications to help you be a more productive? Today Shankar Ganesh from Killer Tech Tips shares 7 to check out if you’re a Windows based blogger.

If you’re a blogger, you’ll be using a variety of applications that aid you in your daily chores. Most of them will be web based, but I bet you’ll find the following desktop apps indispensable once you install and start using them. Darren has already covered essential Mac applications previously, so I’ll cover only Windows applications in this post.

1. Windows Live Writer

Windows-Livewriter

Windows Live Writer is, by a majority, the best desktop blogging client to date. Although initial releases were buggy, the latest edition of Windows Live Writer is much more stable and packs few features that might be really useful for all kinds of bloggers.

Besides letting you crop images, add watermarks and other effects, Windows Live Writer also allows you to add and upload videos to YouTube directly. The power of Windows Live Writer lies in its plugins that can be used to add extra functions to the app – for instance, there’s a plugin called Twitter Notify that can be used to post your blog post links to Twitter once they’ve been published via Live Writer.

All-in-all, Windows Live Writer is a must have application for any blogger using Windows. The reason: it makes everything easier that blogging just appears like double clicking on an icon, writing and hitting the publish button. No messing with anything else.

2. Evernote

Evernote
Blogging is about pushing content frequently and consistently to your readers. Writing down ideas as you get them is very important for any blogger. Evernote is a cross platform application that lets you take notes. The best part of Evernote is that your notes are accessible from virtually everywhere – your PC, your Mac, your iPhone, your Windows Mobile and even from the web.

You can clip web pages to your notes and save them for later reference. You can take screen captures and put them in your notes. You can even scan your blogger buddies’ business cards and put them up on Evernote. All of them will be searchable.

The free version gives you a space of 40 MB/month where as upgrading to a premium account for $45/year or $5/month will give you 500 MB monthly upload allowance for your notes. Try it, and you won’t regret using it.

3. FeedDemon RSS Reader

Feeddemon
Although a lot of people use Google Reader these days, FeedDemon is a very feature-rich RSS reader that deserves to be written about here. Once your really start using its most powerful features, you’ll never want to be without it. When everything’s cloud these days, why use it you ask?

FeedDemon is powerful: Because it can show you the most popular posts from the feeds you’ve just subscribed (like a mini techmeme); you can create ‘watches’ to monitor keywords – for instance, you can create a watch for ‘iPhone Apps’ and see all blog posts that mention it separately; desktop alerts for unread items; integration with aforementioned Windows Live Writer and a plethora of other features.

The upcoming release of FeedDemon will sync with Google Reader, meaning that you can use both of them simultaneously. An item that you opened in Google Reader will also be marked as read in FeedDemon. So you get the best of both worlds, why not switch?

4. Q10

Q10
I’ve mentioned Windows Live Writer above, but why this, you ask? Well, being on the internet means getting carried around site by site. You realise you’ve wasted all your time only when none’s left.

Q10 aims at making your writing tasks distraction free and it does that. What you get is a barebones writer like Windows Notepad that operates in full screen mode. It offers no big features, but can just count the number of words you write and spell check. Besides that, it’s portable.

It overlaps everything else on your screen – just type all that you have to and quit. Then start playing all that you wanted to on your computer. Some people have told me that it has really improved their productivity – they write 2-3 extra articles than they usually do in a stipulated time period.

5. FileZilla

Filezilla

An FTP client is indispensable tool for bloggers. Be it tinkering with your blogging platform or troubleshooting hosting woes, you’ll have to use an FTP client sometime or the other during your blogging endeavours. There are a number of good FTP clients available in the market, and FileZilla is just one of them. It’s my pick.

I suggest FileZilla because it’s free and open source. There’s a site manager to store all your connection details, so that you need not have to enter them everytime you use FileZilla. You can of course give raw FTP commands. There’s not just the GUI in it.

There’s a portable version as well and you can carry it in your USB Stick. It’s a must-have app for any blogger with a self-hosted blog.

6. FastStone Capture

Faststone
A screen capture tool is essential for bloggers, especially tech bloggers. FastStone Capture does the task for you. Just hit the Print Screen key after you install the program and then you can save your image in the desired format in a folder of your choice, or copy it to the clipboard. Just what you’d expect from a normal screen capture program.

Of course, you can either perform full screen captures or only a specific window and save it in any of the six specified formats. Overall, it’s a nice and little app that just does what it says.

I’ll also recommend FastStone Capture for its good image editing capabilities but you have to shell out around thirty bucks after the trial period is over. SnagIt is another software, but it’s a bit costlier.

If you already use Evernote, you can easily capture your screen by hitting the PrintScreen key – it already has a minimal screen capture tool built-in.

7. TweetDeck

Tweet-Deck
Twitter is the craze these days and everyone’s on it. As a blogger, it’s important that you start using twitter to leverage your online connections. Lots of people Twitter to help people, join the conversation with their readers, get feedback and do a lot more.

A Twitter client that lets you manage conversations and people on Twitter is a necessity and you won’t find a better one than TweetDeck for that purpose. In TweetDeck, you can create what are called ‘groups’ and track messages from a particular group of people. For instance, I can create a group named ‘most loyal readers’ and give their tweets some special attention.

There’s multicolumn view on TweetDeck, which you can customize to your needs. TweetDeck also supports Facebook and you can view updates from your friends on Facebook as well. If you’re a minimalist, you can try twhirl that comes without the big bells and whistles.

What other desktop apps do you think are a must-have for bloggers using Windows? You can share what you know in the comments.

Guest Blogger Shankar Ganesh writes on Killer Tech Tips. Check out his blog to read tech tips ranging from essential windows utilities to how to fix iTunes.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Wow, amazing resources. Sadly, I’m not using many of these programs. I’m going to download them and give them a test run.

    Maybe only one every couple of days though. I don’t want to suffer from overload!

    Thanks for all the information!

  2. Ryan McLean says:

    I really look forward to seeing the version for Mac. I might go and check it out now.

    It is always good to know the best blog tips for your blog. If I was on windows I would be using some of these tools to make my blog awesome….but im not

    Thanks for the great guest post

  3. I can attest to Windows Live Writer ! I love it and it’s add-ons! I never did get the hang of FileZilla, though – and I gave up on tweet deck soon after I started using it (in beta) – but might give it another chance now that it seems it’s grown up! Thanks for the list!

  4. Dan Miranda says:

    I really need to see one of these for Mac, if you have one already please let me know, because some of these apps are amazing!

  5. Chris says:

    Great list. I’m already using many of these. I also LOVE Zemanta. Use it as a browser plugin or a plugin for your blogging platform. It makes rich content a snap.

  6. Are Morch says:

    Wow!!

    Really great info here Darren. I knew about Tweetdeck, and thats it.

    Together with your 31 Day blog challenge this will help me bring my blogs to the next level.

    Thanks!!

  7. Dan Miranda says:

    *Never mind! Great article here from Problogger, Darren Rowse: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/01/17/essential-mac-os-x-applications-for-bloggers/

  8. Alex Stewart says:

    Great post! I just started using TweetDeck and it rocks!

  9. I use filezilla for my ftp :D but I prefer RSSOwl over feed Demon!

  10. Sheamus says:

    Good post. Question: why would you use Windows Live Writer over the WYSIWYG interface of WordPress?

    Personally, I write my articles in Word where I can be assured that they’re properly spelling and grammar-checked to my satisfaction, and then copy and paste using WP’s handy button. But from time to time I do write directly into WP and I’m not sure why I would choose or need another application to do this.

    I’ve experimented with FeedDemon but it doesn’t stand up to the convenience of Google Reader for me, especially as I run my feed through iGoogle, which is super handy.

    FileZilla is excellent – no arguments there. :)

    And the same goes for TweetDeck – it’s the best Twitter client by a country mile. The only problem is the API drain. I recently wrote an article about how you can make a few easy tweaks to the TweetDeck configuration to save up to 50% of your hourly API.

    I guess I’m a bit old-school as the only essential non-standard applications I use for blogging are Textpad, for editing code and keeping notes (I’d use Notepad, but it doesn’t tabulate code properly), and an old free version of Paint Shop Pro. :)

  11. A Windows user will also find that Notepad++ is an indispensable code editor (it has a built-in FTP client, but I still prefer FileZilla, which I see you recommend).

    For note-taking and screen-capture, Microsoft OneNote does a fabulous job. To use the screen capture capability, just hit Windows Key + S. You can paste the shots into OneNote and then export them as images.

  12. Joe Bluster says:

    http://www.jingproject.com — It’s SnagIt’s baby brother. Great tool for screen captures and simple recordings.

  13. TweetDeck is great.

    You should do one of these for Linux users. I say that mostly because I use Ubuntu linux and I could use tipped off to some of the better tools I could be using if there are any.

  14. tashfeen says:

    Nice choice of tools. Q10 was definitely an interesting choice! But I like RSSOwl better than FeedDemon, and Live Writer isn’t without it’s quirks – http://techqi.blogspot.com/2009/01/3-best-free-blog-editors-and-their.html. Great job overall!

  15. Kaye says:

    Great list. I LOVE LIve Writer. Not only does it make my life easier for writing on my blogs, but it allows me to add pictures/photos much easier!

    Tweetdeck is another app I can’t do without. I’ve tried pretty much all the others for Twitter and it’s the easiest, the most organized, and helps me keep on top of it while researching as well!

    I’ll have to take a peek at the rest as well. Thanks for being such a great resource! :)

  16. Dawn says:

    Great article, hadn’t heard of much of the software.

    I like ClassicFTP or Fling FTP, both free and very easy to use http://nch.com.au

  17. BlakeMoser says:

    I’ve started using the Shareaholic plugin. I find this is one of the most comprehensive share applications. It works with 30 different social networks, and very easy to use.

  18. Roosevelt P. says:

    You can actually do most of the stuff with Microsoft Outlook software. (I myself actually discovered it few weeks ago)

    Either way the above tools are great alternatives :).

    You can check my blog above, if you want to know how to make the most out of outlook.

  19. Nenad Petkovič says:

    And this article is coming a bit late for me. I’m now on Ubuntu. Think it were good idea to write such a post for Linux users. Also must say that while I was using I have had a few of this applications installed such as WLW, FileZilla, and Evernote also. As far as I am asking for screen capturing I was using Jing, for rss reader Snarfer. And now when I’m twitter addicted I’m also using the TweetDeck. Pardon for my english, I’m from Croatia.
    Since the site is still under construction I will not provide my link.

  20. I use filezilla on a daily basis. The rest are all new to me. I will give them a try.

  21. Microsoft’s OneNote does most all all these in one product. I purchased it 2 months ago and my productivity trippled overnight — once I was able to learn it. It’s simple to learn (there are plenty of video’s available) I just needed to figure out how to track the 5 books, my 12 website information and tons of other stuff. However, I’ve got it down pat. And I love the capture screen feature, it’s made everything so much easier.

    Another productivity tool is using two monitors. I went to dual monitors about 6 months ago and my productivity doubled the very next day. I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Next month I’m going to three monitors. I’m a power user writer, I type over 120 words a minute and I love having one or two resources open while I write (as a copywriter I need this).

  22. Oh yes, forgot. There’s a 90 days free trial version available on Microsoft’s web site.

    As Mikie used to say, “try it, you’ll love it.”

  23. Robby G says:

    Windows Live Writer sounds great and also the FileZilla portable version. I use Digsby instead of Tweetdeck, it’s been working fine for me.

  24. Thx Darren. I already use some of these: I really like Filezilla and Live Writer. You’ve convinced me to try Feeddemon again, and Evernote. Hadn’t heard of Q10 but I like the idea of distraction-free functionality! Like the sound of that screen capture prog too. I currently use a freebie called Hoversnap but it sounds like your recommendation is a little more flexible.

    Cheers

  25. I love Filezilla. beautiful application, and it Just Works.

  26. @Dan Miranda: my point exactly!
    Darren, do you have anything for us?

    As a 4-months Mac User who switched from Windows after 11 years, I can tell you it’s much better to blog on the Mac.

    I thought I’d never get over not using Windows Live Writer. I even installed XP with VMWare on my Mac for that. Well, that and Outlook 2007′s RSS Feed Reader. Those were the 2 most important apps useful for me as a blogger on Windows.

    Now I can say i’ve found the perfect replacement for both of them. Ecto is doing a very good job when it comes to offline blogging. It has some extra features that WLW didn’t have so i;m happy with it.

    NetNewsWire is the perfect RSS Feed Reader. Even better than everything windows all -together. I wouldn’t go back to Outlook for anything in the world.

    For Twitter I use Twitterfox and testing Nambu. My FTP client is Cyberduck. Fugu or Transmit are good as well.

    Evernote is there for Mac and iPhone too, but i don’t need it. Mac OS X’s built in screen capture is perfect. If you need more you can use ScreenShot Plus (free dashboard widget).

    Any other ideas?

  27. Great list. Definitely worth bookmarking.

    I use most of these, but I haven’t heard of 1 or 2 of them.

    I’m especially interested in evernote.

    Thanks!

  28. topcool says:

    i’m using these applications except Q10
    will try this now.
    thank you

  29. Amaron says:

    The FeedDemon screenshot is very old!

  30. I have tried WLW and I honestly just don’t see the appeal compared to the regular WordPress interface. Maybe it’s because I’m a “cloud” kind of guy but I don’t see the benefits of using it as a desktop app to write posts instead of just firing up Word and copy+pasting when you’re done.

    Nice list otherwise, TweetDeck is especially awesome. Would have been nice to see a time management utility in the list, it’s something I’ve been struggling to find for awhile now.

  31. Susan Myers says:

    This is an awesome list. Thanks for sharing. Downloading Microsoft Writer now. I currently use Evergreen notes and LOVE IT!

  32. Hi Darren
    Thanks for the apps.
    I really like the look of Evernote and Feedemon. Going over to check them out now.
    I have been using Tweetdeck but I’m not really sure whether I like it or not. It seems to suck up a lot of memory resources on your computer.
    Thanks again

  33. Almost forget to mention I use Fireshot which is a Mozilla plugin for screen capture. Gives you lots of great editing features.

    Thanks
    Steve

  34. This is an extensive, informative list. I have already found a couple of applications I plan to research further. I have never heard of some of them, but the ones I want to have a look at sound like really good ideas. Just as a note, I would have added Google Docs, which I use as an alternative to OpenOffice. Great post, Darren.

  35. unoblogger says:

    Am writing something similar on my blog…. but from you, it sure is a treat to the people. Super post!!!

  36. carla says:

    Thank you for posting these resources. I just switched from a Mac and have been looking for new tools for me to use in my blogging.

  37. David says:

    I like FeedDemon and never used other apps. Thanks

  38. Ganesh says:

    Good collection. Some new apps here. Q10… is it only for XP?.. seems to not work in vista…

  39. Karlstadunix says:

    hi, thank for the tips, im using windows live writer, its just awesome

  40. ArpitNext says:

    I use snagit and am sure that it is the best screen capture tool :)

  41. Robin Capper says:

    A great list of resources but two alternatives I use are worth a look;

    BlogJet is another off-line blog editor. It’s not free but has some features that Live Writer lacks, like the choice where you save files, while missing a few that Live Writer has.
    http://blogjet.com/

    RSS Bandit is an open souce off-line feedreader. It already has the Google reader sync that FeedDemon currently lacks.
    http://www.rssbandit.org/

  42. Mario says:

    Thanks for the review. I already use some of them, but just installed Windows Live Writer.

    It looks good, but for whatever reason the program installed in Dutch. I guess because my OS is installed in Dutch. This is not really a problem, but that it doesn’t has an English spelling check is a problem.

    Finding help in the help section or on any forum (preferable not in MS’s) is too time consuming. The frustrating part is that it’s not easy to get rid of MS programs once they are installed, they always keep nested somewhere in the registry.

    Anyway, have a nice day.
    Mario

  43. Dean Saliba says:

    Tweetdeck is somethign I’ve looked at using. Twhirl at the moment.

    I prefer writing my stuff down on Wordpad, I’m old school. :D

  44. Arshad says:

    Cool Darren. i would be glad if you do a post on the firefox addons .The firefox addons will be much more useful in assisting bloggers in taking their website to the next level [atleast to the beginners and moderate people].Here are some addons i use :

    seo for firefox
    nodofollow addon
    livepr

  45. Useful resources and I’m glad that I use almost 5 of it apart from fastone capture and Q10
    I use snag it for photo capturing. It’s also a great tool for capturing screenshots or editing and enhancing images for your posts.

  46. venkat says:

    I use Window Live writer ,Evernote and for screen capture I use Snagit.

  47. Mario says:

    I finally found how to change the language for the spell checker in Windows Live Writer.

    One of those beers last night had to be over the maximum date. Sorry.

  48. TMWW says:

    I absolutely cannot live without my Windows Live Writer! This was a great list and thank you so much for recommending FeedDemon. I was looking for a simple RSS reader that I could read from my desktop without having to log into Google Reader all the time to read. This allows me to read a blurb of the post, expand if I’m interested and want to read more, AND allows me to leave comments for the author right from the reader – unlike GR. Thank you so much! I’m definitely hooked on this now! Just cut about 45 minutes off my reading time daily to allow me to do other things, and who doesn’t like a little extra “found” time to do something meaningful with … like watch the kids LOL!

  49. My essential tool is a pencil and paper, a lot less cumbersume than many of hte applications you mention.

    Just because it can be done on a computer does not mean you should. There look I’ve gone and said it, the Geeks will be starting up their twitter apps for a goo ol’ school flaming. :)

  50. Joe says:

    Darren,

    Thank you so much for this post. I am considering shifting over from Google Docs to Windows Live Writer – sadly, I am currently stuck on a Windows laptop for the majority of my blog work, so this tool while being native to Windows may be a best bet for me.

    Question for you: do you know how well, if at all, Live Writer works with custom fields? I use custom field entries for images, and would like to bypass, if I can, the WP editor altogether.

    Thank you again!