Feb 26 2010

Windows Live Writer: Creating a Custom Template

i2asg54f_thumb1 Windows Live Writer: Creating a Custom TemplateWindows Live Writer is due an update, but the Windows Live Writer team hasn’t announced any time frames as to when we might see the new version.

And while Windows Live Writer 2009 is a great program for blogging, and especially the use of using themes as you’re composing the post, some times the program doesn’t do as you expected and the themes are all messed up, or the theme your using with Windows Live Writer is not compatible.

So to help others adjust on the fly, here’s some information on how to deal with it.

If your theme is not compatible with Windows Live Writer, there’s only a few things you can do; you can try the Windows Live Writer Theme Fixer [which is not 100% guaranteed] to make it work, or edit the HTM and CSS files manually, or you can turn the Edit w/Theme option OFF.


Windows Live Writer Theme FIXER

One of the developers [I think] created a program/utility to combat the growing issue of the failed theme’s in Windows Live Writer. The program is sketchy; I’ve used it, and it didn’t work for me. And there’s issues of compatibility and there’s not been a lot of support for it [that I’ve seen].

But the support issue, I understand because it’s an utility to fix a bug in Windows Live Writer… it’s a double edge sword for them to continue mucking with it.

Download it from here.


Manually Edit the HTML/CSS

If you’re not a HTML coder, this means you probably don’t know CSS either, but that’s why you had Windows Live Writer to begin with- right? So this may not be your answer.

BUT if you’re, your in luck! You can simply open the template files. I’m not going to give you a suggestion for a HTML program. If you can CODE; you already have one.

Windows Live Writer uses these files for edit during composition and previewing the post inside Windows Live Writer. The template files are located on your hard drive here:

C:Documents and SettingsYOURUSERNAMEApplication DataWindows Live WriterblogtemplatesLONGCRYPTICNUMBERYOUCANTREFERENCE

In each one of the template folders there are HTML files; you can edit those and make them whatever you want.


Manually Edit the Default Template

My favorite option is to simply edit the default template for Windows Live Writer. It’s a very simple HTML file; very little to it and you can set the width of the blog very easily and based on that, when you create a NEW post, the text and images should WRAP very close to what you would see when the post is published.

C:Program FilesWindows LiveWritertemplate

Your looking for these two files:

C:Program FilesWindows LiveWritertemplatedefaultstyle.css
C:Program FilesWindows LiveWritertemplatedefault.htm

Inside the DEFAULT HTML file you’ll find this:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

<!– saved from url=(0013)about:internet –>



<META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; utf-8">

<LINK href="{0}" type="text/css" rel="stylesheet">



<DIV class="post">

    <DIV class="title">{1}</DIV>

    <DIV class="body"><P>{2}</P></DIV>




There’s nothing here [yet] to specify the width of the default template; let’s add it…

Where you see <BODY>, replace that with

<body style="width: 600px;">

The width of the body can be anything you want. Customize this to be the way you want or best suits your blog.

Your still not going to be able to preview the blog with all it’s theme glory, but you can post and then preview; and I think a lot of bloggers do this, so it’s not that big of a deal.

Adjust where you must, and I hope this helps.



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  • Very helpful and I will study this carefully. I have been using Live Writer very successfully with the Athenium theme but am changing to the Thesis theme (Athenium's SEO is miserable). Now my thumbnails aren't showing up on Thesis. My programmer instructed me to add the photo URL into Thumbnail, which then duplicates my pix, argh.____I prefer how Live Writer helps with photo frames, contrast, etc. WordPress posting platform is dull. Do you know of a way to program Live Writer to add the thumbnail to Thesis?____Thanks in advance.

  • Hey, Im having problems with my blog theme after I changed my computer and this default template thing seems interesting. The only question is: how do you make live writer to use the default template? do you edit the blog's own template? or is there any option to make use of it?

    • lehenryjr

      The easiest way is to turn off the edit with theme option. But if you're referring to using the default.HTM from the Windows Live Writer folder, rename it to the index.htm, drop it in your template folder for the blog you want to use and edit to your hearts content. It's not too hard.

      I really did this to set the width of the blog, because my blog was only 600px wide – I wanted to hold it there so it looked similar. And that's what your really going for anyway.

      I hope this helps…
      If you've any questions, please let me know…

      Thank you,
      Larry Henry Jr.

  • Thanks! This post were very useful to me.

    My blog template wasn’t good before i made the 2 option described on this post.

    • lehenryjr

      Awesome. I'm glad it worked out for you.Until next time,Larry Henry Jr.

  • Sara

    Thanks for all your help with the theme issues about WLW!

    Quick question – how do you turn off the "edit with theme" option? I've looked everywhere and can't seem to find out how to do this.

    I just started with WLW yesterday – everything was working fine, but I added some additional blogs to it and I think it's having trouble detecting the themes because in the post edit window it just shows the background of my website and won't let me type anything. Currently, i have to click on the "Source" window in order to be able to type. From the source window, it will allow me to publish posts, but it requires that I add all the line breaks and coding myself 🙁 – I'm thinking if I can disable the edit with theme option, it may fix it.

    Thanks for any help you can give!!!

  • Frustrated

    Is there any way to find out if there is an update for the file? I have tried using the theme fixer executable file, however as soon at is launched i get an error that says "Theme Fixer has stopped working". It immediately crashes. I am running win 7 64 bit.

    Any thoughts?

    • lehenryjr

      Referring to the THEME FIXER; that application was written a log time ago and it's really nothing more than an attempt to fix the shortcomings of Windows Live Writer dev team— by/from one of it's developers. It's not being worked on anymore, and that developer isn't on the Windows Live Writer team anymore [sadly].

      The best idea is to try to manually fix the theme in Windows Live Writer, or edit without the theme; which is kind of a bummer— seriously.

      I hope this helps… good luck.

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

  • chowbunny

    Thank you for this workaround! Question: For the third option ("Manually Edit the Default Template"), I've made the change to the default.html file (I specified that <body style="width: 886px;">) — but what am I supposed to do with the defaultstyle.css file?

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