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Once research is done, there are six main things every blogger needs to do:

  • Write
  • Format content
  • Write
  • Add images and embeds
  • Write!
  • Publish to a CMS

Writing is key to the process, in case you didn’t notice, so any tool designed to make blogging easier needs to really focus on the writing experience. You only need glance at Desk for Mac ($30) to see developer John Saddington, himself a longtime blogger, understands this.

By default everything is out of the way – it’s just you and your words. Even the top of the window fades away once you start typing, and the toolbar at right and document stats at bottom are understated.

Compare this to the default WordPress interface, where a variety of icons and buttons (not to mention your browser) mean only a small portion of your screen is devoted to writing.

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If you want to focus on writing, it’s easy to see the appeal of Desk. But not everyone loves minimalism, and all those buttons and other elements are obviously not useless – you do occasionally need them.

If you really want to focus on writing, it’s important that the three other things you need to do – formatting text, adding media, and submitting your work to a variety of publishing platforms – are as simple as possible.

For me, Desk hits that sweet spot. Let’s go over the reasons why.

Formatting: Markdown Or WYSIWYG

I’ve made my love of Markdown clear in the past Lightpaper Is A Free Tabbed Markdown Editor For Mac Lightpaper Is A Free Tabbed Markdown Editor For Mac Still using Microsoft Word to write for the web? You're doing it wrong. Read More . I think if you’re writing for the web, learning to format your documents with Markdown will save you a lot of time.

If you agree with me, good news: Desk supports Markdown. Just write the way you usually would – you can preview your output in a seperate window if you like.

There’s no syntax highlight as you’re writing, which some Markdown users will surely miss, but everything works otherwise.

But of course, not everyone writer uses Markdown – some people still prefer to see their formatting as they type, and to use buttons or keyboard shortcuts to make their text look how they want. Desk works for these users too – just highlight any piece of text to see your formatting options.

All the functions commonly used by bloggers are just a click away, and you’ll see the formatting changes you make in both the primary writing interface and the preview window.

For the scatterbrained among us who love using both Markdown and WYSIWYG, Desk is perfect: you can combine both in a single document, and Desk will combine everything before publishing. Say you find it faster to paste links using Markdown, but want to bold text using a quick keyboard shortcut – Desk will accomodate you.

Basically, however you prefer to format things, Desk gives you quick access to all the formatting options bloggers depend on.

Images And Other Media

When Windows users tell you that Live Writer is the fastest way to blog from your desktop Windows Live Writer: The Easiest Way To Blog, Right From Your Desktop Windows Live Writer: The Easiest Way To Blog, Right From Your Desktop There is something nice about being able to blog from your desktop and simply clicking “submit” and then having it appear on your blog. Of course since you are creating it locally on your computer... Read More , I think the biggest speed boost they get is with image uploads. I’ve yet to see a web-based CMS that makes uploading images quick: adding an image generally means interrupting your  workflow with an upload dialogue.

Desk, like any good blogging app should, makes images simple. Just drag an image into your post, and there it is.

You can resize and align quickly, and also add a link.

Adding images is easy, but there’s no native support for embeds – meaning you can’t preview a YouTube video or tweet you’ve embedded without opening your post in your CMS. This might make some nervous to publish without checking first.

Publishing Your Work

So you’ve written, formatted and added images to your post: now what? Desk supports publishing to a surprising variety of platforms.

I publish primarily to WordPress, so that’s what I set up Desk with. When it’s time to publish, I need only bring up the sidebar menu and pick which blog I want to publish to. From there publication (or submitting to drafts) is only a click away:

I can also bring up more options, if I want select categories, add tags and upload a featured image.

The specifics vary depending on where you’re publishing, of course, but most of what I need to do before publishing a post is easy to do from here. When I’m ready to submit, Desk will convert all of my Markdown, formatted text, images and more into a cleanly formatted post.

I’ve used this for a few weeks, submitting posts to editors on this site and publishing directly to my own blogs, and I haven’t run into many issues. Publishing with Desk is a lot faster than my old ritual of pasting text into WordPress and uploading images individually. I bet it can save you time too.

If you primarily submit to a particular blog with the same settings, you can even add a “Quick Publish” shortcut to get your content online in just one click.

Can You See Yourself Using Desk?

If you’re a blogger, I’d love to know: what do you think of Desk? Do you think this could help you out? Let me know what you think, and also feel free to point out where you write. I’d love to chat about our craft.

If you think your ideal app is elsewhere, you could check out Blogo, which my collegue Matt said is the blogging app you’ve been looking for Blogo 2 Is The Mac Blogging App You've Been Looking For Blogo 2 Is The Mac Blogging App You've Been Looking For One thing I've noticed Windows switchers complain about about is a lack of a solid OS X blogging client. That's about to change – Blogo 2 is out, and it's very, very good. Read More . It offers a few things the writing-focused Desk doesn’t, such as comment management and an image editor. Personally, I’ll keep using Desk, but choice is always appreciated, right?

What do you use to compose your blog posts?

  1. Bob
    February 18, 2015 at 4:30 am

    I should have read the description of the app a bit more before I bought it. It doesn't deal with raw markdown at all, which for me makes it useless.. Oh well lesson learned.

  2. Wisar
    February 16, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I have and we are dialoging now on the forum. Through experimentation I was able to get things partially working by using ".com" instead of ".co.uk" but not all my posts are being shown so we are not quite there. I can see why I might really like using the tool.....but.....we have a little ways to go before it is working!

    • Justin Pot
      February 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      I'm glad you're getting somewhere! Bugs suck, especially when you pay for software.

  3. Wisar
    February 15, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    Be nice if it actually worked with Blogger but I can not get it to connect. Other people seem to have had the same problem with the best advice being to just wait and it will automagically fix itself. Not sure this is an app ready for prime time?

    • Justin Pot
      February 16, 2015 at 2:08 am

      I tested it with WordPress primarily, didn't run into this. Did you try getting in touch with the developer?

  4. Dave
    December 17, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for the review, I instantly bought this for my wife who uses WordPress but it doesn't work with WordPress? they say it's not been white listed yet!

    So wait to buy Desk if you're using WordPress!!

  5. Shamir Islam
    December 16, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Great post! Anything like this for Windows?

  6. Maneck
    December 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Awesome, any alternatives for Windows? Even the Blogo link gives a 403 error.

  7. John Saddington
    December 15, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks so much for your review! The app is getting better every week as the community around it grows and continues to contribute ideas on our community site: talk.desk.pm/

    :)

  8. Bryan
    December 15, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    Hey, Thanks for showing Desk for Mac. It will definitely have to be put to my test :)
    Also, the first link to desk.pm has a couple of characters included from the price, so it ends up at a 404 :)

    • Justin Pot
      December 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      Hey, just fixed the link: thanks for the tip! Let us know what you think about Desk, will you?

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