I have a little confession to make: although I review a lot of Mac apps, I write about them on a PC – a Windows PC! My preferred program to write posts in is Windows Live Writer, which I prefer over the clutter of WordPress’s own editor. I’ve never been able to write a single review on a Mac until today, thanks to Pixel Pumper. It’s a Mac app available for free in the Mac App Store but it will soon carry a larger price tag (it’s free until they iron out all the bugs). Pixel Pumper is the closet alternative to Windows Live Writer that you can find on Mac. It connects with your WordPress-powered website and allows you to save a local draft of the post, or publish one directly. You can retrieve old posts to edit them, insert images & hyperlinks, add tags, set categories, and choose a featured image for your post.
Writing in Pixel Pumper is probably the best way to explore this app. At the moment, it exclusively supports WordPress as the blogging platform. Upon launch, you’re asked to sign in with your WordPress account. You can add more than one blog/account, and choose the one to use for publishing a post or saving a local draft. Recent posts for the selected blog appear in a column on the left, while your categories, the featured image and tag fields appear in a right pane.
You can see several editing options at the top, allowing you to to add a new post, add photos to the current post, apply a text style, change text alignment, and add a hyperlink. To insert an image (like the one below), click the ‘Add Photos’ button and select the image you want to add. Upon selecting it, you will see a small popup with options for managing its size and alignment.
If you would like for images to fit the width of your website, go to Pixel Pumper’s settings (from the cog wheel on the top-right) and select the ‘Images’ tab. Enter the width in pixels (just make sure you select the right blog if you’ve added more than one) and click ‘Set size’.
At the bottom of the Pixel Pumper window, there are two buttons for saving the post as a draft, and for publishing it. To schedule a post for publishing at a future date, click the little calendar icon just below the post title and select a publishing date and time.
Using Pixel Pumper is really as simple as using any other text editor. The layout is simple, and you won’t have trouble figuring out where all the options are. Perhaps the most major shortcoming of the app is that it offers you no direct way of posting a draft to WordPress; you can either publish a post directly, or schedule it for a future publishing date. Though thankfully, the scheduling option can be used as a workaround for this, as you can schedule a post using Pixel Pumper, and then change its status to draft from WordPress before the scheduled publishing time.
So how does the app compare to Live Writer? There are some features missing. There’s no way to tell what the word count for the current post is, you can’t split your post i.e. add the ‘More’ break, and there isn’t an HTML/Source/Text view of the post available. Adding images via drag & drop isn’t possible, and we’re guessing it won’t let us embed anything either. It also doesn’t have auto-correct; not even the first letter of the first word of a new sentence gets capitalized automatically. Also, Pixel Pumper does not automatically detect your website’s theme.
Apart from these missing features, there were also a few bugs that we came across. There doesn’t seem to be a way to remove a featured image once it’s been added, and Pixel Pumper won’t play nice with OS X’s dictionary and spelling & grammar check. Just thinking of all the typos I might already have made makes me shudder. Also, text pasted from Pixel Pumper into WordPress showed up in italics, even though the app itself had no formatting style applied to it.
The bugs and missing features both keep me from using it as my daily driver, since I often need to embed videos and edit a post’s HTML code. Perhaps for less demanding writing that involves only text and images, Pixel Pumper is good to go. If these shortcomings and bugs are fixed, we might just be looking at an excellent alternative for Windows Live Writer for the OS X platform. Whatever price it might carry could be worth it (it was worth $11.99 for a while), but we hope it’s reasonably priced, since Windows Live Writer is free.