The new WordPress.com desktop app is now available on all major operating platforms including Mac, Windows, and Linux. The app, built on modern technologies is seriously fast, secure, and guaranteed to enrich your writing experience.
But can you actually benefit from the apps if your blog is not powered by WordPress.com? Well, the good news is that you can also use self-hosted WordPress blogs with the WordPress.com apps.
In this tutorial, I will walk you through installing the WordPress.com apps and configuring the application to make it work with your self-hosted WordPress blog.
Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, announced the desktop versions of the WordPress app when it revealed the new WordPress.com last month.
The app was initially launched for Mac only, and it has slowly rolled out the Windows and Linux versions of the app.
Download WordPress Applications
Downloading and installing the WordPress application is straightforward. Head over to the official website of WordPress apps – Desktop.WordPress.com and download the application for your operating system.
Once you have downloaded the application, let’s learn about its new features and how you can use it for your WordPress blogs.
For WordPress.com Blogs
If you have a WordPress.com blog, using the application should be almost similar to using the WordPress.com website.
Launch the app and login with your WordPress.com account. The interface should be already familiar to you as the desktop apps bring the same experience of the web.
Using Apps with Self-hosted WordPress
One of the primary objectives of discussing the new apps here on WPism is to guide you through the steps of making it work on your self-hosted WordPress blogs.
So, let’s get started.
The official WordPress.com announcement post cites that the apps are not just for WordPress.com and that it also allows all self-hosted WordPress blogs to access all the features.
1. Create a WordPress.com Account
The first step then is to create a WordPress.com account. Head over to signup page of WordPress.com to create a new account if you haven’t got one already.
2. Install Jetpack by WordPress.com Plugin
Once you have a WordPress.com account, you will need to install the Jetpack by WordPress.com plugin.
Search for Jetpack from Plugins > Add Plugins within your WordPress dashboard.
Install and activate the plugin.
Once Activated, you will need to connect to the WordPress.com account.
Click on the connect button and you will be prompted to enter your WordPress.com username and password.
After connecting with WordPress.com, Jetpack should automatically present you with a page where you can just activate the WordPress.com tools in a single click.
If you miss the page or have installed Jetpack already, go to Jetpack > Settings and activate the Manage module from the list of the features. (see the screenshot below)
As you can see, Jetpack is an extensive plugin bundled with more than 27 modules adding lots of features. You might want to choose and activate only those modules that are useful to you.
Now that you have installed the Jetpack plugin and successfully enabled the site management feature, you are ready to explore the WordPress app.
Installing and Configuring WordPress App
I will show you screenshots from the OS X version of the application in this post, but it should be pretty much the same on all platforms.
- Download and install the desktop application.
- Launch the Application and you should see a login screen. Log in with your WordPress.com account details.
- The first tab you will see is the Reader for WordPress.com. You can read all the latest posts from the WordPress websites and tags that you follow within the app.
- Click on My Sites (next to the Reader tab) and you will be taken to the Stats page of your default WordPress website.
- Click on Switch Site if you want to manage your other websites.
- You should see your self-hosted WordPress website on the list if you have successfully followed the above steps.
Continue reading to see a quick preview of the different features of the App.
Features of WordPress.com App
So once you have the WordPress.com application installed and your website configured, let’s dig into the main features of the app.
If you use WordPress.com, you should be already familiar with most of the features in the application.
Even for self-hosted WordPress users, the features aren’t anything new, you will find yourself looking at the simplified and modern version of the WordPress dashboard.
Please keep in mind that the application will undergo several iterations over time to overcome the shortcomings and continue adding more features.
Apart from the Stats section, the App is divided into three major sections for different functionalities.
1. Publish Section
You can add posts and pages and directly publish them to your WordPress blog from this section. The editor looks clean and modern.
You can also see previously published posts and pages on your blog and edit them from this section.
Additionally, you will see your custom post types in the sidebar, but there’s no option to edit and publish custom posts directly from the app.
2. Personalize Section
The personalize section lets you customize your WordPress themes and add/edit menus.
Customizing themes has limited options enabled for self-hosted WordPress blogs and only allows you to activate other installed themes on your website. See the screenshot below.
The Menus tab makes it easier to add new menus, edit existing menus, and assign menus to the menu enabled areas on your blog in a simplified interface.
3. Configure Section
The configure section lets you configure the settings of your blogs for users, plugins, and a few general settings.
The ability to manage plugins and auto updates synced with the Jetpack plugin is one of the highlights of this section and the overall app.
You can activate/disable and bulk-edit all installed plugins on your website from this section.
Next, the settings screen lets you configure your main settings under General, Writing, Discussion, and Security categories.
Additionally, if you have enabled Sharing feature of the Jetpack plugin, you will get options to manage your sharing options including settings for buttons and social media connections.
One thing I have noticed in the Configure section is that you can configure settings for all the Jetpack modules activated on your blog here.
Comparing the app to the web version of WordPress.com, I can see that it’s missing the AdControl tab for websites that have the WordAds enabled for making money with their content.
WordPress.com App for Developers
WordPress.com App can also be useful to you if you are a WordPress developer. You can install and run the apps locally following these instructions on Github.
Besides, Automattic has open-sourced the application and as a developer, you can hugely benefit from this. Check out the development guide to help you find where to change stuff in the application.
I have been using the WordPress.com desktop application since its release, and I am glad to see the app undergoing frequent updates.
The initial version had connection errors and a few other shortcomings, but it has significantly improved in the latest versions.
I like the modern interface and incredible speed of the application. The best thing about the App is that it lets me manage plugins and updates on almost 25+ WordPress websites.
However, I am not a fan of the reader and publishing interface of the application yet.
Are you using the WordPress.com applications? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.
Update: WordPress Desktop Application Screenshots Late 2016