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Blogging on the iPad: How to use WordPress

The free WordPress app for the iPad lets you blog from the device. Learn the ins and outs in this quick tutorial.

If you are looking to use your iPad as a blogging tool, WordPress is a likely starting point. After all, it's one of--if not the--most popular blog platform in the world. And the app is free. It's very easy to use, but in large part because it's very limited. In this brief tutorial, I will show you how to use WordPress on the iPad.

After downloading the app, you'll be be asked to start a new blog or add a hosted or self-hosted blog. Whether you are creating a new blog or linking to an existing blog, it is simple, one-page process.

Signing up for a WordPress blog is a simple, straightforward process. Matt Elliott/CNET

Turn your iPad into landscape mode, and you'll have a navigation menu along the left edge and the editing pane to the right. From the navigation menu, you can select to add or edit posts and pages, and you can moderate and reply to comments.

For comments, your moderating options include delete, reply, and mark as spam. To approve a comment, however, you'll need to use the Web application. Also, new comments do not immediately appear in the iPad app; they show up on the live site before the iPad app, and I could not find a way to refresh the iPad app to make new comments appear.

Pages differ from posts; instead of appearing in the main blog section of your site, they are the supporting pages--About, Contact, and so on--where your readers can go to learn more about you.

To create and edit blog posts in WordPress, you'll use this screen, which features your posts in the left column and the editing pane on the right. Matt Elliott/CNET

For most of the time, you'll use the Posts section. To create a blog post, you'll enter a title, and you can also add tags and categories. You can't create a new category but can only select from your previously established list. Tap in the editing pane to call up the onscreen keyboard. When the keyboard is not on the screen, you'll see icons in the lower-left corner to access the settings and preview windows. There are only three settings to adjust: Status (draft, pending review, published), Visibility (public, password protected, private), and Published on (choose "immediately" or select a date.) The preview does an accurate job of showing you what your post will look like, including the alignment and size of your images.

To add an image, click on the picture icon in the lower-right corner of the editing pane. You do not have the ability to select its alignment; images are inserted along the left edge. Also, you can't insert images where you last left your cursor; instead, you can choose to add the image at the top or bottom of the post. To move the image somewhere in the middle of your post, you will need to cut and paste the HTML code. You can, however, select a size (small, medium, large, original) or choose a custom size. There isn't a proportion slider or checkbox, so to keep your image from distorting, you'll need to do the math yourself if you select a custom width and height.

When inserting an image, you can select a size or enter custom dimensions. Matt Elliott/CNET

Adding videos is seemingly impossible to do. Next to the picture icon is a film-strip icon. Instead of calling up a window where you can choose a video from the iPad's camera roll, I was greeted by a window that instructed me to learn more about VideoPress, a WordPress plug-in for uploading videos. When I accepted the offer to learn more, a page opened in Safari that told me about VideoPress, including the price: $59.97 a year. And even if you were willing to fork over the money, you will be dismayed to find that the plug-in works with the WordPress Web client but not with iOS.

To embed a video in a blog post, you're asked to learn more about VideoPress, a plug-in that isn't compatible with the iPad. Matt Elliott/CNET

On the rare occasion when we attempted to add a video, instead of the VideoPress offer, we got a window that asked if we wanted to take a video or add a video from the iPad's media library. I attempted to insert a video, and each time the upload failed, telling me that I need to first install VideoPress, which I cannot do on the iPad. Arg!

Lastly, there is no HTML editor, so you have no options for formatting your posts. I couldn't even find a way to add a link without typing in the HTML myself. For blogging on the iPad, I like the $2.99 BlogPress app much better than the free WordPress app. It offers more functionality and supports multiple blog platforms, including WordPress.

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