How to Move a Blog from Typepad to Blogger

When I decided to move my blog from Typepad to Blogger, I went in search of technical information on how to accomplish this. There is no standard format for blog data, and at present Blogger cannot import blogs from other platforms, so I needed to find out how to convert the Typepad format to the Blogger format. What I found was . . . bupkus. I couldn’t find a single page or post on this particular transformation. There was lots of information on migrating from Typepad to WordPress but nothing on moving to Blogger.

So, armed with congenital stubbornness and everything ever written by Bach, I went through an exhausting process of trial and error. Every time I hit a roadblock I’d search the web for clues and come up with something else to try. Eventually I got the whole thing figured out and I vowed to post the details online in case anyone else wants to make the same move (and I hope they do because Blogger rocks!). It’s my little contribution to the geekosphere.

As it turns out, moving from Typepad to Blogger is not terribly complicated. As the saying goes, it’s easy when you know how. It really comes down to using the right applications at each step in the process. Using the wrong one will get you nowhere, as I found out several times. Here is what worked for me:


Export your blog from Typepad. (Manage | Import/Export | Export) This exports all of your posts, pages, and comments in Movable Type Import Format. This is a simple text file with UTF-8 encoding, which is standard but it shouldn’t be edited in just any text editor (see below). Details on the structure of the file can be found here (you may need this later on).

Upload your images to an image host with predictable file paths. I opted to use PhotoBucket, though I’m not entirely happy with their file management (you can’t view or search by filename). However it does produce predictable file paths which means you can update the image links in your blog with a simple search and replace (see next step). Picasa, Blogger’s image host, generates random image file paths and so you’d have to update each image link by hand if you went that way. Note that after December 15, 2008, Typepad started using randomly generated file paths for images and so any images posted since then have to be updated manually. Boo for Typepad!

Edit your export file with Notepad++. Editing the Typepad export file with Notepad, Wordpad, or Word will do something to the format that prevents it from being converted to Blogger format later. Notepad++ is free and has advanced search and replace features that are crucial for this sort of work. It also handles accented and other special characters (i.e. Unicode), which the others do not. For safety’s sake, save a version of the file at every stage in your editing. This can help with later troubleshooting. There are a number of things you will want to fix:

Image links. Use search and replace to bulk-update image links to your new image hosting location. Before last December 15th, the Typepad image file path was:

http://user.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/YYYY/MM/DD/image.jpg

Use CTRL-R to open advanced search and replace, check “Regular Expr” and “Wrap,” and uncheck “Selection.” Set up a search and replace following this model:

Search: user.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/200[0-9]/[01][0-9]/[0123][0-9]/
Replace: imagehost.com/user/album/
(follow image host’s file structure)

The numbers in brackets represent possible numbers (e.g. 0 or 1 for the first number in a month). Fill in the bolded parts as appropriate. If you’ve been with Typepad for a few years, you might also have images directly in the /uncategorized/ folder. Browse through your export file to make sure you’ve found all the possible locations of your images

Keywords. Keywords in Typepad will become “labels” in Blogger (as will Typepad categories). If you don’t want all your keywords to become labels, you’ll have to delete them. If you only have a few keywords, it is probably easier to remove them in Blogger by selecting all posts and using the “Label Actions” dropdown box.

If you are going to delete your keywords and think you may have instances of “KEYWORDS:” in your text you’ll have to search for them first and alter them in some way so they don’t get involved in the search and replace. Try searching for “KEYWORDS: ” (i.e. with a space after) or “>KEYWORDS:<” (i.e. a separate line in html text) to find these. If you really need to keep them as is you can temporarily append a distinctive set of characters (e.g. $$$) and then remove them afterwards with search and replace.

Here’s how to remove the keywords:

Search (“Regular Expr” & “Selection” unchecked, “Match case” & “Wrap” checked): KEYWORDS:CTRL-M (Note: typing CTRL-M inserts an invisible line break character—you won’t actually see “CTRL-M”)
Replace: KEYWORDS:

This puts the keywords on the same line as the head tag, which is necessary for the following search:

Search (as before but “Regular Expr” checked): KEYWORDS:.*
Replace: KEYWORDS:CTRL-M

Extra line breaks. Until recently Typepad inserted line breaks between paragraphs (and some other tags) in the post HTML, which made editing it easier, but unfortunately Blogger renders these as real line breaks, which creates extra space between paragraphs and and the ends of posts. There can be several of these breaks in a row, so it takes multiple searches to get them all:

Search (“Regular Expr” off): >CTRL-M<
Replace: ><
Search: >CTRL-M CTRL-M<
Replace:><
Search: >CTRL-M CTRL-M CTRL-M<
Replace:><
…and so on until no more are found

Don’t actually put spaces between each CTRL-M—I just did that here so they would be legible. At the end of this process each post should be in one lump of HTML. It’s messy but that’s the way Blogger likes it.

Alternatively, you can set Blogger to ignore line breaks in the post HTML (Settings | Formatting | Convert Line Breaks: No). This just means that if you are composing a post in HTML you will have to code in line breaks (
) instead of just hitting Enter.

Your comment signatures. All the comments you left on your own blog will be linked to your old blog’s URL or your Typekey/Typepad Connect profile. Use search and replace to fix these as follows:

Search (“Regular Expr” off): URL: http://user.typepad.com/blog/CTRL-MDate:
Replace: http://www.blogger.com/profile/########CTRL-MDate:

Be sure to try alternative versions of your old URLs with and without a final slash. Repeat for Typekey and Typepad Connect profiles if you ever used them. Find your exact Blogger profile URL from your Blogger Dashboard (View Profile).

Anything else you can think of. Now’s the time to make any fiddly changes to your blog content. It’s a lot easier to search through a single text file than to edit posts individually once they’re in Blogger.

Split up your edited export file, if necessary. The blog conversion application you’ll be using can’t handle files over 1MB. If your edited file is larger than this, split it up at the end of a post, which is marked with 8 hyphens. Each file should have “TITLE:” at the beginning and 8 hyphens at the end.

Convert your edited export file(s). (Almost there!) Use the Googlecode Blog Converter for Movable Type to Blogger. As long as your file isn’t too big and the format hasn’t been corrupted, it should work first try. If you get an error, try converting an earlier version of your edited file to see if you can narrow down where the problem happened. Make sure none of your search/replacing has interfered with the Movable Type format. I had one file conversion fail because of a single missing line break! This is why you should save your export file after every edit.

Import into Blogger. If you haven’t set up a new blog in Blogger do so now. Under the Settings tab click “Import blog” and choose the xml file(s) you produced with the blog converter. Once you hit “Import” any number of things could happen. You’re supposed to see a screen with a sort of progress bar and messages about what is being imported. At the end you should get a message saying how many posts and comments were imported. More likely you will get an error message, or a hung progress page, or some half-loaded mystery page with nothing on it. Don’t despair. Go to Posting | Edit Posts and you may find your posts are there anyway. If not, wait a minute and refresh. If they’re really truly not there, try importing again. You may have to try three or four times, but it will work eventually.

That’s the end of the data migration! There are just a few more details to take care of in Blogger:

Theme: If you haven’t already, choose a theme for your blog. This will determine both the look and the layout of your blog. There are countless free themes available for download online—there’s no need to have a Blogger blog that looks like every other Blogger blog! Just beware that older themes may have to be modified to allow embedded comments (comments below the post). This is usually just a matter of inserting a line of code. Alternatively, under “Edit HTML” you can choose “Revert widget templates to default,” though this may reverse some of the customization of your theme. Always back up your theme before making any changes!

Sidebars: You’ll have to manually set up your sidebars, headers, and footers using Blogger’s Layout page. Though it’s a bit tedious to copy and paste your blogrolls, link lists, and other widgets, you’ll find that it’s much easier to edit and rearrange all of that content in Blogger than it was in Typepad.

One tricky point for book-bloggers is what to do about book lists since Blogger doesn’t have an automated book list gadget. One way around that is to use widgets from third party sources like Amazon, LibraryThing, or Shelfari. Or if you’re comfortable with a little HTML you can make your own with a blank HTML gadget. Once you have a template worked out then it’s just a matter of inserting the relevant book details. Here’s an example of simple code for a sidebar book list for someone with an Amazon associates account:

  • <a href=http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ISBN/associatesID/> <img src=http://images.amazon.com/images/P/ISBN.01._SCTHUMBZZZ_.jpg / style=”float: left; margin: 0px 10px 15px 0px;”/>BOOK TITLE
    AUTHOR

     

 

  • <a href=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ISBN/associatesID“/> <img src=http://images.amazon.com/images/P/ISBN.01._SCTHUMBZZZ_.jpg / style=”float: left; margin: 0px 10px 15px 0px;”/>BOOK TITLE
    AUTHOR

     

 

 

Simply update the parts in bold and you’re done. Be sure to use the 10-digit ISBN to access Amazon. They have yet to switch to ISBN-13 for their URLs.

Internal Links: By moving your blog, all your internal links will be broken. Every link in your blog to one of your blog pages will have to be updated. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to do this. Use search to find internal links in your Typepad export file (since it’s easy to work with), then find the new locations of both the post with the internal link and the post it is linking to, and update the link with the new address. It’s not fun but hopefully there won’t be too many of them.

Recent images: Images posted since December 15, 2008 will have some Typepad gobbledegook for an address, so you’ll have to update them with the new URL for the image at your image host (see above). Search your Typepad export file for “user.typepad.com/.a/” to find the locations of your image links.

Files: If you had uploaded any files to Typepad to share on your blog—music, home video, documents, etc.—you’ll have to find somewhere to host them because they can’t be uploaded to Blogger. I use the free web folder provided by my ISP. It’s not large but it’s large enough for my purposes.

Tell Google: Sign up for a Google Webmasters account and register your new blog so that Google will start indexing it right away. This will enable people to find your new blog via Google search.

Enjoy the wonders of Blogger! That’s it, you’re done! You can now enjoy the speed, reliability, functionality, and versatility of Blogger. One of the greatest things about Blogger, which is particularly helpful when you are setting up your blog, is the ability to edit any element from the blog itself. If you are logged in to Google you’ll see tool icons below every element of your blog. Just click on one to edit the content of that section and it will be updated immediately without having to refresh the page. Brilliant.


Because I was making it up as I went along, I didn’t follow precisely these steps in exactly this order when I was migrating my blogs to Blogger. I ended up having to go back and edit some things after uploading to Blogger. In doing that I found that while Notepad++ is great for text files, it has trouble with large XML files (which is the format Blogger exports in). So if you want to bulk-edit an existing Blogger blog, try using firstobject XML Editor (foxe). It’s fast and simple, though the search and replace is very basic (no regular expressions or line break characters).

I should mention that I use Windows Live Writer to actually write my blog posts. I started using it after the last Typepad “upgrade” because their “improved” editor was practically unusable. I continue to use it because it is so slick and easy to use, and shows you exactly how your post will look as you’re typing it. It also has some nice image formatting options and helpful third-party plug-ins (including one that automatically posts a tweet when you publish). It’s free, and it’s just extremely good.

Finally, I’ve discovered a handy tool for backing up your entire blog, images and all. HTTrack is a free application that will download every page from a website and download all the images and other paraphernalia that goes with it. This might be a handy thing to do before deleting your old blog just to have a record of what was there in case you need to restore something at your new blog. You can never have enough backups, right?

I hope this doesn’t all sound too daunting. It’s not difficult if you go step-by-step. Try printing out this post (with Internet Explorer; Firefox doesn’t print well) and using it as a checklist. I took a whole lot of notes as I went along and that was very helpful in keeping things straight. It does take time but it is worth it to get away from the cost, limitations, and frustrations of Typepad. This is one case where you don’t get what you pay for! Blogger, despite being free, is a powerful blog host and will let you do just about anything you can imagine. I definitely encourage Typepad users to take a look at Blogger and consider making the switch. You won’t regret it!


Addendum: One thing I didn’t realize about Blogger when I wrote this is that it doesn’t support paragraph tags. Using the Compose editor will strip the paragraph tags from your HTML and replace them with two break tags. If you have any paragraphs with CSS classes, they get converted to DIVs. This does not affect the appearance of your posts, but it does mean that if you want to style paragraphs either inline or through CSS, you will have to use DIV or SPAN tags to do it. It’s an oddity and I really hope they change it because paragraph tags are fundamental to HTML.

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23 comments on “How to Move a Blog from Typepad to Blogger

  1. wil says:

    Wow. You must have really been fed up with Typepad. 🙂

  2. Sylvia says:

    Heh. You have noooo idea. All this is was a small price to pay to get out.

  3. irenesbooks says:

    Thank you, but I think I'll stay with TypePad 😉

  4. She says:

    Wow! Do you know anyone who provides this service for a fee? I want to do it, but I can't imagine getting through that process without poking my eyes out!

  5. Sylvia says:

    I did try one blog migration consultant but they weren't able to do it, which forced me to figure it out myself. It's not terribly complicated, just tedious and requiring attention to detail. You could probably give this post to any website designer and they could do it. Or maybe one of the comp sci students at your school could do it as a project. They just need to be meticulous. Good luck! Be free! 🙂

  6. Mr Ulster says:

    I have a simpler methodology (alas you lose embedded html). The process is essentially: 1. TypePad export .txt file; 2. import to WordPress account; 3. WordPress export .xml file; 4. clean up .xml file via MovableType2Blogger conversion utility (as above); 5. import to Blogger account. For me, worked flawlessly, retained all post text, comments, and tags/labels. (I just have to reinsert the Flickr and Vimeo embeds.):

    http://www.mrulster.org/2009/08/how-to-import-typepad-blog-into-blogger_21.html

    Post comments at mrulster.org and I'll try to help. Like Sylvia, this long-time TypePad user ultimately got fed up. Posterous is where it's all going.

  7. Sylvia says:

    I tried that at first, but it's actually an unnecessary extra step. You can directly convert the Typepad export to Blogger format using the correct Google conversion tool. That's actually the easiest part. The hard part is fixing the internal links, which can only be done by hand, though using my method you can bulk update most of them. Simply moving the blog content doesn't move your photos—they will disappear when your Typepad account expires—and all internal links will be broken also. Moving a blog is a complicated thing, and unfortunately this is the best we can do until someone invents a common data standard for blogs and an export utility that grabs all blog content. I'm not holding my breath!

  8. janet says:

    this is very interesting! I've been thinking of moving from Typepad to Blogger for a while now but as I've been blogging for 3 years and have four typepad blogs, the whole thing has just seemed a bit daunting.

    I started designing new community blogs in blogger because blogger is much more suitable for group blogs and it's free. Once I'd got used to blogger, I was pleasantly surprised at how much easier it was use, how quickly the pages load and some of the extra functions. Although I haven't been able to get the embedded comments to work well yet, but that could be my template.

    Anyway, I'm feeling inspired. I had heard of the google converter before …. perhaps I should give it a go on one of my smaller blogs.

  9. Sylvia says:

    I know, isn't Blogger blazingly fast compared to Typepad? And I love how you can edit any element from the blog itself, and it refreshes automatically. Blogger is a lot more sophisticated than it looks.

    Yes, if you're using templates made before embedded comments were enabled there can be problems with embedded comments. Here some are instructions for fixing the code: http://www.bloggerbuster.com/2008/06/how-to-add-comment-form-beneath-your.html. Alternatively, you can create a blog with a default template and copy the comment box code to your custom templates.

    I shifted over 1000 posts and didn't lose a single thing. The Google converter is genius. Give my method a try!

  10. Sylvia says:

    P.S. I love that you have a blog all about laundry! Reminds me of a story in which a woman says something like “I feel more for this washing machine than I do for your uncle.” 😉

  11. DOCTOR JEN says:

    I've been thinking about a migration from Typepad to Blogger, too. Is there any advantage to doing this sooner rather than later? Tell us more about why you were so eager to get out!

  12. Sylvia says:

    Hi Doctor Jen! I see two advantages to moving sooner rather than later. One is that you'll have fewer images using the new Typepad image URL, which is just gobbledegook so it can't be updated with a simple search and replace. Those images have to updated by hand. The other is that the sooner you switch, the less you'll be paying for Typepad!

    There were many reasons why I left Typepad. How much time have you got? 😉 I contemplated leaving just about every year I was with Typepad, but didn't have a satisfactory alternative until Blogger brought in embedded commenting (i.e. a comment box on the same page as the post). I got really desperate to leave when Typepad “upgraded” their platform last year, which resulted in countless bugs and a very slow application. What was worse is that they would never admit they were wrong to roll out such a flawed product to paying customers. They just put on a happy faced, promised wonderful things in the future, and thanked us for our patience. That's when I started using Windows Live Writer, which I still use because it rocks!

    Since then they have rolled out another “all new” update, and it was somewhat better but had many problems also and took away vital features (like being able to search your posts). It also became clear that their energies were being focused on creating their own social network and catering to business clients, so the blogging platform itself was falling behind the *free* competition. That was just not acceptable for a paid blog host.

    Typepad does make it easy to adjust your template without coding (for a price), but I don't mind addressing the code directly in Blogger, in fact I prefer it. Blogger gives you almost total access to your blog's code (everything except the comment iframe), and that is worth at lot to me. But if I didn't want to code it would be easy to just copy and paste a nice template into Blogger and leave it at that. There are hundreds (thousands?) of them to choose from.

    The nice thing about Blogger is that you can try it for a while for free and see how you like it. Free is good!

  13. DOCTOR JEN says:

    Thanks for sharing all this info! Especially since you put so much time, thought and effort into nailing all the migration details. Many people (including me) will really benefit from your experience and expertise. There are so many blogging platforms with varying advantages and disadvantages that you needs lots of trial and error to figure out which is the right choice overall. It's a little overwhelming…

  14. Sylvia says:

    You're welcome! Yes, I think it does take trial and error to figure out what will work for you. The best thing I did was to take notes along the way so I could have a record of my experiments. That really helped me put it all together. Good luck!

  15. Hi Sylvia: I have a question. Long story short, mistakes were made when I exported my blog from TypePad and onto Blogger. The result is a number of “Page Not Founds.” My question: Should I wait for google to sort out the indexing on its own? Or should I try re-importing? I have a .txt doc that I exported from TypePad and the .xml.html doc that I imported to Blogger. I'm reluctant to do anything else in case I make the situation worse. If you have advice, can you leave a comment here or on my blog? Thanks! Susan

  16. Sylvia says:

    Hi Susan, welcome to Blogger! Yes, I'm afraid there will be an awkward period while Google adjusts to your new URLs. You can help it along by using Google's Webmaster Tools to register your new site. If you re-import (as I found out the hard way), Blogger will append random numbers to your post URLs in order to avoid conflicts. This will guarantee broken links galore! So it's better to just wait for Google to index your blog. Hang in there!

  17. Oh, after reading this detailed guide, I'm just so happy I have a colleague responsible for this stuff. I admire you for getting the blog moved, even though I'm not a computer newbie, these things give me quite a headache.

  18. Sylvia says:

    Ondrej, LOL! Thanks. It was a bit of a headache but I was determined to move so I had to find a way!

  19. Donna says:

    Curious…. if you continue to pay for your typepad subscription will they host the images on your blogger blog? I copied and pasted several of my old typepad posts into my new blogger blog and the images seem stable. Will they disappear?

    Donna

  20. Sylvia says:

    Hi Donna! If you continue to pay Typepad your images will remain, but if you let your subscription lapse they will be deleted. If you decide to leave Typepad you'll have to find a new home for your images and change the links or re-insert them into your blog posts. If you have a lot of them you can use the method above, but if there aren't too many it might be less trouble to re-insert them manually in Blogger, in which case they will reside in your (automatic) Picasa Web account.

  21. Megan says:

    This post is a fantastic resource. Thank you!

  22. You're welcome, Megan, I hope it is helpful to people!

  23. […] is my third blog home in 7 (!) years of blogging, and I have to say this move was much easier than the last one. The import itself was almost instantaneous, which is pretty impressive when you are talking about […]

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