Customize Dreamweaver to Your Needs

Cartoonists pick and choose their pens. Contractors select their wood. Teachers decorate their classrooms. Why can’t developers customize their editors? Wait a minute… they can!

This article explains a few of the most useful customization tricks which can be achieved by you, the Macromedia Dreamweaver user.

Important Notes

This tutorial is written for Macromedia Dreamweaver MX, the latest version as of December 2002. Many of the examples provided, however, can be achieved in earlier versions (especially v4, a nearly identical Dreamweaver product).

Dreamweaver tweaks may include modifications of the /Configuration/ directory. The files in this folder are essential to the software’s stability. Therefore, a backup is suggested.

When editing a Dreamweaver config file, do not open the document in Dreamweaver. This may compromise stability. Other choices may include Microsoft Notepad or Macromedia HomeSite. I’ll assume you have a basic knowledge of this product and its capabilities.

Controlling Your Document Extensions

One of the very first things I noticed after purchasing Macromedia’s Dreamweaver MX was the default naming of HTML files as .htm documents. Though this is just as acceptable as the traditional .html extension, the transition from my own standards, quite frankly, bugged me. To manage your document extensions, let’s pull up DW’s extension config file at:

../Macromedia/Dreamweaver MX/Configuration/DocumentTypes/MMDocumentTypes.xml

Here you’ll find the document extension settings for our program. To change the default HTML extension, locate line 3 and change the following code from:




In addition, Mac users may make the same alteration to the macfileextension attribute. All we’ve really done here is change the priority of the HyperText Markup Language’s extension. It’s quite simple, really. And by editing things such as this in the file, we can generate entirely new actions for Dreamweaver.

Here’s another that I edited. I found that the browser-readable PHP document type PHPS lacks color coding, so I decided to add this extension to PHP’s extension library. How? On line 67, I changed the winfileextension and macfileextension attributes to include the .phps filetype. They originally read:


So I changed them to:


And, of course, the same changes can be made for macfileextension. With this information you should be able to control your Dreamweaver extension actions effortlessly.

Alter Default Document Templates

Standards change, personal preferences vary, and sometimes we just get plain lazy. Luckily, those kind Macromedia developers have left us a few handy options. Let’s pull up our new document directory at:

../Macromedia/Dreamweaver MX/Configuration/DocumentTypes/NewDocuments/

Here you’ll find all the basic document templates for Dreamweaver-initiated files. All you’ll have to do is open the appropriate filetype document and edit the template to suit your needs. For this example, let’s pretend we want to use the same external cascading stylesheet location for every HTML document we make for the foreseeable future. To make this a part of Dreamweaver’s natural code, we’ll edit the contents of the HTML template, Default.html. It looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">  <html>  <head>  <title>Untitled Document</title>  <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=">  </head>  <body>  </body>  < /html> 

Simply edit your code as shown below, and save.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">  <html>  <head>  <title>Untitled Document</title>  <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=">  <link href="/stylesheet.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css">  </head>  <body>  </body>  < /html> 

It’s as simple as that!

Edit the Tag Library

The Dreamweaver tag library is the source for all of your tag settings, including line breaks, contents, and capitalization. This is primarily used to optimize code for filesize and browser compatibility, as things such as white space tend to cause problems. But you might also wish to change a few other options for the sake of convenience. To open the tag library editor, go to:

Edit > Tag Libraries…

A master list of Dreamweaver-written tags and attributes provides concise insight as to what the software is able to produce. New additions will extend both the code-view dropdown menus, and Dreamweaver’s ability to comprehend your documents. Tag formatting should also be taken advantage of. Though Macromedia has created the most respected Internet development software, the default settings are less than stellar.

Key Dreamweaver Preferences

For the typical Dreamweaver novice, the large list of software tweaks can be quite daunting. Most can be completely ignored, however, as only a select few impact your work environment. I’ll highlight the major preferences you should customize. First, let’s get into the preference panel by selecting:

Edit > Preferences…

Category Important Tweaks

Here’s a list of the most essential changes you should approve.

  • General – Document Options: Open Files in New Window; Editing Options: Use <strong> and <em> in place of <b> and <i>
  • Accessibility – None
  • Code Coloring – None
  • Code Format – Indent; Tab Size; Automatic Wrapping; Default Tag Case; Default Attribute Case; Override Case Of; Centering
  • Code Hints – Delay
  • Code Rewriting – Rewrite Code: Rename Form Items When Pasting
  • CSS Styles – None
  • File Types/Editors – None
  • Fonts – Code View
  • Highlighting – None
  • Invisible Elements – Show; Server-Side Includes
  • Layers – Netscape 4 Compatibility
  • Layout View – None
  • New Document – Default Document Type; Make Document XHTML Compliant
  • Panels – None
  • Preview in Browser – Browsers
  • Quick Tag Editor – Options
  • Site – All
  • Status Bar – Connection Speed (56k preferably)
  • Validator – All

Edit Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a developer’s best friend. Once you get used to them, work becomes a whole lot easier. However, what if you switched to Dreamweaver from a program that used different shortcuts? Or if you just really hate the ones Macromedia has provided? Not to worry!

Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts…

This is the master control panel for your Dreamweaver keyboard shortcuts. A ‘set’ is simply a database of shortcuts that can be activated or deactivated.

For example, let’s pretend we’re pulling a practical joke on our friend Joe. Our buddy always uses the Ctrl+N and Ctrl+O shortcuts to create and open documents. Yes, we’re evil. Let’s switch them.

Make sure Macromedia Standard is selected as the active set, and click on the first icon to duplicate the database. Rename the set to ‘Our Evil Scheme’. Under the Menu Commands section, maximize the File category and find ‘New…’. Delete the old shortcut by highlighting it and hitting the minus action. Place your pointer in the text field and press Ctrl+O on your keyboard (don’t type it literally — carry out the action). Then select Change.

Now we have a duplicate Ctrl+O entry, but Dreamweaver will only use the first entry that occurs in the database. So go back and replace the ‘Open…’ action with Ctrl+N as we did before. Hit OK.

Well, our prank was a success… sort of. Joe has until tomorrow to fix the software or he will be fired by his boss! Open the Keyboard Shortcut editor. Select Macromedia Standard as your set and hit OK. Open it back up and hit the trash can. Confirm the deletion of Our Evil Scheme so there’s no evidence. Hit OK and exit. That’s it!

Let’s not abuse this feature, eh?

Utilizing Macromedia Extensions

If you don’t already have the Extension software installed, you can download it here.

The Extension Manager is Macromedia’s most useful tool for customizing the way Dreamweaver reads, writes, and expedites. Widespread popularity and the product’s targeted audience have produced an exceptional database of add-on modules that work with this software.

To locate a plugin that’s suitable for you, visit Here you’ll find the list of extendable Macromedia products, as well as the link for the Exchange Manager. Point your browser to the Dreamweaver (MX) section, and get a Macromedia ID. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll have access to a myriad of downloads.

Log in, and use the ‘browse extensions…’ dropdown to locate an appropriate plugin and platform. Save the desired file into:

../Macromedia/Extension Manager/Downloads/

Once the transfer is complete, open Macromedia Extension Manager.


File > Install Extension…

Then simply follow the on-screen directions, and finally restart Dreamweaver. Instructions concerning the module’s use and location are available in the manager’s extension list.

Important References

The following is a list of official Macromedia Dreamweaver MX documents and references that will aid the customization process. Some of these files have been used in the creation of this tutorial and may be further utilized to enhance your Dreamweaver experience.

Don’t forget to back up important files!

MM DW Exchange
Databased Downloads – Help > Dreamweaver Exchange

MM DW Support Center
Information Database Help > Dreamweaver Support Center

Extending DW MX
Local Information Database Help > Extending Dreamweaver

MM Support: Online Forums
Online Message Boards Help > Macromedia Online Forums

Customizing MM DW MX
Compressed Adobe PDF File

MM DW MX Shortcut Matrix
Compressed Adobe PDF File

MM DW Updates
File Downloads

Thumbnail Generator and Optimizer

The thumbnail generator/optimizer is a little-known capability of the software. Though it’s not hidden in any way, I know barely a single person who’s taken advantage of this convenient tool. Go to:

Commands > Create Web Photo Album…

Here you’ll find a quick, easy, and painless way to process images on the go. Select a source and destination folder, tweak the other optional settings, and let Dreamweaver do the rest. I usually throw out the automatically generated HTML page, though you may find it useful.

With these tips you should have success in changing the way your Dreamweaver software assists you in your Web development. Good luck!


Category: software Time: 2003-01-17 Views: 2

Related post

  • how to customize debian installation cd for your needs 2011-11-19

    I have with me a Debian CD, which I want to customize for my own needs. I have extracted the CD and started to change some parts of it, e.g Splash screen (splash.png) installer Title (through isolinux.cfg) etc These are the things that I want to do:

  • How to Customize Ubuntu into your own custom distribution 2011-06-13

    I would like to customize Ubuntu live CD by installing some additional packages. I have followed this but it doesn't seems to work. Can anyone provide clear instructions? Note: I do not prefer Remastersys, manual way will be appreciated. Customizatio

  • How to find the module to create charts in Drupal that best fits your needs? 2012-08-18

    I want to represent data with charts (primarily linear charts). Is there a "standard" solution? I've seen suggestions for Google Charts API, for the Charts and Graphs module, and others. I'm really not sure how to judge these effectively. Basica

  • How to cover all your needs with just one lens? 2014-04-01

    I have read lots of articles that argue that the less you carry with you on trips or in everyday life, the faster you will be taking photos and you will take full advantage of your gear. However, how can one lens cover all the situations you might en

  • How to fix mixed content errors in the theme customization tool when your admin uses SSL? 2016-02-23

    I have a Wordpress installation hosted for free on Openshift. I'm using CloudFlare so I can force HTTPS on login/admin pages (more details about my setup can be found here). I got "mixed content" errors at first because of images and other stati

  • 18 Free Text Editors To Clean Up Your Code 2009-06-22

    While there are a number of paid solutions out there for editing your code, not everyone has hundreds of dollars in their budget to get them on their desktop. Luckily, there are numerous free solutions for just about every style of editing that you c

  • How can we customize the logo and some text on the welcome screen? 2012-07-03

    I have found discussions and solutions on hiding or removing the lately introduced Welcome screen. But we DO find the screen, as a whole, very useful and an excellent addition. So, what we are looking for is quite different. We just want to change pa

  • 100 jQuery Sliders for Images/Content (Part 1) 2012-03-08

    It seems image and content sliders are getting more and more popular amongst most websites these days. So how do you find a decent one that will be suitable for your webiste? Well, we have collected 100 jQuery image and content sliders & plugins for

  • How do I add a tool tip to a span element? 2009-06-28

    In the following code, I want a tool-tip to come up when the user hovers the span, how do I do that? I don't want to use any links. <span> text </span> --------------Solutions------------- Here's the simple, built-in way: <span title="

  • Alternative Linux Detection Methods To Detect A Compromised Host 2009-10-02

    This is a rewrite of my previous post as it was not entirely clear what I was trying to achieve. Hopefully this will make more sense :) In a nutshell what I am looking for is alternative methods to detect if my system is compromised beyond using tool

  • PHP webmail client, but which server? 2010-01-10

    We have to develop a web mail client for one of our clients, and we're looking for an email server we can utilize that would possibly be able to interface with PHP. We'll most probably host on Ubuntu Server edition with Apache, but obviously, writing

  • Start/stop internet sharing from a script? 2010-09-22

    Is there a way to start/stop internet sharing from the command line or maybe an apple script? The thing is that I move around my laptop between home and work. At one place I get wireless internet (and thus I have to disable internet sharing), and at

  • How can I toggle internet sharing from the command line? 2010-09-22

    Is there a way to start/stop internet sharing from the command line or maybe an apple script? The thing is that I move around my laptop between home and work. At one place I get wireless internet (and thus I have to disable internet sharing), and at

  • Seamless integration between WordPress and BBpress 2010-09-23

    I have a WordPress site at and a BBPress install at the wp site has a menu item that goes to the forums, and I'd like the header to be the same between the two, so that they can navigate back to the main site. how can

  • Looking for PHP E-Commerce Script which allows USERS to create their own stores 2011-02-19

    Possible Duplicate: Which Ecommerce Script Should I Use? Are there ready made PHP scripts which would allow my USERS to create their own stores? I don't want an eBay clones. Just a script which is easy to configure and customize. --------------Soluti

  • Forum that integrates into CMS and has curated category pages with tagged threads 2011-03-18

    Possible Duplicate: What Forum Software should I use? I'm looking for a forum that meets these requirements: Login using Facebook/Twitter/OpenID etc. User profiles with reward system Voting/thumbs up function Categories and tags for sorting threads C

  • Shared Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 2011-05-02

    I have extensively googled and searched ServerFault for guidance, and I can't find any design scenario examples or best practices, or in fact any documentation at all from Microsoft for how to approach this problem. We have a number of mailboxes that

  • Best plugin for tracking Apache response codes with Munin 2011-06-10

    I'd like to monitor the rate of 404, 403, 500 etc errors in my Apache logs with Munin but I can't find a plugin to do this. Surely it exists? --------------Solutions------------- Here's a plugin that might help. It monitors various request codes by p

  • Is there a way to control the delay before shutdown on low battery? 2011-07-16

    Is there any way to configure shutdown on critically low battery to give me a bit of time before actually shutting down? I've set GNOME Power Manager to shutdown on low battery (hibernating does not work on my netbook). Problem is, I don't get any no

iOS development

Android development

Python development

JAVA development

Development language

PHP development

Ruby development


Front-end development


development tools

Open Platform

Javascript development

.NET development

cloud computing


Copyright (C), All Rights Reserved.

processed in 1.545 (s). 13 q(s)