Google+ was never quite the Facebook killer it was hyped up to be, but it’s been growing steadily ever since it’s been introduced and now has over 100 million active users. Whether you’re just getting started with Google+ or you signed up a while ago and never gave it a chance, these Google+ tips will help get you up to speed with Google’s social network.
Google+ is packed with features and it would take one of our in-depth guides to cover every last thing you can do with it. For more in-depth information, be sure to download Get Into Google+: A Guide for Everyone, our free, in-depth guide to Google+.
Manage Your Circles
The first thing you should do after signing up with Google+ is manage your circles. When Google+ first launched, its most distinguishing feature was the ability to organize your friends into “circles” and control who you share things with. For example, you can easily create separate circles for family members, friends, and coworkers. It’s easy to control which circle sees which post, so you can share different things with your family and your coworkers. You can even toggle between viewing posts from your different circles at the top of your Google+ homepage.
For more information about managing your circles, read 7 Must-Know Tips About Managing Your Google+ Circles.
Send Private Messages
While creating a post, you can choose who that post will be shared with. You can make posts public or share them with one or more circles. However, you can also send a private message by sharing a post with only a single person. Just ensure only that person’s name is mentioned in the box at the bottom of the post.
View Who a Post is Shared With
To see who a post is shared with – either your post or someone else’s – you can click the Limited link at the top-right corner of the post. If the link says Public instead, the post is visible to everyone on the web.
Format Your Text
Google+ uses the same formatting tricks that work with Google Talk.
- Bold: Surround the text in *’s. For example: *words*
- Italics: Surround the text in _’s. For example: _words_
- Strikethrough: Surround the text with -’s. For example: -words-
You can also combine these tricks. For example, *_-words-_* would make the words bold, italic, and strikethrough.
Tag Someone in a Post with +
Twitter and Facebook use the @ to tag someone in a post. However, Google+ uses the + symbol. For example, if you wanted to tag me in a post, you’d use +Chris Hoffman, not @Chris Hoffman.
If you comment on a post – or start a post – you’ll continue receiving notifications whenever other people comment on it. If you’re no longer interested in the post and don’t want to receive these notifications, you can “mute” the post. You won’t receive any more notifications about the post. Use the Mute this post option beneath the arrow at the top-right corner of the post.
Link to a Specific Post
To share a specific post with someone via email or instant message – or to bookmark it for later – you’ll need an URL that links directly to the post. To get this URL, you can click the little arrow at the top-right corner of a post and select Link to this post. The URL will show the post on its own page.
Control What’s Public and What’s Private
You don’t have to expose your data publicly. While editing your profile, you can control whether you appear in search engines – just change the Profile discovery setting.
You can also control who can see which individual pieces of information about you, including whether people can see who you have in your circles and who has circled you. Even if you let people into the circles, people can never see your circle names or view how people are arranged in your circles.
Use the View as feature at the top of your profile page to view how your profile appears to the public.
View Your +1’s
Google+ allows you to +1 content you find across the web. Google will highlight these +1′s when someone in your circles performs a search for something. View your +1’s by clicking the +1’s tab on your profile page. You can remove things you’ve +1’d from here, if you like.
Disable Notification Emails
Google+ sends you notification emails by default. This lets you know what’s happening on Google+ without you having to visit it. If you regularly check Google+ anyway, you may want to disable the notification emails and declutter your inbox. You’ll find these options on the Google+ tab on your Google account settings page.
Drag and Drop Photos and Videos to Share
Google+ makes it easy to upload and share photos and videos stored on your computer. Just drag and drop them from your computer to the new post box in your browser. They’ll be uploaded and you can easily share them in the post.
Google+ allows you to create and join communities. Communities can be small, private groups that only a few people can join, or large groups that share an interest. You’ll find these on the Communities tab.
Hangouts are no longer an exclusive Google+ feature – they’re also available in Gmail – but hangouts are one of Google+’s best features. Here at MakeUseOf, we use Google+ hangouts for our meetings. Unlike Skype’s 10-person video chat feature, hangouts are free and work right in your browser. Hangouts are one of the best tools for the job.
Of course, Google pitched hangouts as more than a video-conferencing feature. You can start a hangout and people in your circles will see it in their stream – they can join the hangout and video chat with you. You can use hangouts on Android and iOS, too.
Google+ is absolutely packed with features. For example, it also contains a variety of games, including Angry Birds. You can compete with your friends and view their high scores. Unlike on Facebook, game-related content is hidden away in the games section, so you won’t see any messages about your friends’ virtual farms and other bad games cluttering your stream. For more Google+ tips, read 10 Tips For Improving Your Google+ Status.
If you’re a Google+ user, you may want to follow us on Google+. We have an active Google+ presence where we share our favorite recent posts and engage in the comments with the community!
What other Google+ tips, tricks, and hidden features do you know about? Leave a comment and share them!