In the last post, we covered all the basics of Google Plus, comparing it head-to-head with its rival -- Facebook. Today, we'll be looking at some tips and tricks that will help you more efficiently manage your Google Plus account. We'll touch upon privacy settings, keyboard shortcuts, Facebook to G+ migration and many other cool things.
So, without much ado, here is the second part of our 'Ultimate Guide to Using Google+':
In Google Plus, you have complete control over your profile. By clicking the edit button on the top right, you can select which parts of your profile are visible to whom. This is an indispensable feature for users who are concerned or are paranoid about their privacy.
Like Facebook and Twitter you can post status updates, photos, videos or share links with your G+ friends. You can choose to make the posts public or limit them to your circles. You can also format your posts using the following tricks:
To write text in bold, wrap the piece of text within two asterisk (*) symbols. For example, * this is some text in bold *
To write in italics, wrap the text between two underscore (_) symbols. For example, _ This is some text in italics _
To Strikethrough some word or phrase, use the minus/dash sign (-) before and after the piece of text. For example, - I didn't want to write this -
Google Plus has pretty simple keyboard shortcuts for navigating the interface. Here's a list of the important ones:
Use 'j' to navigate down the stream.
Use 'k' to navigate up the stream.
Use @ or + to mention someone in a post or comment. For example, +Luke I'm your father!
Or @Luke I'm your father!
On the home screen, press the 'q' key twice to jump to the chat box.
Use the space bar to scroll down the stream.
While writing a post, press the Tab key to open the dropdown menu that allows you to choose the circles.
Press 'Enter' while on a post to start commenting on it. To end your comment, press Tab + Enter.
While viewing a post, pressing Tab also allows you to cycle through the comments.
Like Twitter's retweet button, G+'s share button allows you to repeat posts and share them with your friends. Just click on the share button beneath the post to reshare it.
Finding People on Google Plus
There is a box at the top of the home screen that allows you to find any Google Plus user by searching his or her name. The search results give priority to users who are already in your circles. Alternatively, you can also try a free service called 'Find people on Plus'. Here, you can find and discover popular and not-so-popular Google Plus users according to their nationality, follower count, gender and every other parameter your stalker mind can think of.
Adding more people
Google now allows you to send invites to people who are not yet on Google Plus. Also, you can choose to import friends from Yahoo Mail, Hotmail (Windows Live Mail) or upload contacts from an address book file.
Moving from Facebook
If you are a Facebook junkie, you can invite all your FB friends to Google Plus using the following trick:
1. Open a new Yahoo or Hotmail account and export all your existing Facebook friends there.
2. Then in G+, go to your circles, in the 'Find and Invite' section, import them from your new Yahoo/Hotmail account to G+.
Alternatively, if you are a Chrome/ Chromium user, you can try the Facebook Friend Exporter extension.
Also, if you want to move all your Facebook photos to your Picasa/Google Photos account, you can use the 'Move your Photos' extension for Google Chrome or Chromium.
You can set Google Plus to send you notifications for replies, follows and other updates. You can choose to receive them either by email or by SMS. Currently, the SMS service is available only in United States and India. To enable or disable notifications, click the gears icon on the top right corner. From the dropdown menu, select Google + settings. Here, you'll find all the relevant settings to enable/disable notifications.
With Sparks, you can choose to receive articles pertinent to your interests right on your home screen. Here's a short video on what sparks is about:
Dealing with trolls, noise and other nonsense
Be it Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or G+, trolls are everywhere. They usually disrupt a nice and popular conversation just to draw attention to themselves. If you find a trollish comment on any of your posts, you can delete that comment or choose to report it as spam. Occasionally, when you post something very personal, you might want to disallow resharing and comments. If at all, things get out of hand, you can report abuse using the report abuse button in the drop down menu next to a post or comment. To curb the noise on your homescreen, you can also mute a particular post. Furthermore, if you find a particular person in your circles annoying you can choose to block him or her using the same drop down menu.
Backup your photos, profile information, circles and posts
Google allows you to back up all your data that includes photos, profile information, circles, and posts to your desktop. To do that, just click on the gears icon on the top right corner. Then go to Google + settings. Go to the Data Liberation tab on the left hand side.
From here you can download all your G+ data in a nicely packed zip file.
By default, Google profiles have very long names and sharing your profile with others on the Internet becomes quite a drag. To address that problem, there is a free service called Gplus.to. Here, you can convert your profile's URL into a shorter and more meaningful link.
Google Plus on Mobile
Google Plus also has a mobile version of the site that can be accessed from all the major smartphones. If you own an Android, you can download the native G+ application from the Android market. If you're on an iPhone, you can download the freshly-released G+ iPhone app from the Apple app store.
More on G+ mobile:
Flaunt your G+ profile
If you own a website and want to show off your G+ profile, you can try out the Google Plus widget. The widget allows you to put a customized link to your G+ profile on your website or blog.
Sync Google+ with Identi.ca, Facebook and Twitter
If you are tired of updating all your social networks one by one, you can try out the Agent G+ syncing service. By following the simple steps explained on the website, you can cross post all your G+ posts to Identi.ca, Facebook and Twitter.
Google Plus Streams as RSS feeds
If, for any reason, you want to read a particular user's G+ posts in an RSS reader, you can do so by following these simple steps given on Plusfeed's website.
Valuable Browser Extensions
Google Plus hasn't even publicly launched yet and still a lot of G+ extensions have sprung up, mainly for Chrome. Here's a list of a few valuable extensions and add-ons to spice up your G+ experience.
Usability Boost For Google Plus: Google Plus already has a minimalistic user interface. However, if that is still too distracting for you, then the usability boost extension for Chrome might be of some help. It makes small CSS changes to the UI, putting focus on the content and content only.
G+ Extended: This extension adds a few valuable shortcuts to the G+ interface. After installing the extension, you can use the + and – buttons on your keyboard to Plus and unPlus any post or comment. There are also other shortcuts like s for sharing and e for expanding comments.
Extended Share: This extension allows you to share Google+ posts on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Once installed, it puts a 'Share on' button next to every post.
Surplus: This is a great extension which allows you to enable desktop notifications (with sounds) for G+ updates. I've been using this for a while now and I must say this is the best G+ extension out there for Chrome.
Google Plus on Desktop
Though there aren't any dedicated G+ applications for Linux yet, there is a Windows application that helps you get the best of G+ on your desktop. I haven't tested the software yet, but it's free so give it a try if you're on Windows.
Some Geeky users to follow on Google Plus
Here's a list of some of our favorite tech personalities who are on Google+:
Guido van Rossum: https://plus.google.com/115212051037621986145
Linus Torvalds: https://plus.google.com/102150693225130002912
Larry Page: https://plus.google.com/106189723444098348646
Sergey Brin: https://plus.google.com/109813896768294978296
Matt Cutts: https://plus.google.com/109412257237874861202
Guy Kawasaki: https://plus.google.com/112374836634096795698
Tom Anderson: https://plus.google.com/112063946124358686266