Google Plus is still the new kid on the social media block. With 500 million users registered as of January 2013, most users still treat + as the red headed step child. This may be due to slow adoption and a tricky interface. Here are some useful tips, tricks, hacks, extensions, and apps for novices and experts alike to enhance your Google Plus experience and maximize the most out of your account.
Google Plus Basics
If you are a Plus Pro, skip ahead to the next section while we get some basics out of the way. Your circles, descriptions of circles, and the people in the circles are not visible to anyone else but you. Choose which circles to be visible on your page by editing your profile and going into “Circles”.
This is the equivalent of the Facebook “Like”. Everything you have ever +1 can be viewed and managed with the +1 tab on the top, horizontal column.
Talk to and highlight anyone in a post by adding + or @ before their name
Click on a user’s profile pic to scroll through their pictures.
Send a private message by removing all circles from your upcoming post. Then type the name of the person or circle you want to see the post, and make sure to disable resharing.
You can add photos, videos, and links to your posts by dragging the links directly to the share box.
Quit receiving notifications for any post buy clicking “Mute this post” in the top right corner
Edit Posts and Pictures
One of the wonderful things about Google+ posts and pictures is the endless editing. Click the “Edit” button to do this. Delete posts by clicking “Delete this Post” in the top-right corner; delete any comment by clicking the “X”.
You can disable comments or reshare for posts written by you. Click on the triangle in the right corner of the post and select “Disable Comments” or “Disable Reshare”.
See How Others View Your Profile
Input any user’s name, select “Edit Profile”, and make the alterations to your profile for only that specific person.
Google Plus Text and Format Shortcuts
Italics: _word _
Scroll down: space
Scroll up: shift + space
Scroll down one post: J
Scroll up one post: K
Start a comment: enter/return
End a comment: tab + enter/return
Google Plus Browser Extensions
Surplus for Google+
Get real time Google Plus notifications of updates and messages with the Surplus extension. You can reply from within the Surplus extension and create new posts without leaving the website you are currently on.
Plus Minus for Google+
Have you seen your circle number decrease? Install Plus Minus to see who unfollows or removes you from their Google Plus circle. A pop up automatically appears on your browser whenever someone cuts the cord with you. Plus Minus does not currently work, the author is working on an update.
Golden View for Google+
Let’s be honest, some people can be annoying on social media. This notification mutes all posts for specific users. These users won’t be notified. Hooray!
Circloscope (Inactives+) for Google Plus
There’s a limit of 5,000 for the total number of profiles that can be included across all your circles. This includes +pages. There’s also an unknown daily limit to prevent spammers. If either of these penalties happen to you, there’s a sweet app called Circloscope that lets you clean out inactive Google Plus users. Set a “No Posts Since” date to remove people who aren’t posting.
Share for Google+
This nifty extension lets you share content to Twitter, Facebook and / or LinkedIn when posting a status or media on Google Plus.
Hide Highlighted Posts
This extension hides highlighted posts from your Google+ stream that are only there because someone in your circles +1’ed them. Get rid of this annoying feature with this “Hide Highlighted Posts” extension.
Google Plus Smartphone Apps
Google Plus App (Free)
The official Google Plus App just got a brand new update and it’s impressive in speed and beauty. Share your life as it happens with Google+ for iPhone, iPad, and Android. Join a Hangout, post a photo, or see what friends are sharing while you’re on the go.
iStatus Plus (.99)
Post to Google+, Facebook, and Twitter at the same time thanks to iStatus Plus. Choose which circles to share with when posting to Google +. Toggle services with just one click. UPDATE: Looks like this app has the rare one-star review due to bugs. The app owners claim they have fixed them all, so think before paying a buck for this feature.
Move2Plus for Facebook and Google Plus ($1.99)
Move2Plus is a sweet and simple app that copies over all of your Facebook albums, photos, and captions to your Google Plus account. This is done without losing album structure or creating any duplicates. None of your Facebook or Google+ albums or photos will be edited or deleted.
Dating for Google Plus (.99)
Ever get catfished or fooled by online dating? First of all, I’m so sorry, and secondly, this dating networking app allows users to connect to Google Plus in order to verify that you are a real person. This app is strictly used for confidence in knowing who you are talking to his (maybe) real.
Google Plus Hangouts
“Hangouts” are video calls perfect for a live presentation, small business meeting or get together with friends. Simply click “Start a Hangout”, send out the invitations, confirm your settings, then “Hang Out”. You can invite up to ten people; adding people once the hangout has started is allowed.
One amazing thing about “Hangouts” is interacting with people speaking different languages. Translate their talk with Google’s “Listen” feature.
Every hour in a Google Hangout you spend 720MB of bandwidth, so keep an eye out on your bandwidth consumption.
“Hangouts” are not available for mobile yet.
7/15/2013 UPDATE: Hangouts is filling the void of Google Talk and becoming the future of Google Voice by allowing unlimited free calling from the web to phone numbers in the US or Canada, and all other countries that allow Google Hangouts. Simply click “Call a phone” in the Menu to place a call. Add sound effects to your phone call with Google Effects app.
#Hashtags for Google Plus
Hashtags aren’t for Twitter or Instagram any more! Hashtags for Google Plus are a great way to get noticed in Google Plus’ Search. Google Plus is a giant search engine, so hashtags are extremely helpful for searching whatever you’d like.
Add a # before any word you want to be searched for. You can literally hashtag any word you’d like. This works on both posts and now comments.
You can search for hashtags by your friends only by filtering Google Plus search using Hashtags and Circles. Search for your hashtags only by filtering the search results by choosing the “From You” option.
More Google Plus Tips and Tricks
Vanity Google Plus URL (Sorta)
To have a better vanity URL, check out http://GPlus.to. HostDime’s URL went from the nonsensical https://plus.google.com/102937091588156594835/ to the more useful http://gplus.to/hostdime
Import Instagram Pictures
If you want to move your Instagram pictures over to Google Plus, use Instagram archive website Instaport.
Import Facebook Pictures
Move your Facebook pictures to Google Plus with web application Picasa.
Facebook Stream Inside Google Plus
Thanks to “Social Anywhere”, connect your Facebook stream to your Google Plus and never leave Google again. UPDATE: Seems like Social Anywhere does not work anymore.
Google Plus to RSS
Is Google Plus blocked at work? Use this clever work-around that turns your Google Plus into an RSS feed.
Here’s a fun little way to keep track of your bookmarks. Create a new circle and name it “Bookmarks” or whatever you want. Don’t add anyone in it. Any links you want to save, share them with this circle.
Topsy for Google+
Interested in seeing what people are saying about you or your brand on Google Plus? Check out Topsy’s Google Plus Beta Search. Topsy provides instant search results and analytics for Google Plus and Twitter as well. Topsy is also great for checking out what’s currently trending on Google Plus.
Turn Google Plus Chat into HD Chat
The Google Plus video chat uses standard definition. You shouldn’t have to stand for that in 2013. Enable High Definition if your webcam is built for it. Click the triangle next to the chat and choose “Enable High Resolution Video” in the settings.
Google Plus Utility Circles
This circle has only one member, which will be an e-mail address. It is the custom e-mail that Evernote provides each user for you to send notes to your own notebook. If I want to save something there from Google+, simply share it to the Evernote circle. Note: this works with any service that provides you a custom e-mail through which to submit things.
This is an empty circle. “Sometimes I fall into the trap of making more of a “blog post” than a “status update” when I share on G+. The drafts circle is where I keep things that I might need to come back to, edit, and post later.”
This is also an empty circle. Any time posts contain handy tips, share it to your ProTips circle, which you can go back and read through.
This is another empty circle. Any time you see something on Google that you want to read later, simply share it to this circle. Then read the posts at a later time by opening the circle. If you want to reply to something, use the handy “originally shared” link.
Did we miss any tips? Comment below!
Now that you are a Google Plus pro, add HostDime on Google Plus.
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Jared S. is HostDime’s Technology Writer. Follow him on Google Plus.