Top Ten Google+ Features

Google+ is a feature-rich social networking experience. From instant, real-time updates to sharing a post from almost any Google application, the features in the following list can make your Google+ experience all the more special:

  • Circles: You use Circles to organize the people you follow (as well as who follows you) on Google+. And you can use Circles to organize your stream. Just click a Circle in the left column to determine which circle of friends sees your posts.

  • Real-time stream: In Google+, the stream flows as new updates are posted. New updates automatically show up at the top of your stream after you log in, and new comments appear automatically as people comment on the posts.

    You'll quickly realize that you spend much less time refreshing the page and much more time immersed in the info coming across your stream.

    Use Circles to manage your stream: You can limit incoming info by clicking specific Circles on the left of the screen. You can open the floodgates to see updates from people that have you in a Circle but that you don't have in one of yours by clicking the Incoming button.

  • Hangouts: Think of hangouts as group video chat. You can chat, via video, with up to ten people at a time. You can choose not to be seen or heard, and you can select YouTube videos to share with the others in your hangout.

    If you want to chat with someone while others are talking, just use the chat window, or you can have a texting chat with everyone in the hangout.

  • The sand bar: This gray bar appears at the top of almost every Google product after you log in. Pay attention to two features on the left of the bar:

    • The red notifications icon tells you how many new things have happened in your feed since you last checked Google+.

    • The Share... button allows you to share an update to Google+ right from the sand bar.

    The advantage to the Sand Bar is that you can use it across the entire Google experience. If you're in Gmail, you can check your updates and post to Google+ without ever leaving Gmail. If you're in Google Reader and want to share a post, you can do it right then and there!

  • Photo uploads: You can post photos, which integrate with Google's Picasaweb albums, pretty easily in Google+. To share a photo, just click on the share box at the top of Google+ and click the little camera icon. You can upload photos to Picasaweb and share them straight to Google+.

  • All the photos in Picasaweb you set as public will stay that way and be visible to all your Google+ Circles once you enable Google+.

  • Sharing: Clicking the Share link below the post you want to share posts it to your stream for all your chosen Circles to see.

  • Tagging: To tag an individual, just type + or @, followed by the person's name. The person will be notified that you tagged them and linked to your post.

  • Your profile: Click the little profile icon at the top of Google+ (or just click your name) to go to your Google+ profile. Click Edit Profile to change your profile settings, determine your privacy settings, and decide what tabs appear to which of your Circles.

    If the background of a field changes color when you mouse over it, you can click on the field to edit it.

  • Privacy: The Google+ privacy feature is centered around Circles and your ability to choose which Circles can view which information about you. Go through your privacy settings to understand what people are seeing from your profile and who's seeing it.

  • Data liberation: You can download data from Google+ just like you can on Facebook. Log into Google+, click the little gear icon in the upper-right corner in the sand bar, and select Google+ Settings. On the left is a Data Liberation link. Click that and decide what information you want to backup from Google+. Anything you put into Google+ you can also take out freely.

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