Getting around Google+: 25 tips and tricks for power users

The last of our three-part how-to series helps you take your Google+ experience to the next level.

Getting started on Google+ may be simple, but mastering the service's full potential is an art. Thanks to advanced options and third-party extensions, there's always some new way to give Google+ an extra pinch of power.

Here are 25 tips and tricks to help make your G+ experience as good as it can be.

Work faster and better

1. Put your mouse down, homey: You can get around Google+ almost exclusively by using your keyboard. In typical Google fashion, G+ is loaded with keyboard shortcuts. Just press shift + the question mark key on your keyboard when you're in the main stream view and you'll get a list of available commands.

One common command is conspicuously missing from Google+'s keyboard shortcut collection: the ability to open up the notifications window. There is a workaround: From the stream view, press the forward-slash key, press Tab twice and then press Enter. It's a bit involved, admittedly -- sort of like a secret handshake -- but if you're a keyboard shortcut nut like me, it won't take you long to get in the habit.

2. Need to get back to the top of your stream from the Google+ desktop site? You can always use your keyboard's Home key, but if you prefer a mouse-oriented approach, clicking anywhere on the top navigation bar will also take you there.

3. When you mention another Google+ user in a post or comment, type a plus sign before you start typing her name. Google+ will then give you a dropdown list of users from which you can select. Doing so will notify the person that you mentioned her; it'll also let other users hover over the person's name to learn more about her and view her profile.

Google+
When you mention another Google+ user in a post or comment, type a plus sign before you start typing the name and Google+ will give you a list of users from which you can select.

Spruce up your posts

4. Google+ makes it easy to make your posts look good: Surround any text with asterisks to turn the text bold, with underscores to make it italicized, or with hyphens to give it a strikethrough effect. Those formatting commands work in comments, too.

5. Next time you're trying to find a particular type of photo from the images you've got stored on Google+, try the intelligent photo search feature. Just head over to the Photos page (you can find it in the left-hand menu) and type a term into the search box at the top of the page -- "dog," "ocean," "picnic," or any phrase that describes what's in the image you want. The system's accuracy will surprise you.

Google+
Google+'s intelligent photo search feature lets you find your photos by typing in a descriptive word or phrase.

6. You may know that Google+ automatically makes animated GIFs from related images you've uploaded, but did you know you can easily find all your animated GIFs in a single place? Just search for the keyword "motion" within the Google+ Photos section to see all the GIFs G+ has generated from your photos.

7. Google+'s automatic photo enhancements work on images uploaded to Picasa, too -- even old images uploaded before G+ was around. To check out enhancements made to your Picasa photos, first be sure you've signed into Google+ from the same account you use (or used) with Picasa. Then try searching the Google+ Photos section for keywords like "motion," "hdr" or "mix" to see the enhancements in action.

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