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.

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Customize and control

16. Not thrilled with the way Google+ collapses long posts on the Web? No problem: Install a free Chrome extension called Replies and more for Google+. It'll make the service automatically expand all posts by default. It offers a number of other interesting options, too, such as the ability to add a two-click command for sharing any post to email, Facebook or Twitter.

17. If you miss the way the Google+ stream used to refresh automatically, grab a Chrome extension called Auto Load New Posts for Google+. The extension does exactly what you'd think: It makes new posts show up in your stream as they're sent instead of requiring you to click an icon every time they arrive.

Google+
A Chrome extension called Favorite Posts for Google+ adds a one-click "Favorites" section into the desktop G+ site for you to use.

18. For a robust post-saving setup, check out a Chrome extension called Favorite Posts for Google+. The extension adds a one-click "Favorites" section into the left-hand sidebar of the desktop G+ site for you to use; it also adds one-click commands within individual posts for you to save the post to Pocket or Instapaper.

19. You automatically see your Google+ notifications at the top of most Google services, but if you use Chrome, you can make it so they're available anywhere on the Web: Just install the Google+ Notifications extension. It'll put a Google+ notifications box in your browser's toolbar area.

20. Ever wish you could schedule Google+ posts for the future? You can -- sort of. While Google+ itself doesn't yet provide such functionality, a Chrome extension called Do Share gets the job done. The catch is that your browser has to be running whenever the post is scheduled to go live in order for it to work.

Beyond Google+

21. You can interact with Google+ directly from Gmail. First, be sure you've set up your G+ email notifications the way you want (go into the Google+ settings and scroll down to the "Receive notifications" section). Then, when you get a G+ activity alert in your inbox, look for the commands to moderate comments, add comments or +1 a post. Performing those actions within Gmail will work exactly the same as if you had performed them from the main G+ site -- and you'll save a few precious seconds.

22. You can save content directly from Google+ to Evernote and other similar note-taking services. First, you'll need to sign into the note-taking service and find the email address associated with your account (for example, here's how you find your Evernote email address).

Then go to your G+ Circles page. Type that email address into the white box at the top right of the page. You'll see a box appear with your name and the Evernote address. Click on the box; you'll see a pop-up that lets you "Add and invite." When you click on that, you'll be able to create a new circle called "Evernote." Now anytime you want to save a post to Evernote, just share it to your Evernote circle and -- abracadabra! -- the deed will be done.

(Note: By virtue of the nature of this process, you'll likely receive an automated invitation to join Google+ in your Evernote account the first time you set it up.)

23. Google+ can serve as a note-taking tool itself: Just create a new circle called "Save." Add only yourself into the circle. Anytime you want to save something for your own personal reference -- whether a new note you're making or content someone else posted -- just share it into your Save circle and it'll be there waiting for you when you need it.

24. If you use Google Docs, you can share documents, spreadsheets and presentations directly from there into Google+. Click the blue Share button at the top right of any open document and then select the G+ icon. You'll be prompted to choose how public the document will be -- either accessible to anyone on the Web or accessible only to those who have the direct link -- and can also set whether other users will be able to edit, comment on or simply read the file.

Like with any G+ post, you can share a document with any circles or subsets of users you want. Once shared, it'll show up in your followers' streams as a readable thumbnail and will open in Docs when clicked.

25. You can make phone calls using Google Voice right from the Google+ desktop site: Open the service's Hangouts feature, located at the right side of the main stream. Once you've signed in, click the small down-facing arrow in the Hangouts section and then select "Call a phone" to get started.

(While Google Voice is free to use within the United States, there is a per-minute rate for international calls. To find out what they are, click the downward arrow that appears after you've selected "Call a phone" and then click on "Rates.")

You can also conduct video calls and group video chats from the same G+ Hangouts section, though those options work only with other Google+ users.

JR Raphael is a Computerworld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog. For more Google-centric tips, follow him on Google+ (and/or send him freshly baked cookies).

This article, Getting around Google+: 25 tips and tricks for power users, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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