Elgan: How to automate Google+

A cool new Web service, plus an exclusive hack, let you do amazing tricks with Google's social network

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However, a neat hack lets you slip email through that SMS door. Here's how to do it:

1. Sign up for a Google Voice account if you don't have one. Set Text Forwarding by clicking on the Settings button, the Voicemail & Text tab and then checking the box that says "Forward text messages to my email." Make sure your email address is the same one associated with your Google+ account.

2. This step involves tricking Google+ into revealing your secret, personal email address for posting via email. Do this by sending an SMS to Google+ and getting back an error message that reveals the address. But first, go to your Google+ profile and make sure your Google Voice phone number is not registered with your account (because we're trying to trigger an error message). You access this by clicking on your Google+ profile button, click About, click the blue Edit Profile button, and erase the phone number under either Home or Work. Click Done Editing. Now simply use Google Voice to send an SMS message to the Google+ SMS number, which is 33669 in the U.S. or 9222222222 in India. (If you're in another country, contact Google for the SMS number.) Because you set up text forwarding in Step 1, Google+ will return an error message to your email address. In that email, the sender email will be your personal email address for posting to Google+ via email.

3. Go back to your Google+ profile and enter in your Google Voice phone number.

4. Create a contact in your email Contacts section named "Google Plus," and add the secret email address.

(Note that this post by a Google+ user named Jaime Hernandez-Cordero made it possible for me to write this tip.)

Your secret email address should look something like this: 16463548278.33669.dPdcjkRaVz@txt.voice.google.com

The first string of numbers is your Google Voice phone number, the second is the SMS address for Google+, and the third is your unique secret magic code.

Congratulations! You and the other people reading this column are just about the only people in the world who know how to post to Google+ via email.

Even without IFTTT, this is a great feature. For example, you can use it to simply "copy" your entire Google+ community on any email you send.

You can use Gmail filters to auto-forward any email you're currently receiving to any of your Google+ circles, or just to your own private Stream (you do this by creating a circle of one, putting yourself in it, then addressing posts to your personal circle). This can include Calendar events, Google Alerts emails -- anything.

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