Google + is being touted, by some, as a Facebook-killer. While it is still in its infancy, it does have some cool features that make it a compelling alternative to Facebook. My favorite, as I mentioned before, is the Circles feature which gives you tremendous control over how you share your content.

Other cool features include superior photo management and chatting systems — Hangouts, Google +’s video chat system, is light-years ahead of anything Facebook has to offer. But despite all these cool features, Google + is still taking its baby steps in the social networking arena.

In this post, I will try to document some of the tips and tricks that I discovered on the Internet that make Google + more usable. Using them gives Google + a more mature feel, IMHO.

  1. Keep the top bar fixed in its position while scrolling: Google + has a bar at the top that gives you quick access to your home page, photos, profile and circles. However, this bar disappears when you scroll down the page. In order to keep the bar fixed in its position, so that you always have access to it, you can apply this CSS trick.
  2. Share Google + content on Facebook and Twitter: Google + is still in limited testing. It’s very likely that most of your friends and acquaintances are not members yet. If you share content on Google +, you may not want to leave your Facebook and Twitter friends outside the loop. Of course, you can copy and paste the content to these networks, but that gets tiring after a while. This Chrome extension adds a “Send To” link after each post. You can use this link to share the content on Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Make Google + look like Facebook: If you want Google + to look more like Facebook — hey, there is no accounting for taste 😛 — you can apply this userscript.
  4. Send invitations to your friends: Sending out invitations to your friends on Google + is a bit complicated. First, you need to add the Gmail addresses of your friends to some Circle. Next, you should share something with that Circle and enable the “Also email # people not yet using Google +” check box. That should send a link to those people’s email. They can then follow the link to join Google +. Note, however, that I have had some friends tell me that they haven’t received invitations sent out this way, but it has worked in most cases.
  5. Formatting text in Google +: Google + uses a rather geeky way to format text. If you want to make text bold, you need to surround it in *’s. For example, *test* gives you test. Similarly, _test_ gives you test and -test- gives you test.

That’s it. Hope these tweaks make your Google + experience more pleasant.

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