With over 20 million users in the space of a month or two, Google+ has quickly established itself as a popular social network.
Starting out can be a bit daunting however, so we put a guide together to some of the more popular features.
Running in Circles
Once you've registered your profile on the service, you'll want to add your friends, family and/or acquaintances.
Unlike Facebook however, Google+ lets you easily split your contacts into groups, called Circles. So for example, you could add your family to the default "family" Circle or create a whole new Circle for other people in your life (e.g. school, colleagues).
Along with the Circle feature comes greater control over sharing updates. For example, you can share your posts with your friends only or with selected family members. It's a simple process, with users typing a name or choosing a Circle in the field below the main Stream box.
Other Google+ users can also add you to Circles, with no explicit permission being needed to do so. However, you can block people if you want, with Google+ not notifying the offending party that they've been blocked.
The service also has a "following" Circle, echoing the follow feature introduced by Twitter. Adding people to this Circle allows you to simply follow posts that they make public.
It's also possible for people to be added to a Circle if they don't have a Google+ account by using their email address. In this way, they can still be privy to your posts.
However, you can also send them an invite to join Google+ by clicking the "invite friends" option on the right-hand side of your stream.
Sparking an interest
On the left-hand side of your stream you'll find the Sparks option, which is essentially a news-feed dedicated to a particular subject.
To add a Spark, simply click the "Sparks" button on the left-hand side of the stream, type your interest and hit the "add interest" button. Your interest will then appear on your stream, giving you a quick way to get the latest news.
If you have a webcam, it's also possible to start a group chat, or Hangout. To get started, you'll need to install the Google Voice and Video plugin, select your desired Circle or friends and then click the "Hangout" button.
Ten nifty tips
- To send a private message, you'll need to choose one name when typing a new post in the Stream box.
- To upload your own YouTube videos to Google+, click in the main Stream box, click the video icon, select "YouTube" and then "Your YouTube Videos".
- You can also view all the +1s (Google's version of the "like" button) you've made around the web by clicking your profile photo and then "+1s".
- To disable email notifications, visit "account settings", "Google+" and then untick the boxes.
- To import Facebook albums, Memeburn recommends that you use picknzip.com to download all of your Facebook photos and then upload them to Google+.
- Sometimes comments on your post can get out of hand, so you'll want to disable notifications from that particular update. To do so, click the "notifications" button, then the desired post, and then click the "mute this post" option.
- There's no direct way to import your Facebook contacts to Google+, so you'll need to use Yahoo's email service. Yahoo allows you to import your Facebook contacts, and from there, you'll need to use your Gmail account to import your Yahoo contacts. Your Facebook contacts should appear automatically.
- Much like Twitter, you can also tag people in your posts, using either "@" or "+" before typing a name.
- Google+ also gives you the option of downloading your profile, Circles and Stream data. To do so, click the gear icon in the top-right corner, then click "Google+ settings" followed by "data liberation".
- If you've had enough of Google+ and would like to delete your profile, it's a relatively simple process. Click the gear icon in the top-right corner, followed by "Google+ settings" and "Account overview". Scroll down to the "services" field at the bottom, which will allow you to either delete your profile or the entire Google account.