advice The Top Google Plus Tips and Tricks  

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Google Plus (or Google+), the search giant's 2011 foray into social networking, got off to a fairly impressive start, adding so many new users in its early days that the company had to shut down its invitation system.

Once it stabilized, though, early users started to pour in and enjoy the company's slightly different take on social media. Though many of the features of Google+ have already been featured elsewhere - on sites like Twitter, Facebook, even Myspace - there are some innovations here and there as well. Most immediate is the introduction of Circles, a sort of mandatory, built-in groups system forcing you to put friends and acquaintances into categories rather than sharing with individuals or the general public exclusively.

As well, Plus introduces a variety of ways to chat live with friends, including the addition of Google Chat already available in Gmail and the concept of "Hangouts," which allows up to 10 people within a circle to video chat live on the system.

Google Plus launched with an Android app ready to go, and iPad and iPhone apps will follow in the weeks ahead.

This list includes some basic "getting started" information for people new to Google Plus, and also some tips, tricks and suggestions for those with a bit more experience using the system. Have additional tricks we didn't think of? Leave them in the comments below!

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Mentioning Specific People

If you want to shoutout someone by name and make sure they see it, you can tag them easily. Just add a "+" or "@" in front of their name and Google Plus will prompt you to tag them. This will alert the person you have tagged that someone has mentioned them, and it will allow anyone who sees the post to hover over their name to get profile details, or add them to a circle.

Send Direct Messages

Google Plus doesn't come with a built-in direct message tool like, say, Twitter, but it's easy enough to make a message private between just you and one other person.

First, start writing a post as you ordinarily would, and just share it with the one person you want to message. Click "Share." Once you have shared the message with that one person, go to the menu on the upper right hand corner of the post and select the "Disable Reshare" option. Now, that person who received your message can't send it to anyone else. BOOM, instant direct message.

Find a Permalink for Any Post

Want to bookmark a specific Google Plus post for later, or just see a whole page of a post and all its comments? Just click on the time stamp on any post. It will take you to a permalink of just that single thread.

How +1's Work

When you're surfing around the Web, you'll see +1 buttons next to a lot of different types of content. Clicking these when you're NOT on Google Plus will cause the links to show up in your stream as shared content. So if you're reading a great blog post and want to share it with your followers, click the +1 button freely.

When you are actually on Google Plus, however, and looking through your friends' shared content, clicking the +1 works differently. It displays underneath that post that you have +1'ed it, and the person who made the post will see it. But it does not add that posted item to your own stream, or send it out to your followers.

You can share things you find on Google Plus with your followers or individual circles, but for that, you have the click the Share button, not +1.