Managing Google+ Circles : 7 Essential Tips


One of Google+’s main advantages is privacy management by way of organizing your friends into different circles.  While this makes perfect sense, this idea isn’t as intuitive as you might think because of the years of Facebook and Twitter habits ingrained in us.

As it is a new concept, some people feel circles are cumbersome and tedious to manage – but it doesn’t need to be that way.  Not at least, if you follow these essential tips:

1. Don’t feel obliged to add someone into a circle


Unlike facebook and just like twitter, you don’t have to approve people who want to connect with you on Google+ .  This also means that lots of people may add you, including people you don’t know, or don’t care too much about.  This may include people who just think the stuff you’re sharing publicly is useful and interesting. 

So the rule of thumb, if you don’t want to listen to this person’s stream, you probably shouldn’t add them to any circle at all – not even your acquaintance circle. 

This greatly lessens the burden of managing circles, and dramatically cuts down on the noise you get in your stream.

2. Organize your circles based on what you share, NOT how you know people

People you know probably come from different groups.  You have your neighbors, your old school friends, your ex-colleagues and more.   Sorting people out exactly by how you know them can be hard, if you mix with many groups of people.

Organizing broadly based on what you share, and placing people within multiple circles makes much more sense, because

  1. You don’t have to think much about which circles to put them in
  2. You don’t have to think much about which circles to share your posts to

So basically here’s an example of how I would do it (This of course is a recommendation, not a rule of thumb)

A: People I want to share my general status updates

B: People who share a very specific interest which no one else may want to see, but I still want to share my general status update with

C: People who share a very specific interest which no one else may want to see, and I don’t want to share my general status updates with

D: Everyone, including people not in my circles.

If the above his hard to understand, I’ve made a diagram to explain :)

Call to action 

3. Mute posts to avoid irrelevant notifications from beyond your circles


The Google+ stream is displayed based on activity, not in chronological order.  While this is amazing at encouraging interaction and conversation, at times you just want say something or +1 a post in agreement and not be notified about the topic anymore or what other people comment.  This is especially true when you’re commenting on a public post where a bulk of other comments following yours would be from people you don’t know, nor care to know their opinion.

The solution? Mute the post using the dropdown menu at the right side of every post.

This way, you can still have lots of interaction but don’t have to get bothered by too many irrelevant notifications, and it clears up your stream.

4. Learn to disable re-shares so your sharing does not go beyond your circles

disable reshare

Whenever something is re-shared on Google+ , it gives credit to the person who shared it first.  In most cases this is great as it provides attribution, but there are times if you’re sharing more private or sensitive information, that you don’t want people to reshare it.  What you can do is to go to your profile and disable reshares you stop anyone from resharing your content beyond your original circles.    You can even disable comments on any if you’re tired of monitoring comments. 

5. How to copy one circle into another

You can add multiple people to a circle by going to the Circles page, and when you click on them in sequence – they will be highlighted in blue where you can then drag them to one of your circles.

circles select all

To copy one circle into another circle just:

  1. Go to Circles
  2. Click on a circle
  3. Click “View circle in tab”
  4. On the top right click “More actions” then “Select all”
  5. Drag everyone from one circle into another circle

6. How to see who your friends have shared their posts to


If someone shares content, you can always click on the link next to the date on the stream which would determine who they shared it to.  This is a great way to understand how your friends are sharing information.

6. Show or hide your circles

Go to your Profile and Privacy tab under Google+ settings

Go to network visibility and click the ‘edit network visibility’ button

 network visibility

This should the take you to an options panel where you can select what you want other people to see.  Be it people in your circles, or people who have you in your circles.  Bear in mind the actual circles you place your friends in will be completely private.  This just shows people who among your friends are in ANY of your circles.

circles visibility

There you have it.  Now you should be able to handle Google+ circles like a pro and enjoy your experience even more!

If you’re looking for Google+ Invites, leave a comment saying you want one.  Every once in a while Google+ will open up for invites, and I’ll select a few random people from here to come onboard :)

397 Replies to “Managing Google+ Circles : 7 Essential Tips”

  1. This was a great post as I’m thinking about using plus in the classroom next year. I would appreciate an invite. Thanks.

  2. I would love an invite please ^^ been hearing a lot about it lately and this post really clear things up for me! thanks!

  3. Just read up on g+. More and more tools its getting hard to keep up with all the new stuff hitting the net. I think keeping in touch is great but what about the security of the net. My kids are at the age of wanting to go on line now but it is too easy to end up chatting to the wrong person. When are google going to come up with a tool that is fool proof and you do know the ip and locations of surfers if need be.
    Sorry, had to get it off my chest!

    1. I hear you, but trouble is, that is never going to happen, as people have a certain right to privacy and therefore no one is going to universally let you know the whereabouts and IP of anyone you interact with.

      Also bear in mind, that if such as service existed, the Bad Guys could conversely use it to find the IP and location of your children…

      Also, bear in mind, that having such a service would remove the need for parents to educate their children in responsible online behavior, which is really an essential skill offline as well (don’t talk to strangers etc.), so you would effectively end up with parents that would now thing they don’t have to mentor their children as “they (Google) have a fool-proof service”. that is a bad thing…

      What G+ circles does is pretty remarkable for starters, in that it places granular control of your privacy settings in your hands, unlike Facebook (and Twitter) which tends to treat all your acquaintances the same, and with Facebook it is hard form most people to figure out what they are really sharing with whom.

      Personally, I can’t wait for G+ to start to gain traction, as I really want this level of filtering and control.

      Granted, this may not be immediately obvious to children who don’t see the need to restrict what they share and who they chat with…

  4. Thank for the post the post and this is great opportunity for me because we are taking the course strategic internet governance and ICT policy form Diplofoundation, i would like to know more to what extent the Google+ affect the privacy police, i mean for example in organizing friends in to different circles, is there somebody give me some information?

  5. If I choose to share a photo or album to ‘your circles’, does that also include my ‘Following’ circle?

    Also, can I share with circles without notifying those in the circles about this? I’m thinking of re-sharing old Picasa albums with my family.


    1. @Charlie: You can only share to your own circles, not my circles. And yes you can add people to your own circles without notifying them first.

  6. Thanks for the helpful tips! One problem I am experiencing is that the actual number of people who have added me to their circles is about 3 times more than the number displayed of people displayed in “Have [me] in circles”. I wonder if this is a glitch or do you know is there a setting that adjusts that? I currently have checked “Show people who have added you to circles” but it only displays 10 people, when in fact over 30 people have added me to their circles.

    1. @T Not sure, it’s happened to me before – just feedback to Google using the feedback button on the bottom right. This is the benefit of being in a field trial :)

  7. Interesting post. I love Google and I love the Circle idea. Not being able to group is why I stopped using Facebook. Now, if I could just get an invite….

  8. Great article, especially the top 2 tips. Completely unrelated, I think it’s bizarre how your blog post has no date associated with it. Was that a conscious choice? I’m interested.

    (This post was clearly written while invites were still needed, so I’m guessing a week or two ago.)

  9. An excellent guide to using Google+ Circles. I’ve been using G+ for a couple of weeks now and I picked up some new stuff from your post. Thanks… and I’ll be sharing this with my circles on G+

  10. After trying out G+, I couldn’t find it to be n times better than facebook. Sure there are features like circles, but I am not sure how manageable it is. If I have 10-20 circles, I will easily forget whom I have in what circle :)
    Further, the plain and blue facebook style is more appealing to me visually as well. Can’t give it to google this time as well.. I deleted my Google+ account totally.

  11. Thanks for providing some really useful tips regarding Google+ Circle Management. I have been using G+ for a little while now, but have been looking for ways to refine my own circle management strategy. Nice share! 

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