Secret, super-useful Facebook features

Get the scoop on seven little-known Facebook features that will take your social-networking addiction to the next level.

(Credit: Facebook; CBSi)

We're all Facebook pros. With the average user spending eight hours per month on the insanely addictive social network, it's no surprise that we're quick to pick up Facebook's incessant changes and updates.

In the mess of Facebook's perpetual construction zone, you might have missed some hidden, key features that make using the service that much easier. Most of these tricks were gathered over time, and have now become a part of my regular Facebook routine.

1. Sign in with your username (unique URL)

Instead of typing out your entire email address each time you sign in, use your username (the one that leads people to your profile, like instead. Even if your info is auto-filled, this trick will save a hassle when you're prompted to sign in on your mobile device or public computers.

2. Remove events without declining

One day it was there, and the next, it was gone. For the longest time, Facebook offered a "Remove from events" link at the bottom of every event page, so that you could delete the event from your invites without rudely declining.

Now, that option is hidden. To remove an event without declining, find your name in the guest list (left), hover over it and click the x. Click "OK" to confirm. The organiser won't be notified of your action.

3. Use the Favourites list

(Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET)

Facebook has a little-known feature that lets you bookmark your favourite apps, pages and groups from the home page. It's the list on the left of the News Feed, just below your profile picture. Find out how to use the feature here.

4. Rearrange your Timeline modules

The four boxes below your cover photo can be customised to your liking. Click the arrow with the number (on the right) to expand all your apps. Then, hover over a box, click the pencil and you'll see an option to swap the box with something else, or remove it entirely. For more tips on customising your Timeline profile, click here.

5. Hover over photo thumbnails to zoom

This feature isn't built in to Facebook, but after months of using it, it sure feels like it. Facebook Photo Zoom, a free browser extension, enlarges thumbnails and photos when you mouse over them. It's super useful when browsing through the News Feed and you want to see what a photo looks like without clicking the thumbnail and prompting a new page.

Here's the Chrome extension, and a similar one for Firefox.

(Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET)

6. Check your Other messages

You might have hundreds of unread messages that Facebook has filed in your Other inbox. Find out where it is and how to manage it.

7. Prevent tagged posts from automatically displaying on your Timeline

Friends. They mean well, but sometimes they cross the line when tagging you in a post or photo that you'd rather not make public to your friend list. Thankfully, Facebook gives you the option to approve tagged posts before they go live on your Timeline and in the News Feed for all of your friends and family to see.

Go to Account > Privacy Settings, and select Edit settings next to "How tags work". Then hit Edit next to Profile Review, and you'll be prompted to turn on the settings. Now, every time someone tags you in a status, photo or place, you'll receive a notification and will be asked to approve the tag.

Check out this blog for more Facebook privacy tweaks.


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