How to use Google Buzz

If you're a Gmail user, chances are you now have Google Buzz in your inbox. Here's how to make the most of it (or just get rid of it).

Buzz by E-Mail

You can Buzz via e-mail by sending a message to buzz@gmail.com. This works only with messages sent from your Gmail address, though, so SMS and MMS items sent through an e-mail gateway won't do the trick.

Since you can't define privacy permissions within an e-mail, you need to set them in advance. Start by sending a test e-mail to buzz@gmail.com; once it goes through, you'll see that the Connected Sites option now includes privacy settings for 'Posted via Buzz@Gmail'. Set it to Public or Private as you wish.

At the moment, only the e-mail's image and subject heading will show up in the buzz. Anything you put in the main e-mail field will not.

POP/IMAP mail-client users will want to read Gmail's desktop client support page for help in making sure that they're sending from the right address (for more, see "Google Buzz: 5 Tips for Power Users").

Touch Up Your Text

Though Google Buzz's input box lacks the rich text formatting options of an e-mail or blog post, you can still use a few tricks to make your text stand out. Bracketing your text with *asterisks*, _underscores_, and -dashes- will turn it into bold, italicized, and struck-through text, respectively.

Grab Some Add-Ons

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Already, a handful of Buzz add-ons to help you integrate Buzz into your social life have surfaced. Firefox users should check out Buzz It, which lets you share your current Web page in Buzz via Gmail (useful if you want to keep your Google Reader shares separate from your Buzz shares.) Chrome users have Chrome Buzz

, which adds a menu item that keeps tabs on your Buzz feed so that you don't have to keep checking back to the Gmail page. And WordPress users can add their buzzes to their WordPress blog with the Google Buzz ER sidebar widget.

Push Your Buzzes to Twitter

You can peruse your Google Buzz feed just as you would read any other RSS feed by going to the URL http://buzz.googleapis.com/feeds/username/public/posted, where username is your Google account name. This is a feed of all your public buzzes, which can then appear in any application that can use RSS feeds--handy if you want to see buzzes in an RSS reader, for example.

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Combine this feature with TwitterFeed, a service that lets you use RSS feeds to publish in Facebook and Twitter, and you can get Google Buzz to publish your buzzes to Twitter. The arrangement isn't perfect--the RSS feed refreshes every 30 minutes--but considering that there's no native support for Buzz-to-Twitter publishing, it's worth trying out for now. You'll want to set TwitterFeed to post only the description, or you'll end up with a lot of tweets saying "Buzz from your username"; to do so, under Advanced Settings in the Create Feed page, set 'Post Content' to Include description only.

Kill Buzz Dead

Gone through all this and still don't like what Buzz has to offer? You're not alone. Unfortunately, truly getting rid of Buzz takes some doing.

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You can disable Buzz by scrolling down to the bottom of your Gmail page and clicking the tiny turn off buzz link, but that won't get rid of it completely--you'll still have followers and connected sites, you just won't see them from the Gmail page. (Logging in through the mobile Web app, for example, should still work fine.)

Before you eliminate Buzz entirely, you need to go through a few steps. From the main Buzz page, click the Following X People link and unfollow everyone; then click on the X followers link and block everyone. Next, you need to delete your Google Profile: Go to Google Profiles, select View My Profile, Edit profile, scroll down to the bottom of the screen, and select Delete profile.

Once you've done that, disable Buzz from the Gmail window. You'll have successfully killed your Buzz.

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Patrick Miller

PC World (US online)
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