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How to Use Google+ to Send a Private Message

Updated on January 3, 2016
Send a private message in Google+
Send a private message in Google+

You're a Google+ user and you've found that this vibrant, important social network is a great place to share your thoughts, ideas and opinions. Sometimes though, you don't want to share information publicly, so how do you go about sending a private message to another specific Google+ user? This article will show you how.

Before we discuss how to send private messages, it's helpful to understand the concept of how Google+ helps people communicate with their followers, their communities and other specific people.

Here's a quick explanation of the key areas in Google+ and how they facilitate conversations:

  • Google+ Circles
  • Your Profile
  • Google+ Home Stream
  • Google+ Communities
  • Google+ Notifications
  • Mentioning People in Google+

We'll cover each of these in more detail below before talking about sending private messages in Google+.

Google+ is now second in size to Facebook and will only continue to grow as it gets linked to more Google services and the whole concept of Google Authorship really takes off. It makes sense to have a presence there; it's easy to use, clutter free and has some fantastic communities.

You can also follow me on Google+ if you want to.

Google+ Circles

Circles let you share your updates with the right groups of people and are how you and the people you are interested in, follow each other. You can put a user into one or more circles and they can do the same with you. Circles also help you to choose exactly who you want to hear from.

For example, you might have a circle for 'Dog Lovers', another one for 'Family Members' and a third for 'Maths Geeks'. Any one of your followers can go into any one or more of those circles; this helps you share with the circles that you want to

Your Profile

This is where you share information about yourself, your interests etc. It allows you to see all of the posts that you've shared and updates that you've made. It's also the main place where you will create private messages for others.

Google+ Home Stream

This is your Google+ stream and it works similarly to Facebook and Twitter updates; all posts shared by the people that you circle will show in this stream; you can also choose to only view posts from a certain circle; for example, your 'Dog Lovers' circle.

Google+ Communities

A 2012 addition to Google+, communities bring together like minded people in large, interactive forums and allow them to discuss topics of interest. There are communities on every subject you can think of, from popular science to literature and small business to organic gardening.

The Google Plus Notification Box
The Google Plus Notification Box

Google+ Notifications

This is the little box in the top right of any Google+ screen next to your profile picture; it will either be a grey '0' or a red number; if it's a red number, that means Google+ is notifying you of something that you might be interested in.

Using the + key to mention someone else and selecting from the pop up list on Google Plus
Using the + key to mention someone else and selecting from the pop up list on Google Plus

Mentioning Using the '+' Key

This is one of the most important concepts to learn about Google+. If you want to mention someone else in a post or comment or share something with them, you will need to mention them; you achieve this by using the '+' sign, followed by their name.

For example, if you wanted to be sure that I saw something you had written, you would enter +paul maplesden - This would then pop up a list of all people called 'Paul Maplesden' on Google+ and you could choose the one you wanted (hopefully me!). When you then post the message, a notification alert will pop up in my profile saying you have shared a post with me directly.

The Different Types of Sharing on Google Plus

When you post information on Google+, you can share it to varying degrees, as follows:

  • Share with Public - Everyone logged into Google+ will be able to read your update if they choose to do so. It doesn't mean they will see it, but it does make your update appear in the stream of the people you circle, on your public profile and also searchable in Google+

  • Share with Extended Circles - Everyone in your circles will be able to see what you posted and in addition, so will everyone in their circles (think of it as 'friend of a friend')

  • Share with Your Circles (All) - Everyone that is in your circles will be able to see your update

  • Share with your Circles (Specific) - Everyone that you have in a specific circle will be able to see your update

  • Share with Communities - Your post will appear in the community that you posted to and be readable by anyone there (regardless of whether you have them in a circle or not)

  • Share with Individual(s) - Your post is only readable by the specific individual(s) that you have targetted it at

The most to least public ways of sharing posts on Google+

You want to
Share with public
Contacts of your contacts
Share with extended circles
Share with your circles
Specific contacts
Share with a specific circle
Share with a community
Share with an individual
The different types of audience you can share posts and updates with on Google Plus
The different types of audience you can share posts and updates with on Google Plus

Sharing posts with specific individuals on Google Plus

There are several ways to share information with individuals on Google Plus

  • 'Mentioning' them in a post
  • Sending a message to them specifically

+Mentioning someone in a Google+ Post

If you want to send a message to someone, but you don't mind if others see it, simply +mention the person (as described above) either in the post itself, in the comments section or in the 'Share With' section. That person will then get an update notification, but others included in the original post or community will also be able to read what you have written.

People often +mention someone else if they want to specifically draw attention to it; for example, I am a moderator of a Google+ community, if I want to draw the attention of other moderators, I will +mention them by name.

An example of '+Mentioning' in a Google plus comment. note that everyone will be able to see this comment but that I have drawn attention to specific people
An example of '+Mentioning' in a Google plus comment. note that everyone will be able to see this comment but that I have drawn attention to specific people

Sending a Google Plus Message Privately to Another Person

If you just want to Google+ a message privately to one or more people, you can do so as follows:

  1. Go to your profile page

  2. Click in the 'Share What's New' box

  3. Click the cross to remove anything in the 'share with' box that's selected (e.g. 'Public' or 'Your CIrcles'); the share box should now be empty

  4. Add the name(s) of the person / people that you want to send the message to; either use the +mention technique above or click the 'Browse People' button to the right of the share box; that will bring up a list of everyone (either in your circles or on google+) that you can search through by name or email address

  5. If the person has a common name, make sure that you select the right person!

  6. Type your message in the 'Share What's New' box

  7. Click 'Share'

  8. The recipient(s) will receive the message and will get a notification in Google+

  9. Once you've done this, you can see that the message has been sent; at the top of the message, you'll see the word 'Limited', if you click that, it will show you who can see the post

  10. If you want to stop the post from being shared onwards by the recipient, simply click the arrow at the top right of the post in your profile and select 'Lock this post'

  11. You're done; the recipient can read your message and reply to it, either in the comments or by sending a message back to you directly

How to Send a Private Message to Someone in Google Plus
How to Send a Private Message to Someone in Google Plus | Source

How to use Google Plus

Google+ can be a great way to share information, and with this guide you can make sure that you share messages only with the people that you want to.

If you have any techniques or tricks for using Google Plus to send private messages, please let us know in the comments.

Other Google Plus articles I’ve written that you might be interested in


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