Elements of Google Plus – Part Three: Photos

The image functions in G+ have many more functions than its social media predecessors. This installation explores the many functions of G+’s Photo section, and shows you how to make the most of it.

 Geo-tagging and location mapping

If Exif information is available in your pictures (usually embedded by digital cameras), G+ provides the option to allow the location mapping to be added to your photo and available to those who can see it. This information is opt in: if you’re not comfortable with the ideal, you don’t have to do anything to protect your privacy. This function is particularly good for tracking movements in an unfamiliar environment. You can select this option on specific pictures, or apply it in the album settings. To apply it to an entire album, open the album, select the More”” button and select the “Hide Location Data for This Album” option. You can use the same item to show the data, if you’d prefer to.

 I recently used it on pictures from a recent trip to New York City – I loved all the places I discovered, but wouldn’t have been able to find them on a map otherwise. Now, I have the ability to revisit these gems on my next trip. Having said that, I have noticed that geo-tagging is inaccurate in some photos, so use some common sense when using this function for mapping purposes.

Tools –Creative Kit

One of the most surprising and comprehensive elements of the photo functions is the Creative Kit. Organized into simple drop lists across the top of the viewer, it incorporates all fun and surprising functions that no other social platform uses all at once. Easily accessible by choosing the image, the ‘edit photo’ button can be found among the basic buttons in the top left corner, as seen below. There is also a wand Icon for auto fix, if you’re pressed for time. The rotate and garbage bins should be self explanatory.

Along with the more basic functions like crop, sharpen and resize, there are filters similar to what’s made Instagram so popular, as well as blemish and shine control, and a sunless tanner. In addition to this, you can also add speech bubbles, gooify the image, and add hats, masks and even mustaches. There’s even a function to pixelate faces – Perhaps ridiculous, but so many options have never been offered by a single platform.

Explore the possibilities…. (I’m probably going to Hell for this).








Facial recognition (auto and otherwise)

Another helpful function of Google’s picture function is its facial recognition software. When you upload images, it can detect your identity based on previous pictures of you in its database. When you upload an album, the algorithms detect faces and automatically circle them. It asks you to tag each person, but as you continue to add photos (even ones at different angles); it tags everyone for you – a huge time saver! Tagging manually will still be required at times, but in the future expect to see this less and less.

Album layout and reorganization ability

When you select an album to view, it opens into a dynamic layout to give you an overview of the entire album, as opposed to the one-by-one viewers. It creates a collage based on picture size, but can be easily reorganized. In the album’s collage view, pictures are presented smaller than their original size, but selecting the individual photo will restore its actual size.


If you’d like to reorganize the album, open the album, select the “More” button on the right hand side of the screen, and choose “Organize Photos”. Then simply drag and drop photos into the preferred order. This does take a while to get used to, but it’s a superior way to get a true overview of an album’s content.

 Profile pictures

Similar to Facebook, each name is accompanied by a photo on posts and lists. Profile pictures are an important element in Google’s burgeoning facial recognition and verified identity initiatives.  It’s also a common way for friends and family find you in the search results.

But the lack of ease in changing the profile image is one of the elements in G+ that needs work. Unlike other social networks, you lack the option using a toggle to make any photo your profile picture. You are able to change the photo by going to your home page and scroll over your profile picture. A bar with Change Profile Photo will appear. Click on the bar to bring you to a pop up window for images, with an option of four sources of photos – Upload, Your Photos (all the albums), Photos of You, and Web Camera. From there you can choose the preferred photo, crop it appropriately and go from there.

Scrapbook vs. cover photo option

Early adapters, when they opened a profile, had a scrapbook of photos beside their profile picture. You were able to choose a selection of photos. Recently, it has changed to a cover photo option similar to Facebook. Like the Profile Photo, if you want to establish or change the image, scroll over the area and choose the ‘Change Cover Photo’ bar, and choose your preferred photo from the list of options. It is also easy to reposition the photo without changing it: just click and drag the photo to its preferred position.


Possibly the most important function in the Google Plus platform, Authentication is an integral part of Google’s future plans for Das Internets. If you write and post regularly to other sites, your photo and a link to your profile will appear in the search results under the title. A list of sites you contribute to will also appear in the About section on your profile.

Local reviews

All reviews you contribute to Google Reviews are attributed to you, and can be found on your About page, just about your Site Contribution area. It is similar to the Authentication, it keeps a list of the Google Reviews you written over the years:  like all things on the internet, they are there forever – at least here they’ll be centralized, regardless of the type of business or service you review.


Bria Jordan

Bria Jordan is a Toronto-based Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Consultant. A published writer for the last 14 years, she began her career as a music journalist before moving into marketing and communications. She has recently written a series about Google Plus. Follow Bria on twitter @InfiniteSass.

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