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How to use Facebook

We won’t believe you if you say you haven’t heard of Facebook. We may believe you if you say you have yet to use the popular social networking site. The year is 2012 and it’s about time everyone hitches a ride on the social networking bandwagon and joins Facebook. Joining Facebook is free, simple and worthwhile — it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, meet new people, and express yourself. Our Facebook guide is by no means complete, but the following are some of the basics for the less than savvy social networker.

Sign Up

Go to www.facebook.com to sign up. Sign up by entering the appropriate information as requested i.e. first name, last name, email, birthday and gender. We suggest using your primary email to join Facebook so you receive notifications through it. Also, all of these options are customizable — you don’t use your real name if you don’t want to, but it helps when trying to connect with friends and family.

Set Your Privacy Settings

Now set your privacy settings so you can control who has access to your information and profile. You can set up your account so that other Facebook users have full or limited access to your profile.

There are four main options when it comes to your privacy settings: Everyone, Friends, Friends of Friends, and custom. We recommend that you avoid leaving your information open to everyone. Remember, what happens on Facebook doesn’t always stay on Facebook.

Everyone: Grants access to anyone on the Internet.

Friends: Grants access to only those who are your friend on Facebook.

Friends of Friends: Grants access to those who are your friend on Facebook as well as their friends.

Custom: Grants access to a selective audience of your choice including specific people and networks.

  • How You Connect is just the basics about who can look you up using the contact information you provided, send you friend requests, and send you private messages.
  • Timeline and Tagging gives you a slew of options pertaining to who can post on your timeline, who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline, and gives you the option to review tags and posts before they appear on your page.
  • Ads, Apps and Websites lets you manage your settings for ads, apps, games, and websites.
  • Limit the Audience for Past Post restricts access for all past posts to strictly friends.
  • Blocked People and Apps allows you to block app and event invites as well as individual users from interacting with you on Facebook.

Think carefully about public photos and information. Consider what your employer or your grandmother would think of your profile.

Make it your own

Facebook is often an expression of the individual, so why not have some fun with it?

  • Profile picture. Upload, snap a picture from your webcam or choose a photo from an album to be your default profile photo. Don’t worry too much about size (cropping is always available), but remember that higher quality photos will take longer to upload to the website. Also, keep in mind that your profile picture will always be displayed, regardless of your privacy setting.
  • Cover photo. Upload, take or choose a photo from an album to be the default banner photo that extends across the top of your profile. Again, whatever image you use can be cropped, repositioned, or changed entirely down the line.
  • Update your info. Enter information about everything from your work history and education to your favorite quotes and where you live. This is also where you throw in basics such as your contact information, age, gender, religion, and relationship status among other things. Maybe even write a brief bio about yourself if you really want to get into it.
  • Likes. Search for your favorite bands, sports teams, books, businesses, and anything else you can think of in the tiny search bar at the top of the page. Make sure to click the “Like” button once you’ve found what you’re looking for. If it exists, then there is a good chance there’s a page for it.
  • Subscriptions. Keep up with all your favorite people, from celebrities to politicians, without having to add them as a friend. Once you subscribe to someone, any public update they share will appear in your News Feed. Just click the “Subscribe” button in the upper, right-hand corner of timeline when available. You can even have subscribers of your own if you check the box for “Allow Subscribers” in the general account settings.

Find Your Friends

Facebook can be lonely without friends, so fire off those friend requests. Once you’ve collected a few virtual friends, Facebook makes it easy by suggesting other people to be your friend based on common friends and interests.

  • Search. The search bar at the top of the page is the quickest and easiest way to find your friends on Facebook. Just type the name of your friends, family, and coworkers in the search bar and filter the results by location, education and workplace to better find who you’re looking for.
  • Import. Facebook gives you the option to import contacts from another location, such as your email address or Skype account, before sending off a friend request. Just type the name of the account you want to use on the Find Friends page, enter your login information, and click “Find Friends.”
  • Invite. You can also invite friends individually from the Invite Your Friends page by entering an email, adding a personal message, and clicking “Invite Your Friends.”

Photos and Video

Some of the best features Facebook has to offer. Period.

  • Uploading photos and creating an album: Click the “Add Photo/Video” button at the top of your home page. Next, choose whether you want to upload a photo individually or create an entire album before picking the photos to upload. Keep in mind that high-resolution photos will look better, but increase the time it takes to upload. You can also add album titles, descriptions, captions, tags, and locations while you wait so downtime is kept to a minimum.
  • Uploading a video. Click the “Add Photo/Video” button at the top of your home page. Then choose the video. Like photos, the higher the quality of the video you’re uploading, the longer it will take to upload.


Now it’s time to speak your mind to your friends and the world. Sharing is where the heart of the social networking giant thrives so you best get used to it if you want to get anywhere in the social media age. The majority of the time that you share something on Facebook, you will have an option to choose an audience before you post. Simply click who you want the post viewable to (everyone, friends, etc.) from the dropdown menu next to the “Post” button.

  • Status updates. What’s on your mind? Status updates will appear as posts on your timeline and news feed. Here you can easily share your text, photos, videos, and links with the people of your choice by inserting your content and hitting the “Post” button.
  • Check-ins. Want to show off that you got tickets for the big game or concert? Check-ins give you the option of choosing a specific location and time when you post. Just click on the “Place” button in the share menu to find nearby locations from a dropdown list or type in a specific spot all your own.
  • Life events. If you choose so, Facebook does a great job of sharing those big, life-changing moments like graduating from college or having a kid. All you have to do is click the “Life Event” button in the share menu, choose the type of event and enter all the specifics.
  • Tagging. The tagging function allows you to tag your friends and share a post with a number of their timelines simultaneously. Just type the “@” symbol in the share box and choose one or more friends you want to tag from the dropdown menu. Also, you can always type in a name if the person you wish to tag doesn’t have a Facebook account.
  • Sharing on other timelines. Sometimes you may just want to share things with a specific someone instead of broadcasting it to everyone you know. Luckily, it essentially works the same way as using the share box on your own profile page. Insert the content, the tags or place in the share box at the of your friend’s timeline and hit the “Post” button.

Facebook also gives you the option to like, comment on or share pretty much any post that you can view on the site. All you have to do is choose one of the options below the post.

Send a Message

It’s not quite as personal or fancy as your email, but it’s incredibly handy when it comes to privately getting in contact with acquaintances or people you don’t know all that well. Or maybe you just want to forego Yahoo Messenger, AIM or Skype in favor of something a bit more all-encompassing. Facebook has got you covered either way.

  • Messages. There a couple ways to send private message to people on Facebook, and you don’t need to be friends with someone in order to do so. One way is to click the messages tab on the left hand side of your homepage, choose the “New Message” option and then select a name (or names) from the dropdown menu after you begin typing. Type out your message and click “Send.” You can also send a message in the same manner by choosing the “Message” button at the top of someone’s timeline.
  • Chat. Forget the days of AIM and Yahoo Messenger, Facebook has a built-in chat so you can talk with your friends online without ever leaving your News Feed. Just click the “Chat” tab in the bottom, right-hand corner of the page and turn on the chat to see who is available. The options section even lets you toggle chat sounds and block specific users from contacting you. Keep in mind, Facebook chat only allows you communicate with those you have friended on the site.
  • Video calling. Facebook makes video calling a breeze. Just click video camera icon in any chat dialogue box to begin a video call with one of your friends using your default webcam. Although you cannot video chat with multiple people at once, you can continue using the Facebook chat while engaged in a video call.

Other Features

Facebook is continually rolling out new features and expanding the limitations of what a social networking site can do. From groups to games, the site is continually pushing the borders and turning out all sorts of goodies. We aren’t going to dive too in-depth into each one, but just know they exist.

  • Gifts. Yes, Facebook makes it even easier to give gifts to your friends. You choose the friend, the gift, the card, and personal message. Then your friend inputs his or her street address and Facebook essentially takes care of the rest.
  • Pokes. Whoever you poke will receive a notification saying you poked them. We don’t fully understand the point of it, but you can do it all the same.
  • Groups. A great way to create or join a private space for people who share common interests. Want to break a Guinness record or punch people who walk slowly in the back of the head? There is a Facebook group for both in case you were worried.
  • Apps. Facebook offers a variety of free apps — from productive to fun — completely free. Be sure to check out some of our favorites so you never have to leave your home again.
  • Timeline. It’s basically the profile of your entire life in a virtual nutshell. Feel free to scroll through your past to check out old photos, posts and anything else you may have wanted to forget about. Timeline wasn’t always required, but now it is. Get used to it.
  • Notifications: Your go-to spot for any and all Facebook activity. Set it up to email you updates or just click the little globe near the search bar to see any recent activity.
  • Mobile version: Now you can access Facebook right from your smart phone, tablet, or other mobile device. It works in the same vein as the website, but with some slight modifications and restrictions. The app is available for both Android and Apple devices.

Go Forth

That was a whirlwind of a Facebook breakdown, but now it’s time to put all the tips into action! The best way to really learn how to use Facebook is by using Facebook. Who would have thought? Check out the Facebook Help Center for more information.

Do you need a little clarification or are you particularly perplexed about how use certain Facebook features? Let us know in the comments below.