Streamline Your Online Experience

Adam Pash, PC World
PC World
Tuesday, May 26, 2009; 12:19 AM

If you have more online accounts than you can track, these tools will put you back in control. With the help of these tips for Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, you can keep passwords secure, control your networks from a single interface, get one number for all your phones, and more.

Reduce Your Online Profile to Safeguard Your Privacy

The Internet is an amazing venue for sharing your life with family and friends, but if you don't pay attention to what you're sharing, it can turn into a privacy nightmare. You can do a lot to protect yourself. If you're on Facebook, for example, get to know the privacy settings. You can determine what you broadcast to the world; and when used wisely, the settings provide serious control over what details the site exposes. One great setting to tweak is the Search setting, which lets you restrict how much information people can see about you before you add them as friends.

If you've tried your hand at a lot of social networks over the years, it's a good idea to go back and delete old, neglected accounts that still show up in your Google results but don't satisfactorily portray the professional demeanor you've worked so hard to cultivate.

Finally, set up a simple nameplate site to take an active role in determining what people see when they dig for dirt on you. One worthy option is a Google Profile, which can give you a leg up in shaping how others perceive you on the Web (though in our tests, it didn't rank as highly in our search results as we had hoped).

Consolidate Your Online Identities With UnHub

Between your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and--if you're really popular--your Wikipedia page, you probably find it tough to give someone a single URL that says "Here's me." Web site UnHub helps to solve that problem. The service allows you to create a very simple home page with a persistent profile bar that links to every site that defines you on the Web. No matter which of your pages your buddies visit, yourUnHub profile bar stays on top so that your visitors can easily move on to your next online hangout. Best of all, you don't have to update each of your sites every time you add a new social network to your list.

Update Your Blog

It's rare to find a piece of Microsoft software that outperforms the competition where the Internet is involved, but if you love to blog, you can't find a better companion than Windows Live Writer. The handy application plugs into popular blogging platforms such as Blogger and WordPress, streamlining your writing process with a built-in spelling checker, image editing tools, post previews, and more. It also boasts plug-in support for integrating with your Flickr account, with Twitter, and with the popular social news site Digg.

Manage Twitter More Effectively

Everyone is talking about Twitter these days, but despite the service's insane popularity, its chaotic de­­fault Web interface doesn't do much to simplify working with it. If you'd like to manage your Twitter experience better, try the free Twitter client TweetDeck. It displays your friends' tweets, corrals your mentions, tracks searches, and has tools for shortening links, posting pictures, and more.

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