You Can Make the New Google+ Work Better — If You’re Borg!

Recently, in Google+ and the Notifications Meltdown, I noted the abysmal user experience represented by the new Google+ unified desktop notifications panel — especially for users like me with many G+ followers and high numbers of notifications.

Since then, one observer mentioned to me that opening and closing the notifications panel seemed to load more notifications. I had noticed this myself earlier, but the technique appeared to be unreliable with erratic results, and with large numbers of notifications still being “orphaned” on the useless standalone G+ notifications page.

After a bunch more time wasted on digging into this, I now seem to have a methodology that will (for now at least … maybe) reliably permit users to see all G+ notifications on the desktop notifications panel, in a manner that permits interacting with them that is much less hassle than the standalone notifications page permits.

There’s just one catch. You pretty much have to be Borg-like in your precision to make this work. You can just call me “One of One” for the remainder of this post.

Keeping in mind that this is a “How-to” guide, not a “What the hell is going on?” guide, let’s begin your assimilation.

The new notifications panel will typically display up to around 10 G+ notification “tiles” when it’s opened by clicking on the red G+ notification circle. If you interact in any way with any specific tile, G+ now usually considers it as “read” and you frequently can’t see it again unless you go to the even more painful standalone notifications page.

Here’s my full recommended procedure. Wander from this path at your own risk.

Open the panel on your desktop by clicking the red circle with the notifications count inside. Click on the bottom-most tile. That notification will open. Interact with it as you might desire — add comments, delete spam, etc.

Now, assuming that there’s more than one notification, click the up-arrow at the top of the panel to proceed upward to the next notification. You can also go back downward with the down-arrow, but do NOT at this time touch the left-arrow at the top of the panel — you do not want to return to those tiles yet.

Continue clicking upward through the notifications using that up-arrow — the notifications will open as you proceed. This can be done quite quickly if you don’t need to add comments of your own or otherwise manage the thread — e.g., you can plow rapidly through +1 notifications.

When you reach the last (that is, the top) notification on the current panel, the up-arrow will no longer be available to click.

NOW you can use the left arrow at the top of the panel to return to the notification tiles view. When you’re back on that view, be sure that you under NO circumstances click the “X” on any of those tiles, and do NOT click on the “hamburger” icon (three horizontal lines) that removes all of the tiles. If you interact with either of those icons, whether at this stage or before working your way up through the notifications, you stand a high probability of creating “orphan” notifications that will collect forever on the standalone notifications page rather than ever being presented by the panel!

So now you’re sitting on the tile view. Click on an empty area of the G+ window OUTSIDE the panel. The panel should close.

Assuming that there are more notifications pending, click again on the red circle. The panel will reopen, and if you’ve been a good Borg you’ll see the panel repopulate with a new batch of notifications.

This exact process can be repeated (again, for the time being at least) until all of your notifications have been dealt with. If you’ve done this all precisely right, you’ll likely end up with zero unread notifications on the standalone notifications page.

That’s all there is to it! A user interface technique that any well-trained Borg can master in no time at all! But at least it’s making my G+ notifications management relatively manageable again.

Yep, resistance IS futile.