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May 24, 2011

Better Facebook - changing your Facebook experience for the better

Are you frustrated with the new Facebook user interface? Are there things you would like to do on Facebook that the interface just doesn't allow you to do?

There's an app for that.

Ok, an "extension," but that doesn't sound nearly as trendy.

It's an extension called "Better Facebook," and I find it works like a dream.

One of the most popular posts on this blog is my "Somebody Unfriended You on Facebook?" post, detailing a Greasemonkey script for Firefox that allows you to see who has dropped you from their Friends list.

(Incidentally, the family member referred to in that post is now on my Facebook friends list, so I hope she doesn't go back to read that!)

Anyway, Amy Vernon, an accomplished social media expert that I've been following on Twitter for a while now, was live-tweeting from a social media conference she was at. She mentioned a Google Chrome extension called "Unfriend Finder" that had been mentioned in one of the panels. I decided to take a look, since I mostly use Chrome now, and it got annoying having to open Firefox to check my friends list whenever I noticed it dropped.

The reviews were not good. (I don't know if you have to be on Chrome to access that page)

I tweeted that back to Amy and we had a short, 2-tweet conversation about it. Then Mei Qing chimed in suggesting Better Facebook.

I checked it out, and all I have to say is "Wow."

It has greatly enhanced my Facebook experience, and I highly recommend it for those of you who use Facebook a lot. It's available on all browsers except Internet Explorer.

Here are some of my favourite features:

1) Unfriend Tracker

The main reason I got it, of course.

2) Tabbed News Feeds

Do you find your News Feed cluttered with all of the game announcements, Astrology announcements, stuff posted from Twitter, feeds from pages you follow, etc? Better Facebook puts tabs on your News Feed so that you can separate all of that out. So far on my News page, I have a "Home" tab that has status updates, videos, photos, etc posted by my friends. Then it has RSS feeds, which has page updates. And finally a Twitter tab, where status updates that were forwarded by Twitter show up. It really cleans it up.

You can have Better Facebook automatically choose tabs, which is what I do. I'm not sure if you can customize the tabs, but it's worth exploring.

3) Remove posts you've already read

Once you've read an update, do you really need to see it again? If your answer is "no," then you can "mark all as read" on a tab and voila! They're gone. However, if somebody comments on an update you've marked read, it will reappear. So don't worry about losing out on seeing responses to it.

The cool thing is, if you don't care about responses, you can "mute" it so new comments will not make it reappear. You can also establish a comment threshold, so if the number of comments goes over, say, 20, it will stop reappearing. You're given total control!

4) Remove "Recent Activity" from your profile page

I don't use this option, but I still think it's a cool thing. You know how your recent activity shows up on your profile? Say you left a comment on your friend's status. It shows up on your profile as "recent activity," including a snippet of what you said! What if you don't want your friends to know that you're commenting on somebody's semi-nude picture?

With Better Facebook, you can make it so these activities don't show up on your profile page.

5) Hitting "Enter" on a comment doesn't actually post the comment.

Many people (Hi, Dawnie!) were extremely annoyed, just like I was, with the latest change in the user interface. It used to be, you had to actually click "send" to post a comment. You could write a couple of paragraphs if you wanted to. The latest change, though, made it so that hitting "Enter" submitted the comment.

Too many times, there are now two comments left by the same person, because they didn't realize that you could hit "Shift-Enter" and have it create a line break in the comment.

Better Facebook can return to the old style of commenting, making it safe to hit the "Enter" key again. If you want. If you are used to the new way of doing things, just leave this one disabled.

It's up to you.

There's so much other cool stuff, but I don't want this post to go on forever. Check out the Better Facebook page for all of the juicy details (see how nice I am? I linked to it down here, too)

The best thing about it, though, is that it lets you turn each option off and on. You don't have to take the whole package if you don't want to. Like I said about the Recent Activity removal, you can implement a feature or leave it turned off. There are a few things I've left off because they aren't important to me.

I love how customizable it is. And you can turn the entire thing off with a click of the mouse if you want to.

My experience with it has been wonderful. I highly recommend it for heavy Facebook users. Explore it! I haven't even scratched the surface of what you can do with the app in this post.

Not only that, but I haven't even explored the filtering options for myself yet. Something I may never do because that amount of filtering may not be important to me.

But it might be to you, and it's there for you to use.

Which is the coolest thing of all.


  1. My Facebook experience got better once I unfriended Ms. Overly Helpful. I got a strange sense of accomplishment and relief after doing that. The odd thing is, she almost never posted on my FB and I had long since hidden her from my feed. The one time she did post, it was a snarky comment to my status. Apparently she thought I was making a reference to her, when I was actually referring to someone else. That made me think that maybe she was stalking my profile, or something... Anyway, it was most liberating to drop her off the list. She is only the second person I've done that to.

  2. LOL nothing like addition by subtraction!!!

    Glad you finally got rid of her.

  3. Perhaps I'll try this. I have pretty much given up on facebook on my pc. I only check it on my phone once or twice a week. It's gotten to be so cluttered it's just a beating. Perhaps this will help. Thanks.


    For some reason it will only let me post as anonymous.....Stupid Computer! : )

  4. I think it's Google, actually. I couldn't respond to this before now.

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I am!


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