Master Facebook's Timeline With This Handy Guide

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New Status Box Adds Life Events

Below Timeline's top section, you will see a status box, where you can share photos, updates, location data and links just as you would on your old Facebook page. There is also a new addition to the status update box called "Life Event." This section includes a wealth of new information you can add to your profile including information about your work and education; family and relationships; home and living (buying a home, vehicle, etc); health and wellness; and milestones and experiences (awards, driver's licenses, etc).

The new status box in Timeline

The list of things you can add to your profile is pretty exhaustive: It includes jobs, schooling, retirement, engagement and marriage, new children and pets, end of a relationship, deaths of loved ones, buying a new house or car, getting a new roommate, breaking a bone, undergoing surgery, overcoming illness, getting glasses, learning a language, picking up a new hobby, getting your driver's license, receiving an award, or traveling to a new destination.

Posting Privacy

The condensed timeline in Timeline

One thing to keep in mind when using the new status box is to check the privacy settings for everything you share. You have the option to make new content public, viewable only to friends, viewable only to you or a custom setting such as viewable only to a specific set of friends.

Below the new status box, you will see your Facebook activity separated into boxes allowing you to scroll down the page and see all your Facebook activity. To the right of the main column, you will see a condensed timeline showing specific years or months.

When Timeline was first activated for my profile back in September, it took a few minutes before Facebook's servers finished processing all my information. When I started, Timeline only listed the present, the past few months, 2010, and the rest of the "2000s" as one gigantic blob and then my birth. But eventually, it added more years based on information in my profile. Clicking on a year or decade in the navigation column will take you to that point in your Timeline.

As you scroll down your Timeline, a virtual toolbar will remain static at the top of your screen.

The Static toolbar in Timeline

It includes a drop down menu that lets you navigate to a specific point in your Timeline. This menu option will adjust to the current date you're viewing as you scroll through your Timeline. The far right of the toolbar includes options to post updates or links, photos, location data or add a new life event. The right-hand navigation column listing the years is also static, and will stay with you as you scroll down through your Timeline.

TIP: As you scroll down your Timeline a new drop down menu will appear in the static toolbar that lets you filter your posts to view only highlighted posts or all stories. You can also use this new menu to jump to your Activity Log.

Now that you know how to get around Timeline, here's how to get started.

Choose Your Cover

Setting the Cover photo in Timeline

The most impressive part of Facebook's new Timeline is the cover photo. This is what most people will see when they first land on your profile. The canvas area for your cover photo will be blank to start. You can change this by hovering over the cover photo area. You will then be prompted to either upload a photo from your computer or choose one of your Facebook photos.

Keep in mind as you're choosing an image that your cover photo is never private, just as your profile picture is not.

Check Your Visibility

How much information do you want to make public in Timeline?

So you've chosen a cover photo that you don't mind the whole world seeing. Now it's time to see what Timeline is already showing you and then perhaps fill out some events from your past, right? Well, not so fast. Before you get ahead of yourself, it's best to check your new profile's public visibility to see what shared links, photos, comments, and other things might come back from the past to haunt you.

To do this, click on the cog just below the right side of your cover photo and select "View As..." A box will appear at the top of your profile; click on the blue "public" link in the first sentence. Now you're viewing your profile as a random stranger. Any information on your profile that you don't want to share--and is not exclusively public--can be removed by clicking on the "x" in the top right corner of the story box. In my tests, the remove button did not work just as it didn't in September when I first took a look at Timeline.

Next Up: Edit Your Timeline

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