13 February 2010

Shortcuts and saved searches for Google Buzz

One of the hot topics of conversation in Google newest online service are the tips and tricks to get the most out of the fresh app. The same thing happened after the launch of Wave; fortunately nobody needs invitations this time around. I have posted some of my own discoveries on my Twitter account as I noticed them, and now you can find them in this article.

Keyboard shortcuts

One of the advantages of having Buzz integrated with other Google services are the familiar keyboard shortcuts. To use them enable the feature in Gmail. If they still don’t work, try updating your browser; some users reported that fixed their missing shortcuts.

  • The combination g b opens the Buzz label, like g i does for the Inbox;
  • Once inside Buzz, you can navigate up and down the stream with j/k or n/p one buzz at a time, or with Space one page at a time. On the left, you will see a small arrow indicating the current buzz is selected. ‘Unread’ buzz and comments are also highlighted with a colored bar on the left, similar to Google Wave;
  • If you find something uninteresting, hide them it directly from the keyboard with m; no need to go use the menu;
  • For other interactions with the buzz you can use r or a to comment (reply), Shift+l to like/unlike and f to email (forward). After writing the comment, click Tab and then Enter to post, like sending an email;
  • To expand a longer entry, imported from Google Reader for example, use o or Enter. Unfortunately, they don’t collapse the buzz when you’re done reading. These shortcuts also work inside the messages from Buzz in your inbox, not only to expand a long item, but also to show the hidden comments!

At some point, I got the impression that v opens the enclosed link from a buzz, like in Google Reader, but it definitely doesn’t work now. Also, I haven’t found any shortcuts to delete or edit a buzz, none of the usual “suspects” work.

It’s unfortunate that posting by email strips away the contents and creates a buzz only from the subject and attached pictures. If it included the email body, this could have been used as an alternative to sharing, or you could have emailed entries from Google Reader to separate shared items from buzzing. The only other option is to go to the source and duplicate it by retweeting or sharing on Google Reader. But this way, the link to the original buzz is not preserved.

Search operators

Much of the discussion also revolved around searching Buzz. Google posted some operators in the help pages, but there are others not documented there. For example from: works just like author:. Very useful is source: to filter or remove buzz from a particular service. You can use a whole range of Gmail operators: for example author:gray|scoble finds buzz from any of the two; and combine them freely: from:gray source:twitter commenter:moga displays buzz from Gray coming from Twitter where I commented. You can’t use me as a shortcut for yourself, and I would recommend using the full Google Profile name of the person you are searching for, to avoid posts from people with the same last name.

The Buzz search has it’s shortcomings though. I don’t like how it searches through all the public buzz, instead or restricting it to buzz originating from the people you follow. There should be at least an option for this. Manually creating a search for a group of people would be a daunting task, so I hope there will be an automatic solution soon. A link in ‘Contacts’ next to a group would be nice, like “Find buzz from this group”. The search could also add an user interface for the most common operators, to make them more visible to users. Not anyone wants to remember these codes, especially users accustomed to desktop clients.

It must also be noted that the previous operators only work inside the ‘Buzz’ section of Gmail. You will notice the search buttons have different captions on them to indicate this. If you go to the Inbox, you must use the regular Gmail operators like label:, subject: etc.

Finding buzz in the inbox is easy enough: it’s internally labeled this way, so use is:buzz or label:buzz to search or create filters. Here are some examples:

  • Find buzz you posted: is:buzz from:me. They also appear in your ‘Sent items’ view, even if imported from external services, and not posted by email;
  • Find buzz from other people where you commented: is:buzz "<your Google profile name>" -from:me. For example my search looks like this: is:buzz "George B. Moga" -from:me;
  • Find buzz from a specific service: is:buzz "<your Google profile name> - <service>" from:me. Don’t use only the service name, because it could be mentioned elsewhere in the email body. As an example, my Tweets in my account can be found with this command: is:buzz "George B. Moga - Twitter" from:me. In fact, Buzz could be used as a searchable archive for your tweets, if it would import replies. The import frequency is also very poor right now, I can see from my Inbox Buzz only imports tweets about twice a day!

As a final tip, probably the most important one, every Gmail search has their own URL, including searches made in the Buzz section. It can be bookmarked in your browser, saving you the work of retyping them over and over again. Or, better yet, use the Quick links’ add-on for Gmail to save all your important searches right in your Gmail account!Google Buzz Quick Links lab


  1. Anyone yet found a way to show the 'comment' box and 'like' the post with just the keyboard?

  2. Hi, scotartt!
    Guess you didn't read my article thoroughly.
    In the first half I mentioned "you can use 'r' or 'a' to comment (reply), 'Shift+l' to like/unlike".