Google's plans for your Google Profile: what you need to knowWondering what will happen come July 31, when Google starts requiring that all Google Profiles be public—while at the same time purging any and all private Google Profiles? Not sure what a Google Profile is, or whether you even have one?

Relax. I’ve got answers to those questions and more right here, along with what you need to do to either keep your Google Profile online, or simply delete it forever.

What are Google Profiles?
Similar to your profile page on Facebook, Google Profiles were originally intended as a way of managing how you and your personal information appear in Google search results. You can upload a profile picture, add a job title and a location, and even add links to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Does everyone with a Google or Gmail account have a Google Profile page?
Not necessarily. In most cases, Google Profiles must be created manually, although Google notes that you “may” have a Google Profile if you’ve ever written a review on Google Maps, posted an update on Google Buzz (Google’s previous stab at launching a social network), shared an article in Google Reader, or added a book to your Google Books library.

How do I find out if I have a Google Profile?
Easy. Just sign in to your Google or Gmail account, then visit the Google Profiles site (profiles.google.com); if you have a Google Profile, it’ll pop up. (Here’s my Google Profile, if you’re interested.)

OK, so what’s Google’s plan with Profiles?
Well, remember Google+, the new social network that Google unveiled last week? As part of its Google+ push, Google wants all Google Profiles—which will soon become Google+ profiles, by the way—to be public. Instead of just switching any and all private Google Profiles to public, though, Google says it will delete all hidden profiles on July 31, about three-and-a-half weeks from now.

What if I don’t want my Google Profile deleted?
Just visit your Google Profile page, click the blue “Edit Profile” button, and make sure that at least your full name and gender are listed. Also, click the “Search visibility” setting near the bottom of the page and select “visible in search.”

Hmm, I don’t want the world seeing where I live, what I do, or where I went to school.
Not a problem. Click that “Edit Profile” button again, then click on the info that you’d rather keep to yourself and delete it from your profile.

I don’t want a Google Profile at all, and I’d rather just delete the whole thing now. What should I do?
Visit your Google Profile page, click “Edit Profile,” and click the “Delete profile and disable Google Buzz completely” link at the bottom of the page.

Will deleting my Google Profile also close my Google and/or Gmail account?
Nope, your Gmail and Google ID will live on even if you zap your Google Profile.

Wait, I still have more questions about Google Profiles!
No problem—just post your questions below, or send me an email.

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