Seeing too many links and photos in your Facebook news feed about people you’ve never heard of? Don’t really care what your friends are listening to on Spotify, or what letters they just played in “Words with Friends”?

Read on for three ways to whip your bloated Facebook news feed into shape, starting with…

1. Nix “likes” and comments from oversharing friends

Wondering why your news feed is filled with snapshots from the wedding of a perfect stranger? A simple “like” or an innocuous comment (“Beautiful dress!”) from a mutual friend is often all it takes for an irrelevant (to you, anyway) photo album, link, or like to wind up in your news feed.

Facebook friend news feed settings

Too many random photos or “likes” from a particular Facebook friend? You can pare down their posts by unchecking a few update categories.

Here’s a quick way to deal with such arbitrary posts:

  • Hover your mouse over an update in your Facebook news feed, click on the little downward arrow that appears below the top-right corner of the post, then click “Hide.”
  • Once the offending post disappears, you’ll get a series of options, including one that reads “Change what updates you get from [name of your friend].” Hover your mouse over that link.
  • Now, start unchecking the specific categories of updates that your don’t want to see from a given friend anymore. If, for example, you have a Facebook acquaintance who often “likes” photos of friends outside your social circle, you might want to start by unchecking “Comments and Likes.”

Update [3/10/14]: Yep, more changes have come to Facebook. No longer can you tweak the news feed settings for a friend by hovering over their name; instead, you can only “follow” or “unfollow” their updates. There is, however, a workaround that’ll let you pick and choose the types of posts you’ll see from a given friend in your news feed; here’s how.

Remember, you can always re-subscribe to a friend’s comments, likes, and other updates. Just go to their Facebook timeline, hover your mouse over the “Friends” button, click “Settings” from the pull-down menu, and re-check any categories you’d previously unchecked.

2. Block posts from specific apps or pages

Don’t get me wrong, I love “Words With Friends” as much as the next person; I just don’t need to read about every single move by my many Words With Friends-playing buddies.

Then there’s the music junkie whose Spotify playlists keep cropping up in your news feed, or the TV show you “liked” that just posted one too many updates about its latest episode.

Facebook hide stories posted by apps

Want to block updates from a specific app or Facebook page from appearing in your news feed? No problem.

Make it stop!

  • Again, just hover your mouse over the offending post, click the arrow, then click “Hide.”
  • Don’t want to see any Words with Friends posts anymore? Then select “Hide all stories from Words with Friends.” Had it with updates from Spotify, or posts by any Facebook page you’ve liked? Same thing.
  • Now, if you’d rather nix, say, Farmville or Words With Friends posts from just a single oversharing Facebook buddy, you can go back to their individual update settings and uncheck “Games” or “Music and Videos.”

3. Filter your news feed with friend “lists”

Wish you could see Facebook updates from just your work buddies, or only your closest friends and family?

No problem. All you need to do is set up a few Facebook friend “lists”—that is, lists of Friends that you’ve grouped according to their relationship with you.

Facebook filter news feed by friend list

You can filter the updates in your news feed by click on a friend “list.”

If you haven’t already, go ahead and set up a few Facebook friend lists by clicking the Friends heading in the left column of your news feed (if the “Friends” link isn’t visible, click “More” at the very bottom of the column), then click the Create List button.

A few friend lists, like Close Friends and Acquaintances, should already be waiting for you, while current and former work colleagues, old school chums, and neighbors are automatically grouped into so-caled “Smart lists.”

Now, got some friend lists ready? Go back to your news feed, click a list in the left column, and voilà—your feed is now showing stories only from the friends in the list that you clicked.

Oh, and one more thing: expect to see more news feed updates from friends in your Close Friends list, and fewer updates from those on your Acquaintances list.

Bonus tip

Had a change of heart about any of the stories, friends or apps you’ve blocked from your news feed?

Hover your mouse over the News Feed link in the left corner of the main News Feed page, click the little pencil that appears, then click Edit Settings.

Once you do, a pop-up window will show you all the people, pages, and apps you’ve blocked from your news feed.

To unblock an item, just click the “x” next to its entry.

Looking for more Facebook tips? Click here!

Note: As I’m sure you know, Facebook is constantly changing its interface, controls, and settings, which is why I’m republishing this year-old article with several substantial revisions.

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