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Gmail LogoGoogle announced a key change to Gmail Thursday: users can now email people who are on Google+, without needing to know their email address. Now, when Gmail users start typing a name into the “To” field of their message, a dropdown will suggest both email addresses and related users from your “Circles” on Google’s social network.

It’s another move by the search giant to try and integrate its fledgling social network into every aspect of how people use its other products. Google seems to think that if everyone just ends up using Google+ for everything anyway, they’ll start using it more. This is a key step in that process, though: by connecting friends’ emails with their Google+ profiles, the search giant can remind users that their friends are on Google+, and try and boost people’s use of the network.

But, if the email you use for Google+ is the same as your personal email address, you don’t necessarily want to make it possible for people who aren’t your friends to send you emails. Here’s how to make sure you aren’t flooded with spam, now that Google has turned the new feature on:

This is what you're looking for, if you want to change your settings.
This is what you’re looking for, if you want to change your settings.
  • Open Gmail’s settings, and under the “General” tab, scroll down to “Email via Google+.”
  • Set the dropdown menu to your preference, whether that’s allowing people in your circles to email you through G+, opening your account up to the whole network, or making it impossible for people to email you through Google’s social network. It’s worth noting that if you set that to “All Google+,” Google will ask you whether or not you want to keep receiving emails from someone after they’ve emailed you once, and it’s possible to block a sender.
  • Go back to ignoring Google+, as usual.

What’s interesting about this move is that it’s roughly the reverse of a change that Facebook made last year, when the social network gave everyone profile-specific email addresses that people could use to connect over the social networks instant messenger system. Considering that I’ve yet to receive a message on my profile’s email address, I wonder if Google’s experiment will go any better.

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