Skip to main content

How To Get and Set Up Facebook Timeline

You were warned. The changes to Facebook were announced some time ago, and some of you may have already been using the new Timeline feature for awhile. But today, love it or hate it, we can all join in the Facebook archival fun, as we curate our online lines through the Timeline profiles.

"Tell your life story with a new kind of profile," is the tagline for founder Mark Zuckerburg's most recent, and perhaps most thorough, change to the social media website in years.

The new look refocuses the Facebook profile's emphasis onto photographs, creating a scrapbook-style collection of images and video that creates a carousel of phantasmagoric personal moments around a vertical line that automatically organizes your posts by date. Visitors to your profile can browse things like your apps, playlists, and places you've been. For users that want to jump into the timeline layout, they can begin today and spend an entire week adjusting before other people can actually see it. Or you can publish it now.

Whether you're a compulsive poster or a reclusive watcher, you'll need to know how to navigate the early basics like setting up your new profile and adjusting to Facebook's new privacy options.

Getting Started

1. Go to Facebook's Timeline page. Watch the adorable video of the boy being born, swimming, donning a cowboy suit, getting engaged and presumably at some point getting peer-pressured into making a Facebook profile (not until age 13, of course). When you decide that you, too, would like to join the online Truman Show, scroll to the bottom of the screen and see your 30 friends who have signed up for Timeline. You don't have a choice at this point, so click the button and begin.

Set Your Facebook Cover Art

1. Click ‘add a cover.' The button to get you started is in the top-right corner of your page after you sign up. Clicking this will take you to the first change in the layout, and force you to make the hardest decision of your week: what will your 'cover' art be? Facebook has said the cover image is a way for individuals to express themselves in a bold, artistic manner (i.e., probably not a picture of your face). For us, the choice was easy.

2. Upload, pick or skip. For the curious creative ones: pixel size for the cover is 851 x 315. If you're not feeling as fresh as Facebook would like you to, there's the option to use an existing image. If you opt out of the self-banner, the space will shrink and your profile will shift up.

Control Your Facebook Privacy

There are two main areas where you can see your recent Facebook activity, but only one of those is visible. The Activity Log, accessible by clicking its button to the right below your cover image, is for your own personal reference. The Timeline on your main feed, though, will automatically be visible to people unless you specify otherwise.

1. Click on Activity Log. The button is just below your cover image to the right. You'll now see a list of all your recent activity, and by all, we mean all. Here, you'll see every post, comment or 'like' you've ever made, all the way back to the neophyte days of Facebooking when you joined 'groups' and didn't get rejected from med school for having questionable bachelor party photos.

2. Determine what goes where. If you click the circle next to an item in the Activity Log, you can specify whether or not it should appear on your public Timeline. Your posts on others' walls are only visible here - not on your Timeline.

3. Customize your Timeline. At last, the coup de grâce: Timeline. Your main page will have a line down the middle with all of your activity as well as others' posts about you sprouting out from both sides. Since the theme is now 'time,' anything you've added can be altered to change its date, add a location, or hide it: just click the usual pen icon in the top right corner of any item and choose its fate.

Another new feature is, well, 'Feature.' To enlarge a post or event on your timeline to make sure there's no possible way anyone misses the fact that your literature professor just gave you a B+ when you totally deserved an A-, click the star icon in the top right corner of a post, next to the edit pencil.

Now, tell the tale of your life! But don't try to leave, because the sky is actually a wall.