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Five must-have tools for an awesome Facebook Timeline

Check out the best tools for pimping out your Timeline and making the most of your new profile.

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Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Get ready for a little Band-Aid rippin'. Within the next few weeks, all Facebook users (that's nearly 1 billion!) will be transitioned into Facebook Timeline.

Now, now, it's really not that bad. Despite a lot of complaining, many agree that the Timeline profiles are pretty awesome. Sure, it will force you to look back on memories you worked hard to suppress, but after some initial reflection and (artificial) deletion of these happenings, Timeline reveals itself as the nostalgic scrapbook you never had the time to craft yourself.

Whether you jumped on the Timeline bandwagon at its initial release (you can still opt in here) or waited for Facebook to force it upon you, this guide will tip you off to a few ways to make your new profile awesome.

1. Pimp your cover photo.
Your cover photo--that large image at the top of your profile--is like a billboard that reflects your personality. (Not surprisingly, mine is a photo of me on the computer, surrounded by gadgets.)

You can use a photo from your albums, but if you'd prefer to use a photo of something else (like a band you love, scenery, or...puppies), many Web sites have cropped up to make it easy for you to find premade cover photos. Check them out.

You can also create a custom cover photo on the go with your iPhoneor Android phone.

2. Turn your Timeline into a cinematic movie.
This here is the tool that turned my Timeline "like" into love. Facebook collaborated with some developers to create a free, easy-to-use service that turns your life events, videos, and photos into a heartwarming movie.

Once you've spent some time adding Life Events (and removing the bad ones), head over to this Web site and see what your Timeline movie has to reveal.


3. Have fun with apps.
Timeline comes with a host of new "Timeline apps." In a nutshell, these apps share your non-Facebook activity--like pinning on Pinterest, reading news articles, and listening to music--with your friends on Facebook. Before you use them, check out my full explainer about how these apps work, and what to look out for before installing them. Once you do, you can start installing apps from this page.

My favorites right now are Pinterest, Spotify, Rotten Tomatoes, and Goodreads.

4. Keep your privacy on lock.
I encourage you to be optimistic about Timeline, but don't forget about your privacy. As you explore your new profile, take note of these five privacy settings you should tweak right away.

5. Get rid of Facebook's most annoying feature.
As if if Facebook doesn't already bombard us with updates in the News Feed, the company decided that we also needed a Facebook-in-a-Facebook: the Ticker. Unlike the News Feed, which displays status updates, photos, and other important events, the Ticker shows all of that plus everything else your friends are doing, in real time. This includes things they "like," songs they're listening to, and friends they're adding.

I love my friends, but not that much. Here's how to hide the Ticker (and get it back if you change your mind. You won't.)