The best ways to clean up your Facebook News Feed

More of what you want to see, less of what you don't

Facebook
Make sure you only see what you want to see on Facebook.David Nield/Popular Science

With more than a billion users to its name, Facebook is buzzing with activity—particularly if several hundred of those users happen to be friends with you. Between wedding photos of friends-of-friends-of-friends, angry articles from your political uncle, and all-caps updates from the girl you haven't seen since middle school, your News Feed can get cluttered with information you couldn't care less about. Don't settle for reading every other post—here's how to streamline your feed so it will only show the people and news you actually care about.

Unfollow your friends
Unfollow your friendsDavid Nield/Popular Science

Unfollow your friends

Facebook includes more options than you might think for tweaking your News Feed, including the ability to unfollow your friends. This isn't the same as unfriending someone—it means you stay friends with them, but their posts won't appear in your feed. It's perfect if you want to occasionally check up on or message people, but aren't interested in the minutiae of their daily lives. And don't worry, because they won't know you've unfollowed them.

Click on the downward arrow next to any post in the News Feed and choose the Unfollow option to unfollow your friend. Alternatively, go to your friend's profile page, hover over the Following button at the top, and choose Unfollow from the menu.

See fewer posts from someone
See fewer posts from someoneDavid Nield/Popular Science

See fewer posts from someone

Let's say you don't want to see as many posts from someone, but you'd still like to get the occasional update. Instead of unfollowing that friend, you can opt to see fewer posts from them. You'll find this setting via the same drop-down menu as the unfollow option: to the top right of any post in the News Feed. Click Hide post and you won't see as many posts from that person in the future. If you hide a post from an ad or a Page, then you won't hear about it again.

When you hide a sponsored post rather than something from one of your friends, Facebook asks for some feedback about why you took the action you did. It uses your response to decide which ads to serve you in the future. Click through on the Manage Your Ad Preferences link to take more control over the ads Facebook shows you (see below for more on this).

Prioritize your close friends
Prioritize your close friendsDavid Nield/Popular Science

Prioritize your close friends

In any group of acquaintances, there will be some people you care about more than others. To help you focus on your nearest and dearest, Facebook creates a custom friends list for you called Close Friends. Updates from anyone in this select group will always prompt a notification (if you've got them enabled) and put the post high up in your News Feed. Fortunately for your friends' self-esteem, they won't know whether or not they're on your Close Friends list.

To set up your list, click Friend lists from the menu to the left of the News Feed, then Close Friends. You can add or remove friends via the Edit List button to the top right. While you're there, you might notice that Facebook has set up other lists for you, like people you work with. More on that feature below.

Set up your own friend lists
Set up your own friend listsDavid Nield/Popular Science

Set up your own friend lists

You don't have to settle for the friend lists Facebook makes for you. Click Create List from the Friend lists screen, and you can make a group based on the buddies you play cards with, the relatives you're closest to, or any other mix of people you like.

The lists you make for yourself won't affect how often you see your friends in the News Feed. But you can bookmark each list and use them as alternatives to the main News Feed. This lets you see only the updates from people on that list.

As an added bonus, whenever you share something on Facebook, you can limit the audience to any one of the lists you've created. For example, you might want to tweak your settings so only your closest friends and relatives will see all the baby photos you're uploading.

Choose who you see first
Choose who you see firstDavid Nield/Popular Science

Choose who you see first

If you'd rather not get notifications each time your close friends post, you can use a different setting to choose who comes first in your News Feed. Click the three dots to the side of the News Feed link on the Facebook website, then select Edit Preferences. The top option lets you set who you'll see first in the News Feed. Just click to select any of the suggestions Facebook gives you. Alternatively, head to a friend's page, hover over the Following button, and choose See first.

This works a lot like Close Friends, but unlike Close Friends, you won't get notifications about everything these friends do—their posts will just be prioritized in the News Feed. Again, your friends won't get any alerts about how you're sorting them, so you don't have to worry about hurting anyone's feelings.

View posts in chronological order
View posts in chronological orderDavid Nield/Popular Science

View posts in chronological order

Another option for your feed is to switch to seeing posts in chronological order. This will make your Facebook News Feed a bit more like a Twitter timeline. On the web, click the three dots to the side of the News Feed link, then choose Most Recent rather than Top Stories.

Unlike the tips we've already mentioned, this actually gives you less control over what you see in your News Feed. But it's still a useful way of switching up what's displayed, and perhaps viewing updates from people you haven't checked in on for a while. To go back to the normal view, choose Top Stories from the same menu.

Adjust your ad settings
Adjust your ad settingsDavid Nield/Popular Science

Adjust your ad settings

Facebook uses a lot of personal data to decide which ads to show you on your News Feed. To view and edit some of this information, click the drop-down menu arrow on the right of the top toolbar on the Facebook site. Pick Settings from the list, then choose Ads from the menu on the left.

From here, you can edit a lot of different options. Click Your interests to see what Facebook thinks you like, and click the cross icon on any interest to remove it. Under Advertisers you've interacted with, it's possible to block ads from certain companies, and under Your information, you can prevent Facebook from serving ads based on details like your relationship status or your job title.

Facebook can also serve you ads based on what you do on sites and apps beyond the social network, and it goes the other way as well: Your behavior on Facebook can affect which ads you see when you're browsing around the rest of the internet. To enable or disable either of these options, open Ad settings. There, you'll also find an outline of each option and what it means.