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Tips For Google Maps

Mastering Google Maps: 28 Tips Beyond Basics of Navigation

Google Maps is more than just a digital map; it’s a tool with features waiting to be explored. While many of us use it for simple directions, there’s a world of hidden gems that enhance our travel experiences. Dive into this post as we uncover top tips and tricks of Google Maps in 2023, taking your digital exploration to the next level. Let’s navigate the unknown together!

1. Zoom with One Finger:

  • Typically, users zoom in and out on Google Maps by pinching or expanding with two fingers.
  • However, there’s a one-finger method: double-tap on the map but don’t lift your finger after the second tap. Instead, slide it up to zoom out and slide it down to zoom in. This is especially handy when using the app with one hand.

2. Remember Parking Location:

  • If you often forget where you’ve parked, Google Maps has a feature to help.
  • When you park, open Google Maps and tap on the blue dot (your current location). An option will pop up allowing you to “Save your parking.”
  • Once saved, a pin will appear on the map showing where your car is. You can tap on this pin to get directions back to your car or to clear the saved parking spot.
  • For automatic parking detection, go to settings within the app, navigate to “Navigation,” and toggle on the option for Google Maps to remember where you parked.

3. Location History:

  • This feature allows you to view a history of places you’ve visited.
  • To access, click on the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) in the top left corner and select “Your timeline.”
  • You’ll see a map with red dots indicating places you’ve been. By selecting a specific location or date, you can view a detailed breakdown of your movements and activities for that day.
  • This requires location tracking to be turned on.

4. Street View History:

  • Street View provides ground-level imagery of many locations around the world.
  • To access, click on the yellow person icon (Pegman) in the bottom right corner. Blue lines will appear on the map, indicating where Street View is available.
  • Drag the Pegman to a location to see current imagery. In the top left corner, there’s a date indicating when the photo was taken. Clicking on this date allows you to view past images of the same location, effectively letting you “time travel” and see how a place has changed over time.

5. Voice Interaction:

  • Google Maps allows voice commands to make navigation easier.
  • While navigating, there’s a microphone icon you can tap to give voice commands.
  • For hands-free voice commands, go to settings, then “Navigation.” Here, you can set up the “OK Google” detection. This allows you to ask questions or give commands without touching your device, like “OK Google, show me gas stations along my route.”

6. Change Vehicle Icon:

  • When navigating, there’s a default arrow icon representing your vehicle on the map.
  • You can customize this icon by tapping on it. A selection of different vehicle icons will appear, and you can choose one that you prefer.

7. Custom Labels:

  • For frequently visited places, you can add custom labels in Google Maps.
  • For instance, if you always navigate to your dentist but don’t remember the address, you can label that location as “Dentist.” In the future, simply typing “Dentist” in the search bar will bring up the location.

8. Save Locations:

  • If you come across a place of interest or need to remember a specific location, you can save it in Google Maps.
  • Search for the location, click on it, and then select “Save.” This adds the location to a list of saved places that you can access later.
  • Saved places can be found by clicking on the hamburger menu and selecting “Your places.”

9. Offline Maps:

  • If you’re traveling to an area with limited or no internet connectivity, you can download maps for offline use.
  • Click on your profile picture, select “Offline maps,” and then “Create your own map.” You can then select the area you want to download.
  • The size of the offline map depends on the area you select. Larger areas will require more storage space.

10. Measure Distance & Area:

  • Google Maps allows you to measure the distance between two or more points.
  • Right-click on your starting point and select “Measure distance.” Then, click on your endpoint. The distance between the two points will be displayed.
  • You can also measure the area of a specific space by connecting multiple points to form a shape. The total area will be displayed once the shape is complete.

11. Share Real-time Location:

  • This feature allows you to share your current location with others in real-time.
  • To use it, tap on your current location (the blue dot) on the map. An option to “Share location” will appear.
  • You can specify how long you want to share your location (e.g., for 15 minutes, 1 hour, or indefinitely until you turn it off).
  • After setting the duration, you can select contacts or generate a link to share your real-time location.

12. Route Options:

  • Google Maps allows you to customize your navigation preferences.
  • Access this by clicking on your profile picture, selecting “Settings,” and then navigating to “Navigation.”
  • Here, you can adjust route options such as avoiding highways, tolls, and ferries. This is useful if you have specific preferences or constraints for your journey.

13. Indoor Maps:

  • Google Maps isn’t limited to outdoor locations. It also provides detailed maps of the interiors of certain buildings, like malls, airports, and museums.
  • For instance, if you zoom into an international airport on the map, you can see individual stores and their locations within the mall.
  • Additionally, for multi-story buildings, there’s an option in the bottom right corner to switch between different floors.

14. Multiple Stops:

  • When planning a route, you can add multiple destinations, which is useful for trips that require multiple stops.
  • After entering your initial start and end points, click on the ellipsis (three dots) to add another stop.
  • You can also reorder the stops by pressing and holding on a location and dragging it to a different position in the list.

15. Reminders:

  • Google Maps can remind you when to leave to ensure you arrive at your destination on time.
  • Instead of setting an immediate departure, scroll to the option “Remind me” when setting up navigation.
  • You can choose to be reminded to depart at a specific time or set a desired arrival time. Google Maps will then notify you when it’s time to leave, factoring in current traffic conditions.

16. Modify Route:

  • While navigating, you can adjust your route by dragging and dropping parts of it.
  • For instance, if you want to take a slight detour or avoid a specific area, click and drag the route to a new road or location.
  • If you want to revert to the original route, double-click on the modified point.

17. Public Transportation:

  • Google Maps can guide you through public transportation routes, including buses, trains, and subways.
  • When setting up navigation, switch from the default vehicle icon to the public transit icon.
  • The app will then show you the best public transportation options, schedules, and stops to get to your destination.

18. Traffic Patterns:

  • You can view traffic conditions for different times of the day.
  • Change the map layer to “Traffic” to see current traffic conditions. There’s also an option to view typical traffic patterns for specific times and days, helping you anticipate and avoid congestion.

19. Flight Pricing:

  • Google Maps can provide quick flight price estimates for different destinations.
  • After selecting a start point, choose a destination and click on the flight icon. As you move the destination point to different locations on the map, the estimated flight price will be updated.
  • This is a handy tool for quickly comparing flight costs to various destinations.

20. View Traffic Predictions Throughout the Day:

  • Google Maps allows users to view not only the current traffic conditions but also typical traffic patterns for different times and days. On desktop, users can click on the layers option and select “traffic”. By toggling to “typical traffic”, users can adjust the day and time to anticipate traffic conditions for future trips. This feature is especially useful for planning drives during peak traffic hours or for special events.

21. Change Your Engine Type for Maximum Fuel Efficiency:

  • When setting up navigation on mobile, Google Maps provides an option to adjust the engine type of the vehicle. Users can choose between gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid. Depending on the selection, Google Maps will optimize the route for the best fuel efficiency, considering factors like charging stations for electric vehicles or routes that are more fuel-efficient for hybrids.

22. Set a Reminder to Leave:

  • Google Maps offers a feature where users can set reminders for when they should leave to reach a destination on time. After inputting the route, users can tap on the three-dot menu icon and select “set a reminder to leave”. They can specify the desired arrival time, and Google Maps will notify them when it’s time to depart, factoring in current traffic conditions.

23. Drag and Drop to Change Your Route:

  • On the desktop version of Google Maps, after setting up directions, users can customize their route by dragging and dropping parts of the highlighted route to new locations. This feature allows for personal adjustments to the journey, such as avoiding certain areas or passing through specific points of interest.

24. Share Directions and Share Your Location:

  • Google Maps provides an easy way to share your current location or planned route with others. By tapping on the profile icon and selecting “location sharing”, users can choose how long and with whom they want to share their real-time location. This feature is especially useful for safety or coordinating meet-ups. Additionally, after setting up directions, users can share those directions with others, making it easier for groups to follow the same route.

25. Check Flight Prices:

  • Beyond road navigation, Google Maps can provide estimated flight prices between cities. By inputting starting and destination cities and selecting the flight option, users can see a quick estimate of flight costs. This feature is integrated with Google Flights, allowing for a seamless transition to booking if desired.

26. Make Dinner Reservations:

  • In partnership with platforms like OpenTable, Google Maps allows users to make reservations directly from the app. After searching for a restaurant, users can see if the “reserve a table” option is available. They can then choose the party size, date, time, and seating preference (indoor or outdoor) if applicable.

27. View Public Alerts and Weather Warnings:

  • Google Maps integrates public safety alerts and weather warnings into the map view. If there’s a relevant alert in the user’s area or searched location, a notification will appear on the map. Tapping on it provides more detailed information, including the nature of the alert, safety recommendations, affected areas, and even options to report road closures. This feature is crucial for travelers or those living in areas prone to natural disasters.

28. Area 51 Easter Egg:

  • As a fun feature, if you drag the Street View icon (Pegman) over Area 51 in Nevada, it turns into a UFO icon.
  • This is one of Google Maps’ many easter eggs, adding a touch of humor and mystery to the app.
About the Author
I'm Daniel O'Donohue, the voice and creator behind The MapScaping Podcast ( A podcast for the geospatial community ). With a professional background as a geospatial specialist, I've spent years harnessing the power of spatial to unravel the complexities of our world, one layer at a time.