Google Maps: 28 useful tips to get the most out of the maps app

Google Maps is a very useful application for finding a location or planning your route. Of course, you can also navigate well with it and you can request traffic information. However, Google Maps has a lot more to offer (and hidden features too).

We have listed 28 Google Maps tips for you.

Google Maps tips

If you own a smartphone, you have undoubtedly used Google Maps. Not only can you find out where the hairdresser, snack bar or gas station is in the area, you can also check whether your route is busy and start navigation. Google Maps is packed with options and possibilities.

Download Offline Areas

One of the useful features of Google Maps is the ability to download an area and save it to your phone’s memory. Saves amenities, roads, streets, and other details and data from the selected region. Please note that the offline maps are stored for a maximum of 1 year, after which they will be deleted unless you update the map and save it again. Offline maps can always be accessed without an internet connection, but for navigation, they only work with the car. You cannot use offline maps in Google Maps for bicycle navigation, public transport or pedestrian.

In the offline area overview, you can see the maps you have saved now and when they expire. If you want to use a map for longer, click on the relevant offline map. Here you can delete or update it. When you press update, you can use it again for 30 days.

How do you download maps in Google Maps?

Here we explain step by step how to download maps via Google Maps for offline use. In the example, we take the city of Copenhagen, Denmark.

  • Search for Google Maps in the search bar.
  • Press ‘Download‘.
  • Zoom in or out with two fingers and move the frame to whatever area you want to download.
  • Then you can see how much space the card needs.
  • Do you have the desired result? Then press download.
  • Give the map a name and then press save.
  • The map is being downloaded.

You can easily access your downloaded offline maps in Google Maps. You can find this by tapping your profile picture at the top of the screen, in the search bar. Then choose ‘offline maps’, where you can manage them.

Zoom with one finger

You can zoom in and out in Google Maps by pinching or spreading two fingers. However, in the Google Maps app, it is also possible to quickly zoom in or out with one finger. Tap the card twice in succession with your finger. After the second tap, press and hold your finger on the map. Then you zoom in by swiping your finger up and zoom out by swiping your finger down.

Widget / Shortcut

You can navigate even faster with Google Maps by adding a shortcut as a widget to your home screen. In the overview with widgets you can choose from different widgets; ‘Car mode’ and ‘Directions’. With the car model, you can directly enter a destination and that saves you from going through a number of steps. In addition, it is possible to create a widget/shortcut for a friend’s location or traffic.

With directions, you can set a route in advance that you can open directly with the shortcut. Think of a route home, to work or another place where you regularly have to go. You can create multiple Directions widgets and place them on your home screen.

Traffic information

Google Maps collects information about the traffic on the road in various ways. Due to the way of Google, the traffic information is quite accurate and you can adjust your route accordingly. When planning a route, you will immediately see whether a route is recommended or not recommended in connection with traffic. However, you can also request traffic information from the map yourself. To do this, tap the ‘traffic’ option in the menu. The roads are then provided with an extra layer. Green indicates that there is little or no traffic hindrance. Orange is some delay, red is that you are driving at a very low speed. The redder the colour, the slower the speed.

Give reviews

You can give reviews for almost any accommodation. Except at certain places like a train station. In addition, you can also earn points with your assessment if you have registered as a Local Guide. You can do that via this link. By adding photos, leaving reviews and helping Google with your contribution to Maps, you can earn points. For example, as you level up you get free Google Drive storage space and you can access certain Google services earlier. You can leave a rating or review in Google Maps by searching for the relevant location.

Add pictures

Adding photos gives others a better idea of ​​a location or place. By searching for a location in Google Maps you can scroll down the relevant place. In the photos, you can click on the camera, with the plus sign. You will then get an overview of the most recently saved images on your device. With ‘change folder’ you can also select a folder on your smartphone or tablet from which you want to choose a photo, or you can open the camera to take a new photo.

My places

Find the option ‘My places’ in the navigation bar, under ‘Saved’. Here you will find all locations where you have placed an asterisk. For example, because you want to visit it on a (next) holiday because you often have to go to that place, or because this is a place you want quick access to for another reason. You will also find labels such as home location, work location and people from your contact list in this overview. Flight and hotel reservations can also be found there, as well as places you follow.

Maps created in My Maps

The Google My Maps app is an application to create your own maps with, for example, routes or places. You can share this card, but you can also keep it for yourself. The feature is useful for when you go on vacation to a city and want to visit different places there. You can then easily mark them with the app. You can find the ‘Maps’ section via the menu and then ‘My Places’. You can then view the created maps in Google Maps.

Timeline

The Timeline function in Google Maps is a very nice addition, in my opinion. In the menu, you will find ‘My Timeline’ as a function. When this option is enabled, you will see an overview of where you have been and when. Optionally, you can delete a place, edit it with the correct address or open it on the map. Does the timeline indicate that you were by car, but were you on the train from place A to place B? Then you can adjust this. You can also navigate to a specific day via the calendar icon to see where you were that day. Not only very nice, but it can also be very useful. Read here how you can use the timeline turn off.

Via-location navigation

On the way for a day trip, but need to pick up some people first? No problem. In Google Maps, first, enter the destination where you want to go first. Then start the navigation and press the three dots at the top right. There you select ‘Add stopover’.

Search along route

When you have started navigation, you can search for certain facilities along the route. Think of gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and cafes. By pressing the magnifying glass again here you can also manually search for something along your route. You will then receive the results and this result can be included in the route. Incidentally, you do not only have to choose from the preset searches, but also search for a place yourself, such as a snack bar or (specific) supermarket.

Busy indicator

With the busy indicator in Google Maps, you can see exactly whether it is usually busy or quiet on a certain day around a certain time. If the data is known to Google, it will be shown at the location. This way you can see when it is busiest at the zoo, the restaurant, the supermarket or, for example, the clothing store.

Departure times public transport

Google Maps can also be used to quickly lookup departure times of bus, tram, metro, train or another form of public transport. Search the map for the relevant stop and you will then see which (bus) lines serve this stop. Any delays are also reported and you can also see which stops are further along the route that the means of transport serves. In various cities and countries, Google Maps also shows the routes of the various metro lines and train services.

Street View (navigate through streets)

Street View is a very useful part of Google Maps. With Street View, you can see exactly what something looks like from street level. Long-pressing a location on the map will show a thumbnail preview of Street View if available. By pressing here you can open Google Street View. By swiping over the blue lines you ‘drive’ through the streets, as it were. If you want to immediately see where Street View is available, press the layers button. There you can turn on the Street View layer, and tap directly where you want to see it from street level. Recently, an improvement was made where your Street View markers get to see.

Saved, labels

If you want to quickly find places on the map, you can save them by giving them a star. You can also put a label on it. You do this by opening a location and tapping ‘Save’. As soon as you have given it a name and saved it, you will see this label on the card. Others can’t see your labels unless you choose to share them.

Home-work address

Quickly navigating to your home or work address can be useful with Google Maps. In the settings of the app, you can indicate what your home address is, and what is the address of where you work. In this way, these two addresses appear directly at the top of the search bar and advice can also be given in collaboration with Google Now to take another route in the event of a possible delay.

Send directions to your phone

Have you mapped out your route via the web version of Google Maps, or do you prefer to open a specific location on your phone? If you would like to have directions or facilities on your phone via the Google Maps website, that’s no problem. You will see the option ‘send to your phone in the overview on the website. Then select the device and the route or location will be sent directly to your device. From the notification, you can directly open the result in Google Maps.

Inspiration/popular in the area – search nearby

If you are unfamiliar somewhere or want new inspiration in your own neighbourhood, you can use the ‘nearby’ function. If you have a certain area in view, you will see a compass “Around -name of the area-” at the bottom of the screen. By opening this window you can indicate what time you are looking for something, such as around noon or in the evening. You will see suggestions for, for example, a Chinese restaurant, pizzeria, cinemas, theatres, museums, shops, bookstores, parks and so on.

Avoid toll roads, highways and/or ferries

Once the navigation has started, you can choose to adjust the route. By pressing the three dots at the top right of the screen, you can adjust the route options. You can indicate that ferries, highways and/or toll roads should be avoided. Keep in mind that you are often on the road for much longer with enabling these options and sometimes it is not always possible to do otherwise than that you have to go with the boat, for example.

Save data (WiFi mode)

 You can find this in the menu with settings ‘Wi-Fi only’. With this, Google Maps will not update your offline maps when you are connected to the mobile network. In addition, no data will be used to retrieve other parts of maps. So you can only use your offline saved maps.

Navigate to contacts

Have you saved the location of a contact in your phonebook? Then by searching in the search bar for the name of the contact you can directly show the address of that person in Google Maps. Incidentally, it is good to know that only you see the names with your contacts in Google Maps.

3D map display

The 3D view of maps gives a side view of a city, its buildings and the like. For this, you still have to click on the layers option and choose ‘3D’. Tapping the compass at the top of the screen will rotate the map correctly so that the north is at the top. As mentioned, this 3D map view is not yet available everywhere.

Share place

Sharing a location in Google Maps is quite easy. When you have opened the relevant location, you will immediately see the ‘place sharing’ function on the screen. Then the name of the location and a link to Google Maps with more information will be sent to the person you chose.

Add missing place

Google Maps encompasses a huge database of locations, places, amenities and everything. However, it can happen that a place is missing on the map. By searching for the address or holding down the correct location on the map, you can open the window and then choose ‘add missing place’. You must then complete the form as completely as possible, after which you can submit it. The input is then assessed as to whether it is relevant for Google Maps.

Notifications on the way

Google Maps has been letting you warn other road users for some time, for example about an obstacle on the road. This option is visible when you are navigating. On the right side of the screen, a cloud appears with a ‘plus’ in it. You can then choose to report a radar check, traffic jam, accident, work, runway closure, a vehicle with a breakdown or an object on the road.

Driving options

The settings in Google Maps are very extensive. By tapping on your profile picture, and then choosing Settings, you get an overview. A handy addition is ‘route options’, which can be found under navigation settings. Here you can choose, for example, to disable the speed limit, whether or not to receive notifications or to disable the speedometer.

Share location live

Do you want to let your partner, the home front or someone else know where you are at that moment? Click on your profile picture and choose ‘Share location’. You can choose an interval per quarter of an hour, or per hour and choose with whom you share your location. The location is shared in real-time for the set time. The battery percentage of your smartphone is also shown. If your battery is empty, then the other person does not have to worry immediately.

Live View

One of the newer features in Google Maps is Live View. It makes the way of pedestrian navigation a lot better. The walking navigation shows you directly through Augmented Reality how to walk. You will immediately receive directions on the screen and you will immediately see how to walk ‘in the street’. Useful! If you choose walking navigation, you will see the option at the bottom of the screen when starting navigation.

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