Google Maps Tips and Tricks
This month Google Maps is 10 years old. This fantastic Google service (without which many of us would still get lost more often) has been teaching us how to get from one place to another, how our neighborhood looks like a bird, or how the streets of cities are not We have never visited.
But as often as you use Google Maps, whether on the computer or on the mobile, there are always things that remain to be discovered. Functions a little more hidden (but equally useful) or simple curiosities that make this service something even more amazing – and more practical. So if you’re the only one who uses Google Maps to look at routes and little else, check out this list and look at everything you can get to do with it.
1. Create your personal map
Google Maps includes cartography from virtually every corner of the globe, but may not be enough for you. Fortunately, you can create custom maps with the information you’re interested in, and save them for later use or share with other Google Maps users. It can be useful, for example, to mark all the flats you want to visit if you are going to move house, or to have clear all the monuments that you want to visit in a trip. This is how you do it:
Click on the three bars icon in the upper left corner of the interface and choose “My Maps”
Below, you will see a link to “Create Map”.
You can select a specific area and add markers or indications, draw lines, measure distances and even import data in the form of extra layers on your map
2. How to get a 3D view
Surely you know the two possibilities of visualization offered by Google Maps: either as a map or with satellite images. But what may have gone unnoticed is a curious variant within the mode with satellite images, which allows you to tilt the view slightly and move through the streets of the city as if you were flying between buildings. To activate this variant, follow these steps:
Upload a city to Google Maps and choose “Earth” mode by clicking on the scaled image at the bottom of the map
Look at the column of icons that appear on the right side of the map, and click on the one that looks like a grid (the second from above).
Clicking once, you will see a slightly inclined view, and clicking once more, the horizon will tilt even more (although with some loss of quality in the images)
On mobile you can also do something similar, although interestingly this time is about the flat map, not satellite images. If you place two slightly separated fingers on a map, and then move them upwards at the same time, you will see that the map is tilted to a 3D effect. This may help you to recognize certain buildings or monuments better – although not available in all cities.
3. Street View Time Travel
Street View is for me one of the most interesting functions of Google Maps, especially useful for exploring specific areas of cities before moving through them, and thus better recognize the streets once you are there. But in addition to visiting the neighborhoods of many cities as they are now, with Street View you can travel to the past … at least in some specific places.
Visiting points such as the Freedom Tower in New York or the Onagawa area in Japan and activating Street View, you will see a small clock-shaped icon in the upper left corner. Open it with a click and you will see, for example, the different phases in the construction of the New York skyscraper or the reconstruction of the areas devastated by the tsunami of 2011.
4. Review your travel history
With so much travel on the maps, you should know that all this is conveniently recorded in a history that is only visible to you. This history picks up your travels and your most visited places (as long as you have Location History activated), and also allows you to travel through the information in a convenient timeline at the top of the map. You can also see the addresses you have defined as “Home” and “Work” facing Google. The level of detail can be astounding.
To access your travel and visited places history, click on the three bars icon in the upper left corner of the interface and choose “Your chronology”. The information will be displayed in a new tab.
5. Share your location from the mobile
Yes, we can now share the location easily from WhatsApp or Telegram … but also can be done from Google Maps, and it is worth knowing how, because it is not so clear at first sight. To share your location on Google Maps from your mobile:
Touch your current location (represented by a blue dot) for a few seconds, and you’ll see a marker drop on the map
Touch the address that appears at the bottom of the mobile screen.
In the menu that opens, click on “Share” and choose the app you want to use to share your location
6. How to access Street View from the mobile
Another thing that does not seem very clear to the naked eye in the Google Maps mobile app is accessing Street View, and in fact it is done in a very similar way to the previous trick. Just follow these steps:
Hold your finger on the location where you want to access Street View, until Google Maps places a marker.
Touch the address that appears at the bottom of the mobile screen.
In the menu that opens, touch the “Street View” option.
7. Check the train, metro and bus schedules
When you search for a route on Google Maps, you can choose between several means of transport: car, public transport, bicycle or even on foot. So far so good. But perhaps you have not noticed that, if you choose public transport, Google Maps allows you to check the schedules directly from your query, without having to go to the official websites of the transport services. To do this, follow these steps:
Find a route between two points on Google Maps, and choose public transport to do it.
At the bottom of the sidebar, you’ll see a “Time Explorer” link. Click on it.
Google Maps will show you the available schedules for the selected means of transport, in a separate window in which you can also configure other dates and times if you wish.
This feature is also available in the Google Maps app, only in this case, to see the schedules, you have to select one of the suggested routes with public transport, and then touch the small arrow icon next to the Station of origin of the trip.
8. How to find things near a specific location
With the practically null sense of the orientation I have, Google Maps has saved my life many times. And one of the functions I use most is to locate things near a specific location. For example, if you’ve stayed with your friends in a restaurant you do not know, you can easily locate a public car park or a cashier nearby. This is how you do it:
Locate in Google Maps the exact location or address you are interested in
In the sidebar, click on the “Places nearby”
The search bar will change slightly to allow you to locate nearby points of interest such as restaurants, hotels, parking, etc.
9. Check traffic status
A very important point when moving from one place to another, especially in big cities, is traffic. In Google Maps you can see the current traffic status before leaving home, saving you the traffic jam by choosing an alternative route. To see it, both on the PC and on the mobile, just click on the icon of the three bars in the upper left corner of the interface and choose “Traffic.”
You will see some superimposed lines on the streets, with a color code that ranges from green (fast traffic) to dark red (slow traffic). As a curious detail, at the bottom of the screen, Google Maps allows you to choose between real-time traffic data (“direct traffic”) or the data that is expected in the selected zone, that day and at that time (“traffic typical”).
10. How to measure the distance between two or more points
Finding the route between two points is one of the main functions of Google Maps, but did you know that you can also measure the actual distance between these two points? This way you have a rough idea of how long it can take to get from one place to another. To do this, follow these steps:
Right click on the starting point of the route that you want to calculate, and choose the option “Measure the distance”.
Then click on the destination point, and Google Maps will draw a straight line between the two points.
Obviously this does not make much sense because a straight line does not correspond to the reality of streets, corners, avenues and so on. But for that you can simply take the line drawn with the mouse, and move it on the map to fit the street layout of the map.