How to Get the Most Out of Google Maps

Google Maps is one of the best navigation apps for Android and iPhone, but considering that most of us use it while driving, it’s easy to miss out on some of its features. Whether you’re new to Google Maps or a veteran, let’s take a look at the best ways to get the most out of them.

Save home and work addresses

First of all, adding home and work addresses makes using Google Maps a little more enjoyable as it makes it easier to navigate anywhere. Tap the three-line menu bar in the search box, then “Your Places” and add your home and work address.

Add multiple destinations to your trip

Want to dine on a long trip? Or go to the pharmacy on your way home from work? Setting up multiple destinations makes this easy, although it’s easy to miss the opportunity. You have two different ways to add multiple stops.

First, as always, map out the directions to your final destination. Then click the three dots icon in the upper right corner> Add Stop. Enter a second location and Maps will move you between them. You can add up to nine different stops here.

Alternatively, you can add a stop along your route halfway. This is best for something like a lunch break on the road, or if you’re walking around town and want a quick cup of coffee. Walk forward and start navigating to your final destination. When Maps starts to move, hit the big search button and then search for whatever you need. Maps will only show you options along your current route.

Save your parking space

In the most recent version of Google Maps, you can ask Google to save your parking space. When you park, you will see a pop-up asking you to save your location. Do this and then you can add additional information, such as which area you are in or how long it is on your meter. This feature is brand new, so if you don’t see it right now, keep an eye on it in the coming weeks.

Use maps to save places of interest

Depending on how you use Google Maps, there are several convenient ways to save locations. Historically, My Maps has always been used, but this requires desktop access. Go to the My Maps site on your computer and you can create a personal or public map available in Google Maps on your phone. This is useful if you’re trying to get a itinerary for a vacation, planning an event, or working on a shared map with friends.

Perhaps more useful when you’re on the go is the new lists feature . Find the location on Google Maps, then click the Save button. Here you will find a list of your places, including predefined lists named “Favorites”, “Want to go” and “Starred places”. You will also see the option to add this location to a custom list or create a new list entirely.

I found these lists useful both for planning my vacation and for keeping track of what I want to do when I’m at home. They also come in handy when you have a family in town and are desperate to find a good restaurant you’ve been to nearby. You can also share these lists or make them public. This means that even if you don’t spend a lot of time planning your vacation, you can still reap the benefits of a more organized person than you.

Study your history to see every trip you have taken

By default, Google Maps stores a history of every trip you have. This is either very cool and useful, or very creepy.

Press the three-line menu button, then choose Settings> Map History. Here you will see all the places you have already visited. If you don’t like Google Maps doing this, you can turn it off by setting the toggle at the top of the screen to Off. Personally, I don’t see any point in keeping a story because I don’t have amnesia in a Christopher Nolan movie, but you may find it helpful yourself.

Use the Explore button to find places of interest nearby

If you’re in a new location and don’t know where to start, the Explore button is incredibly useful. Tap the three-line menu button, then Explore. You will see a list of restaurants, cafes and bars. I have ignored this little function for a long time, but since I accidentally touched it once, I have been using it quite often.

Download maps for offline viewing

If you have a poor data plan with your phone or are traveling abroad, offline maps are a must. Find the name of a city or place, then tap the name or address on the bottom line. Click the Download button to save this map. You can see what you’ve saved by clicking the three-line menu button in the search bar and then clicking “Offline Areas”. In most cases, you can still navigate and search for destinations in this mode.

One-handed zoom

If you’re walking around with your phone trying to navigate Google Maps, zooming in will be difficult. Instead, double-tap the screen, then swipe up and down. This zooms in or out on the map.

Send routes from computer to phone

If you are looking at directions to a place on your computer and want to do the actual navigation on your phone, you can send this data to your phone if you are signed in to your Google account on both devices.

First find your destination and find a route. Once you have done this, you will see the option to send directions to your phone (or car, if it supports Google Maps).

Find out more about public transport routes

If you use public transit, Google Maps is a great way to get around, and Google does a good job of providing you with a variety of search options to fine-tune your search results.

Find your destination on Google Maps, then tap the public transit button. Here you will see a list of different ways to get to your destination. If you need to change the time, click the “Depart to” button and change it to whatever option you want. You can also click the options button to refine the results, including what types of public transportation you want to use (or not use) and change how long you walk.

The last transit mode you used will always be the default

If you use many different modes of transport and switch between different styles of directions, then you may have noticed that Google keeps the last mode you used as the default. So, if you had walking routes last time, you will get walking routes next time you search. You can always change modes by clicking on the large public transit mode icon in the search results, and then selecting the mode you want in the options bar.

Avoid highways, toll roads and other options

Sometimes you don’t want to deal with highway driving. In those days, it’s nice to have Google Maps steer clear of the motorways. Enter your destination, then click the three dots icon in the upper right corner. Click the Route Options button. Here you can avoid highways, toll roads and ferries.

More importantly, you can also toggle whether Google Maps uses your settings for each trip or just this. If you want to always avoid highways, toll roads or ferries, turn on the “Remember settings” switch. If you only want to do this for this trip, disable it. I prefer to leave it off so I don’t accidentally get pushed down some strange road because I forgot to turn the highway back on.

Adjust navigation volume and playback position

You wouldn’t think something like the volume of the indication matters, but if you’re driving in a car with weird speakers, it’s nice that Google gives you a lot of options.

Tap the three-line icon in the search bar, then choose Settings> Navigation Settings. Here you can set the volume to quiet, normal or loud. You can also choose whether the voice navigation will be played via Bluetooth or not. You can even turn off navigation entirely, or choose Alerts Only to receive notifications only for traffic, construction or accidents.


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