There’s more to Google Maps than just plugging in some addresses to get directions. If you’re new to Google Maps check out the User Guide. If you’ve already got a good grasp on the basics, here are few useful tricks you may not have noticed.
Stars are a great way to access favorite places quickly. The best thing about them is when you’re on your smart phone (Blackberry, iPhone, etc) you can quickly jump to a starred location much easier than trying to thumb type the full address.
To ‘star’ a place, click on the star outline next to its name in Maps search results, or in its info window on the Map. You can see all the places you’ve starred under ‘Starred items’ on the ‘My Maps’ tab. This is great for starring places you’ll visit on vacation.
Find Places Near Any Point
If you’re searching for a particular place—a street name, a business, or other landmark—you can click on a marker and hit the “Search nearby” link to find coffee, gas, banks, or whatever else you need. What if you don’t have a place to pin down, but want to generally browse an area? Right click anywhere on a Google map, click “What’s Nearby?” in the box that pops up, and Google will create a pin based on a rough street address estimate, or with precise GPS coordinates. From there, you can click on “Search Nearby” in the box that appears in the left-hand pane, and search around without worrying about specifics. This is another one that’s great when you’re on your smart phone.
Get Directions Via Text Message
If you’re ever lost and out of mobile internet territory, or if you don’t have a phone with internet access you can get directions via text messaging. You can text GOOGLE (466453) with a message formatted as “Directions A to B,” substituting a town, ZIP code, or street address for A and B. Google will text back the directions. [
Note that due to the text limit for messages the directions may be split
across multiple texts. ]
Get Walking Directions (or Bike, or Bus, etc)
If you not driving you can also get walking, biking or public transportation directions. This is another great one for when you are traveling. For example, walking directions will ignore things like one way streets, etc to give you a more direct route. When you pull up the directions you’ll see different icons for each type of transportation mode.
Note: Use caution – These routes may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths,etc and you are responsible for your own safety. (aka don’t do something dumb because Google told you to.)
Reroute Driving Directions
If you don’t like the way Google has routed you, or maybe you need to make a detour to Grandma’s house on the way to your destination. It’s handy to be able to adjust your route by simply dragging it as you see below.
Do you use Google Maps or another service? What’s your favorite mapping tip? Do you have any stories where maps like this have really saved you?