#343 Offline Google Maps

Google Maps is one of my favorite and most useful apps. The latest update for iOS adds a nice new feature that let’s you save an offline version of a map. (This has been available in the Android version for awhile now.)

To save a map for offline use, zoom in to the area of the map that you want to save. (If you don’t zoom in far enough it won’t work.)  Once you’ve zoomed into an area you want to save for offline use, tap on the search field and type “ok maps.” Then tap the search button on the keyboard to start downloading your offline map.


You’ll then see the Google Maps icon briefly appear onscreen and then at the bottom of the screen a black bar with white text will appear displaying a message that says, “The onscreen map has been cached.”


After the map is cached, you can access it by simply navigating back to that portion of the map at any time. This is a great trick for people with WiFi-only iPads and iPod touches or anytime you do not have an internet connection.

(Note: This version requires iOS version 6)

#323 Be a Better Googler: Using Advanced Search Options

Often, we are so busy chasing the latest shiny things that we forget to stop and learn the basic things we use everyday better.  One great example, is Google search. Most people never get beyond just typing a few words into the basic search box.  I’ve covered these before. In fact, this whole weekly tip thing started with a series on getting better Google search results. ( Seek And Ye Shall Find” Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 )  Since there are about a thousand of you on this list who weren’t around back then I thought this topic would be a good one to revisit.

If you’ve ever been frustrated by the results you can easily improve your search results by using the Advanced search form instead of the single default box.

To get even better results, take a few minutes to learn about some of the search operators that will allow you to:

If you don’t want to learn any of the operators you can get many of the same benefits by using Soople.com. They have built a much more complete and user-friendly way to search Google for specific things including music, videos and books, as well as providing other tools like a phone book, calculator, dictionary and more.


If you’re interested in learning even more? You can check out a good cheat sheet or take the free “Power Searching With Google” course.

#277 Google Cloud Print

<beep> <beep> <beep>

…we interrupt this broadcast to bring you a breaking news update…

For better or for worse, next week will be the final edition of these weekly tips. May 4th will be my last day at AEP. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been along for the journey. I’ve learned a lot from all of you and appreciate your questions, comments and participation over the past six years.

For anyone who may be interested in following me or my activities, you’ll still be able to find me in all the usual places: LinkedIn | Twitter | My Personal Blog | My Shared Bookmarks

The archive all the previous tips will live on at miketips.wordpress.com

…now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Google Cloud Print

In this week’s tip you’ll learn how you can print wirelessly from virtually anywhere. My wife totally loves being able to print things from anywhere in the house…and it’s always good for me to stay in good graces with her! (She likes to say I’m the domestic CIO, but I think I’m actually closer to the help desk than the executive suite.)

Print Anywhere

Google Cloud Print is a new technology that connects your printers to the web. Using Google Cloud Print, you can make your home and work printers available to you and anyone you choose, from the applications you use every day. Google Cloud Print works on your phone, tablet, PC, and any other web-connected device you want to print from.

Setting It Up

Although there are ‘cloud ready’ printers now available, they are not required. You can make this work with any printer connected to a computer that has internet access.

This works via Google Chrome, so you’ll need to have that installed on the computer. (If you are using Windows XP you’ll also need the the Microsoft XML paper specification pack.) Once you’ve got Chrome installed, follow the steps below to enable the Google Cloud Print connector in Google Chrome.

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click the wrench icon wrench icon on the browser toolbar.
  3. Select Options
  4. Click the Under the Hood tab.
  5. Scroll down to the “Google Cloud Print” section. Click Sign in to Google Cloud Print.
  6. In the window that appears, sign in with your Google Account to enable the Google Cloud Print connector.
  7. A printer confirmation message appears and click Finish printer registration.
  8. You’ll see a confirmation that Google Cloud Print has been enabled.

The printer is now associated with your Google Account and connected to Google Cloud Print. You can print to this printer whenever you’re signed in with the same Google Account.


#238 Google Mobile Apps


BIG HUGE DISCLAIMER: This week’s tip applies to ‘smart phones‘ with web access and/or texting capabilities. Using these services could result in additional phone charges for you. Please ensure you have a good understanding of what is and isn’t included in your current mobile phone plan before trying these services. 

The Google Mobile app is a great way to access many of the most popular Google services when you are on the go and away from your computer.  This app gives you access to maps, directions, search and more. If you have a phone capable of running apps this is definitely one that you should check out.

NOTE: Different phones have different sets of features available. You can see the checklist of features available on your phone here.


Of course the Google app is going to do search. A few of the nice features you can use with this app on your mobile phone include:

» Voice search. Nice feature that allows you to skip the challenge of typing on your phone.

» Search results based on your location. See the video below for an example of how this works.


One of the most common things I use this app for is directions. My favorite feature in this department is that it will automatically detect your location, even if you don’t have GPS on your phone.

» Directions. Get driving, transit, biking, or walking directions in a list or on the map (where data is available).

» Current Location. Nice feature that detects your location so you can search for things near you or get directions from right where you are at the time you need them. The video below gives a very nice overview of how this works but note that it’s a YouTube which is blocked so you might have to watch if from home or your mobile phone. 😎

Sync Contacts

This one might interest you if you’ve ever lost your phone, dropped it in the sink or tried to manually transfer your old phones contacts to a new one. The only caveat is this requires a Gmail account. Personally, if all you use that account for is for a backup copy of your contact info which can automatically sync to your phone it’s still worth it.

Text Messages

Depending on which phone you have you can also use either Gmail or Google Voice to send free SMS text messages. Learn more about Google SMS applications here.

How To Get Google Maps for Your Phone

No matter which brand of smart phone you have, you can simply visit m.google.com using your phone’s web browser and Google will send the right version of the Google app to you.

#206 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Google Maps

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.

Starred Addresses

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?

#200: BicenWEEKial

This is my 200th weekly tip and I’d just like to take a moment to say thanks to everyone who reads them every week. As I contemplated starting this almost 4 years ago someone said to me, “That’s great but do you won’t you run out of ideas?” To which I answered “I don’t know but I guess we’ll find out.”

When it comes to learning new things I don’t think any of us can ever ‘run out’. I’d like to encourage you to always look at things from a learning perspective. If you look close enough you can learn something from virtually every experience. And sometimes we learn more from failures than we do successes…so don’t be afraid to fail. Many things are worth doing even if you don’t have all the answers when you start.

Secondly, be generous in sharing what you learn with others. Odds are that you’re not the only one who can benefit. As the saying goes ‘All of us know more than any one of us.’ And on the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I can tell you that I’ve learned alot of things from the questions that I’ve been asked. So go ahead and ask – that question just might help you both learn something new.

So in a nutshell…

OK, that’s all for the editorial notes. (Who let that guy loose on the keyboard anyway?)

I can’t let you get away without a tip – otherwise I’d still be stuck on #199. If you’re not one of the 8 people who were on the receving end of my very first tip on getting better search results from Google you this might be new to you. If you haven’t seen it or if you’d just like to visit the tips ‘museum’ here it is. ( You also might be intersted in part 2 and part 3.)

From the tips musuem: Issue #1 January 5, 2007

I’m looking forward to learning and sharing with you for another 200 weeks! And as always I’d love to hear what you’ve learned or been able to make good use of since you’ve joined us!

#175: Reroute Your Google Map

I’m a big fan of Google Maps and all the handy things you can do with it. If you ever use it for directions you’ll probably be interested in this weeks tip — how to tweak the directions that Google gives you.

For example, if you want to make a side trip to grandma’s house, avoid a toll road, or just take your favorite shortcut; it’s easy to change your route in Google Maps. Just drag and drop.

To change your driving directions on the fly, hover your mouse over the point in your route you’d like to change. You’ll see a small square which represents a control point in the route. Click on or near the route and drag it to a new path. Your path is instantly updated, and your driving directions change to reflect the new route.

This is a powerful tool, but it’s easy to accidentally overdo it. If you find that you’ve changed your route too much, you can use the back arrow on your browser to undo the damage. (Or use the ‘Undo’ link above the map.)

See It In Action:

Related links & resources:

I really like the ‘Search Nearby’ trick and LOVE that I can use it on my smart phone (Blackberry, iPhone,etc.)  What’s your favorite thing to do with Google Maps?

#170: Finding Documents via Google

Have you ever wished you could search Google but instead of websites you only want to find a certain type of document? If so, you’re in luck. Google search has an operator that allows you to limit your search results to a specific type of document or file type.

The filetype: operator is what you’ll use for this type of search.  Just specify the file extension of the type of document you’re looking for.

The most common formats to search include:

  • PPT – PowerPoint
  • DOC – Word
  • PDF – Adobe Acrobat
  • XLS  – Excel

See the complete list of file types this will work for and more relevant details in Google Help. And find even more great search tricks like this from Google Guide.

#3 Seek & Ye Shall Find (Part 3 of 3)

This is the last in a series of three tips on better searching with Google. If you missed either of the first two you can check them out here: Part 1 and Part 2

Can’t remember them all? Hungry for more?

Google’s Advanced Search Page: By clicking Google’s “Advanced Search” link you don’t need to remember anything. There are tons of search options right there for you in a nice, easy to use, fill-in the blanks form. Check it out for yourself.

Soople.com: Soople is another website that also makes it easy for you to do complex Google searches without knowing all the behind the scenes tricks. With this site you can easily search in the latest news, look up definitions and even use Google as a phonebook or a calculator.

Google Cheatsheet & Guide:

Finally, here are two other great references for getting the most out of your Google searches.

    » Google Cheatsheet is a handy quick reference to use for your future Google searches.
    » Google Guide is an online interactive tutorial and reference for experienced users, novices, and anyone in between. Definitely worth checking out.

Next week we’ll share some great resources for finding graphics for your presentations and other projects.

If you have anything you’d like to see covered here please let your voice be heard and send them along.

#2 Seek And Ye Shall Find (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of three tips on better searching with Google. If you missed the first one you can check them it here: Part 1

  1. Use the ~ symbol to search for synonyms:
    Put a tilde (~) in front of a word to search for that word plus the word’s synonyms the any alternative endings for the term as well. 

    For example, ~inexpensive will return “inexpensive,” “cheap,” “affordable,” and “low cost” while ~run matches “run,” “runner’s,” “running,” as well as “marathon”

    The tilde operator works best when applied to general terms and terms with many synonyms.

  2. Search for Images Only
    Looking for the perfect picture for your next presentation? Did you know that you can search for images? Just click the Images link or go directly to 


    * Don’t forget to make sure you aren’t infringing upon any copyrights.

    In an upcoming issue we’ll give you lots of other great resources for finding photos & clip art.

  3. Search for particular types of documents
    By using the filetype: operator you can limit your search results to one of the following document types: 

    * Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
    * Microsoft Word (.doc)
    * Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt)
    * Microsoft Excel (.xls)
    * Rich Text Format (.rtf)

    For example, “confined space entry” filetype:ppt
    will result in PowerPoint files containing the exact phrase “confined space entry”

Next week we’ll wrap up this series of searching tips with a few resources you can use to learn even more great search tips.