One of the early signs that Google might expand beyond search in all sorts of interesting and unexpected directions was the Google Maps release in 2005. Borne out of a series of acquisitions, the Google Maps project has grown over the years to encompass satellite imagery, millions of points of interest, street views, turn-by-turn navigation, traffic conditions, public transportation, and a good deal more.
Google Maps boasts more than 1 billion active users today, making it the most popular navigation software in the world. It gets millions of us where we need to go every day, but are you sure you’re getting the most out of it? It’s easy to miss new features or hidden options. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of handy Google Maps tips and tricks. It’s time to take your first step on the road to Google Maps mastery.
How to save your home and work addresses
One of the first things you should do with Google Maps is save your home and work addresses. To do this, open up Google Maps, tap the menu button — represented by the three vertical lines in the top-left corner — and tap Your places. You’ll see entries for Home and Work. Put your addresses in. You can now ask Google Maps to navigate to Home or Work instead of having to enter the address. You can also enter searches like “restaurants near work,” and get a list of viable suggestions.
How to get directions quickly
Most of us are familiar with the Google Maps Navigation feature that offers voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions, but did you know that there’s a nifty shortcut to start it? You can search for a place or touch it on the map, then touch and hold the blue transportation button at the bottom right (it shows a car, bike, or person), and Google Maps will choose the best route and launch straight into Navigation mode.
How to share your location
Just tap and hold on your location (marked by a blue dot) to drop a pin. Tap the address or Dropped pin section at the bottom of the screen to expand it, then tap Share. You’ll see a pop-up list of apps that you can share your location through. If someone is having trouble finding your location, then a photo view of the front of the actual building can help. Check the next tip for how to share Street Views directly.
How to see Street View on mobile
If you want to see a photo of your location, then you need Street View. Touch and hold on the map to drop a pin on your chosen location, then tap at the bottom where it says Dropped pin (or the address) to bring the information up. You should see an image that says Street View on it. Tap that, and you’ll launch into Street View at your chosen location. You can share that Street View by tapping the menu in the top-right corner and tapping Share.
How to find things nearby
Let’s face it, you don’t always know what you’re looking for. Maybe you want some gas, you’re looking for a bite to eat, or you need to mail a package. Thankfully, if you tap the blank search bar in Google Maps, you’ll see a list of recent searches alongside some icons for nearby points of interest. If you tap More on the right, then you can further expand this list, which includes restaurants, hospitals, ATMs, gas stations, and a host of other establishments.
Choose whatever it is you’re looking for, and you’ll be presented with a list of nearby options with their respective distances. You’ll also see review scores — if available — and you can often call businesses or visit the website directly from the info panel. If you slide the information panel down, then you’ll see that they’re even marked on your map.