How to master...Google Maps

Tips and tricks to help make you a navigation master on any device

Over the last 12 years, Google Maps has helped made many things obsolete: printed road maps, asking people for directions, and getting lost altogether (more or less).

Maps is such an invaluable and essential service these days, yet so many of us just scratch the surface of its impressive capabilities.

With just a few moments of your time, you can tweak your Maps experience to be faster and more efficient, and tap into features and abilities that you didn't even know existed.

Ready to up your Google Maps game? Here are 21 key tips, ranging from beginner bits to more advanced or extensive functions, that can help you make the most of Maps.


1) Set your addresses

Surely you know your home and work addresses by heart – but, even so, you can save a step during daily navigation by setting your defaults within Maps.

From the website, click the hamburger menu icon, head down to "Your places," and then you can insert your address in each slot. It's the same process on mobile, and while it'll take a minute of your time now, this simple move will save many more moments down the line. Once you've programmed them in, simply type 'home' or 'work' and they'll pop up.

2) Get the Street View

If you want to get a close look at where you're headed, turn to Street View's 360-degree photo spread. One way to access it is by dragging the little yellow person icon ("Pegman") from the bottom of the screen and dropping it anywhere on the map.

You can also double-click to create a pin on the map, then click the photo at the bottom; or search for a location and click the photo with the circular arrow on it. On mobile, you can drop a pin by holding down anywhere.

Not everywhere is covered, but a good portion of the planet has been snapped by Google's Street View wagons.

3) Skip to the route

In a hurry to get where you're going and don't want to sort through Maps' recommended routes? Don't worry: there's a handy shortcut for skipping steps from the mobile app.

Once you've searched for your location in the app, tapping the blue button will bring you to options – but, if driving is selected by default, holding down the button will jump right into navigation using the best route. Boom, done. It's perfect for one-handed maneuvering.

4) Save favourites

Whether you want easy access to your top local spots or wish to build a list of intriguing places to visit, marking locations as favourites can be a great way to track them in Maps.

It's super simple: from web, just tap the star on the information bar that pops up once you click on a place on the map. From mobile, you'll tap the name/address that appears and tap "Save," then choose a list like Favourites or Want to Go - or make your own.

5) Check transit times

Maps might be ideal for walking and driving directions, but it can also help you navigate your local transit systems - whether it's by bus, train, or ferry.

If you're headed to a particular destination, you can tap the little train icon to get transit options (paired with some walking), or otherwise tap a transit station or bus stop on the map to get a list of expected arrival times.

6) Add multiple locations

Getting from point A to point B is great, but what if your trip involves points C, D, and E as well? You don't have to do a separate search for each – just add in extra destinations.

From web, it's as simple clicking the little plus sign below your initial start and end points while sorting directions, plus you can drag and drop addresses to fine-tune your voyage. On mobile, you can tap the little vertical ellipsis on the upper right and then hit "Add stop."