Google Maps is easily one of Google’s greatest achievements. It allows millions of people, every day, to find their way, share directions, and so much more. The usefulness of Google Maps extends far beyond the features you find on the site.
I admit that I’m a Google fanboy. The biggest reason for that is that Google services are so well intertwined that you can accomplish almost any integration you can imagine. This is also true with Google Maps. It’s a cinch to integrate Google Maps with other Google services like Google Now, Google Drive, Google Docs & Sheets, and even Gmail.
In this article, I’ll show you some useful ways to take advantage of these simple integrations.
1. Google Now and Maps
Just about every smartphone on the planet has GPS capability. If you have Google Now installed on your phone, you have access to some really cool Google Maps features.
For example, Google Now will remind you where you parked your car, using a Google Maps location.
If you’re looking for a business nearby your current location, Google Now can help you with that too. Just ask for nearby coffee shops, gas stations, or whatever, and you’ll get a map with all locations plotted out.
There’s no need to do any funky integration or hacking. So long as you have Google Now installed, and location services enabled on your phone, you can take advantage of all of these Google Maps features on your Google Now app.
2. Google Drive
If you have a Google account, then the odds are pretty good that you probably use Google Drive frequently. Did you know that you can create and organize Google maps from within your Drive account?
To create a new map, click on New> More > Google My Maps.
This takes you to a Google Maps page where you can plot out locations within different layers. When you finish creating your map, just close the tab.
All changes are automatically saved to your Google Drive account. Make sure to give a name to the map that you’ll remember!
You’ll find the map you’ve created in your Google Drive account. You can sort your maps into different folders. This organization is useful for something like planning a family trip as you can keep all travel maps in the same folder.
Creating and organizing all maps from Google Drive is a pretty convenient way to do productive things like:
- Plan your family vacation.
- Organize your next camping and hiking trip.
- Save a map of all your favorite dining spots.
- Create a map to your party to share with all your friends.
The Google Maps integration with Google Drive is probably one of the most convenient ways you can make use of Google Maps in your life with very little effort. Give it a try!
3. Embed Into a Google Site
If you use Google Sites to publish a web page, you can embed Google Maps into your pages without much effort at all (or coding for that matter).
In edit mode on your site, just click on Insert, and then Map.
In the next screen, you can simply type the address you want to display on your web page. You’ll see a preview of the map in the bottom pane.
On the next screen, adjust how the map will get embedded into your webpage. You can adjust the width and height, and whether it’ll get embedded with or without a border.
Click Save and you’ll see your map embedded right where you placed it on the page. No coding required and no special external add-ins or widgets required. Just a few simple steps and you have an embedded Google Map right on your web page.
If you want one of your customized maps that you’ve created in My Maps, you can click on My Maps instead of Maps on the Insert page. You’ll see a list of all maps stored in your Google Drive account.
Just select one of the customized maps and embed it into your Google Sites page.
4. Use Maps With Google Sheets
Not long ago, we showed several ways that you can convert spreadsheet addresses into a Google Map. These mostly include using a KML file to transfer over the address data to Google Maps. Not a bad way to accomplish it, but there’s an easier way.
The first thing to do is install the Mapping Sheets add-on. Once installed, from inside sheets you can click Add-ons, Mapping Sheets, and Start Mapping. You’ll see the Mapping Sheets pop-up window on the left side of the spreadsheet.
Once you have the map data in your spreadsheet (using whatever headers you want for Title, Filter and Location), you can click on the View button at the bottom of the add-on window. This will instantly map and pin all of those addresses to Google Maps.
Of course, if you prefer not using an add-on, you can also use the Import feature in My Places to import map data directly from a Google Sheet. Nancy wrote a guide on how to do this. It takes a few extra steps, but you already have everything you need to get it done right now.
5. Embed Maps in Docs and Gmail
Google Docs used to have a gadget that would allow you to embed a Google map based on spreadsheet location parameters. That gadget is no longer available. There is similarly no way to embed a map into any email you’re composing using Gmail.
There is a very simple solution to share your maps with people via a Google Doc or an email.
Create an image of the map you’ve created, which you can embed in either place. Google provides an API for developers to accept a URL with location parameters, and the API returns a Google Maps image of that location.
This is a really cool API and great for Google Maps developers. However, if you aren’t a programmer and you don’t have an API key, then you’re out of luck. Sure, you could sign up for a key, but if you only plan to use this once or twice, is it really worth it? Probably not.
A simpler solution is to use a tool provided online by developers out there on the web. One example of these is the Google Maps Image generator provided at Prodraw.
Use Prodraw to type in the address of the map you want to embed and any image parameters like size and map type.
Once you submit, you’ll see an image of the map you wanted, as well as several embed scripts below it.
You have the option to use a URL pointing directly to the Google Maps static image, an image embed code for a website, or image forum code for embedding in an online forum. Or you can right click on the map itself and just save it as an image file on your computer. For embedding into Google Docs or Gmail, this is the best choice.
In Google Docs, just click on Insert and then Image…
This will embed the map image right into your document.
In Gmail, you just click the Insert Photo tool when you’re composing a new email, and upload the image from your computer. It’ll embed the image right into your email.
It isn’t the most ingenious way to embed a Google Map into your document or email. But it does the trick and the end result looks great. No coding required.
Another useful online tool you can use to generate static map images like this is Static Map Maker. This not only lets you embed Google maps, but also maps from Bing, MapQuest, Mapbox, and more.
Using Google Maps Everywhere
A map is a very useful tool for a lot of things you may do every day. Whether it’s sending someone directions to your house, explaining something about a location in a document, or saving maps to your Google Drive account for your upcoming family trip — maps are very handy.
Have you ever used any of the techniques above to embed maps in your favorite Google services? Do you know of any other ways? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!