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If you maintain a lot of data in Google Spreadsheet, you’ve probably at least once thought, “Hey, I should be able to get all those locations and quickly plot them in a Google Map”. Well, you can of course. But doing this is not quite as obvious as you might expect.

With Google writing both the spreadsheet and the map-making software, there should be several easy ways to do this. You’d expect to see a File > Export as Map option or a File > Download as KML. But no, there’s nothing like that. What you soon realise is there are a number of ways to do this, but none of them are quite what you’d expect.

I’m sure you’ve done this before. What starts out as a simple decision to wrangle a bit of data turns into a couple of days of mashing the data through the wrong shaped sieve, then you suddenly come across several better options you wish you’d known about to begin with. Today you get to skip this headache, as I’ll give you the details of each method right here. Read all the way to the end before making your choice. You’ve been warned!

Google Spreadsheet Mapper

For many years now, Google has been revising its Spreadsheet Mapper tool in order to give you an easy way to create KML files for Google Earth maps and matching URLs for Google Maps. It comes with extremely thorough instructions and it isn’t too unwieldy to use. But somehow, it still seems just a little too clunky. When all you want to do is get two columns of data and make it show up on a map, the Google Spreadsheet mapper route is an overkill.

Google-Maps-Spreadsheet Mapper

What is great about this method is that you can change the styling easily and produce map location data that looks fabulous. It also lets you export a KML file How To Create Your Own Virtual Tour On Google Earth With A KML File How To Create Your Own Virtual Tour On Google Earth With A KML File Recording your own virtual tours in Google Earth is a great way to remember your trips, and re-experience them (to a degree) at any time. Recording a Google Earth KML file might sound complicated, but... Read More for importing into Google Earth, which few of the other methods do. But it really is more than most people need, and too much fuss for users with simple needs in mind.

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Also, don’t try anything smart with the Spreadsheet Mapper, like importing data from another spreadsheet automatically How To Import Data From Other Google Spreadsheets How To Import Data From Other Google Spreadsheets Most users only use a small fraction of Google Spreadsheet's potential. Do you know how to get information from one Google Spreadsheet into another? Here's a cell function to do the job. Read More . If you do, it will run the script each time it checks the other spreadsheet for new data. This will result in the following error:

error: Script invoked too many times per second for this Google user account


Google Fusion Tables

Google Fusion Tables is magic, really. You need to publish the spreadsheet with the data in it in order to make it work, but then Google Fusion Tables quickly creates a map table Instantly Visualize Data & Information With Google Fusion Tables Instantly Visualize Data & Information With Google Fusion Tables Whether you're putting together a report for work, or you just want to represent information on your blog in a graphical way, Google Fusion Tables can help. Google Fusion is actually a feature embedded into... Read More with all of the locations on it using Google Map tools to do so. The only problem is that it is a Google Map visualization, so it can’t be used as a stand alone Google Map  —  you cannot share it with friends as a Google Map, though you can embed the visualization.



Map A List

Map A List is a website designed to take the headache out of this process entirely. You will need to register in order to use it, but that only takes a minute and it is well worth it. Your maps will stay synced with your Google Spreadsheet; you can embed the map; and you can save the map as KML. Again, it uses Google Map tools (the Google Maps API). You are offered some customisation, but things are kept generally simple. I would say Map A List is a good method for getting a KML file MapaList: Map Address List on top of a Map MapaList: Map Address List on top of a Map Read More for Google Earth and the best way to get a map that stays synced.



Google Spreadsheets Map Wizard Tool

If you’re a web developer, you may like the Google Spreadsheets Map Wizard Tool. It does its best to make the process easy, but leaves you with a need to geocode your locations yourself, which none of the other options do. It might be useful to certain people, but certainly not all will appreciate the extra hassle.


Use Google Maps To Import Data From CSV Or Google Spreadsheet

Yup, you can search all day before you realise that this whole process can be done FROM Google Maps. Since Google revised its map software, you can actually create a new map, create a new layer and click “Import” to get your data from your Google Spreadsheet.


Read this guide on how to import data from Google Spreadsheets into Google Maps Get Creative And Make Your Own Maps With Custom Layers On The New Google Maps Get Creative And Make Your Own Maps With Custom Layers On The New Google Maps With Google unveiling a completely revamped Maps, now available to all, creating your own maps has become easier than ever. You can create private and public maps, share the maps with specific individuals, add descriptions... Read More for full instructions. In brief, you can import data from a simple spreadsheet very easily, this spreadsheet can reference other spreadsheets, it can be customised easily, embedded, and exported as KML. However, it won’t stay synced with your spreadsheet. You need to re-import the spreadsheet each time you change it.



Chart Within Your Spreadsheet

For some purposes, it’s enough to be able to create a map chart within your spreadsheet. This works excellently when you want to see the amount of people living in any given location easily. To do it, simply create a chart and choose the map option.


A Non-Google Option

If you’re not keen to use Google Spreadsheets or Google Maps online, there is a service called EditGrid you can try. EditGrid will let you export KML directly EditGrid: A Wonderful Online Spreadsheet Application EditGrid: A Wonderful Online Spreadsheet Application Read More from the spreadsheet in order to import into Google Earth.

Obviously, importing into a Google Map is the best option for most people’s needs, however these other methods could be very useful if you have a specific need in mind. Which tool do you like best and why? What information do you want to display on a Google Map with the help of a Google Spreadsheet?

  1. Tord Dellsén
    July 29, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Hi all! I wrote these instructions for Fusion tables:
    Kind Regards,

    • Jennifer Horsman
      September 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      Thanks! I have been wanting to know how to get multiple layers into a map while using Fusion tables.

    • Deb
      January 15, 2016 at 1:44 am

      Thank you for writing those instructions - they're very clear, and I managed to do map up straight away with them :)


  2. Leslie
    May 12, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Is there a way to get unlimited geocoding with this? I've met my geocoding quota for today..

  3. Brodie
    November 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    EditGrid is pulling the plug on their service in May of 2014.

    • Angela A
      November 2, 2013 at 6:38 am

      Oh, that's a shame. Thanks for letting us know.

  4. Daniel
    September 26, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I wish the new Google Maps would allow KML import, I use RideWithGPS to plot my routes and when I'm running a ride, I usually import the KML into Google Maps, so other people can follow the route with their smart phones, I just put a link in the ride description. The old Google Maps still has the import function but I get server errors all the time so it's unreliable. Looks like I'll have to plot the route in Google Maps, the route plotting tool seems to have a mind of its own, that why I use the above method.

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