Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

You can use Google Maps without Internet access! The Offline Places feature is built into Google Maps, and there are all sorts of reasons you should be using it.

Maybe you’re travelling to a new country and won’t have data. Maybe you’ve cut your data plan altogether to save money Save Money On Your Smartphone Bill: Cut The Mobile Internet Save Money On Your Smartphone Bill: Cut The Mobile Internet How much are you paying for calls and mobile Internet? Is your iPhone really worth that type of outlay? Do you use your Android tablet enough to justify paying over $50 a month? Read More . Maybe you just regularly travel to places with spotty coverage.

Whatever your reason, sometimes it’s nice to have a working map in your pocket — one that doesn’t need Internet access.

This video actually explains Offline Places pretty well, though it’s a few years old (as you can see by the pre-Material Design Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? You may have heard about Android L and Material Design, but what exactly is this new design philosophy and how will it affect Android and other Google products? Read More interface). Let’s take a look at how the process looks today, shall we?

But First, the Fine Print

With Google being an Internet company, you can expect a few things to not quite work offline. Offline maps don’t give you the full Google Maps experience — you can’t look up directions, for example. It’s really more of an alternative to a paper map than a full offline version of Google Maps.

Ads by Google

Here’s a quick breakdown of the details:

  • You can download as many offline maps as you like, depending on storage space available on your device.
  • Maps take anywhere from 3MB to 20MB, depending on the amount of detail required.
  • Maps last for 30 days; at that point you must refresh them.
  • Turn-by-turn directions and search do not work on these maps.
  • GPS does work, meaning you will be able to see your current location.

Got it? Then let’s get started!

How to Save an Offline Map

Open up Google Maps and head to the area you’d like to download. For this example, I’ll be downloading Singapore.

maps-offline-main-screen

Once you’ve got Maps pointed to the area you’d like to download, hit the three-line menu button to the left of the words “Search Google Maps”. This will bring you to your settings.

maps-offline-account

If you’re not signed into Google Maps, make sure you do so. Once that’s done, hit the Your Places option.

maps-offline-my-places

At the top you’ll see your home and work addresses, along with any other you’ve told Google Maps to save. Scroll past these until you get to the Offline Places, as seen above. Tap the View All and Manage option.

maps-offline-areas

From here you can tap the button at the bottom of the screen, Download a New Offline Area, to start the framing process.

maps-offline-too-big

For some reason, Google limits the size of offline maps, regardless of how much space you have available on your phone. Even worse, the limit is completely arbitrary: the biggest area you can save is 50 square kilometers (19 square miles).

So, assuming the area you want to download is too big for Google, you’re going to need to zoom out. When you do that, you’ll be told that you’re ready.

maps-offline-ready

If the map is a little smaller than you were hoping for, know that you can start this process again to cover more ground.

When you’re satisfied with the area framed, go ahead and tap Download. Google will start the process and, if everything goes well, let you know when the map is ready for offline usage.

download-map-read

You’re done! You can now zoom into the downloaded area regardless of whether you’re online or not. The map will stay on your phone for up to 30 days, at which point you can re-download by heading to Offline Places and tapping the expired maps.

Edit: a reader on Reddit, username polux_elm, just pointed out a faster way to do this. Just head to the area you’d like to use offline in maps, then type “Okay maps” into the search bar. You’ll skip ahead to the part where you need to zoom to pick your offline map.

Potential Alternatives

As explained above, Google Maps does have certain limitations. There’s an arbitrary limit on the size of the individual maps you can download (though again, no limit on the number of maps you can download, so you could potentially work around this).

We’ve looked at a variety of offline maps for Android before Sick Of Your GPS App’s Data Connection Flaking Out? Try 3 Updated Offline Maps [Android] Sick Of Your GPS App’s Data Connection Flaking Out? Try 3 Updated Offline Maps [Android] Not long ago, Chris covered three of the best offline GPS apps available on Android. Since then, many other GPS apps released or received major updates. Do these newcomers compare favorably with those reviewed by... Read More , but possibly the best alternative is one we’ve never mentioned.

maps-me-working

Maps.Me lets you download the entirety of any state, province or country to your phone, and it offers full turn-by-turn directions even if you’re offline.

It doesn’t offer everything Google does — there are no public transit maps, for example — but those features don’t always work with Google’s offline mode anyway.

maps-me-download

We might give Maps.Me a full look at some point, but for now, know that it’s a worthy alternative.

How Will You Use Maps Offline?

I’ve been making use of Google’s offline mode for a few months now, particularly during a recent house search. But I want to know when you use it, and for what reason.

Oh, and if you want to learn more about Google’s map service, check out our list of Google Maps tips Get There Faster - 10 Google Maps & Navigation Tips Get There Faster - 10 Google Maps & Navigation Tips Google Maps is still the most powerful mapping service ever, despite what Apple might say. Whether you’re using Google Maps in a browser on your desktop or an app on your mobile phone, Google Maps... Read More , or read our recent list of everything you need to know about Google Maps for Android Google Maps on Android: Everything You Need to Know Google Maps on Android: Everything You Need to Know Does Google Maps on your Android device feel a bit daunting? We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about using Google Maps on Android. Read More . You’ll learn something.

  1. Jan Rasmussen
    December 19, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Here by Nokia is the best, have a lot of feature in off line mode, and the best you can download very large area's..????

  2. Iulian Popescu
    September 14, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I have said it before - it is useless. You can download a large area like Paris, however it is just not accesible, neither the location working offline. It needs often sync online and offline maps like Here put it to shame.

  3. Edward Ike Silva
    September 14, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    Hey guys. It works in iPhone too?

    • Justin Pot
      September 14, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      Yeah, it does, this article is just focused on Android.

  4. Rick Shortt
    September 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    While Google Maps are great they leave a lot to be desired when offline. One app that has a ton of features and works well most of the time is OSMAnd : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.osmand

    The free version lets you download maps for 10 states free and paid allows unlimited downloads. It can display tracks and waypoints from gpx files (but not kml or kmz which is the default export from Google My Maps which has me wanting to also experiment with the more simplistic Maps.me you suggested). You can record tracks, create tracks and favorites, get voice directions offline along with turn by turn, you can download contours, display the speed limit, your speed, and get speed warnings if you like. There are a lot of settings and capabilities I haven't even fully explored. The only downside is that I find Open Street Maps, which this app naturally uses, to be slightly less dependable than Google Maps. But if you're offline it sure fills the gap.

    • Justin Pot
      September 14, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      I'm going to have to go through these suggestions and do a round-up at some point.

  5. Nikhil Ghelani
    September 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    I was having issues with Google Maps. It was just allowing to download to certain radius. Then I started using HERE app. Its nice app. You can download whole city or province if you are traveling to another city or Province download both and will give you accurate directions. even with 3D maps. I don't know any other app. But I like this one.

  6. Jean-Francois Messier
    September 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    We have been using Google Maps as a way to get path from point A to Point B, and get a nice printout that we can use in the car. However, to see where we actually are, when we are unsure of the next turn or a missed point, we like using an offline mapping system. I used a third-party software so far, as we were always having issues with Google Maps. Sometime we would not get the possibility to download offline, sometime the downloaded portion would not properly show up, as if it was only partially downloaded. We use those mainly when going to some sport tournaments for our son, but also as a way to find ourselves when visiting others out of our town.

    • Justin Pot
      September 14, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      Sonds like a fairly complete strategy. Which offline programs do you like to use?

      • Jean-Francois Messier
        September 14, 2015 at 4:39 pm

        I use Sygic, which keeps all maps always offline, and updates when required from the server (not so frequently, actually). I had to use that, as I do not have any 3G/4G connection on my cell or tablet. This was before Google Maps actually had an offline option. But I still use Sygic, as it always gets me the maps, unless of course I did not update the databse for a too long period.

        • Justin Pot
          September 14, 2015 at 10:06 pm

          Cool, thanks for letting me know, I'll have to look into this and other apps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *