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Google Maps is one of the coolest tools available from Google, and without a doubt it’s the best, most complete and most detailed world map on the internet. I love it and use it all the time. The satellite shots help with orientation in new territory, public transport stations are listed in my area, and when I have to give directions, Google Maps is the place to go.

So here are the three best things about it …

1. Default Location

When you go to maps.google.com you will most likely see a map of North America. Being in Europe this is not very convenient for me, so I made my hometown my default location.

To set a default location at which Google Maps will always start when you open it, simply enter a location and then click “Make this my default location” on the left. The location you choose has to be at least a city, but can be as detailed as the exact street address.

2. My Maps

With My Maps you can create your own maps, annotate a Google Map, add comments, placemarks, draw directions or just goof around, which I did as you can see below.

Within My Maps click on Create new map and you’ll see four new tools in the top left corner of the map. From left to right: select/edit map features, add a placemark, draw a line, and draw a shape. Whatever you add to your map, it will appear in a small legend on the left, including the title and description you gave your items.

Needless to say you can save and share your maps, edit them anytime, collaborate on a map with others, make your maps public or keep them private.

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With the Collaborate option you can invite individuals to edit your map, you can allow them to invite others as well, and you can even let anyone edit your map.

For a direct link click on Link in the top right corner of your map.

Edit and Share Google Maps

3. Browse Popular Maps

The popular maps are both useful and fun. The Distance Measurement Tool for example is incredibly easy to use and easily reveals how far a distance it is from one point to the other, Place Finder translates your location into latitude and longitude or vice versa, Amtrak has a map with passenger rail connections and stations, another map lists all Crop Circles sightings, with Clouds you can view satellite pictures of global cloud cover, and much, much more.

Distance Measurement Tool

Once you return to your maps you can check or uncheck the maps you have added, change settings or edit them (if applicable), and of course delete them.

4. Get Directions

It doesn’t work everywhere, but for most places you’ll be able to get directions by car. Recently also walking directions went live. Simply right click the map and select “Directions from here” at your start point, followed by “Directions to here” at your destination. Then choose By car or Walking from the drop-down menu. For the route I chose for my example Walking was not available – smart thing.

Get Driving and Walking Directions

The coolest thing is that for some routes you can even view images of your trip.

5. Google Mashups

Have a cool idea for a map? Create it, make your own website and become popular, just like these guys…sort of.

  • At safe2pee.org you can find a bathroom in your area (US only).
  • Antipodes Map will find what’s on the other side of the world. Interestingly Australia isn’t really down under you, but in the middle of the North Atlantic ocean.
  • The HealthMap lists the current global state of infectious diseases.
  • QClock instantly displays the local time worldwide.
  • Use grüvr to find live music nearby.

For more about Google Maps check out Mark’s post Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New Features Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New Features Google Maps Rolls Out Spanking New Features Read More from May this year.

What’s your favorite Google Maps feature? What did I miss?

  1. Übersetzungsbüro
    February 10, 2010 at 7:14 am

    good post thanks

  2. Lazer Epilasyon Ankara
    January 28, 2010 at 6:09 am

    thanks good article my friend

  3. Marco
    December 15, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    good thanks

  4. iç giyim
    November 24, 2009 at 4:35 am

    thanks good article

  5. Balonlu
    November 20, 2009 at 4:59 am

    FIne

  6. Suchmaschinenoptimierung
    November 13, 2009 at 5:48 am

    very good job

  7. Lazer Epilasyon
    November 13, 2009 at 5:48 am

    usefull

  8. giore
    October 29, 2009 at 11:33 am

    anyone comment on the LocationMap.org ??

  9. kalp hastanesi
    October 26, 2009 at 10:45 am

    thank you so much

  10. lazer epilasyon
    October 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

    thank you very good work

  11. saç ekimi
    September 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

    I’d remember being near that area before, and knew a better route than the one they suggested.

  12. Jay
    June 15, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    How do I get a that job of taking pictures of streets? :)

  13. giore
    May 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    clear explaination :)
    and i found this site also very helpful for google maps users for those who want to shorten the long google maps url at: LocationMap.org

  14. lazer epilasyon
    April 21, 2009 at 8:30 am

    good article.

  15. dovetalk
    August 4, 2008 at 3:48 am

    On #1: If you are looking for something in a specific country then use that country's TLD when entering Google Maps. For example, if I were to look for something in Sweden, I'd start off at maps.google.se -- that gives me a map of Sweden to start with. Of course, that also requires that you understand that country's primary language, as the UI adjusts accordingly.

  16. Shreela
    August 2, 2008 at 4:10 am

    I've gotten directions to somewhere I didn't think I knew about, and after seeing it on the map, I'd remember being near that area before, and knew a better route than the one they suggested.

    So I drug the little circle around to tweak the directions to my likings, and printed. But it's harder than heck to figure out a way to save those personalized directions -- I had to bookmark the LINK button near the print/send upper right area so I could save my tweaked routes.

    They ought to let us save directions/routes in our account!

    Great report Tina 8^)

  17. Dan
    August 1, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Street view?

    • dmeanea
      August 24, 2009 at 11:19 am

      Look for the camera icon next to points of your direction list, or for the "street view" link in the details pop-up for a specific location.

      Street view's my favorite feature of google maps. I use it frequently to see which side of the street an office is on, how a freeway ramp is set up in the "spaghetti bowl", etc. Immensely helpful being able to actually see the location, and look around 360 degrees. Play around with it, I'm sure you'll find it useful and cool.

  18. Siddiq
    August 1, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    i like that clock instantly displays the local time worldwide, thats very useful

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