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Google Maps is one of Google’s most exciting and innovative services. Apart from providing thorough Google Map search features, users can view the world as seen from a satellite, wander the streets of foreign cities in street view, and add informative or entertaining content across the virtual globe.
There is no shortage of things to discover on Google Maps. However, sometimes you just want to access a map or find a location quick and easy. This article provides you with tips and tricks on how to search Google Maps faster and smarter.
1. Use Keyboard Shortcuts To Navigate Maps
To browse the map and gain an overview or find a location, keyboard shortcuts are easier to use than pointing, clicking, and dragging with the mouse. Fortunately, the respective keys are easy to remember.
- pan left, right, up, or down = arrow keys
- pan faster = End, Home, Page Up, or Page Down keys
- zoom in or out = + or – keys
Before you can use the keyboard shortcuts, however, you have to use your mouse and click the map to select it.
2. Change The Default Location
Are you going on a vacation or do you frequently look up places like restaurants or other businesses in your local city? You should consider setting a custom default location. Apart from letting you access your personal points of interest quicker, it’s also a nice change of view if you don’t happen to operate in North America.
Go to Google Maps and on the left-hand side click > Set default location. Enter the address, city, and/or country, eventually pick one of the suggested results, then click > Return to set the default location.
If a default location was set in the past, you can click > Change default location.
3. Refine Your Search
This is a very small and seemingly insignificant feature, but it can have a huge impact on the amount of results you have to weed through.
Next to the ‘Search Maps‘ button is a ‘Show search options‘ text link. Click it to add a pull-down menu with categories, including Locations, Businesses, User-created maps, and Real estate. Next time your search produces too many results, filter search results for the matching category.
4. Use TheBookmarklet
There is only so much you can do with Google Maps itself and you always have to go there first. To really speed up your map searches, I recommend. It enables you to view a location in Google Maps by highlighting a city name or address on a website and clicking the bookmarklet in your browser toolbar. You don’t have to leave the page, but you can open Google Maps in a new tab if you want to.
To set up the bookmarklet, go to to thewebsite and click & drag the ‘Map that address‘ bookmarklet to your browser toolbar. To use it highlight a location of your choice in any online text, it can be an address, city, or country, and click the ‘Map that address‘ bookmarklet in your toolbar.
Per default, the ‘Open in Google Maps‘ link will open in the same tab, unless you have changed your browser preferences. In Firefox and Google, a mouse middle click will open the link in a new tab.
5. Enable Google Maps Labs Features
As Tim has pointed out in a previous article, Google tests “new beta-type features in what they call ‘Google Labs’.” There are currently two features that let you zoom into a location faster and smarter. One is ‘Show Me Here!‘, which lets you zoom to the maximum zoom level of a location instantly via the context menu; the other is ‘Drag ‘n’ Zoom‘, it allows you to mark a region you want to zoom into.
To access the Google Maps Labs features, click the ‘New‘ link in the top right toolbar on the Google Maps page. A window showing all experimental features will come up. Enable the ones you find interesting or useful, close the window, and click the button to > Save changes.
Hooked on maps? There is a lot more to discover. Google Maps tips for life contains tons of useful information on how you can use Google Maps. Below is a selection of related articles on MakeUseOf:
- How Does Google Maps Work? [Technology Explained]
- How To Add Your Business To Google Maps
- The Five Best Things About Google Maps
- 3 Awesome Historical Google Maps Mashups
- How To Create Shared Collaborative Google Maps
How do you use Google Maps and what is the most valuable feature to you?
Image credits: ildogesto