Get Creative And Make Your Own Maps With Custom Layers On The New Google Maps

Nancy Messieh 30-07-2013

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 to locations, and choose from several map styles and appearances.


The new Google Maps features makes map creation easier than ever, and with Google’s solid sharing settings, you have complete control over who sees the maps, who can add items to the maps, or if you prefer, you can simply keep the maps completely private.

Getting Started

After launching Google Maps, click on the settings icon and click on My Places.

My Places

That will open up the sidebar where you can add locations to your maps. In order to create maps with multiple layers, however, you need to click on Get advanced features with Maps Engine Lite. This will open up a new window with a new map.

Create Map1


With the latest Google Maps features, you’ll be able to add locations by searching for them on the map, add lines and shapes to your map, import data from CSV files, and organize and group locations in layers.

New Maps

Clicking on the New Map button will open up a map where you can create layers, search for locations and more. An untitled layer will have already been created, and you can edit the layer, and rename it to whatever you want.



Add Locations to Your Map

Once you’ve renamed your map, and your untitled layer, search for a location and you can add locations to your layers. When you find the location you want to add, you can view extra details from Google Maps (exact location, phone number, website etc.) and you can add it to your layers by clicking the Add to Map link.

Add location
As you add more layers, make sure that you are inside the layer where you want it to be included. In addition to manually adding locations to your map, you can also import them. Imported data should be in a CSV or XLSX file, or you can also import a spreadsheet from your Google Drive.




So what kind of information do you need in the spreadsheet in order to actually import locations into your map? All you need are two columns with the addresses and names of the locations. When you import the locations, Google Maps will first ask you which column includes the addresses:

locationIt will then ask you which column includes the names of the locations:


When you need to import the spreadsheet, you will have to enable popups the first time around in order to connect Google Maps to your Google Drive.


In addition to adding locations and personalizing the pins, you can also add lines to your map as well.


The lines can be used to show a specific path between locations. For example, if you want to create a map showing a specific itinerary which takes you from one location to the next. Lines don’t appear to have much in the way of customization options. We’d love to see the option to change colors and possibly even insert arrows which show the direction taken in the map.

Customize Your Map’s Appearance

When it comes to customizing the appearance of your map, you can also add personal touches to each location. You can change the icon and colour of the pins on your map.


At a glance, you can choose the regular map pin, circle, square, diamond and star. Clicking on the ‘More icons’ button will open up a ton of more options:


In addition to customizing pins, you can also change the overall appearance of the map, with nine themes to choose from. These themes are accessible by clicking Base Map.


Sharing Your Map

Once you’ve created your map, there are several ways you can share it. You can keep it entirely private if you’re creating a map for your own personal use. Any maps you create are private by default. If you’d rather share the map, you can share it with specific Google users, or you can share it publicly. Hit the green ‘Share’ button in the top right hand corner of the map:


When you click the “Share” button, you can access the share settings which are identical to share settings on any Google Drive document. You can make the map completely public, accessible only to anyone who has the link,or accessible only to specific Google users you invite to view the map.

Share Settings

Creative Uses

  • While the typical tourist spots are easy to find in any city, you can use Google Maps to share tips and places to go with your followers and friends that they might not necessarily think of exploring otherwise.
  • You can use Google Maps to create collaborative maps, making it easy for friends to organize a day trip or a holiday, by selecting locations you plan to visit.
  • You can also use it for educational purposes – teachers can create maps and share them with students, to give them a visual resource of locations mapped out in Google. For example, a history teacher can use Google Maps to create a visual resource of Amelia Earhart’s final flight. There are some awesome historical Google Maps mashups 3 Awesome Historical Google Maps Mashups Read More that can give you a sense of just how much you can do with Google Maps as a history teacher.
  • With citizen journalism using social networks, video sharing sites and more, why not add maps into the equation. For example, if you’re covering protests in a specific country, or even around the world, you can map out the locations of the protests on Google Maps.

Want more creative ideas on ways you can use Google Maps? Check out our list of 10 unique Google Maps mashups 10 Unique Google Maps Mashups You Can Explore For Information Do you know you can find anything on a map these days? Columbus might have disagreed, but aren’t maps made for that very purpose? Well, I was talking more along the lines of finding offbeat... Read More  and the other 7 fascinating Google Maps mashups 7 Fascinating Google Maps and Mashups to See the World With Different Eyes Google Maps are a treasure trove for discoverers. Not only do they help you navigate and not get lost, you can also discover some pretty weird things in Street View, explore data and information in... Read More for a bit of inspiration.


Google Map’s latest revamp is pretty slick and makes creating collaborative and interactive maps easier than ever. There are a few features we’d still love to see – more customization, and adding more to the maps than just lines. But it’s definitely a huge step in the right direction.

What creative uses for Google Maps can you think of? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Vic Desotelle
    August 4, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    hi there,
    I have a site that allows people to fill in a google forms of their location. That data is then automatically moved to a google spreadsheet. Everytime someone fills out the google form, I want their location data to be moved ‘automatically’ to a google map (via the google spreadsheet). How might you recommend that I do that?
    kind thanks,

    • Pam McBride
      August 2, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      Would you be willing to share that Form? I am making a map of churches in our area and it would be most helpful if I don't have to data enter all the info? Thanks.

  2. Will Winn
    July 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I haven't been able to get multiple pins when I have the address duplicated. I'm wanting to track people (who sometimes have the same address as someone else), but I can only get one of them.
    Any help??

  3. Kevin
    April 23, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Maybe a distance feature that measures several distances from a central location.

  4. joni
    January 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    How do I transfer to a Garmin GPS unit?

  5. andy
    November 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Is this a dynamic map?
    ie if I update the Google Drive spreadsheet (say, changing a postcode/zipcode) will it update the pin location on the map in real-time?
    Or do I have to re-do the map every time I change a postcode?

  6. Yannick
    November 16, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    You forgot to mention that you can have a maximum of 3 layers and 1000 entries per layer. So a maximum of 3000 entries. I wish we could get more than that.

  7. Andre
    October 21, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Anyone knows how to add custom pins? It was possible on the old Maps

    • Nancy
      November 17, 2013 at 12:10 am

      You mean customizing them? If that's the case - it's included in the article. If not - could you please explain?

  8. Wrangell
    October 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks. Very helpful.

  9. Thomas
    July 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Treasure hunting obviously!!!!