No Google Maps Start Button, only Preview? Here’s How to Fix

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TL;DR – Google maps shows a Preview button instead of Start button if your starting location is not set to your current location.

Are you attempting to get directions in Google Maps, but the start button is missing? Instead, you see a preview button? Or maybe it only shows steps and doesn’t let you actually start the directions and get rid of the preview button. This is a common problem that many of us face.

Luckily, this isn’t a glitch and there’s nothing wrong with your phone (or your app). Typically, this is just a simple misunderstanding.


Where’s the Start button?

Google Maps only shows the start button when your current location is at the starting point or anywhere along the specific route. Otherwise, the start button will be replaced with a preview button.

In other words, you’re seeing a preview button because Point A is not listed as Your location. Not having a Start button is not an error. It simply means that you aren’t actively on-route.

How to ‘Fix’ the Preview button

There is no need (or way) to ‘fix’ the preview button; it’s a feature of Google Maps. Rather, you need to look over your directions more carefully.

Look at the text field at the top of the map directions screen, where you enter your starting point, aka Point A. Check to make sure that it displays your current geo-location. You may mistakenly be adding a precise place as Point A rather than your current location.


If this is true, Google Maps will only let you preview your directions, but not actually start the trip. However, once it detects that you’re moving on-route or at the physical starting point, the app will automatically show the start button.

Technically, it’s really just an issue with semantics. You can’t literally start a route if you aren’t at the given location. Therefore, preview is a more appropriate term.

Why does this happen?

It can be confusing when Google Maps shows a preview button instead of a start button. Most often, this issue seems to randomly occur after your phone’s software updates. When the Android operating system or Maps app proceeds with an update, your phone’s location permissions may have been reset.

How to turn on Location Settings

If you’re seeing a preview button rather than a start button, but you’re certain you’re at the actual starting point or on-route, you may need to check your phone’s location settings.

1. Navigate to the settings menu. It’s typically a small ‘cog’ icon at the top-right corner of your phone’s pull down menu.


2. Scroll down the list until you see Location. It’s about ten icons down the menu with a green pin icon.


3. You should see a large blue “on” toggle button, showing that your location is currently activated. If it’s grayed-out, this means it’s currently off, so turn it on.


4. If it’s already turned on, you may also need to check the Maps app permissions. To do so, from your Location settings, tap App permissions.


5. Here you will see a list of all of the installed apps on your phone. Check that Maps is not listed under Denied. It should be listed under either Allowed All The Time or Allowed Only While In Use. If it’s denied, simply tap the Maps app on the list, and set new permissions.

How to change default start location for Google Maps directions

When you click a blue “Directions” button at a specific location, Google Maps automatically tries to use your current location, as best it can. It does this by default.

You may be wondering if there’s a way to change this. Unfortunately, there’s not. You’ll have to manually select a specific starting point if you wish to change it for your set of directions.

While this is a bit of a minor annoyance for some situations, most people want quick access to their directions, with minimal manual input from the end-user. Google knows this so they assume the vast majority would prefer directions to open up with the default starting point as your live geo-location.


Final Thoughts

As you can see, getting the Google Maps start button back is very simple. If you’re only seeing a preview button or step-by-step directions, you need to double-check your starting point.

The Maps app will only let you start navigating directions if you’re currently at Point A or anywhere along the specified route. The moment you’re at or along your intended route, your phone’s geo-location settings will kick-in and begin instructing you on how to get to your destination.

It’s a bit confusing and can be very frustrating to deal with. However, Google always thinks it knows best. In their minds, you can’t actually start a route if you aren’t along the track from Point A (starting point) to Point B (destination). Technically, there’s nothing to fix – this is simply a built-in feature of the the Google Maps app and the way they give you directions.

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