Google Maps can be useful, but only if you make use of all its functions. For instance, what if you need to bring up a pre-planned but complicated route in a hurry while you’re driving? Or maybe you need to access Google Maps in an area with notoriously low cell phone service. All of these problems have solutions that we will detail below.
Saving Directions to Shortcuts
One of the more useful features of Google Maps is its ability to save certain directions in the form of a shortcut. These allow you to collect a handful of routes that you can access whenever you like with a few clicks instead of having to constantly re-input addresses or double-check your notes.
Additionally, route shortcuts allow you to plan out road trips or take detours without becoming too lost from your original path. You can use shortcuts to either plan detailed legs of a trip or rely on shortcuts to get you back on your main journey.
Even more importantly, shortcuts allow you to easily retrieve detailed route information. This is a lot more convenient than having to wrestle with Google Maps while actually driving.
In fact, having shortcuts is a key way to drive safely while still adjusting your route on the fly.
Thankfully, saving shortcuts is incredibly easy. To begin, pull up Google Maps and enter the directions that you want to travel. You’ll need detailed address information for your beginning and ending route, or you can rely on your GPS if your vehicle or computer is equipped with that functionality.
When you’re planning the route, you can add additional stops as you progress. This is helpful for separating your journey into legs or rest points.
Once your route is totally planned, there should be three vertical dots in the top-right menu of the Google Maps interface. Tapping or clicking these dots will generate an additional menu where the words Add route to home screen will bloom into view. Tap these and your current route will be saved as a shortcut.
This shortcut will be saved right on the home screen that you saw when you began the Google Maps interface. The shortcut can then be saved with other members of your group or shared between you. This can be helpful when coordinating driving instructions between multiple vehicles during a road trip or when moving across the country.
However, while shortcuts can be convenient, they don’t always work properly if your car or computer goes offline. For the best results, we’d recommend that you save the map for offline use so you can continue following proper directions even if you lose wireless signals.
How to Save Maps Offline
This is also incredibly easy and very practical. Saving your maps offline allows you to follow the right directions wherever you need to go even if you pass into a cellularly weak area. While Google Maps routes may not have all their functionalities while offline, such as their street view function or their business reviews, the main information about your map route will remain intact.
That’s because Google Maps only needs GPS functionality to track your location, which is much easier to maintain with a clear view of the sky. Almost all roads by definition offer this ability, it’s much more consistent than Google Maps’ other features.
Saving an offline map is simple. Enter the major town or city that is the most central populated location relevant to your chosen route. Once you’ve selected such a town, Google Maps will drift above the city and a menu will appear at the bottom of your phone or computer screen. Tapping or clicking any blank spot on this you will bring up several different options you can use.
There should be a button with three dots in the top right corner of this menu. Tapping this will create another menu, in addition to the primary one, only this menu will have the words Download offline map. Bingo! Selecting this will generate a new map inside of a smaller box.
This box can be manipulated with your fingers or mouse cursor. You can zoom in or out of the displayed map to get the scale correct and zooming out will let you save a larger region of the map for later perusal.
When you have your ideal scale correct, tap the download button and the map will save to whatever device you’re using at the time, whether it’s a smartphone, computer, or tablet. Naturally, you do require a steady connection to download the map in the first place, but this map will then be usable even if you lose your Internet connection.
The map you downloaded will include any previously saved directions that you input into the map. This will help you keep track of your steps during multiple legs of your journey and can incorporate various rest stops that you may have wanted to make between your origin point and destination.
Downloading an offline map does take some storage space, but it’s not too much for most devices unless you build your smartphone with photos from your journey so far. Larger maps, like ones that are zoomed out to incorporate an entire region’s worth of geographical data, will take up more space. It’s a good idea to keep the map as localized as possible to preserve space on your device, although it’s totally up to you.
Sharing any routes that you’ve currently saved can be done through a variety of methods and with several tools. Whether you placed the directions into a shortcut that is saved on the home screen or you’ve downloaded an offline map, you can normally attach Google Maps data or directions via typical attachment interfaces on email sites or social media.
However, keep in mind that you need to be able to locate your original shortcut or the file that you downloaded in order to properly attach it to your email or message. This may require you to pay close attention to where the shortcut or the offline map saves when you create the original file.
You can also share your routes to your printer if it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your tablet or smartphone. This is a great way to quickly print out hard copies of your Google Maps directions and is a failsafe way to ensure that everyone gets the same information regardless of their technical expertise.
In fact, Google Maps menus usually have a “share directions” button located under the main menu once your directions have been input into the main screen. This can lead you to a printout screen or direct you to your computer’s own email app depending on your software.
Saving and sharing directions derived from Google Maps is a great way to extend its use and allow you to enjoy its functionality no matter where you go. Google Maps is one of the best navigational tools in the last couple of decades. With the right preparation, it can be even more useful than physical maps, even if you’re in more rural parts of your country. Thanks for reading!