How to make the most of Google Maps

The ever-popular map-based service provider is a stalwart reference point to use when you’re looking to plan a journey or discover a new location. A lot of us know the basic ins-and-outs of Google Maps, like getting directions and using Satellite and Street Views, but there are a few gems hidden behind the scenes to get the most out of your navigating experience. Here are some tips and tricks to fully utilize Google Maps.

 Google Maps Labs

Google Maps Labs is a hidden treasure filled with informative, thorough and sometimes geeky tricks. You’ll find it in the left-hand column of the page:

Google Maps Labs

One of the geekier tools on Google Maps Labs is the Distance Measurement Tool. Enabling it allows you to find the distance between two locations in a number of different units, including American football fields, Light Years and Olympic swimming pools.

After enabling the tool, click on the ruler on the bottom left of the map:

Google Distance Measurement Tool

It’ll ask you to choose from either Metric or English units, but we like clicking I’m feeling geeky!

You then click on the two locations you want to measure the distance between, and it should draw a red line. Select which unit of measurement you’d like to use from the drop-down menu to the left.

Aberdeen to Bristol Google

As you can see, the distance from Aberdeen to Bristol is 5800.12 football fields. You learn something new every day!

Another handy feature is Drag ‘n’ Zoom. Rather than having to click on the Zoom In button, which can often take you off course and lose your location, the Drag ‘n’ Zoom feature allows you to do just that: drag and zoom.

Simply enable to feature, click on the magnifying glass located underneath the zooming slider:

Zoom Slider Google

Then click and drag your mouse across the area that you want to zoom into, and hey presto!

Isle of Man Google

Note: If you want to zoom in further, select the magnifying glass tool and drag ‘n’ zoom again.

If you want to find out the latitude and longitude of a location, enable the LatLng Tool Tip, hold down shift and hover your cursor over the area. Simple!

LatLong Tool Tip Google Maps


Google Maps Labs isn’t the only cool Maps feature you might not have known about. On the top right hand side of the screen, there is a drop-down box that allows you to add layers to map, like bicycling paths, Wikipedia entries and weather conditions.

Google Maps Layers

Google Maps doesn’t just have to help you get directions. There’s a wealth of other fascinating things to discover. Using the tools we’ve highlighted can help you discover things you never knew about – it’s both fun and informative. Try some of them out next time you visit Google Maps, you might learn something new!

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